That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 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.( John 3:6-8)
The Apostle John likes to use words in his gospel that have two meanings, both of which apply to the text. For example in John 11 When Lazarus died, Jesus told th disciples that “Lazarus sleeps”. Of course Lazarus had died, but in Jesus, though believers may die physically, death to us is sleep. Which is it? death or sleep? In Christ death is sleep.
In the same manner, the text in John 3 speaks of the wind Blowing, but the word for wind is the same word as the word for Spirit. The Spirit blows where it wants to… ,”The wind blows where it listeth..
The same goes for the phrase “born again”, (grk “Gennatha Anothen”). The phrase means “born again” and “born from above”. Both apply to the teaching of Jesus, we are called to start all over again, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and to live by a heavenly gift of life , called “eternal Life”.
The new birth is something imparted to us as a gift from God. It is a work of the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. It can not be imparted to anyone by man.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:12-13)
In all of the years I have been a pastor at Believers in Grace Fellowship, since 1982), we have never created one christian! Not once in all of our time of existence , have we ever caused anyone to be “born again”.
The new birth is an act of God! It is an impartation of the life of God to a sinner who has received Jesus Christ and his gospel, the seed of God. The Holy Spirit alone brings the sinner to that point, convicting and enlightening and imparting eternal life, that is a share in the life of Jesus.
Jesus said that, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”.(John 6:63)
That is why the apostle Peter reminds us that we have been; “… born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”(I Peter 1:23)
When Jesus compared the Flesh and the Spirit,(That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is Spirit is Spirit), he wasn’t talking about the difference between sinful and Holy. Rather he uses the expression flesh to denote that which is frail, finite and earthly, versus that which is of a heavenly origin.
Paul elaborates on the difference between “That which is of flesh” vs “That which is of the Spirit” by contrasting those born of Adam(Flesh), and those born anew, of Christ (Spirit). Every human being has descended from and has received by birth the (fallen and corrupt) nature of our father Adam.
This is the first birth, and it is one that renders us unfit, inadequate to inherit the Kingdom of heaven. No matter how vile, sinful, or lofty and noble;, a son of Adam is a son of Adam. He is already fallen, sinful, estranged from God, with a corruptible nature, and liable to a deserved damnation. He may be religious but if unregenerate, he is dead to the only true God. No amount of “goodness” can undo that, for in God’s sight, “there is none good, no not one…”.
But when He receives a second birth, when He is “born from above” by receiving the gift of God, through the incorruptible seed of the gospel, that person becomes a partaker of the nature of God. He comes alive to God ,now able to commune with his Maker.He is said to be “begotten of God”.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.(I John 5:1)
He passes out of the “Adams” family, and has escaped the judgment. On the cross Jesus bore his judgment, and made Himself responsible for his sins.
As Paul says ”
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.(I Corinthians 15:21-22)
If we were “born into “Adam’s family, how do we exit? We must die, it’s the only way out of a family!
We believe that we died, when we acknowledged our sinfulness, and gave up on our own self-righteousness, to call upon the crucified and risen Lord Jesus! Our Baptism was our funeral, and as we were raised up out of the water, Christ has raised us from the dead unto anew heavenly life! We are “born again ” unto a living hope by the resurrection from the dead!
I don’t like bumper sticker theology normally, but I saw one that really did say it well one time,
“If you are only born once, you will die twice, but if you are born twice, you will only die once!”
More to come