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What does it mean to be born again?

Butch5

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There are many many different views on this. This has bothered me in the past and is seriously a heaven and hell issue. I am sure everyone would want to know the truth about what it means to be born again. I don't know about this present evil world but I do NOT want to go to hell. I want the truth. I don't care about my own feelings or opinion. I want to know if I am in error and am headed to hell or not. My sister once said. "Well on judgement day, we will know the truth then." Well I hate to say this but on the day of judgement, It's toooooo late then. It is alllll over. Who in their right mind would want to wait until then to see if such and such doctrine is correct or not? Why not now??? Why can't we seek for the truth now and avoid hell?

The phrase, "born again" is a phrase that Jesus used when speaking to Nicodemus who was a Jew. The Jews were the people of God, they were the seed of Abraham. God had made several promises to Abraham and his "seed." The Jews believed that being the physical offspring of Abraham, through physical birth they were entitled to those promises because they were his "seed". Jesus uses the metaphor of "born again" to show Nicodemus that his physical birth as a Jew, as the seed of Abraham, is not sufficient to gain him entrance into the Kingdom. That physical birth as the seed of Abraham was not sufficient, he'll need a new birth, metaphorically.
 

Jethro Bodine

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the Forum Guidelines need to be applied to show how these perspectives are Biblically sound.
Oh, that's right. We're in the Apologetics forum.

"7Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7 NASB)

But don't make the mistake the Israelites made. They heard this good news of God's pardon as 'do this and you will earn salvation', as if salvation is granted in return for keeping the righteous requirements of God (Romans 9:32 NASB). No, salvation is through having your sins forgiven--("For He will abundantly pardon").

7In Him we have redemption (from the penalty of our sins) through His blood (the only just payment for sin there is), (through) the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Ephesians 1:7 NASB parenthesis mine)

"13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14 NASB)


For the person who renounces t
he sin that keeps him separated from God and out of the kingdom and who humbly acknowledges that he is helpless to stop that sinning that separates him from God, that sin is washed away through the forgiveness of sin, simply for the asking. That is what makes salvation the merciful and gracious, and unmerited thing that it is. When that happens you are translated into the kingdom of God. You are born again.

Our renouncing of the sin that kept us out of the kingdom signifies our change of mind about those things. That's the being 'born of water' part of what Jesus was talking about. That turning away from our sin is the forsaking part of the Isaiah 55 passage I quoted above. It, in and of itself, has no power to clean a person of past wrong doing, nor earn a place in the kingdom. That can only be done through the forgiveness of sins and the birth of the new person in us by the Holy Spirit, the being 'born by the Spirit', or from above, part. Repentance signifies sorrow for the things that kept us out of the kingdom of God. It's an outer cleansing only, but a necessary one. Sorrow for sin leads us to seek God's salvation, his forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:10 NASB), the thing that really does save.

"5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water (repentance as signified in John's baptism of water for repentance) and the Spirit (Jesus' baptism of the Spirit)." (John 3:5 NASB parenthesis mine)
 
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MarkT

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There are many many different views on this. This has bothered me in the past and is seriously a heaven and hell issue. I am sure everyone would want to know the truth about what it means to be born again. I don't know about this present evil world but I do NOT want to go to hell. I want the truth. I don't care about my own feelings or opinion. I want to know if I am in error and am headed to hell or not. My sister once said. "Well on judgement day, we will know the truth then." Well I hate to say this but on the day of judgement, It's toooooo late then. It is alllll over. Who in their right mind would want to wait until then to see if such and such doctrine is correct or not? Why not now??? Why can't we seek for the truth now and avoid hell?

You can, but why don't you do it? Do you understand his teaching; a spirit body is necessary and why? If you understand what you heard John 3: 6-8 and you hold onto his teaching, then God will create a new man within you. a man born of water and the Spirit, in whom you will reside.
 
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mutzrein

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Robert. Scripture does not say that if you are not born again you go to hell. What it does say is that unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5). This is probably the most fundamental verse in all of scripture that prescribes the absolute criteria for anyone to enter into God’s kingdom. You see God's kingdom is eternal so the man or woman who is born of God’s spirit inherits eternal life.

And there are two requirements as spelled out in this verse: 1 to be born of water and 2, to be born of the Spirit. What does it mean to be born of water? Jesus answers that question immediately after stating it by putting it another way ... and that is, ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh ...’ Robert, every person who has ever lived since Adam and Eve has been born of water which means of course that you qualify thus far.

