Just what is a "born-again" Christian? Don't be too sure you know! Many — perhaps millions — sincerely believe they have been "born again" — yet do not understand what Jesus meant when He used those words.
WHY did the Pharisee, Nicodemus, understand when Jesus said to him: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"? WHY do people not understand those words today? How MANY know, today, that Jesus' Gospel was a sensational, never-before proclaimed NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT?
Jesus Was a Newscaster
Those in Judea knew — or should have known — Malachi's prophecy concerning this. It was the Gospel of God — and the word "gospel" means GOOD NEWS! Jesus was a NEWSCASTER. His news was something absolutely NEW — never before proclaimed to mankind. It was the most wonderful NEWS ever reported. Actually almost too wonderful for humans to believe. It was news of the utterly transcendent potential of man. A humor columnist wrote a bit on the news printed in daily newspapers. It is actually NOT news, he insisted, since it is a reporting of events that already have happened. Therefore it is no longer NEW, but OLD when printed. He insisted it really ought to be called OLDS! The tremendous Message that Jesus brought was NEWS! It was not a report of past events. It was ADVANCE news! — news of an almost unbelievable UTOPIAN WORLD TOMORROW! And it is SURE! And it was news that we may be BORN AGAIN! Yet almost nobody understands it! How MANY, even today, know that Jesus' Gospel was actually so BREATHTAKING — SO seemingly incredible, so startling, it should have left its hearers in a daze of awe! It didn't. WHY? WHY has it never been recognized by the world as the stupendous NEWS that it actually was? Simply because the leaders in Judea rejected it — hated it — hated Jesus for announcing the wonderful great news — turned most of the people against it. And it has been so misrepresented, so distorted and maligned, that the whole world has been deceived — and has totally MISUNDERSTOOD IT! Your Bible says the WHOLE WORLD — all nations — have been deceived about that Gospel! The time was at hand, then, for this Message to be announced! The time is at hand, today, for its true MEANING to be made SO PLAIN that people may UNDERSTAND IT! It WILL BE. in this article. And it is a crucial CHALLENGE to you who now read it! And you have to UNDERSTAND what was that news announcement, or you can never UNDERSTAND what Jesus meant about being "born again."
What Was the News?
Notice, briefly, first, what that astonishing NEW Message was! The pre-announcement, in Malachi's prophecy, says: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek [the Messiah], shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant... (Mal. 3:1). Now notice the beginning of the Messenger's proclamation of that Message. It is recorded in Mark's Gospel, chapter 1: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets..." Then follows the citation from Malachi, written above. That is followed by the account of John the Baptist, preparing the way before Christ, the Messenger. Then, verses 14-15: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." That is, BELIEVE the Good News!
What IS the Kingdom of God?
What did He mean — the Kingdom of God? Jesus' whole Message — His Gospel — was about the KINGDOM OF God! Yet few know anything about it, today. Do you know WHY? Jesus' Gospel — His news ANNOUNCEMENT of the Kingdom of God — was SUPPRESSED during the very first century! Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ UNTO ANOTHER GOSPEL: which IS not another; but there be some that trouble you, and WOULD PERVERT the gospel of Christ..." (Gal. 1:6-7; see also II Cor. 11:3-4 and Rom. 1:18, where "hold" should be translated "hold back" or "suppress" as in some translations). The MESSAGE God sent to mankind by Jesus Christ — His GOSPEL — His GOOD NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT — was not proclaimed to the world after about 70 A.D. Jesus was born to be a KING. His Message was the coming KINGDOM OF GOD. A kingdom is a), a NATION Composed of people, and b), the GOVERNMENT of the nation. In some cases, the people of a nation are the descendants — the children — of one man. The nation of Turkey is the descendants of the ancient Esau, twin brother of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, father of the nation Israel. Before the twins were born, God said to their mother, Rebekah, "Two nations are in thy womb..." (Gen. 25:23). Now Jesus the Messiah was to come as "the Messenger of the covenant." The "Old Covenant" had established the human children of Israel as a NATION or KINGDOM of humans, called the KINGDOM OF ISRAEL. Jesus came as the Messenger — heralding the Message of the NEW Covenant that shall set up the spirit-composed children of GOD as the Kingdom of God! As the ancient Kingdom of Israel was composed of the human FAMILY of the human man Israel, so the Kingdom of God will be composed of the divine family of the divine God! And what does this have to do with "being BORN AGAIN"? It has everything to do with it! The prophet Daniel wrote of this Kingdom of God. In his second chapter, after foretelling of the Chaldean Empire (Babylon), the Persian Empire, the Graeco-Macedonian Empire with its four divisions, and the Roman Empire, stretching even into the now-forming resurrected "Holy Roman Empire" in Europe, we read the following: "And in the days of these kings [the forthcoming United Nations of Europe] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed... but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44). To "stand forever" it will, of necessity, be a Kingdom of IMMORTALS, not mortals. It will be a WORLD-RULING Kingdom! Daniel's seventh chapter portrays it again — and shows the connection with being "born again." The four world empires — Babylon through Rome and its coming resurrection in Europe — are pictured as four beasts — wild animals.
