Born Again

What does it really mean to be "born again" or "born of the spirit"?

Jesus taught that we must be "born again" or "born of the spirit" to see or enter the kingdom of God. What did He mean by that? Let's look at John chapter three:

1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2. 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.
3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Then, in verse 8, Jesus gave Nicodemus an illustration of what it's like to be born of the spirit:

8. 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.

No one today - who claims to be "born again" or "born of the spirit" - is like the wind. They are not invisible, nor are they able to move around without being seen. Can you do that? Of course not. Neither can I.

But Jesus could do that after His resurrection. He could appear and disappear at will. Remember how He suddenly appeared in the midst of the disciples, and also disappeared? Upon His resurrection Jesus was spirit; He was born of the spirit, and was immortal.

The apostle Paul described Jesus as the "firstfruits." Jesus was the first to be "born of the spirit," to go from flesh to spirit, to go from mortal life to immortal spirit life. Those who are Christ's will also be born of the spirit, and become immortal. When? The apostle Paul explained:

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23)

In 1 Thessalonians Paul described the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" at Jesus' coming, His return:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

Read Paul's very clear description of the death and resurrection of the elect:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

When we die our natural mortal body, "born of the flesh," is "sown" or planted back into the ground, the grave. At Jesus' return His elect will be "born of the spirit." The elect who have died will be resurrected with an immortal, spiritual body, just as Jesus - the "firstfruits" - was resurrected.

Jesus explained to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). In other words, they are two different things. You can't be both at the same time.

Jesus has not returned yet. His elect have not yet been resurrected immortal. So as of now Jesus is the only man to have become spirit, born of the spirit and immortal. The "dead in Christ" remain in the grave until their resurrection at Jesus' return. That's when they too will be "born of the spirit" and immortal.

Don't get me wrong: I am not saying we don't need or don't have or can't have God's spirit dwelling in us while we are mortals. We absolutely must have God dwelling in us: that is the only way we can be led into the truth, and led out of slavery to sin and led into His righteousness.

What I'm saying is that the real meaning of being "born again" or "born of the spirit" has to do with actually receiving, at the return of Christ, the "spiritual body" Paul wrote about. Not until then will we be like this:

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. (John 3:8)

We cannot see or enter or inherit the Kingdom of God as mortals; we must first receive an immortal spirit body at our resurrection at Jesus' return. Both Paul and Jesus explained this. Here's Paul; in this passage the "trumpet" that sounds announces the return of Christ and "sleep" refers to being dead, in the grave:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

And here's Jesus saying we can't enter the kingdom unless we're born of the spirit:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Paul said we can't inherit the kingdom as mortals; we must first receive an immortal, spirit body. Jesus said we can't see or enter the kingdom unless we're born of the spirit. When Jesus spoke of being "born of the spirit," He was talking about receiving an immortal, spirit body. As Paul explained, we receive our "spiritual body" when Jesus returns.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:18:

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

Has anyone that believes they're "born of God" or "born again" stopped sinning? No: they're not born of God, not yet.

In this mortal life we - if we are Christ's - are begotten of God but not yet born of God. We have His spirit in us, leading us out of slavery to sin, leading us into truth and teaching us His righteousness.

In the Bible, washing, with water, often symbolizes or portrays being cleaned up spiritually. For example, when Jesus was washing His disciples' feet, He told Peter "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." John 13:8

Only through being washed - in an ongoing relationship with Jesus, abiding in Him and He in us - can we be made ready to inherit the kingdom of God. This washing with water was what Jesus was referring to when He said we must also be "born of water" before we can enter the kingdom of God:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Before we can see or enter of inherit the kingdom of God, we must first be spiritually washed in an ongoing relationship with Him. We must also be born of the spirit: we must receive a spiritual body at Jesus' return. As the apostle Paul wrote, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."

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