Someone else on this thread said that being born of the Spirit is not man’s choice, and I agree with them. It is God’s choosing. And verse 8, to my mind confirms it. If man was able to choose to be born again, then the wind would be at the behest of man. Plainly it isn’t, because while we see the evidence of it, man cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. And so it is with ever one that is born of the Spirit.
 

Jethro Bodine

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What does it mean to be born of water? Jesus answers that question immediately after stating it by putting it another way ... and that is, ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh ...’ Robert, every person who has ever lived since Adam and Eve has been born of water which means of course that you qualify thus far.
There's no reason for Jesus to state the obvious. But he may be referring to being born a natural Israelite, a member of the nation born through water at the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2 NASB). But even that doesn't fully explain the 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh' part that follows there in John 3:6 NASB.

IMO, water most likely refers to the birth of the natural man of works. He repents of his sin through the customary way of water baptism and so he is 'born' of water, cleansed and fit for residence in, and possession of the kingdom, according to the law. The problem being, without the Spirit this is entirely a flesh man--a man of flesh giving birth to a fleshly member of the kingdom of God through his fleshly effort. And while that component of salvation is necessary (repentance), it's not enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. You must also be born again, or from above, by the Spirit.

The waters of repentance birth a natural man of works. But the Spirit gives birth to a spiritual man of faith. Together they inherit the kingdom of God. The man who repents in his own self alone can not inherit the kingdom. But then neither does the man who believes by the Spirit but fails to follow through in obedience inherit the kingdom either. Both faith and repentance are necessary to inherit the kingdom:

"I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." (Acts 20:21 NIV)

"I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26:20 NIV)

This is hard for the Protestant church to grasp because we're so 'faith alone' oriented. But Nicodemus is an Israelite, a member of the people whose problem is being so works (repentance) oriented. That's why Jesus has to point out the necessary 'faith' side salvation. But for us, in this point in church history this side of the cross, it's the repentance side of salvation that must be pointed out. Both are necessary for salvation.
 
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JLB

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What does it mean to be born of water? Jesus answers that question immediately after stating it by putting it another way ... and that is, ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh ...’ Robert, every person who has ever lived since Adam and Eve has been born of water which means of course that you qualify thus far.


Exactly.

Jesus used natural birth, earthly things, to teach Nicodemus about spiritual birth, heavenly things.

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
John 3:12


This same John, used this same expression to teach about Jesus' virgin birth.

This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6

Came by water refers to natural birth.

Came by water and blood, refers to supernatural birth, by a virgin.



JLB
 

wondering

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Actually I do. When I read

Act 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

I'm getting a different look when reading these scriptures.

To me it looks like from scripture that when one gets baptized in water, that is the born of the water.
Receiving the Holy Ghost is born of the spirit.
This is interesting.
Welcome to CFnet.
There is a big denomination which believes that the water mentioned in John 3:5 is the water of baptism.

I'll tell you why I do not agree.

1. Nicodemus specifically asks Jesus how it could be possible for a man to enter a second time into his mother's womb. It seems to me that N is referring specifically to the natural birth which includes water.
Jesus is saying one must be born of water and of spirit. N understood the water of natural birth and Jesus did not correct him.

2. If the denomination I mentioned is right, then the ORDER of John 3 in incorrect.
Jesus said that to be born again one must be born of water AND the spirit. John 3:5

To be born from above (born again is an incorrect translation) one must FIRST come to be a believer, believe in Christ - that He is their savior. THEN one gets baptized. So, FIRST one receives the spirit of God, THEN he gets baptized.

Since Jesus said one must be born of WATER and then SPIRIT, it seems to me the order would be reversed and I do believe Jesus had the correct order! So, yes, I believe water refers to natural birth.

Wondering
 
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Jethro Bodine

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Since Jesus said one must be born of WATER and then SPIRIT, it seems to me the order would be reversed and I do believe Jesus had the correct order! So, yes, I believe water refers to natural birth.
But don't forget that during this time John's baptism preceded Jesus' baptism of the Spirit.
IOW, water baptism most certainly did precede spiritual rebirth then. It was taught and performed as preparation for the one who would come afterwards and would baptize with, or in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that John's baptism (the repentance, not the water itself) is not enough to 'see' the kingdom of heaven. You must also be born from above, by the Spirit.

"the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man." (1 Samuel 10:6 NASB)

See, as a teacher of Israel who should be aquainted with, both, the scriptures and the Spirit, Nicodemus should have understood what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of being born again, or from above.