Saints Become Immortal
Verse 17: "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings [kingdoms], which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." To possess it FOR EVER, the saints will have to be IMMORTAL! Then the Babylonian resurrection in Europe "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days [Christ at second coming] came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" (verses 21-22). Read also verse 27. The second coming of Christ is described thus: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). Yet in spite of these and many more such scriptures, many deceived theologians today mislead the people saying that the CHURCH is the Kingdom of God! Or, that "the Kingdom" is some mysterious ethereal nothing "in men's hearts." Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." What did He mean? WHY had this Message never been proclaimed before? The answer requires a prehistory background.
There Was Once Peace on Earth
It isn't popular today to mention the existence of a devil. But the Bible, again and again, puts great emphasis on the presence of a real, literal devil. Biblical revelation shows that originally this earth was a place of PEACE, happiness — a real utopia. It was then ruled by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. That Government will be once again RESTORED (Acts 3:20-21) by Christ returning to earth in the supreme POWER and GLORY of God! But what happened? WHY don't we have that Government now? Why is there no PEACE on earth? When the earth was originally created, the angels shouted for joy! (Job 38:7) It was beautiful. It was PEACEFUL. It was populated by angels — not then by humans. It was governed by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. There was a super archangel — a cherub named Lucifer (meaning "bringer of LIGHT") — one of two cherubim whose wings stretched over the very throne of God in heaven. Lucifer was thoroughly trained in the administration of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12-17). God governs by His spiritual Law — a Law based on the principle of LOVE. Love, first, to God with submission and obedience, and secondly to His creatures — the way of outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others. But Lucifer's heart was lifted up in vanity, because of his beauty and vast knowledge. He rebelled against God, mutinied, set out to organize his angels into an invading army and to conquer GOD — in order to rule the entire vast UNIVERSE. This removed the Government of God from the earth. But also it disqualified Lucifer as earth's ruler. However, the very principle of God's Government requires that the ruler retain office until a successor qualifies and is inducted into office. Lucifer's name was changed to Satan, the devil. His angels became demons. As a result of this universal rebellion on earth, universal destruction and chaos struck the surface of the earth. In six days God reshaped the earth's surface (Genesis 1), creating fauna and flora — and MAN!
When Man Appeared
God formed MAN, not after any animal kind, but in God's own likeness — not of spirit composition as is God, but of material flesh and blood. The first man, Adam, father of the human race, allowed Satan's attitude of REBELLION to enter his heart, failing to qualify as Satan's successor. When Jesus was baptized by John (Mark 1:9-11), immediately He underwent the most titanic struggle ever, in His temptation by the devil (verses 12-13; Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus had come to qualify to replace Satan — to restore the Government of God on earth, and bring back WORLD PEACE! But, as the first Adam had undergone and succumbed to Satan's temptation, Jesus had to face and overcome this disqualified Satan. Jesus underwent this test under the most trying and difficult conditions possible. He had been almost totally depleted of physical strength by fasting 40 days and nights — no food and no water! Yet even in this physical weakness, He was made the stronger SPIRITUALLY. Few have ever realized the stupendous struggle that took place in that crucial temptation. Jesus resisted Satan's supreme temptations. He did it by quoting Scripture and OBEYING GOD. He proved under the maximum possible test that He would obey God's laws and administer God's GOVERNMENT faithfully. Then, in utter physical weakness but supreme spiritual strength, He proved He was Satan's Master, by giving Satan a crisp command to leave — and the defeated Satan slunk away! Then (Mark 1:14), having qualified for the executive administration of the Government of God on earth, Jesus came into Galilee, saying, as quoted above, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand"! (Verse 15)
WHY the News Was NEW
How was the time fulfilled? WHY was the Kingdom of God then at hand — and not before? Simply because the wonderful news of the coming Kingdom of God could not be announced UNTIL a successor had QUALIFIED to replace Satan as earth's ruler! At last the Kingdom of God — GOD'S GOVERNMENT over the earth — was at hand! At last, it was assured, and the time was fulfilled! The One who had qualified to rule the earth was now free to announce His coming Government!
WHY Kingdom Not Yet Set Up
Yet Jesus was not going to take over the reign immediately. There were a number of reasons: 1) God had set a definite PLAN, with a definite time-program, for working out His PURPOSE here below! It is a 7,000-year plan of seven millennial "days," of which the first seven literal days of recreation were a type. The first six of these millennia were allotted for man, of his own free volition (though swayed by Satan) to go his own way. Also, in effect, they were allotted as the six millennial "days" for Satan's "labor" of deception over humanity, to be followed by the millennial "Sabbath," in which Satan will observe enforced rest from his work of deceiving the nations, and God will teach humanity FIB TRUTH! 2) Jesus, in God's PLAN, was first to choose and teach disciples to become apostles, to carry on the proclamation of the GOOD NEWS — and to become the foundation of His Church. 3) Christ is going to set up a world government over all earth's nations only with the administration of a thoroughly trained and experienced organization. The first six thousand years of human experience has proved abundantly that man, under Satan's sway, is utterly incapable of ruling himself. Human-devised governments always have failed to bring world PEACE. Yet man, even now, seems unwilling to admit that fact. Men are still trying, in vain, to work and fight for PEACE. And that is where being "born again" comes in. God's Government will be DIVINE GOVERNMENT, by the saints Converted into divine SPIRIT PERSONS, born of God! As those born of humans are human beings, so those born of the divine God will be DIVINE BEINGS, having been given IMMORTALITY! They shall be born into — enter into — inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD.
