Tag Archives: born again

BORN AGAIN

BORN AGAIN

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each another, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1: 22-23).

Being first-born or second-born in Hebrew culture has all sorts of implications. We have already examined the privileges and responsibilities of the firstborn in the family.

Perhaps the most serious of all the implications is that the firstborn son received judgment for the rest of the family’s misdemeanours while the second-born – and all the other siblings were classified as second-born – received mercy. In other words, the first-born had to take responsibility for his siblings’ wrongdoing while they got away with murder.

This has important implications for us when it comes to judgment and mercy for our sin in God’s eyes. In Adam we are all firstborn and, since the firstborn took the rap for the sins of the family (and, in God’s eyes, there are no second-borns in Adam), we are all responsible for our own sin.

What do we need in order to receive mercy? We need to be second-born. But how can we become second-born when we are the first-born in Adam? This is where the genius of God’s wisdom comes in. He did not violate His own word but fulfilled it through His own Son.

Since Jesus is God’s first-born, He took the judgment for our sin and died in our place.  Through faith in Him, we are in Him and therefore, as we all die in Adam, so we died ‘in Christ’.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? (Rom. 6: 3).

But, as the same time, Jesus was the ‘second Adam’, created in the likeness of Adam so that in Him we might receive mercy. How do we move from judgment to mercy? As Jesus explained to Nicodemus on the night he visited Him, ‘you must be born again.’ To move from judgment to mercy you must move from first-born in Adam to second-born in Christ. How does this happen? Through believing what Jesus said.

To Nicodemus He said, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh give birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’ (John 3: 5-6).

A miracle takes place in the spirit when a person who is in Adam takes Jesus at His word, confesses that He is Lord, and believes in heart that God raised Him from the dead. He is moved from firstborn in Adam to second-born in Christ. Instead of judgment which he deserved in Adam, he receives mercy because of Jesus.

For the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5: 15).

Jesus is also the first-born from the dead. Since we are ‘in Him’ in His death, we are also ‘in Him’ in His resurrection and therefore guaranteed resurrection from the dead.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy (Col. 1: 15)

But Christ had indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22).

It is, therefore, on the grounds of God’s faithfulness to His word that we have hope that we, too, will share in the resurrection of the dead, the perfection of our bodies and the blessing of eternal life.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Jesus Did Not Say That We Must Be Born Again

JESUS DID NOT SAY THAT WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN

Here’s another misunderstanding that has been turned into a doctrine. In fact it has become more than a doctrine. It has become a category – as though it were one of three categories of Christians. You get Christians; then you get “born-again” Christians; and then you get “born-again, Spirit-filled” Christians. Have you ever heard people using these distinctions? Of course it all depends on the stream of the faith to which you belong.

I wonder what Jesus would think about this!

From where does the expression “born again” come? “From Jesus, of course!” you retort. Yes, He did use it once, on a specific occasion to a specific person, but I wonder whether He meant it to be used as a category for believers or did He have something else in mind?

Let’s examine the circumstances of His use of the words, “born again”.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one can perform the signs you are doing if God were not with Him.’

Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ (John 3: 1-3)

“There you have it. Jesus did say that we must be born again,” you declare. Ah, but once again we must examine the context.

First of all, who was Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee, a strictly religious Jew who was a stickler for obeying, not so much the letter of Torah, as the letter of the myriad interpretations added to Torah by the ancient rabbis who had sh’mikah. They were acknowledged to have authority to make pronouncements about the meaning and application of the Law, which were not necessarily an expression of God’s original intention.

Like all the religious leaders of the Jews, Nicodemus believed that his adherence to the Law, which included all the additions, qualified him to be “righteous” before God. However, when he was confronted by Jesus, he realised that there was something missing both in his belief system and in his life. He was honest enough to admit, unlike his fellow Pharisees, that Jesus was more than a man because of His works. No one could do the miracles Jesus did unless His power came from God. He was not foolish enough to attribute Jesus’ power to the devil.

