Jesus in the Gospels (4)

You must be born from above!

“‘ I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'”  John 3:3, NIV. The Greek word John used here means “born from above.” Jesus told Nicodemus that the sinful human beings must be born from above to qualify for the kingdom of God. The “above” means from heaven. Jesus came from heaven; therefore, the birth from above is possible in Jesus Christ only. Nicodemus had in mind the biological birth, the birth in the flesh when he heard that he must be born again. Therefore, he inquires of Jesus how could such a rebirth happen? This occasion presented Jesus an opportunity to give Nicodemus a deeper meaning of the “born anew,” or “born from above.” The birth from above, Jesus explained, is the “birth of water and the Spirit.” Just as the members of the “old humankind” are the descendants of the first man, Adam, the members of the “new humankind,” must be born in Jesus Christ, the Second Adam. When a person willfully and deliberately denies his/her self and accepts Jesus Christ as his/her Savior and life, the Holy Spirit comes into such a person, and he/she becomes a new creation, there and then.

The understanding that the “new birth” is a change in behavior is common among believers today. However, the change in physical behavior would take some time to realize; but the birth from above, the birth of Spirit, is a one-time permanent event. It is not visible at the time it happens, but the experience of it becomes evident in time. Even a most sincere change in physical behavior does not long-endure, but the birth of the Spirit is for eternity. “‘ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”‘ John 3:8, NIV. Any a person could, with sincere effort, do good works; however, only one born of the Spirit could do the righteous works. Good works are through the flesh; the righteous works are by the Spirit and are by God. John 3:21. 

The apostle Paul summarized the above concept as follows. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitudes of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness.” Ephesians 4:22 – 24, NIV. The “new person” lives and behaves like a new person always, because of his righteous nature in Jesus Christ. The “old person,” however, lives and acts according to his sinful nature because he/she could not do righteous works while possessing the sinful nature. “‘Make a tree good and its fruit will be good.”‘ Mathew 12:33. God made us a good tree in Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV. The birth from above, therefore, is a radical change in the mind of a yielded believer. He acquires a new attitude and a new way of thinking.

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Dan Lazich

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