Kingdom Is a Family
A KINGDOM is a nation composed of people, as well as the GOVERNMENT of that nation. The Kingdom of GOD is composed of the divine FAMILY of God. The One Being we habitually think of as GOD is the FATHER of that Family. Christ is a Son of God — a member of that divine FAMILY, even as we may be! That divine FAMILY is the Kingdom of God. There are five KINGDOMS — the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, the human kingdom (we are not of the animal kingdom, erroneous education to the contrary notwithstanding!), the angel kingdom — and the GOD Kingdom! God (Heb. Elohim — the uniplural name, meaning more than one Person, forming the ONE God) said, "Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness." We were made of material flesh, but in the form and shape of God, and with MINDS on a totally different plane than animal brain. The human family was made so that we might be able to receive God's Spirit, and become His children. Animals were NOT so made. In God's wonderful plan for working out His PURPOSE here below, God has allotted the time period between Jesus' first coming in human flesh, and His second
Nicodemus understood what is meant by being born. He knew it meant being delivered from his mother's womb. It meant being delivered into the world!
coming in power and glory, for the calling of some to receive His Spirit, and be spiritually educated and trained, through His Word, to become rulers with Christ when He sets up His KINGDOM.
The Crux of Salvation
4) In order that man might be reconciled to God, Jesus also came for the express purpose of DEATH, by His shed blood paying for us, in our stead, the death penalty we have incurred as the penalty of sin. In order that we might be given God's gift of ETERNAL LIFE, Jesus' resurrection from the dead was necessary before we could receive eternal life. 5) The PLAN called for Jesus' ascension to God's throne in heaven — the throne of the Government of God over the UNIVERSE — to become our High Priest, during these years of training and spiritual development of the heirs of God to be used in the executive administration of the Government of God when Christ does set up that Government over earth's nations. 6) Jesus could not induct Himself into the office while here on earth in human form. It was necessary for Him, as explained in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19), to go to heaven to there receive the authority of the Kingdom from God (the Father) — and to be CROWNED! The coronation ceremony will take place in heaven at God's throne, before Christ's return in POWER and GLORY! 7) Then He must return in all that POWER and GLORY and supreme authority to RULE! Those are the reasons why Jesus did not then, immediately, set up or establish the Kingdom of God! But even Jesus' own disciples could never seem to understand that He was not going to set up the Kingdom of God immediately. It is human to want things Now!
WHY Jewish Rulers Hated Message
The Jewish rulers of Jesus' day, also, thought He was proclaiming a government to be set up immediately — to overthrow the Roman Empire, then ruling Judea as a vassal state. One of these rulers of the Jews was a man named Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee, and the Pharisees were hostile to Jesus, because of this new Gospel. Nicodemus, however, wanted to meet this astonishing Messenger and discuss it with him. To avoid criticism from his colleagues, he came to Jesus by night. "We know," he said, "that you are a teacher come from God." The "we" implies that the divine identity of the Messenger and the source of His message was known to the Pharisees. Judea was a vassal state, under the rule of the Romans. The Romans were shrewd enough to force leaders among the Jews to administer most of the details of government, under higher Roman officials. Of course, the Roman rule was protected by occupying military forces. This system made life for the Jewish sub-rulers very desirable — a status worth maintaining. At once Jesus perceived the import of Nicodemus' first words. His Message was the good news of the coming WORLD GOVERNMENT of GOD — that is, the KINGDOM OF GOD — the GOVERNMENT of God. These Jewish rulers feared that Message. Jesus was of their race — a Jew. If they did not oppose Him, they feared being shorn of their power, and perhaps put to death as subversives threatening the overthrow of the Roman government. And the Pharisees thought Jesus proclaimed the immediate takeover of that rule!
Not of This Age
Therefore Jesus did not waste words. He struck straight through to the crux point — the Kingdom of God is not of this world — this time — this age — but of the WORLD TO-MORROW — a different and a following AGE. Not composed of humans, but of immortals — the GOD FAMILY! So Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Notice carefully, please — being "born again" has a vital connection with the Kingdom of God — with THE FACT that it is not of this time — this age. And — I repeat — Jesus' Gospel — His Message — was the Kingdom of God. But Jesus' abrupt opening statement left Nicodemus confused. The religious leaders, and the hundreds of denominations and sects professing Christianity today are confused and deceived! Today's religionists put a different twist on it than did Nicodemus, however. Nicodemus did understand clearly what is meant by being born. He knew it meant being delivered from his mother's womb. It meant being delivered into the WORLD! Today's religious leaders read into it a different meaning! What Nicodemus could not understand was how — in what manner — anyone could be born AGAIN! And of course, being carnal-minded, he could only conceive of a second physical birth. But he knew what being born meant!
Born Human a Second Time?
Puzzled, he asked: "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" He was not confused about what is meant by being BORN. What Nicodemus could not understand was a second birth. He thought Jesus was talking about a second human birth. He was unable to conceive of any but a second physical birth — his mind could not grasp spiritual things. Now Jesus had made clear that the Kingdom of God is something that can be seen — but not until of UNLESS one is "born again." Not during this physical lifetime! Also. verse 5, the Kingdom of God is something a man may enter into — but not until after he is born AGAIN — another and entirely different birth.
The apostle Paul made clear that the Kingdom of God is something a human may inherit, but not in this age - not while he is composed of material flesh.