Jesus cut him short. No explanations. Just a bald statement of fact. As a member of the human race, not just the privileged class of Pharisees, Nicodemus was under divine judgment for his sin like everyone else. No amount of rule-keeping qualified him for exemption. If he wanted to experience life in the kingdom of God – the life Jesus exemplified by His words and works, he would have to have a brand new start.

This was not about being “born again” as a new status. This was about “seeing” the kingdom of God. The Jews of Jesus’ day, including Nicodemus, misunderstood what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God”. They were obsessed with the passion to get rid of the Romans and to re-establish the glorious kingdom of David. Many thought that Jesus would do this – overthrow the Roman occupation and set up their own kingdom once again.

But Nicodemus had to understand that God’s kingdom was not about the restoration of David’s kingdom, but the restoration of God’s rule in his heart. That would take much more than a new ruler in Israel. It demanded a brand new start through the power of the Holy Spirit. To “see” the kingdom of God was to have insight into what it was and how it worked. This was not possible while he, Nicodemus was still in the “flesh”.

Being “born again” was not a title or a status – it was a qualification for new life under the rule of God in the heart. It demanded a divine intervention through the Holy Spirit. It required a change of heart and nature to have the ”eyes” of the Spirit and to understand and walk in God’s ways. No amount of religious status or rigmarole could awaken him out of the death of sin.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 3: 4-6)

To describe people as “born again” is meaningless unless they are born again into an understanding and experience of life in the kingdom of God. Far too many who claim the title know nothing about living under God’s rule or even being true disciples of Jesus. A disciple is one who follows Jesus so closely that he becomes a replica of his Master, not just a casual adherent to a church or denomination. He is one who submits to Jesus as Lord and lives in obedience to His word.

To the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. . . (John 8: 31)

No, being born again is neither a title not a category of religious persuasion, but a drastic and dramatic work of the Holy Spirit. In response to faith in Jesus, He raises the dead spirit to life, transfers the believer in Jesus from Satan’s dominion of darkness to the kingdom of God, changes the heart and nature from selfishness and greed to unselfishness and generosity, and patiently refines the character until the believer begins to resemble his Master by becoming the true son of God which he is.

The expression, “born again” is used only twice in Scripture, by Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3, and by Peter in his first letter. Look at the context.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduing word of God. (1 Peter 1: 22-23)

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

It can be ordered directly from www.partridgepublishing.com or from your local branch of the publishing company. Details of where you can buy the book will be posted in due course.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Born Again

BORN AGAIN

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each another, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1: 22-23).

Being first-born or second-born in Hebrew culture has all sorts of implications. We have already examined the privileges and responsibilities of the firstborn in the family.

Perhaps the most serious of all the implications is that the firstborn son received judgment for the rest of the family’s misdemeanours while the second-born – and all the other siblings were classified as second-born – received mercy. In other words, the first-born had to take responsibility for his siblings’ wrongdoing while they got away with murder.

This has important implications for us when it comes to judgment and mercy for our sin in God’s eyes. In Adam we are all firstborn and, since the firstborn took the rap for the sins of the family (and, in God’s eyes, there are no second-borns in Adam), we are all responsible for our own sin.

What do we need in order to receive mercy? We need to be second-born. But how can we become second-born when we are the first-born in Adam? This is where the genius of God’s wisdom comes in. He did not violate His own word but fulfilled it through His own Son.

Since Jesus is God’s first-born, He took the judgment for our sin and died in our place.  Through faith in Him, we are in Him and therefore, as we all die in Adam, so we died ‘in Christ’.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? (Rom. 6: 3).

But, as the same time, Jesus was the ‘second Adam’, created in the likeness of Adam so that in Him we might receive mercy. How do we move from judgment to mercy? As Jesus explained to Nicodemus on the night he visited Him, ‘you must be born again.’ To move from judgment to mercy you must move from first-born in Adam to second-born in Christ. How does this happen? Through believing what Jesus said.

To Nicodemus He said, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh give birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’ (John 3: 5-6).