By the way, this is the point I was trying to make in regard to rejecting teachings simply because our well known commentaries did not arrive at the teaching first. For some reason none of them, to my knowledge, tell us that 1 Samuel 10:6 is actually the best answer as to what Jesus was getting at about Nicodemus not knowing about the rebirth of a person by the Spirit. As a teacher of Israel familiar with the scriptures of the day, he should have known how a man is changed into another man through the Spirit because of 1 Samuel 10:6 NASB quoted above.
 
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Jethro Bodine

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So when the Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, there's no reason to say so??
There's nothing obvious to the fallen, unregenerate man that he is somehow sinful and woefully short of God's glory. By nature he thinks quite the opposite! But it is most definitely obvious that you have to first be born as a human being to be in the kingdom of God. That hardly needs to be pointed out as a requirement for you to satisfy in order to 'see' and enter into the kingdom of God.
 
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Kidron

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But don't forget that during this time John's baptism preceded Jesus' baptism of the Spirit.
.

Thats because John's baptism was for Jews under the OT setup, and Jesus's baptism is for (all who would come) believers who have believed on Christ according to the purpose of the New Covenant.
Another way to think of it is this......John the baptist told them to repent, and Paul the Apostle told them the Gospel truth.
Another way to think of it is...."Pre Cross vs Post Cross" theology, if youz wantz to really getz downz with "rightly dividing the word".
Many more ways to explain it, however, thats probably enough for this post.
 

Jethro Bodine

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Thats because John's baptism was for Jews under the OT setup, and Jesus's baptism is for (all who would come) believers who have believed on Christ according to the purpose of the New Covenant.
Another way to think of it is this......John the baptist told them to repent, and Paul the Apostle told them the Gospel truth.
Another way to think of it is...."Pre Cross vs Post Cross" theology, if youz wantz to really getz downz with "rightly dividing the word".
Many more ways to explain it, however, thats probably enough for this post.
I'm not in disagreement with the order of events in this New Covenant. I was just pointing out how it was during the time that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. Water baptism (repentance) most certainly did precede spiritual birth during this time. John's baptism was the preparation for that rebirth, therefore, no one can use the argument that since spiritual rebirth precedes water baptism, Jesus could not have been talking about the water of baptism in John 3.
 
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wondering

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But don't forget that during this time John's baptism preceded Jesus' baptism of the Spirit.
IOW, water baptism most certainly did precede spiritual rebirth then. It was taught and performed as preparation for the one who would come afterwards and would baptize with, or in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that John's baptism (the repentance, not the water itself) is not enough to 'see' the kingdom of heaven. You must also be born from above, by the Spirit.

"the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man." (1 Samuel 10:6 NASB)

See, as a teacher of Israel who should be aquainted with, both, the scriptures and the Spirit, Nicodemus should have understood what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of being born again, or from above.

By the way, this is the point I was trying to make in regard to rejecting teachings simply because our well known commentaries did not arrive at the teaching first. For some reason none of them, to my knowledge, tell us that 1 Samuel 10:6 is actually the best answer as to what Jesus was getting at about Nicodemus not knowing about the rebirth of a person by the Spirit. As a teacher of Israel familiar with the scriptures of the day, he should have known how a man is changed into another man through the Spirit because of 1 Samuel 10:6 NASB quoted above.
I considered re John's baptism. When Jesus left the Apostles He told them to go preach the gospel to all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus always knew the baptism would change.

I know there are two ways of understanding what the water meant. The Catholic church says it's baptism. I don't believe this is correct for all the reason I stated. However, it can be understood either way.

Plus, think about it, when people were getting baptized by John, they had ALREADY repented. The baptism was like a washing - today we say that it's an outward sign of an inner change because inwardly we are washed and changed. We die to our old selves and come out of the water alive in Christ.

I agree with what you said about having to be born from above with the spirit to see the Kingdom of God.

W
 

wondering

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I'm not in disagreement with the order of events in this New Covenant. I was just pointing out how it was during the time that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. Water baptism (repentance) most certainly did precede spiritual birth during this time. John's baptism was the preparation for that rebirth. So one can not use the argument that spiritual rebirth precedes water baptism, therefore, Jesus can not be talking about the water of baptism in John 3.
Well, wait. Then you ARE agreeing with me?
??

W
 

MarkT

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It's got nothing to do with baptism. The water in this teaching is for drinking, not washing.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Drink the water for eternal life, for the LORD is the fountain of living water. Jer. 17:13



 
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Jethro Bodine

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It's got nothing to do with baptism. The water in this teaching is for drinking, not washing.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Drink the water for eternal life, for the LORD is the fountain of living water. Jer. 17:13


But that would mean there is no necessity to be born of the Spirit. You're saying the gift of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven occurs from the water alone.
 
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