I am currently co-teaching a “Foundations” class in our Sunday school program at Church. We are actually working through our Church’s statement of faith, and this week I am going to be teaching on the Second Birth. Because I am a lazy sort, I thought I would share parts of the teaching in narrative form here on my blog. As always when I start digging around in the familiar scriptures my heart is thrilled at the great and awesome Savior we serve.
So here goes -
Today we are going to look at the fourth declaration in our statement of faith.
We believe in the sinful nature of all people and in being born again in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:12; Romans 3:23; John 3:3 and 16-18
To do this, I thought we would entertain four questions.
- Where does the concept of second birth or being born again come from?
- What does it mean to be born again?
- Why do we need to be born again?
- How can we be born again?
We will answer each from the Bible in detail. So let’s jump in.
Where does the concept of Second Birth or being Born Again come from?
Jesus, in a conversation with a religious leader, said:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." - John 3:3 NASB
This idea confused Nicodemus, the religious leader with whom He was speaking and so Jesus took some time to explain it more thoroughly.
What does it mean to be born again?
The phrase ‘born again’ is a physical metaphor for a spiritual reality.
We hear this metaphor borrowed all the time in our culture to speak of people who have started over, who have ‘turned over a new leaf.’
Let’s read the a little more of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
"Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:4-8 NASB
Though we have latched onto the term born again, the true description of what is needed in any man who would enter the ‘kingdom of God’ is a spiritual birth.
John actually broached this subject right in the first Chapter. Last week we looked at the first few verses of Chapter 1 regarding Jesus’ divinity and His part in creation. Today we will jump in at verse 9 where John begins to describe Jesus' mission and ministry. As with some of the verses we looked at last week, and as you will find throughout the Bible, God packs volumes into few words.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:9-13 NASB
I hope you begin to see how the Word is connecting some dots for us here. In John 3 we have the phrase ‘born again’ and Jesus describes it more fully as being ‘born of the Spirit.’ He tells us there that this is the only way to enter ‘the kingdom of God.’ Here we have a description of Christ’s ministry, that He came to His own, in hopes of being ‘received.’
His own refers to the Jews in the context. God sent Jesus to His own chosen people and by and large His own people rejected Him.
But then we see this wonderful offer extended. As many as ‘receive’ Him have the right to become the children of God.
Next, we see another description of this ‘born again’ idea.
“…born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man”
This sounds a lot like the birth of Jesus doesn’t it? Jesus did not come as a result of Mary’s relations with Joseph, nor was He a product of their desire to have sex, and He was not the result of Mary’s plan to start her family.
He was born as a direct result of the will of the Father. He was indeed ‘born of God.’ As we studied last week, Mary was a virgin and the man Jesus had no earthly father. His Father was God. Therefore Jesus did not need to be ‘born again’ since He was quite literally ‘born of God.’
And for tomorrow…
Now let’s spend a little time talking about WHY there is a problem with just being born once. Why do we need a second birth?
See you again soon