Then Jesus came quickly to the)0int — that the Kingdom of God is lot of this present human LIFE in his present WORLD — it is not of his TIME — this present life-TIME age — it is the succeeding age — and the life to come. Here is the crux point that explains it all: Jesus said: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Man is now flesh — human. He is MATERIAL SUBSTANCE. "Dust thou art," said God to Adam, "and unto dust shalt thou return." Again, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 3:19 and 2:7).
Those Born Again To BE Spirit
But, said Jesus plainly, when one is born of the Spirit HE WILL BE SPIRIT! Look at it! Read it in your own Bible. The Kingdom of God will be composed of SPIRIT BEINGS — not of humans! At birth of human flesh, one is delivered from his mother's womb into this world. When born of the Spirit one will be delivered from the CHURCH of God (physical) into the KINGDOM of God (a Kingdom of SPIRIT BEINGS!). Man is now COMPOSED of flesh — material substance — matter. When BORN AGAIN he will BE spirit — a SPIRIT BEING, no longer human. He will be COMPOSED of spirit — of spirit composition — with life inherent — with self-containing life — not then existing by the breath of air and the circulation of blood. Of the next age when the Kingdom of God will rule the world — the next LIFE — Jesus-said "they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God..." (Matt. 22:30). Marriage is a physical, fleshly union. In the age of God's Kingdom — when "born again" — we shall BE spirit, not flesh. Born of God as SPIRIT BEINGS, no longer human. Angels are spirits — composed of spirit (Heb. 1:7). Jesus did not say we shall then be angels — but AS the angels — sexless and composed of SPIRIT. Angels are spirit beings — created as such — but not begotten and BORN of God as God's own born children. We therefore shall be much higher than angels! Jesus explained this further to Nicodemus: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou Nearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). You cannot see wind. Wind is compared to spirit. It is INVISIBLE. That's why mortal FLESH, as we now are, cannot SEE the Kingdom of God. Those who inherit it will be spirit — normally invisible to eyes still human.
Energy of an A-Bomb?
Jesus was comparing also the POWER of one born of the Spirit to that of wind. A scientist of the U.S. Weather Bureau, Dr. J. Murray Mitchell, Jr., Research Climatologist, said that the energy of one average hurricane is much greater than an A-bomb such as destroyed Hiroshima. I am quite certain that no human claiming to have been "born again" in his human life is capable of exerting a tiny fraction of that kind of energy. But — as I shall show in this article, one when he becomes spirit will have that kind of POWER!
Not While Flesh and Blood
The apostle Paul made clear that the Kingdom of God is something a human may INHERIT, but not in THIS AGE — not while he is composed of material flesh. He may, now, become only an HEIR, not YET an inheritor! "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (I Cor. 15:50). Leading up to this verse, Paul had made it very clear. "The first man is of the earth, earthy [human]: the second man is the Lord from heaven [a divine GOD Being]" (I Cor. 15:47). This is what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus. He was of the earth, earthy — human — he was flesh, not spirit. He was born of the flesh, so that's what he was — FLESH. When one is born of the Spirit, he will BE SPIRIT. BUT WE CANNOT BE Spirit in this present age. THERE IS A TIME ELEMENT CONCERNED WITH BEING BORN AGAIN! Continue, now, in I Corinthians 15: "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy" (verse 48). That is precisely what Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus. He was born of the flesh — he WAS flesh. He was born of the earth — he was earthy. And so are we all! And, same verse, "... and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." But for us humans, WHEN? Not in this life! Next verse: "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall [future — resurrection] also bear the image of the heavenly" (verse 49). As we are now flesh, we shall be SPIRIT — at the resurrection. That is when we shall be "BORN AGAIN" — when we shall see, enter into, the Kingdom of God — when we are spirit — at the resurrection! "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the then living] shall be changed" (verses 50-52). There is the TIME when we may be
Now in being "born again," the process of this birth begins when God's divine spirit-life is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, from His very person.
born again — when we may see, enter into, inherit the Kingdom — when "BORN AGAIN" — and NOT BEFORE!
How CHANGED When Born Again
How shall we be changed? The next words answer! "For this corruptible [flesh, as we now are] must put on incorruption [spirit — that which is born of God is spirit] and this mortal must put on immortality." Be changed from material flesh to spirit! Until born again, we cannot see the Kingdom of God — (Jesus to Nicodemus, John 3:3). Until born again, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God — (Jesus to Nicodemus, John 3:5). Until no longer flesh, but changed into SPIRIT, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God — (Jesus to Nicodemus, John 3:6-8). While still flesh and blood (as Nicodemus was and we are) we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God — (Paul to the Corinthians, I Cor. 15:50). Until the resurrection, at Christ's coming, we shall not be changed from corruptible flesh into incorruptible SPIRIT (Paul — I Cor. 15:50-53 and verses 22-23). Until the resurrection, therefore, we cannot see, enter into, or inherit the Kingdom of God. WE CANNOT BE BORN AGAIN UNTIL THE RESURRECTION!
Now Heirs — Not Yet Inheritors
While in our present status, born of the flesh and composed of flesh, we cannot see, enter into, or inherit the Kingdom of God. Notice, now, the status of the truly converted Christian, in this life — this world: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). Unless one has received the Holy Spirit, and this Spirit is dwelling in him, he is not a Christian. Joining a church does not make one a Christian. Receiving and following God's Spirit does!
