READ John 3:1-21
In Chapter one verse 12-13, John shares the truth about how one becomes a child of God - this having nothing to do with our physical birth, but by receiving Jesus and by the will of God. What does this mean exactly?
Jesus reveals the full meaning of John's introduction to salvation by proclaiming the need to be born again. Many people are confused with this concept. I hear it often, "well are you a Christian or a born-again Christian? The truth is, one cannot be a Christian without being born-again, at least not in the manner in which Jesus requires. We can be followers of the Christian faith and we can believe that Jesus exists and that he is the son of God, but it doesn't necessarily mean we are saved and going to heaven.
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!" James 2:19
So what does it mean to be born again?
Jesus leaves no room for doubt in answering this question. Nicodemus was a man among the rulers - a Pharisee who had been watching and listening to Jesus; so much so that he was curious and obviously ready to learn more. But fearing the Pharisees, he went to Jesus at night. He began by acknowledging that Jesus was a Teacher and that God was with him. It's amazing how Jesus got right to the point. He knew the question that was behind the words of Nicodemus.
Jesus did not respond to what he said, instead he responded with, "most assuredly, I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Naturally Nicodemus was thinking in physical terms when he questioned how he might return to his mother's womb.
In verse 5 - 8 Jesus explained chapter 1:12-13. He talked about physical birth and spiritual birth. "That which is born of flesh is flesh". Nothing more, nothing less. "But that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" He specifically said unless one is born of water (physical - the womb) and the Spirit (The power of the Holy Spirit, which is from above), he cannot enter the kingdom of God. This second birth comes by receiving Jesus as Savior. (First Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical must come first then the spiritual. In other words, we do not start as spirit beings in heaven and then come to earth in the form of a human.)
Jesus continued to explain that being born again requires belief that He is the only way to heaven. He made reference to his upcoming death on the cross by comparing himself to the days of Moses. (This will be discussed in detail in the discussion questions.)
By the end of their conversation. Jesus had made it clear that any one who does not believe that He is the Son of God, is condemned and will not inherit the kingdom of God. The behavior of man is not considered in the equation.
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
There are many professing Christians who believe that being a good person will get them to heaven. There are many others who believe that God will accept other faiths. Still others believe that they do not have to be born again to get to heaven. The question we have to ask ourselves is who do we believe? Are we going to trust ourselves and what we think God will do? Or are we going to believe Jesus and what He says? If we do not accept the words of Jesus, then we need to quit calling ourselves Christians. Jesus calls us to choose; we can believe Him, or we can deny Him, but we can't have it both ways. In our flesh, we will never be good enough.
Saying a prayer to invite Jesus into our lives is just the beginning. Being born again, leads to a healthy and obedient lifestyle. There must be evidence of our faith, In other words, lip service is not enough.
There is much more to learn in this powerful passage of Scripture, but one thing is for sure - If Jesus said we must be born again, then we must be born again.
Please share your thoughts.
Discussion questions Part one.
Part two to follow shortly.
Consider the following for starters:
"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.." 1 Peter 1:22-23
"And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, and the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.." Ephesians 2:1-3
(C) Teresa Ortiz - Book of John study 2010
» left by Lance Ponder(62) (2 years 119 days ago.)
The point which stands out to me in these passages is the sovereignty of God in salvation. Words we state are not what causes salvation. Belief itself is a gift. Our acceptance is not an act of merit, but a function of the quickening power of the Spirit working within us. This is not to say we are without responsibility, but we are subjects of a King by His permission through his mercy and grace. Citizenship in the Kingdom comes at a grave price (literally). It is a kingdom that can only be entered by live birth - being born again. These are both metaphors to aid us in understanding in real spiritual truths. In all things God is sovereign.Respond to this comment
» left by Anonymous (2 years 117 days ago.)
Amen Lance. I love that Jesus always taught with stories and used things people can relate to. It helps our finite mind get a glimpse of the infinite. And then as the Holy Spirit does his work in us, we grow in understanding. Our learning is endless this side of heaven. It's one of the things that make studying so exciting!
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» left by Maggie from Veneta (2 years 116 days ago.)
Very good! Amen and Amen! There are many out there who think they are a Christian because the go to church, or believe in God, or do good things in His name. But have never really stepped over the line and given their lives to Christ! Not everyone who says Lord Lord really knows the Lord! This is false conversions and so many think they have done what is necessary and are covered yet never really took on the covering of Christ's blood. It is so important for us as Christians to be out there speaking truth and showing others their need for Christ. If we don't see our need,(our failure to keep the commands has condemned us to hell, and Jesus' free gift of Salvation by what He did on the cross)then we wont truely desire what Jesus offers. Great article Teresa!Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortiz (2 years 114 days ago.)
Hi Maggie. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your adding Jesus' words - "Not everyone who says to me Lord...." It is sad that almost everyone wants to talk about God's love and acceptance, and still many of those same people do not want to talk about the Holiness and Justice of God. We need to be praying that God would open the eyes of the unbelieving just as he did ours! Blessings to you!
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» left by Anonymous (2 years 107 days ago.)We appreciate your comments!
Teresa - we are a group of ladies doing the online John study. Several were confused by the statement in the 2nd paragraph "We can be followers of the Christian faith . . . but it doesn't necessarily mean we are saved and going to heaven". Can you clarify? What do you mean "be a follower of the Christian faith"? What we saw as missing is a person's repentance of sin and acceptance of God's forgiveness through Jesus as Savior and therby being saved. Agree?Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortiz (2 years 107 days ago.)
Hi there! Thank you for taking a moment to fill me in and for your comment/question. I will definitely go back and add some examples.
What I meant is:
Many people think Christianity has good teachings - "the golden rule" type of thing. They also believe that Jesus existed and so they go to church to try and be better people - This is a follower of the Christian faith. BUT they do not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. They believe God will accept all good people and that Christianity is just a way, not THE way. When it comes down to it, they do not believe Jesus and do not take him at his word. Thus, they do not believe his words are true and lack a genuine faith and trust in Him. Therefore, the are not a follower of Jesus. And if not a follower of Jesus, then they see no need for true repentance and accepting God's forgiveness as you shared.
Here are a few passages of Scripture that may help to show it's more than just believing He exists.
"Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven...." Matthew 7:21
What is the will of the Father?
"This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this the will of Him who sent Ne, that everyone who sees the Son AND believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day: John 6:39 - 40
I will be covering the will and work of God in depth as we study chapter 6.
"For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted for righteousness." Romans 4:3
It is more than just believing in him (that he exists), it is about believing him ( what he says about who he is, what he says about the condition of man, and what he says about how to obtain salvation - that he is the way and the truth and the life and no one gets to the father apart from him.) When this truth penetrates our heart we move from merely believing in his existence, to believing him, which leads to saving faith as our hearts recognize and receive his free gift of salvation, not by any good thing we try to be or do. At the point of true faith and dependence on who He is, we are born again by the Spirit of God (saved)
I hope this helps, I do apologize for being vague. I will keep this in mind as I move forward. May the Lord bless each and every one on you. Please continue to share your thoughts, insights, and questions.
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» left by ralph from yucca vly ca. (1 year 289 days ago.)
Excellent,Spirit filled article. In Jn.4:24 we read God is a Spirit:and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.So if we are not born again and want to worship him we are not,because a dead man can't.In order to do so we must be born again.
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