A miracle takes place in the spirit when a person who is in Adam takes Jesus at His word, confesses that He is Lord, and believes in heart that God raised Him from the dead. He is moved from firstborn in Adam to second-born in Christ. Instead of judgment which he deserved in Adam, he receives mercy because of Jesus.

For the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5: 15).

Jesus is also the first-born from the dead. Since we are ‘in Him’ in His death, we are also ‘in Him’ in His resurrection and therefore guaranteed resurrection from the dead.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy (Col. 1: 15).

But Christ had indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22).

It is, therefore, on the grounds of God’s faithfulness to His word that we have hope that we, too, will share in the resurrection of the dead, the perfection of our bodies and the blessing of eternal life.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Justice Or Mercy?

JUSTICE OR MERCY? 

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one can perform the signs you are doing if God were not with Him.’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’

‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!'” John 3:1-4 (NIV).

Now here’s an honest Pharisee, if ever there was one! At least he admitted, on behalf of his fellow Pharisees, that Jesus had come from God. I wonder what the others would have said had they heard him. Would they have flatly denied ever saying that, or even thinking it? Or was Nicodemus using the royal “we”?

Nicodemus was honest enough to show Jesus that he had weighed up the evidence and come to the conclusion that Jesus was demonstrating something far beyond the capabilities of ordinary people. Unlike his colleagues, however, he didn’t attribute Jesus’ power to Beelzebub; He connected the dots and came up with the conclusion that Jesus and God were doing this together.

What was Nicodemus getting at? In a roundabout way he was asking, ‘Jesus, we are both teachers. What have you got that I haven’t got?’ Perhaps he didn’t get an opportunity to ask his question. Perhaps Jesus cut him short to stop him rambling and get him on the right track.

Jesus’ response was surprising — no explanation, just a bold statement. ‘You’ll never get it, Nicodemus, unless you are born again.’ What did He mean? What is this ‘born again’ idea that Christians bandy about so freely without understanding its meaning?

Throughout the Bible we read that there was special significance in being the firstborn in a family. Firstborn sons, first of all, belonged to God and had to be redeemed by the payment of a sum of money to the high priest. Firstborn animals were sacrificed. Firstborns carried the responsibility for the rest of the family. They received justice for any of their siblings’ wrongdoing while the sibling received mercy.

We see this illustrated in the story of Joseph. It was Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn who refused to kill Joseph but suggested they throw him in a pit… He planned to rescue him from the pit and return him to his father because he would have had to bear the punishment had they killed Joseph.

Firstborn sons also received a double portion of their father’s inheritance. This was to compensate for their responsibility, for example, of marrying a brother’s widow to produce offspring for his dead brother.

The Bible makes it clear that Adam was God’s firstborn and got justice for his sin. Since we are all “in Adam” we also should receive justice for all our sin. However, Jesus is described as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15 (NIV). Why is this so important? As God’s firstborn Son, Jesus received justice in order that we might receive mercy.

But I thought you said that in Adam we receive justice? True, but since we are “in Christ” we have received justice “in Him” because He died on our behalf. Now here’s the miracle. Jesus is also called “the last Adam” — second-born in God’s reckoning. Since we are “in Him” we received justice as firstborns but we also received mercy as second-borns! Isn’t that amazing? God is so precise and so just!

Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, ‘If you want to understand what is happening in the realm of the unseen — the kingdom of God — you need a spiritual rebirth from justice into mercy.’ No one can understand or receive God’s mercy until he is transferred from the realm of justice to the realm of mercy on which what God’s way of dealing with people is based. Because God’s justice has been satisfied once and for all through the cross, He deals with us all as second borns — mercy, mercy, mercy!

‘Nicodemus, do you understand that? If you want to experience God’s mercy, you need to be transferred from “in Adam” to “in Christ” and that takes a supernatural act of God. It will never make sense to you until that happens and it won’t happen until you believe that I am the Son of God and that my sacrifice paid your debt and offers you mercy.’

Wow! Isn’t that something! And it’s freely available for all!