Holy Spirit Entering Compares to Sperm Entering Ovum
But now see how God's Spirit entering and dwelling in one compares to the physical sperm impregnating the ovum — the imparting of eternal SPIRIT life, later to produce — to bring forth — a SPIRIT PERSON! A fertilized ovum — an embryo — is NOT a born human person. Life from the father has been imparted to it — he has begotten it — but neither embryo nor fetus is YET a born person. In the same manner the Spirit-begotten human is not, yet, a SPIRIT PERSON or BEING, as Jesus said he shall be when born again! Continue: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (verse 11). UNDERSTAND THIS! There is a direct comparison between having been born of the flesh, and being born AGAIN of God. Jesus said that which is born of the flesh is flesh — a born human. That which is born of the Spirit (God) is spirit — a born SPIRIT PERSON! A mortal human life starts when a sperm cell from the body of the father impregnates — imparts physical LIFE to — an ovum (egg cell) in the mother. At this point the father begets, sires. He does not "bring forth": the mother does that, later. His part in the PROCESS leading to final birth is then done. BUT THERE IS A TIME ELEMENT. At the TIME of begettal, birth (parturition) has not YET occurred. It is necessary to make this explanation, at this point, because the popular deception of a deceived traditional "Christianity" is to claim that when one "receives Christ" — "accepts Christ" — "professes Christ" — or first receives God's Holy Spirit to dwell in him, that he is already "BORN AGAIN." First, then, notice the physical type and comparison.
The TIME Element
In human physical reproduction, there is a TIME ELEMENT. From impregnation — begettal on the part of the father — having conceived on the part of the mother — to BIRTH, or parturition, or being delivered from the mother's womb is a TIME ELEMENT of nine months. That nine-month period is called gestation. Upon conception, the now fertilized ovum is called an embryo. A few months later, it is called a fetus. But during this nine-month period of gestation, we do not speak of the embryo-fetus as having been born. It is in the PROCESS toward birth. It is the child of its parents. But it is then the unborn child of its parents. The father has already begotten it — sired it. But the mother has not yet given birth to it. Yet it is, during the gestation period, the unborn child of its parents. Now in being "born again," the PROCESS of this birth begins when GOD'S divine SPIRIT-LIFE IS imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, from His very PERSON, entering to dwell within us. Repeat, from Romans 8: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [change to immortal spirit] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (verse 11). This is describing the same thing explained in I Corinthians 15:50-53, the resurrection. Millions of sincere professing Christians believe that when they profess Christ (or receive His Holy Spirit) they are "born again." What actually happens is this:
The Church Our Mother
When one, after repentance. faith and baptism receives the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God puts him into — baptizes him into — God's Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ. So we read: "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (I Cor. 12:13). Again, the Church is called "Jerusalem
Scripture after scripture, analogy after analogy, comparison after comparison, shows that being born of God is a process in which there is a time element.
above," or "the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22-23). Now notice, in Galatians 4:26: "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." The analogy is this: When begotten by God the Father by receiving His Holy Spirit, we are put into the Church, which during this gestation period is our MOTHER. The human mother of the fetus within her womb serves the function of feeding her unborn child with physical food, so that it may develop and grow physically. And also she carries it where she may best protect it from physical injury or harm, until parturition — delivery from her womb. The spiritual mother — the Church — is commissioned to "feed the flock" (I Pet. 5:2) through the ministry which God has set in the Church "for the perfecting of the saints... for the edifying, of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man..." (Eph. 4:11-13). Just as the human fetus develops and grows physically during the PRE-birth gestation period, so WE, after begettal by God's Spirit, develop and grow SPIRITUALLY in PRE-birth state. But not only is the Church to feed the members on the Word of God — spiritual food — but also to protect these conceived but yet unborn children of God from spiritual harm, as the very next verse shows: "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.." (Eph. 4:14). Then, at the time of the resurrection, we in the Church — the spiritual Mother — shall be DELIVERED from her, and born into — brought forth into — the Kingdom — the spirit-composed FAMILY of God.
Sons of God NOW
Now, further: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). The unborn child in his mother's womb is the child of his father and mother, though not yet born — delivered from the womb. So are we, if God's Spirit dwells in us — if we are being led by God's Spirit — children of God. Yet, at this time, we are in the gestation state, not yet that parturition. And only HEIRS. Not inheritors! Continue: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be [future — at resurrection] also glorified together" (verse 17). Now see how this passage designates the resurrection into GLORY — when we shall BE spirit — as a BIRTH! "For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" — that is the time of Christ's coming to REIGN, and of the resurrection to (being born of) SPIRIT composition — "... because the creation [RSV] itself also shall be delivered [a birth] from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (verses 19-22). Here is another comparison: we shall be delivered from this world (the Church is in, though not of this world) into the glorious WORLD TOMORROW and the Kingdom which shall rule it. The CREATION is waiting for this time of Christ's coming, the resurrection, and the Kingdom of God. Because the creation shall be DELIVERED from the bondage of corruption. Not now delivered — SHALL BE — at the resurrection time! Although this is not referring directly to our being born again, it is a direct comparison to the BIRTH of a child being DELIVERED from its mother's womb. The resurrection — the time when we are changed to BE spirit and to INHERIT the Kingdom — will be a time of DELIVERY FROM the bondage of corruptible flesh and from this world of SIN — A REAL BIRTH!
