I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Born Again?

See John 3:1-10

v. 3-5: In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

“Born gain” = “born of water and the Spirit” = ???


1. “Water” = physical birth (=Amniotic fluid???)

Physical birth in NT: “Born of flesh” = John 1:13, Rom 1:3 & Gal 4:23, 29 (never "born of water")

Tim Warner: "Some have supposed that Jesus meant physical birth when He spoke of being “born of water.” However, there is nothing in Scripture or Jewish tradition to suggest that “born of water” refers to physical birth. Even Alfred Edersheim, the Jewish Christian scholar, equates “born of water” here to baptism1. But, more importantly, to say that one must be born physically in order to inherit the Kingdom is a redundant statement. No one exists who has not been born physically, except the angels! To include physical birth as a prerequisite for partaking of Christ’s Kingdom makes no sense!"

2. “Water” = Spirit (i.e., “living water”)

Yes, but when water represents Spirit it's accompanied with “fountain” or “living”

Wayne Jackson: "The Lord was not arguing that unless one “be born of Spirit and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

“Born gain” = “born of water and the Spirit” = BAPTISM!

This is consistent with Jesus’ style:

Þ John 2 = destroy this temple…
Þ John 6 -= eat flesh & drink blood…
Þ John 7= living water…

1. Grammatically

Jack Cottrell: "That the Holy Spirit is the origin or source or cause of the new birth is the origin or source or cause of the new birth is accepted as very natural. Thus it is quite a jolt to recognize that the same preposition and the same grammatical form used for “Spirit” are used for water. It is a single prepositional phrase, with a single preposition which has two objects joined by the simple conjunction kai (“and”). Such a construction… brings the two objects into the closest possible relationship, marking them as two aspects of a single event."

Water & Spirit could’ve been separated grammaticallybut they are not.

2. Prophetically

Ezekiel 36:26-27: 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Zechariah 12:10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Zechariah 13:1: "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Norice: v.10: "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?

Nicodemus, as Israel's teacher should have known better!

3. Contextually

John the baptizer is baptizing & Jesus (through his disciples) is baptizing…

John 3:22: After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.

John 1:25-26, 28: 25questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John 1:32-33: 32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

Notice: At Jesus’ baptism = conjunction of water and Holy Spirit.

4. Historically

David Bercot: "I still remember the first time I read Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “Truly I say to You, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5). I was a young boy at the time, and I was reading that verse in a small Bible study group. The teacher asked the question, “What does it mean to be born of ‘water’?” I thought for a moment and quickly raised my hand. “Jesus must have been referring to water baptism,” I blurted out, feeling proud of myself for having figured this out. However, to my chagrin, the teacher explained that this was a common misconception and that ‘being born of water’ was not water baptism. Through the years I was able to correct others who mistakenly thought that this passage refers to water baptism. I felt very knowledge-able to be able to explain the “correct” view. So it took the wind out of my sails when I discovered that the early Christians universally understood Jesus’ words to refer to water baptism."

Bercot lists over 80 quotes from the early Church fathers about the meaning of baptism all of them are in perfect harmony with the biblical teaching that baptism is the time of salvation. (See Bercot's "A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs")

110-165 AD Justin Martyr - "He that, out of contempt, will not be baptized, shall be condemned as an unbeliever, and shall be reproached as ungrateful and foolish. For the Lord says: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And again: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned.'" (A contemporary of Polycarp who knew John!)

120-205 AD Irenaeus - "As we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are thus spiritually regenerated as newborn infants, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"
(He was discipled by Polycarp!)

140-230 AD Tertullian - "Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins" … "The prescript is laid down that 'without baptism, salvation is attainable by none' chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, 'Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.'"

5. Retrospectively

When we look back through the lens of the NT this becomes apparent...

Titus 3:5: He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (“bath of second birth”)

Col. 2:12 (ESV): 12Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Rom. 6:3‑4 (ESV): 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

*Jesus is spoken of as "firstborn from the dead" = resurrection & birth are used as synonymous concepts.

Matt. 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13: For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.

Acts 2:38: Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, have you been born again?


Anonymous said...

Sure have.

Nice thought process on this one, Willis.

William Mckinley Dyer said...

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? In the Soul Cleansing blood of the Lamb. Are your garments spotless are the white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

One of my favorite songs of all time

Billy said...