You Must Be Born Again
The most misunderstood subject in the world is that of being born again and as a result, many may lose their salvation. This subject is misunderstood because of religious deception. The most quoted and distorted verses on this subject are found in the third chapter of John.
A Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a leader of the Jews, came to Jesus by night. He came at night because he didn’t want to be seen by his fellow Pharisees and risk being ostracized or excommunicated.
Nicodemus made a shocking proclamation to Jesus, saying, “We (meaning the Pharisees back at headquarters) know You have come from God as a teacher” (John 3:2). Jesus knew the Pharisees knew who He was, because they told Jesus they understood what He was saying. Their ears were opened by Jesus. God’s judgment was upon them in regard to their sin and eternal life. Jesus said, “Because you said, ‘We understand,’ your sin remains” (John 9:40-41). As a result, many of those Pharisees became obedient to the faith of Jesus (Acts 6:7). The Pharisees, or ministers, who would not repent were the ones who became Jesus’ mortal enemies. What is not brought out in Scripture is that there were tens of thousands of Jews believing Jesus and converting to the discipleship of Jesus Christ (Acts 21:20, refer to margin notes in NAS). Those who would not repent among the Jewish priests became Jesus’ worst enemies. They were the snakes Baptist John yelled at (Luke 3:7). Jesus called the religious leaders snakes too (Matthew 12:34). Making this background clear is necessary for us to realize who John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were addressing.
After Nicodemus’ comment, Jesus began to explain to Nicodemus that a person must be born again. However, because of who he was, Jesus spoke in heavily guarded spiritual language He knew Nicodemus would not understand. He spoke in a parable, which is a dark saying, a riddle or a mystery (Matt. 13:11-16, 17, 35). Jesus answered Nicodemus and said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Notice, Jesus says the kingdom of God is entered. Now turn to Matthew 23:13 and notice how Jesus scolded the Pharisees because they did not enter in themselves. The Pharisees were not entering the kingdom of God.
How can we identify those who have entered the kingdom of God? They become new creations, new creatures, new human beings who live spiritual lives on this earth as Jesus Christ did (Gal. 6:15). What are some other signs? These people have crucified the flesh with its evil passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). They walk by the Spirit now and because of this, they do not carry out the evil desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Over a period of time, they have Christ formed in them (Gal. 4:19). How does this happen? They continually discipline themselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). Jesus Christ’s doctrine is a holy Way of life. It is a simple, continual Way of life that conforms your old way of life to God’s new Way of life (2 Cor. 5:17). According to God’s word, anyone who does not speak according to this Way is conceited, stupid and understands nothing (1 Tim. 6:3-4).
Jesus said in the parable in John 3:5, that we must be born of water. What water is He talking about? We know about the baptism by water that was practiced 2,000 years ago (Matt. 3:15-17). But look! Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). What was this water? It was Jesus’ works, both from Him directly and as described in passages throughout His word (Eph. 5:26; John 8:51).
What did the last part of the verse, regarding the Spirit, mean? We must be born of the Spirit (John 3:5-8). Second Corinthians 3:17 simply states that “the Lord is the Spirit.” First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we were all baptized into one body.”
The full explanation of the parable beginning in John 3:5 is:
1. We should be baptized and receive the free gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
2. We should read, study and obey God’s word daily by putting it into practice in our daily lives and be washed by the water of God’s word by studying it daily. Then we will be abiding in the Lord’s word and keeping His commandments, and the Father and the Son will make their abode in our bodies (John 14:23-24).
In conclusion, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, He was talking to an enemy, not a disciple. Therefore, Jesus spoke to him in heavy spiritual language, a parable (2 Tim. 2:7; Matt. 13:33-34). Jesus knew those who had His Spirit and were living His way of life daily would clearly understand the meaning of this parable. All the others would twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
Jesus said His kingdom is righteousness and it is entered by righteous deeds that we do in Jesus Christ’s name (Rom. 14:17; Matt. 5:20, 16; 6:1). These righteous acts are called sacrifices (Heb. 13:16; Psalm 4:5; Rom. 12:1). Jesus Christ Himself says we must force ourselves into this kingdom (Luke 16:16). “The kingdom is within us,” He says in the true translation of Luke 17:21. Unless we practice righteousness daily for Jesus Christ, for repentance, we will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3, 5).
Doesn’t it make sense that if we are going to be judged by our deeds, we had better make sure they are all righteous in God’s eyes (John 3:10; Rev. 20:12)? We are all going to be judged on judgment day by Jesus’ words, which He told us to keep (John 12:47-50).
We need to be sure we understand these Scriptures and begin to change our ways to His Ways. Jesus says only those who have done the good deeds will come forth to a resurrection of life (John 5:29). Stop listening to those who confuse you and tell you differently. Live the good life—God’s Way of life!