Christ Born a Second Time by the Resurrection
Continue in Romans 8: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren" (verse 29). Now compare with Romans 1:34: "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God... by the resurrection from the dead." Jesus was, in the human flesh — His first birth — a descendant of David, and, by the resurrection from the dead — (born AGAIN) — the Son of God, now no longer human, but composed of SPIRIT — a Spirit Being. He thus became the FIRST SO BORN of many brethren who shall be BORN AGAIN at the time of the resurrection of those who are Christ's. Of course we understand, and so did Paul in writing the above, that Jesus was also the Son of God while in the human flesh. Though born of a human woman, He was sired by God. But this is comparing the two births — the one from the human Mary, as descended from the human David — the other, by His resurrection to glory, as Son of God by His resurrection, in the same manner we may be. Emphatically this does NOT imply that Jesus was a sinner needing salvation. He was the pioneer, setting us the example, that we, too, may be BORN of God.
When Born Again What Shall We Be Like?
When we are born again, what shall we be like? Here is the answer: "For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who
"Thou crownedst him [kingship] with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands... " — that is, God's creation (Hebrews 2:7).
shall change our vile body [FLESH], that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body..." (Phil. 3:20-21). And what is Christ's GLORIOUS body like? His eyes are as flames of fire — His face bright as the sun at full strength — Revelation 1:14-16.
A TIME When Begotten But Not YET Born
Thus, scripture after scripture — analogy after analogy — comparison after comparison — shows that being BORN of God is a PROCESS in which there is a time element. Just as being born of the human flesh is a process. At the time when the father begets and the mother conceives — of the union of sperm cell and ovum — the fertilized ovum becomes an embryo. But it is not yet delivered from the womb — not yet born! And will not be for nine months. A pregnancy is in progress. Yet during this period of physical development and growth, it is the unborn child of its parents. In like manner, at the time when the Spirit Father, God, begets a human with the Spirit (the spiritual counterpart of the physical sperm) — the Holy Spirit — he becomes a son of God! He is then already a son of God. But he is still human — he is still material flesh and blood. He must now undergo a period (until death, the resurrection) of spiritual development and growth. He is in the gestation state in the PROCESS toward being born. He is in the CHURCH of God, but the Church is not the KINGDOM of God. The Church is composed of human, flesh-and-blood children of God. And, flesh and blood cannot see, cannot enter into, cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is made up of spirit-composed children of God. The Spirit-begotten human in the Church is in the process of being born of God, BUT he has not yet entered the Kingdom of God. He has not yet been BORN of God. He is in the gestation state toward Spirit-BIRTH, but not yet BORN of the Spirit. He yet has a lot of spiritual developing and growing to do — acquiring the spiritual character-image of God.
POWER Greater Than Energy of Wind
There is another passage, understood by almost none, that reveals our astonishing transcendent potential! It begins in Hebrews 2, verse 6. But first, notice about Christ, in chapter 1: "God... hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he bath appointed heir of all things [Moffat and others, the universe], by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, stamped with God's own character [Moffat] and upholding [sustaining] the universe by the word of his power..." (Heb. 1:1-3). ALL POWER in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) has been given to Christ. He is now Chief Executive of God's Government of the UNIVERSE. Now begin with Hebrews 2:6; a citation from Psalms 8:4-6: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" Yes, why should the Great God be concerned about us mortals? WHY did He put us here on earth? What is the PURPOSE of life — what is our transcendent potential? It is so far above and beyond anything you have thought or imagined, it seems shockingly incredible! Can you believe it? Are you willing to believe what is now plainly stated? Here comes the astonishing answer, beginning verse 7: "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." Some translations have it, "for a little while lower than the angels." Continue: "Thou crownedst him [kingship] with GLORY and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands..." — that is, God's creation. Continue:
NOT YET the Universe!
"Thou hast put ALL THINGS [Moffat: the UNIVERSE] in subjection under his feet. For in that he put ALL in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him..." Can you grasp that? The entire vast, endless UNIVERSE! But that is for BORN sons of God. Man is not yet BORN — except Christ only! Continue. Here comes the answer: "... But now [in this present gestation state] we see NOT YET all things [the universe] put under him" (verse 8). But what do we see, Now? "But we see JESUS... crowned with glory and honor" (verse 9). Yes, as revealed in chapter 1, Jesus has already been given the executive administration of God's Government — the KINGDOM of GOD — over the entire UNIVERSE! Only, until our time to inherit and possess the government Of EARTH, at Christ's return, He is allowing Satan to continue on this earth his work of deception. Now continue: "For it became him [Jesus], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto GLORY, to make the captain [margin, leader — or forerunner, pioneer — the One who has gone on before us, as we are to follow] of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (verses 10-11).
Christ First Born of Many
We are, as quoted before, heirs of God, and joint-heirs — as BRETHREN — with Christ. He has gone on ahead, through a resurrection, to GLORY as the pioneer! He is the firstborn of many brethren! He has INHERITED "all things" — the UNIVERSE! We are still heirs — still in the gestation stage of the process of being BORN of God. Jesus is now our High Priest, supervising our spiritual development — preparing us to be kings and priests. reigning with Him!
As a physical babe must grow physically, so we in the Christian life must grow in spiritual knowledge and character (II Pet. 3:18) to become perfect.
The first thousand years we shall reign ON THE EARTH. For He shall have "made them kings and priests: and they shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10, RSV).
