The New Birth

Introduction:  In the modern day terminology, we hear the expression:  born again Christiansfrequently used.  We are not sure when or who coined the specific wording born again Christian.  The concept of a new birth came from Jesus Christ when He was explaining to a man by the name of Nicodemus how a person entered into the kingdom of God (John, chapter 3); whereas the name Christian was given by the mouth of the Lord for those who are His spiritual children under the new covenant.  Recorded by inspiration at Isaiah 62:2, the prophet foretold:  “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory:  and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.”  This reference in Isaiah reveals that God’s people would receive this new name when “the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness.”  It was only after the household of Cornelius, being Gentiles, obeyed the gospel of Christ that the new name was given to the redeemed.  Before this Gentile family entered into a saved state, the Apostle Peter explained, “…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).  After they were baptized into Christ, the new name was given.  “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).  The significance of this name is also seen in the following scripture references: 

Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other:  for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Acts 26:28, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

1 Pet. 4:16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

So, the terms “born again” and “Christian” are Biblical.  However, it is misleading to put them together.  If a person has spiritually been born again, then that person is a Christian.  No one is a Christian who has not been born again.  Therefore, we should refrain from saying, “born again Christians” because no one is a Christian who has not been born again.

I.                   THE SUBJECT OF BEING BORN AGAIN WAS BROUGHT UP BY JESUS WHEN—

A.    “…a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God:  for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:1-2).

1.      Our Lord responded unto him by saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Verse 3).

2.      Jesus was speaking of a spiritual birth, but Nicodemus did not understand this.

3.      He responded by inquiring, “…How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (Verse 4).

4.      In his confusion, he mistakenly thought that Jesus was speaking of another physical birth.

a.       Under the Law of Moses this man had come into covenant fellowship with God by being physically born into the nation of Israel.

b.      His circumcision was a seal of that fact.  (Genesis 17:11-14).

II.                IN FURTHER EXPLAINING UNTO NICODEMUS THE NEW BIRTH, JESUS DECLARED:

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Verse 5).

A.    The “Spirit” of this passage has reference to the Holy Spirit.

1.      The Holy Spirit does not act miraculously upon the sinner’s heart to convert him.

2.      As the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit has already provided the inspired Word that can save our soul.

James 1:21, “…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

Acts 11:13-14, “And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”

3.      Of course, a person must obey those inspired instructions.

                  James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

                 Hebrews 5:8-9, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

                                   4.    The begattal of the spiritual birth is the Word of God           

James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  

1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

Luke 8:11, “Now the parable is this:  The seed is the word of God.”

B.    The “water” of the New Birth is the baptism of the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Mark 16:15-16, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

1.      The newness of life takes place when an obedient believer is raised from the waters of baptism.

 Rom. 6:3-4, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

2.      The new creature in Christ is an obedient believer.

                  2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

III.             MANY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE CLOSING STATEMENT OF OUR LORD CONCERNING THE NEW BIRTH.

John 3:7-8, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:  so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

A.    In this passage Jesus is not referring to the new birth, or the operation of the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

1.      Instead, our Lord is speaking of the individual who obeys the gospel of Christ.

2.      He said, “so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

3.      As the wind is invisible and we do not know its source, the inner invisible part of man is a spirit.  It is that inner spirit that is born again, not the physical body.

IV.              THERE ARE PARELLEL SCRIPTURE TO THE LORD’S DISCUSSION OF THE NEW BIRTH AS RECORDED AT JOHN 3:1-8.

Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”

Titus 3:4-7, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

                 A. The following terms of these passages are equivalent to one another:

1.      At John 3:5, the term:  “born of water,” means the same thing as “cleanse it with the washing of water” at Ephesians 5:26, and as “by the washing of regeneration” at Titus 3:5.  All three of these passages are speaking of being scripturally baptized into Christ.  Baptism is a burial in water for the remission of sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; Acts 8:26-39; Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:18-20).

2.      And at John 3:5, the term:  “born…of the Spirit,” is equivalent to “by the word” at Ephesians 5:26, and as “and renewing of the Holy Ghost” at Titus 3:5.

3.      Harmonizing these three passages of scripture:  When a penitent believer is scripturally baptized then this is the new birth.  The work of the Holy Spirit is through the media of the inspired Word to convict us of our sins and to reveal what we must do to be saved (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Acts 2:36-41).

4.      The Holy Spirit does not work directly in a supernatural way to convict the sinner of his or her sins, but rather by way of the inspired Word.

V.                 THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE CHURCH OF OUR LORD ARE ONE AND THE SAME THING.

A.    The church is made-up of the redeemed.

1.      The moment a person obeys the gospel of Christ he or she obtains the remission of sins and are added to the saved, which is the church, the spiritual kingdom of our Lord. (Acts 2:36-41, 47; Colossians 1:13-14).

Conclusion:  The Son of God invites all mankind, who are accountable, to come unto Him.  At Matthew 11:28-30 is His Great Invitation:  “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  We do so when we obey His gospel (Romans 6:17-18; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Romans 6:3-4).

--Dub Mowery

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