During the early months of Jesus’ ministry, an influential member of the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus at night to seek assurance that Jesus was from God. But, Jesus, reading his heart, answered the hidden problem.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NLT)
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except anyone be born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 BLB)
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 ASV)
Nicodemus was confused by this answer, and even today many are still confused by the answer. But, assuming you want to see the Kingdom of God, the answer is just as vital today as it was 2000 years ago.
Nicodemus asked him, “How can anyone be born when he’s an old man? He can’t go back inside his mother a second time to be born, can he?” Jesus answered Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:4-8 GWT)
Please don’t be confused by the water and the spirit in John 3:5 because Jesus said, “Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual.” This should not be confusing because the subject Jesus is talking about is birth, not baptism, and not death. As we know, the human body is composed of 60% water (Water properties: The water in you). During pregnancy, your baby is surrounded and cushioned by a fluid-filled membranous sac called the amniotic sac. At the beginning of or during labor, your membranes will rupture — also known as your water breaking (Water breaking: Understand this sign of labor – Mayo Clinic). The amniotic fluid, commonly called a pregnant woman’s water (Amniotic fluid – Wikipedia) is composed of 99% water (amniotic fluid – The Worlds of David Darling). Thus, throughout history, natural physical child birth has been described as a water birth. Any other explanation, than what Jesus gave, does damage to the passage.
There is no argument that this passage is talking about two births.
Jesus said the first birth is of flesh, which is your natural physical child birth. Jesus said, the second birth is of the spirit (from above, from heaven, from their origin, anew, from the beginning). The first birth is a natural physical birth that everyone has experienced. The second birth is a supernatural spiritual birth. Please read this passage from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome to help them understand this concept.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21 NLT)
This definition of the second birth, which is the spiritual birth, includes all aspects: born again, from above, from heaven, from their origin, anew, from the beginning.
Born again is a spiritual birth from God above, that is heaven. It restores the believer to their origin condition. It restores the believer to the sin-free condition anew, just like mankind had at the beginning. The only question is how to be born again and what does it mean?
You, me, and everyone has been born with inherited sin. Jesus has already paid the penalty for all that sin. Because of his death, burial, and resurrection, you can be justified by faith exactly as the Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus…
Nicodemus replied, “How can that be?” Jesus told Nicodemus, “You’re a well-known teacher of Israel. Can’t you understand this? I can guarantee this truth: We know what we’re talking about, and we confirm what we’ve seen. Yet, you don’t accept our message. If you don’t believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven? No one has gone to heaven except the Son of Man, who came from heaven. “As Moses lifted up the snake [on a pole] in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Then everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” (John 3:9-15 GWT)
Go back and read about the account of the snake in the desert (Numbers 21:4-9). The people were rebellious so the LORD sent poisonous snakes among them in judgement. When they repented of their sin, the LORD told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp. Anyone who looked at the snake after they had been bitten, would live and not die. Anyone who refused to look at the snake would die. The work had already been done. The penalty had already been paid. But faith was required for life. It is the same with being born again, from above, from heaven, from their origin, from anew, from the beginning. The work has been done. The penalty has been paid. But faith is required for life.
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe in him won’t be condemned. But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son. This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil. People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed. But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen. (John 3:16-21 GWT)
If you have been born again, please share your faith with others. If you have not been born again, please take a moment to make this right with God. Please take a moment to write us a note or join the conversation below.
For deeper study:
- What is the gospel?
- What should I do to inherit eternal life?
- What is the “Romans Road”?
- The believer is a new creation