The First Thousand Years
For that first thousand years, Jesus is to reign on the throne of His earthly ancestor DAVID in Jerusalem (Isa. 9:6-7). And, "he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron..." (Rev. 2:26-27). But how and from where shall we rule? Jesus said, again, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne [at Jerusalem], even as I also overcame, and am [now] set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. 3:21). When BORN of God, we shall BE spirit, no longer human flesh and blood. We shall be given POWER! As Daniel revealed, the saints then shall take the kingdoms of earth's nations and RULE them — for the first thousand years. And... after that? The passage in Hebrews 2 shows that then, under Christ, we shall be given power to rule over the entire vast universe — literally ALL THINGS. For that is the power that has been given to Christ, and we are joint-heirs, to become joint-INHERITORS with Him.
All Power — The UNIVERSE
Most people have passed right over many vital statements in the Bible, not recognizing their tremendous import! Let me give you a few. Ask yourself, have you ever recognized the true import of these statements in God's Word? Matthew 28:18: "And Jesus came and spoke unto them [after His resurrection], saying, ALL POWER is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 11:27: Jesus said: "ALL THINGS [the whole universe] are delivered unto me of my Father..." John 3:35: "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given ALL THINGS into his hand." John 13:3: During the last Passover, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given ALL THINGS into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God..." John 16:15: "ALL THINGS that the Father hath are mine.." I Corinthians 15:27: "For he [the Father] hath put ALL THINGS under his [Christ's] feet. But when he saith ALL THINGS are put under him, it is manifest that he [the Father] is excepted, which did put ALL THINGS under him. And when ALL THINGS shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put ALL THINGS under him, that God may be all in all." And — incredible, yet true! — we, in Christ, are made co-heirs with Christ in this ultimate supreme rule. Incidentally, I Corinthians 15:27-28, along with verses 22-26, indicates that our reign over the universe shall follow the thousand years' reign on the earth.
Must GROW During Gestation
Human life starts with what the Bible terms "corruptible seed" — physical male sperm. Divine life starts with that which is incorruptible — the Holy Spirit of God entering the human person. But as the human embryo must GROW till it becomes a fetus, which must GROW to the point of being born into the human family, so the Christian in whom divine life has been started by the gift of God's incorruptible Spirit must GROW toward perfection to be born into the GOD family. He will then be perfect, unable to sin. Peter gives an analogy of this: "Being born again..." (I Pet. 1:23). Being — in process of — not having been — not yet an immortal person — but being "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible..." (Other translations use the term "begotten.") Greek: annagennao — to beget anew — (Young). Peter is here referring to the process having started within us by the incorruptible Spirit of God — not as our human life was begotten by human physical sperm. Peter here shows that the Spirit of God is the incorruptible "seed" that imparted the presence of eternal life within us. Continue: "... By the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Peter continues, chapter 2: "Wherefore... as newborn babes..." Not that we are already-born perfect divine spirit persons having entered into and inherited God's Kingdom. He is comparing the Christian's spiritual "gestation" period to the growth of a newborn human physical baby simply because it would be awkward indeed to compare it to a physical embryo or fetus. He is not saying we are already born babes in God's Kingdom — but as — or like newborn human babes. It is an analogy, which Webster says is a comparison or "likeness between two things... consisting in the resemblance not of the things themselves, but of two or more attributes, circumstances or effects." Peter is simply showing that, as a newborn human babe must be nourished and GROW physically (even, for that matter, as must the unborn fetus), so Christians must grow spiritually. Continue: "... Desire the sincere milk of the word" (RSV has: "long for the pure spiritual milk") "that ye may GROW thereby" (I Pet. 2:1-2). Paul styled it "unto the perfect man" (Eph. 4:13) — unable to sin. When born again, we shall not be helpless spirit BABES, but spirit beings of perfection unable to sin. This Christian spiritual GROWTH is in spiritual character and knowledge in this present human life. As a physical babe must grow physically, so we in the Christian life must grow in spiritual knowledge and character (see II Pet. 3:18) to become PERFECT, which we shall never attain UNTIL born as spirit beings.
The scriptures calling Jesus the only begotten Son of God all apply to His begettal as the human Son, His first birth born of the human mother, Mary.
During our converted human Christian life, we are already children of God, as yet unborn. We have within us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of ETERNAL LIFE — Spirit life — divine life — BUT, only from and through GOD. We do not, yet, have any eternal life inherent — of ourselves, independent of God! And, WE COULD LOSE IT — be aborted! This compares to the unborn physical fetus in the gestation period. It has human life — but only through the umbilical cord and FROM the mother — NOT independently of itself. And it can be aborted! This is so clearly brought out in the Bible, in I John 5:11-12: "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." It is not inherent in us. We do not now in this life have born life of our own, independent of Him. Our contact with Him through His Spirit is the umbilical cord through which we are partaking of eternal life from Him. Continue, verse 12: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life." If one is cut off from Christ, he has NO eternal life. A BORN human baby has human life on its own — independent of its mother. That defines the difference between the state of begettal and a born state! The only difference is, in the Christian life we are fed and protected by and through the spiritual Mother — the Church — while our actual eternal life comes into us through and from GOD. But when BORN again, of GOD, we shall have ETERNAL LIFE INHERENT — of our own! We are NOT now in that state!
