Are You Born Again ?
In a biblical discussion, one gentleman asked this question; “How do you know if you are born again?” One of his points, and I suppose you could say he considers it a “problem”, is that we can’t simply go to any one verse in the bible, which tells us exactly HOW to be born again.
But of course, that’s the way it is with most subjects in the bible. There is usually not just one specific verse, that tells us the whole story on any bible subject! It’s like the lesson we had recently on “Walking in the Light”. There is no ONE verse in the entire bible, that tells us exactly HOW, to “walk in the light, as He is in the light”. You’ve got to go to several verses, many verse actually, that deal with the subject, so that you can put all the teachings of the bible together, to learn exactly what it means to “walk in the light”.
That’s the way it is with almost every bible subject. No one verse tells us everything we need to know, about any one given bible subject. And so we do what we’re told to do in 2 Timothy 2:15. We “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Some versions say; “..correctly discerning the word of truth.” Some say; “..handling accurately the word of truth”.
That’s the way it is with the subject of salvation. There’s no one verse in the bible that tells us everything we need to know about being saved. There’s all kinds of things that we need to know. And they’re simply not all given in just one verse. That’s the whole idea of studying! We need to “correctly discern” God’s word. We need to “handle accurately” God’s word. We need to “rightly divide” it. You can’t just go throwing verses together that don’t go together. You cant just take one verse of scripture on a given subject, and think you’ve got the whole teaching of the bible on that subject.
So then how do you know, if you’ve been born again? That’s actually a good question. It’s a very good question, that needs to be understood. It needs to be answered, and it needs to be understood. And the answer to the question, is the exact same answer, to the question.. How do you know if you’ve been saved? You can know if you’ve been saved, in exactly the same way that you can know of you’ve been born again. Because being born again, means exactly the same thing as being saved! If you have bene born again, you have been saved. And if you’ve been saved, then you have been born again. It’s that simple. They both mean exactly the same thing.
The first time we see the phrase “born again” in the bible, is in John 3, verse 3. Jesus is speaking, and He says to the Jewish leader Nicodemus; “..Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And so Nicodemus says in verse 4; “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” And so Jesus gives this explanation, which of course in itself, only gives us a little bit more information about what being born again is.
Jesus tells Nicodemus, in verse 5; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Well, at least we know now, that to be born again, means to be born of water, and of the Spirit. But now the question is.. What does it mean to be born of water, and what does it mean to be born of the Spirit?
But let me point out something that Nicodemus obviously didn’t understand. When Jesus said; “..unless one is born AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God” , Nicodemus evidently didn’t understand the word which is translated as “again”. You know, so many times, a word can have more than one meaning. And the Greek word “an’-o-then” is just such a word. The word can indeed simply mean “again”. But it can also mean.. “from the beginning” or in other words, “from the origin of things”. And the word can also mean.. “from above”, “from a higher place”. Do you get the meaning? Unless a man is born from above, from a higher place, in other words from heaven, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Unless a man is born from heaven, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven!” Well that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? The kingdom of God is in heaven, and so if you want to see that kingdom which is in heaven, you must be “born” from heaven.
That same word is used in John 3:31, where Jesus says; “The One who comes from above, is above all.” And it’s used in John 19:11, where Jesus says; “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you, from above.” And James 1:27 says; “Every good thing given and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..” And James 3:17 says; “But the wisdom from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
You must be born from above!
But Nicodemus didn’t quite catch that meaning. And Jesus didn’t really directly correct Nicodemus either. And Jesus does that a lot in the scriptures. He’ll say something, and even though His listeners won’t quite understand correctly what He’s saying, He won’t directly correct them, right then and there. It’s like He’s going to let then think about it for a while. And so what Jesus does say to Nicodemus, is what we read from verse 5; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Now you’d think that when Jesus specified being born of the Spirit, that Nicodemus would have put two and two together, and realized that Jesus was talking about being born from above! After all, the Spirit, is without a doubt, from above! And so Jesus goes a step further, and He says in verse 6; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words, you’re flesh is born from below, here on the earth, but you’re spirit needs to be born from up above, from heaven.
And Jesus says in verse 7; “Do not be amazed that I said to you; You must be born from above.” But Nicodemus still doesn’t understand, and Jesus says in verse 10; “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?”
You know it’s not that much different with Christians today. So many people just don’t understand these things. But we should! We should understand these spiritual truths! We NEED to understand these spiritual truths!
There’s one more verse in the new testament, that uses the phrase “born again”. And that verse is 1 Peter 1:23. And it says; “For you have been BORN AGAIN, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Born again, not of anything perishable, but born again through the very word of God! “Born of the Spirit”, Jesus says. And “born of the word of God”, says Peter. Is being born of the Spirit, the same as being born of the word of God? The answer is Yes! Yes it is the very same thing.
Sometimes 1 Peter 1:23 begins with these words; “Having been born again”. What I had just read was; “For you have been born again”. But those words, “Having been born again”, and “For you have been born again”, come from just one Greek word. And that one word means.. “to beget again from on high” ! It means the same thing that John 3, verse 3 means. “To be born from on high. Born from above.”
Consider this.. When you are born, you are being given life, are you not? Yes you are. When you are born physically, life is brought into this world. But when you are born spiritually, life is brought to your spirit! And what did Jesus say in John 6, verse 63? Jesus said; “It is the Spirit who gives LIFE; The flesh profits nothing; The WORDS that I have spoken to you, are SPIRIT and are LIFE! ”
To be born of the Spirit, is to be born of the Word of God. “Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the living and enduring (some versions say abiding) Word of God.”
So then, exactly HOW, are you “born” of the Word of God? How are you “born” of the Spirit of God? Well, very simply put, to be “born” of the Word of God, “born of the Spirit”, is to arrive at faith in God, and in Jesus Christ. Romans 10, verse 17, tells us; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Or the word of God) That’s where faith comes from; From the word of God. And that’s also what we are born again from; From the word of God. Being “born from above” is coming to faith in the word of God.
It’s a transformation of the mind; A transformation of the spirit actually. You are transformed, from being led by the flesh, to being led by the Spirit (the word of God) And the transformation comes, through faith! Ephesians 2, verse 8 says; “For by grace, you have been saved, through FAITH.”
We are born of the word of God, when we come to have FAITH in the word of God. But you’re not “born from above” by faith only! Just like you are not saved by faith only! It takes obedience to what we have faith in, to be saved. When God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac on an alter, the scripture says that Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness”. (Romans 4:3, James 2:23) Well, what does that mean, that Abraham “believed God” ? It means that Abraham OBEYED what God told him to do! It means that Abraham believed the words of God, to the extent that he obeyed those words of God.
And so Abraham wasn’t counted righteous, by faith only! And neither are we born from above, by faith only.
Remember the words of Jesus, when He spoke to Nicodemus.. We’re not born ONLY of the Spirit, not ONLY of the Word of God, but by “WATER AND the Spirit”.
In our life of obedience to God, In our journey to salvation, and our journey to being born from above, there is only one time, one place, that water enters into the picture. And that one time and place, is at our baptism. We must be “born of water”. Romans 6, verse 3 & 4, describe beautifully, the new birth from on high. The scripture says; “Or do you not know, that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism, into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, so we too, might walk in newness of life.”
In other words, we are raised from the grave of baptism, to be “born from above” and to walk in newness of life. Baptized “INTO Christ.”
“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) A new birth, and a new creation, and a new life. Born of water and the Spirit. “Unless you are born from above, you cannot see the kingdom of God.” But having been born form above, you are added to the kingdom, by the Lord Himself. “And the Lord was adding to their number daily, such as were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)