A New Birth


In John chapter three, we have a man by the name of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and also a ruler (teacher) of the Jews coming by night to speak with Jesus. He had come to the conclusion that Jesus was someone special. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Seizing the opportunity Jesus will begin to discuss one of the great doctrines of the New Testament.

Jesus went right to the point.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This statement was puzzling to Nicodemus. He asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

At the conclusion of Jesus’ statement Nicodemus said, “How can these things be?”

Even today men seem to be confused about the New Birth.

This subject has always been surrounded by controversy. It is common to hear people say they have been “born again” but mean something different than what someone else may think it means. In more recent years we hear people talking about their becoming “a born again Christian.”

So what did Jesus teach?

From the context it is clear that Jesus is speaking of a spiritual birth and not a physical birth. John confirms this when he wrote, “Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13

In every birth there are two essential actions. First, there is the begetting or conception. Second, there must follow a delivery. What is true in the physical realm is often true in the spiritual realm also.

It would help if we would keep in mind that in both the physical and spiritual realm seed has always been involved. In the physical realm physical seed must be sown in order to produce a crop. This is also true in the spiritual realm. This is brought out in the Parable of the Sower. Jesus explains that the seed in this parable is the “word of God”. Luke 8:11

It is essential that the word of God find a lodging place in our hearts in order for us to even believe there is a Jesus.

Paul wrote “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17)

The word of God, the Bible, is a product of the Holy Spirit in that He inspired the men who wrote it. When Jesus told Nicodemus one must be “born of the Spirit” this is equivalent to saying one must be born of the word.

Faith cannot come in any other way. We would not even know that Jesus lived, died and arose from the grave without the Word We would know practically nothing about God were it not for the Word. We would not know what to do to be saved were it not for the inspired Word. Thus the Spirit plays a definite part in the begetting process in conversion. Note the following Scriptures.

Paul wrote, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures”.

James 1:18. Peter said, “Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth….and this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:23, 25

John wrote, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God”. 1 John 5:1

The only way we come to believe on his name is by the knowledge we gain from the Word of God. In physical birth water is always involved just before birth takes place. In the spiritual birth, water is also involved. A baby coming from his or her mother’s womb enters a new world of light, sound, smell, and taste to experience what he or she has never experienced before.

In the new birth there is a delivery from one realm into another as in physical birth. It is like coming out of darkness into light. Paul alludes to this delivery in Colossians 1:13.

“Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son.”

Think for a moment. Is there any mention in the Bible about water playing a part in a person’s salvation? If so where?

Baptism, which is a New Testament command, always involved immersion in water and is always related to salvation. There are a number of passages in the New Testament which declare that baptism puts one into a new relationship.

The water (baptism) of the new birth delivers us into a new relationship never experienced before. Note the following passages.

1. “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:13. The word “into” expresses a change from one condition into another.

2. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” Galatians 3:26, 27. In this passage both the begetting and the delivery are mentioned.

3. “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed way; behold, they are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. This clearly describes the delivery process in the new birth.

4. “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried there-fore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3, 4.

Notice the emphasis that is placed on newness of life as one is raised from the watery grave of baptism. This clearly describes the delivery action of the new birth.

The new birth of which Jesus speaks in John 3:1-5, is accomplished by first sowing the seed (the word of God) in our hearts, which then produces faith. Then faith leads us to respond to the command of baptism. In the act of baptism, we are then delivered into a new relationship with the Lord and we then have “newness of life”. Romans 6:4.

It is also interesting to note that something else also happens in the New Birth.

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin………Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them………And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:38 / Acts 2:41 / Acts 2:47

In addition to being born again they were also added to the church – the Kingdom Jesus established on that day. Those who think of the new birth as a feeling or experience need to recognize that feelings come as result of salvation rather than evidence of salvation. One’s feelings are not authoritative. Feelings can be and frequently are not reliable. Feelings can be very misleading if they are not based on God’s word. The Bible rests upon the foundation of truth. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth”. John 17:17

Solomon said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto man: but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

It is truth and not feelings that bring about salvation. It is a serious mistake to assume feelings are infallible in matters of religion. When people allow feelings to become their guide, God’s word can become meaningless.

Simply stated the new birth involves two elements.

(1.) The Holy Spirit working through His word producing faith in our hearts.

(2) Baptism (water) for the remission of sins.

Water in the new birth is clearly Baptism and Spirit is the Holy Spirit’s word working to produce faith and repentance in our hearts. To an audience convicted in their hearts that Jesus was the Son of God, Peter commanded, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. See Acts 2:36-38

What about you?

Have you been born again?