Monday, March 13

Spiritual Questions: Born Again? John 3:1-17

Dr. Jim Gentry

      There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to Him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:1-8, NKJV)

 Born Again. We have heard this moniker bounced around all over the media for many years. It has become a watchword for evangelical Christians, first made famous to the general public by President Jimmy Carter in the ‘70s. The common definition is brief but to the point: Born again means that a person has had a life changing experience with Jesus Christ, has been baptized and now has a personal relationship with God. That may be good enough for most folks but, as right thinking Christians, we need to delve deeper into the real meaning of this phrase, Born Again.

Some synonyms might be applied here: Regeneration, Rebirth through the Holy Spirit, a realignment of the will, the liberation of new capabilities and powers, “Washed in the blood”. Most important is first believing Jesus was who he said he was, The Son of God.
Less we forget, this experience is not just a one-time thing. Through His grace we can continue to repent and be forgiven our trespasses which we will continue to do and continue to receive His Holy Spirit.

The real heart of the concept of “Born Again” is found in John 3 when Nicodemus approached Jesus at night as a representative of the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, religious teachers and rulers of the law, to ask him questions because they knew he was one “come from God” and who spoke with authority.

       Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8, NKJV)
Well, there you have it. But, what did Jesus really want us to understand? First, it is obvious that Nicodemus was representing his Pharisee brothers. He mentioned “we” several times. He came by night which implies that he did not want to be seen with Jesus. Also, the Pharisees knew that He was a “teacher come from God”. They wanted to know more, no doubt trying to find something to ensnare Jesus.

Another interpretation is that Nicodemus came on his own accord and felt the call to know Jesus more intimately as “one who came from God.” I like this one better.

From the Greek Jesus uses a word that has a dual meaning, “again” or “from above”. Jesus meant simply that we need to be born twice, once from our mother and once from the Spirit of God (from above).

Some interpret the “water” as being baptized. I prefer the implication of a natural birth.
Spirit is described as the wind which can come and go as it wills. We can see the results of wind by rustling leaves, bending trees, etc. Likewise, we can see the results of wind/spirit by the actions of people once they have sought out Jesus, repented and received the Holy Spirit by their fruits.

So, being “Born Again” is our second birth, a birth “from above”, a birth by the Holy Spirit of God.

Being “Born Again” also means that we seek God’s face first, then repent, then receive the Holy Spirit. Throughout our lives we can continually seek out the Holy Spirit to help us in good times and bad. We are “adopted sons and daughters of God by way of the Holy Spirit and as a result of our “seeking Him” and His dying for us!” The result is a life that can be filled with joy and peace, “not of this world”. If you have not been “born from above”, repent of your sins and do a 180 degrees and receive his Holy Spirit. Then you will come into God’s family and you will have been born a second time, but this time into God’s Kingdom.

How will you know? His Holy Spirit will “breathe on you” and His joy and the Peace will be with you.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to each of us. Help us to show the results of your Spirit blowing in our lives this day. Amen.

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