HOW Jesus Was the ONLY Begotten Son
King David of Israel had God's Holy Spirit. Praying for forgiveness, following his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, he implored: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:10-11). The prophets had received God's Holy Spirit. Peter wrote: "... Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Pet. 1:21). They could not be called "holy men" unless God's Spirit was within them. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are to be seen in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said so. Therefore God's Spirit was "dwelling in them" — they were begotten of God — but THEY WERE NOT BORN of GOD — for Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren. But if they were begotten of God by the Holy Spirit — and hundreds of years before Christ was born, how could Jesus be called "the ONLY begotten Son of God"? ANSWER: The scriptures calling Jesus the ONLY begotten Son of God all apply to His begettal as the human Son, His first birth — born of the human mother, Mary. Jesus was the ONLY human ever begotten by God prior to HUMAN birth. In Revelation 1:5, the A.V. speaks of Christ as the first begotten — but other translations render it, properly, first-BORN — referring to His resurrection, not His human birth from His mother Mary. Jesus was NOT the first begotten in the sense that Abraham, David and Old Testament prophets were begotten. Before Jesus was conceived by Mary, He was not the SON of God. God is the divine FAMILY. He was one of that Family. In John 1:1, He is called the "Logos" — the Word. He, like the Father, had existed eternally. But He is nowhere in God's Word referred to as a SON of God prior to conception by Mary. His human birth was His first birth. He gave up the GLORY He had with the Father in order to be born into the world to save the world. Abraham and many others — prophets and writers of the Bible — were begotten. of God — they were in the same identical state as human Christians who have God's Spirit within them today. But they have not, even yet, INHERITED — entered into — the Kingdom of God. They have not yet been BORN of God. Jesus had to be the FIRST to be BORN of God — the FIRSTBORN of many brethren. That was His second birth, as the resurrection will be ours! "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise [were not born into the KINGDOM]: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39-40). This, again, PROVES that the conversion in this life — receiving the Holy Spirit — is only a begettal — NOT a birth! For Old Testament fathers and prophets received God's Spirit — but they were not "born again" because Jesus was the first so born! How does this PROCESS of being born again take place?
What Is the WAY?
Peter gave the WAY, and the conditions. Repent, he said, and be baptized, as an act of FAITH in Christ, His shed blood in payment of the penalty of our sins, and His resurrection making possible our eternal life and being born again. Then, he said, we shall receive the Holy Spirit. Those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells ARE CHRIST'S (Rom. 8:9); all others are not. But IF God's Spirit dwells in them, God will, by a resurrection AS He raised Christ from the dead, bring forth all such in immortal spirit life — composed of spirit as Christ is. All these scriptures MAKE CLEARLY PLAIN that we are to be BORN AGAIN by, and ONLY by, a resurrection to spirit composition. We are now heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ — NOT YET INHERITORS, or possessors of the Kingdom.
The Human Birth
What is a birth — what is meant by being born?
All who now are begotten sons of God shall then be born — elevated from mortal to immortal, from decaying flesh to spirit — from human to divine!
The actual final birth is called parturition — a baby being delivered out of its mother's womb. But this birth requires a father, as well as a mother! If it were not for the PART the father contributes in the process, there would be no fetus to be born. But THERE IS A TIME ELEMENT. The father's part in what shall, later, be the birth is to beget — to gender — to sire. From his body emanates the sperm cell that unites with and starts life in an ovum within the mother. This occurs nine months prior to parturition — or birth. We never say, in the English language, that immediately when an embryo is conceived in the mother — sired or begotten by the father — that the embryo has already been BORN! Birth has not occurred! To say it would sound idiotic, ridiculous! From conception must follow the PROCESS called gestation for nine months. The embryo takes on human form and is called a fetus. It must develop and grow physically to be born. So with being born again, in a spiritual birth. What comes from the divine Father is the Holy Spirit. Just as the unborn child in the mother's womb is, even in the fetal state, the child (yet unborn) of its parents, so those in whom God's Spirit dwells are, already, children of God. But they are still OF this first birth — still human — still composed of physical flesh. They are still in their spiritual Mother — the Church — which is still in this corruptible present World, though not of it. When born of the Spirit, said Jesus, they shall BE spirit. But IF God's Holy Spirit dwells in them, God then will resurrect them (if they are dead), or change them (if still living) from physical to spirit composition at Christ's coming. They will then be brought forth — delivered from their Mother, the Church of God, into the Kingdom of God. Of the first birth, we are, and remain, FLESH! HUMAN beings! Of the second birth, which is spiritual, we shall BE spirit, no longer flesh — but SPIRIT beings! — Divine Beings!
Glorious World Tomorrow
What WONDERFUL, almost INCOMPREHENSIBLE, GLORIOUS GOOD NEWS! And the BEST NEWS is, that the COMING OF CHRIST is now drawing VERY NEAR! Just a very few more years! And then — the PEACEFUL, HAPPY, GLORIOUS WORLD TOMORROW! All who NOW are begotten sons of God shall then be BORN — elevated from mortal to IMMORTAL, from decaying FLESH to SPIRIT — from HUMAN to DIVINE! And that true born-again experience will be incomparably more GLORIOUS than the false, vague, meaningless, so-called "born-again experience" that deceived THOUSANDS think they have had now. Can your mind grasp what an incredible, transcendent GLORY is the true potential of those who do BELIEVE, REPENT and OBEY? But, the scriptures that break before our eyes this GLORIOUS GOOD NEWS, also warn US to TAKE HEED, and to make our calling and election sure!