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Have you been Born Again?

 

Why must we be born again?

 

You probably like most of us have felt the need at some time in your life to start over again, to have another chance.  Well there is good news!  That is exactly what God offers.  But it is even better than that; He has promised to wipe your slate clean;  to forget the past.  We have all failed to live as we should, we have all missed the mark.  We have failed to love (that’s what life is all about) as we should.  We have failed to acknowledge and love God; we have failed to love our fellow man.  The Scriptures agree with this assessment.

 

There is none righteous, not even one.  There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.    Romans 3: 10, 11

 

God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.  Acts 17: 31

 

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.   Ephesians 2: 1

 

This is the dark side; there is a much brighter side however.  Not only have we missed the mark and are worthy of death- separation from God , we are amazed to find that He still loves us.  As surely as He has found us guilty He nevertheless expresses His love for us.  We are not things of no value but we have worth because we were all created in the image of God.  Loving us, God gave His Son- the innocent for the guilty, the righteous for the unrighteous to pay the debt of their sin.

 

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.   John 3: 16

 

 

Why will we most likely not find the complete answer in our churches?

 

Your first thought might be to find a church and do what they say.  For after all most of the church people are good people, well-meaning.  You would probably have a better life if you did so, but would you be right with God?  The vast majority of Christian churches hold one or the other of these three views.

 

Catholic, Orthodox, High Protestant View   This view is commonly called baptismal regeneration.  As I am not quite sure if that term properly reflects their position, I offer the following quotations from a catechism: “baptism is a spiritual regeneration, by which we are born again, children of God;” “perfect conversion consists in regeneration, by baptism.”   The emphasis seems to be on baptism, but not exclusively so.

 

Evangelical Protestant View    Billy Graham expresses this view.  In his book, HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN, he states on page 156,  “All you have to do to be born again is to repent of your sins and believe in Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.”  Here the emphasis is on believing.

 

Calvinistic View    “But it is the Spirit who effects the new birth-  Born of the Spirit.  (John 3: 6)   The new birth is solely the work of God the Spirit and man has no part or lot in causing it.  This from the very nature of the case.  Birth altogether excludes the ideas of any effort or work on the one who is born.”  THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, AW Pink.  In this view the emphasis is solely on the Holy Spirit.

 

Obviously we have a problem.   These views are quite different but, in my opinion, there are important truths in all.  There are serious problems also, as all are incomplete.  The first with its emphasis on sacramental baptism says little about the begettal by God through faith.  The second coming from a “faith only” presuppositions has little to say about the actual spiritual birth.  The third speaks about the birth of Spirit but not of water.

 

Why  will be difficulty understanding the regeneration even at best?

 

A difficulty presents itself with the translation of the Greek word, gennao?  This is the word most widely used when speaking of procreation and regeneration and according to WE Vine is capable of a wide range of meaning.

 

One thought will help however.  When the context includes the word of God, or the seed, the meaning is most likely a beggetal.

 

Why will the natural process of procreation help us to understand the spiritual process of regeneration?

 

The solution, I believe, is to go to the  Scriptures!  The Scriptures often speak in parables and metaphor.  In this case they use the natural procreation process to help us understand  spiritual regeneration.    In an analogy we expect correspondence in some aspects but not in all details.  If there was exact correspondence then we would have identity and not an comparison.  In the natural realm we find a begettal, the ovum is fertilized by the seed (sperm) and then implanted in the uterus or womb.  After the gestation period there is a birth. A child is born.

 

You might be asking, “How is this going to help.”  Be patient because in the spiritual realm  we find the same things, only a little differently.   There is a begettal but not by man by God; there is the seed but the seed is the word of God.  There is the heart now instead of the womb.  There is birth of water and the Spirit instead of birth from the womb.

 

 

Natural realm.          Begettal + Birth =procreation (a child of man)

 

Spiritual realm         Begettal +Birth = Regeneration (a child of God)

 

How can we better understand regeneration?

REGENERATION    According to the Scriptures, regeneration is the change from spiritual death to a new life both in and with Christ.  The word occurs in only two verses but there are several other allusions to it.

 

How can we better understand the begettal?

 

BEGETTAL:    A begettal occurs when by the exercise of the Fathers will, the individual comes to faith in God and in the Son  through the word..  .

            1 John 5 18

 

What is the seed?

 

SEED   In the analogy the seed is the word of God (Luke 8: 11), the gospel (1 Corinthians 4: 15), the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1: 23), the word of truth (James 1: 18).  The seed has to do with begettal not the birth or coming forth.

 

What corresponds to the womb?

 

WOMB  The heart corresponds to the womb (Luke 8: 15   It is with the heart that man believes (Romans 10: 8-11).  The believer is given the right to become a child of God (John 1: 12, 13), but he has not been born again at this point. 

 

How can we better understand the birth?

 

BIRTH:  Jesus likens the new birth to a physical birth so that we might better understand.  A physical birth is a coming forth from the womb into a new life.  A spiritual birth is a coming forth from water and the Spirit into a new life in Christ.   The question is, “when and how does this happen?’  (John 3: 3, 5)

 

Why is faith important?

Faith is the principle of life; the just shall live by faith.   (Romans 1: 17)

Without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God.  (Hebrews 11: 6)

Access to the grace of God is through faith.  (Romans 5: 2)

Unless you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, you shall die in your sins,

 

Why is baptism (immersion) in water important? 

 

            Romans 6: 4

 

Why is the birth of the Spirit important?

 

 

Why did Jesus indicate in  John 3: 10 that Nicodemus should have some understanding of the new birth?

 

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews.  As such he should have been familiar with certain Scriptures in the Old Testament.

 

What does regeneration accomplish?  Why is it important?

 

It imparts the characteristic of the Father to His children and gives life.  Christians do not possess this life within themselves.  They have this life as a branch has life in its vine.  Life is in the Son.  Those who have the Son have life.  Those who are not united with Christ do not have life.

These are the characteristics of those who have been born again.  This is not to say that we cannot sin, but when we do, we are denying our heritage and is contrary to the new nature which God has given and grieves the Holy Spirit.

 

What is renewal?

 

God is not finished with us yet.  Daily as we read the word and dwell upon the attributes of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will transform us into His image.  He is compassionate, humble, patient, forgiving, faithful, obedient, zealous, dedicated to God, prayerful and so much more.  God has given the Holy Spirit to dwell in us so that we might be transformed into the Divine image.

 

From the human side we say, “Whatever the mind attends to, it considers; whatever the mind does not attend to, it dismisses; whatever the mind attends to, it believes; whatever the mind believes, it eventually does.”  The Scriptures put it more succinctly, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” 

 

            Romans  12: 2

 

Have you been born again?   I hope so!  But we want and need to get it right.

 

Do you believe in God and His Son, Jesus?  If so you have been begotten of God through the word.  But now you must be born (come forth from water and the Spirit) into a new life in Christ.   John 1: 12, 13;  James 1: 18;  Romans 6: 3-6

 

Have you been born of water (come forth from water) when baptized (immersed in water) into Christ?   John 3: 5; Acts 2: 38

 

Have you been born of  the Spirit (received the promised Holy Spirit as a gift)?

John 3: 5; Acts 2:38

You have been  born again through faith in God, immersion in water and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This is God’s way

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

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Last Update   09/26/12