Nicodemus was a high-ranking Pharisee who was deeply interested in the teachings of Jesus Christ. One day Jesus revealed a profound truth to Nicodemus — something that completely mystified the man.
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," said Jesus (John 3:3).
Nicodemus was totally perplexed. He asked Jesus: "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (verse 4).
Jesus told him: "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (verse 7). But Nicodemus simply did not comprehend what Jesus was talking about (verses 9-12).
Nicodemus was familiar only with the process of physical birth. Therefore he understood when Jesus said to him, " That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (verse 6). But then Jesus explained we must be born again — not again of the flesh — not again entering our mother's womb, as Nicodemus thought He meant. He explained that we must be born of the Spirit — born of God! God must be our Father this time.
Jesus talked about two different kinds of birth — one physical, the other spiritual. When you were born of your fleshly parents you were composed of flesh. But "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (verse 6) — no longer composed of flesh, but of spirit!
That is the plain teaching of your Bible. The new birth clearly is not an emotional experience as so many l1ave erroneously assumed, but a literal birth. Let's begin to understand the awesome truth Jesus revealed to Nicodemus.
1. To what did Jesus compare one who is born of the Spirit? John 3:8.
When you are "born again," born of the Spirit of God, you will be invisible to mortal eyes like the wind (unless you choose to manifest yourself). The effects of the wind are easily discernible, but the wind itself cannot be seen.
Jesus compared spiritual birth to physical birth. The latter is a type of the former. Other scriptures to be studied will make Jesus' enigmatic statements to Nicodemus crystal clear.
2. From what did God form the first man? Gen. 2:7;3:19.
God said to Adam, "Dust thou art." Not immortal spirit — just plain earth. Man is mortal, physical, not yet immortal or spiritual. Adam, in other words, was not created complete. He was created to need a second birth — a spiritual birth.
But why? How? When?
3. After whose image and likeness was man created? Gen. 1:26-27.
In God's pattern for all life, like reproduces like. And just as each plant and animal reproduces after its own kind, so humans reproduce humans. But unlike any of the animals created by God, man was created in God's likeness. God made man like Himself — same form and shape. And the astounding truth is that it is His purpose to create men after the God kind!
4. Even though man is made in the likeness of God, are both now composed of the same type of material? John 4:24; Gen. 3:19.
There is a vast difference between spirit and dust. Although man was created to look like God in outward appearance, he was not created out of the same material. He was made of physical matter, subject to decay. But God's purpose is to make him a spiritual creation.
5. How does I Corinthians 15:46-49 corroborate this great truth?
Clearly, man is much more than any animal. Man has the potential to become divine spirit — just as God is spirit.
God is now in the process of creating His greatest creation of all — His supreme masterpiece. God's plan is to create individuals with perfect spiritual character out of mortal mankind. Notice the overwhelming evidence:
6. Is God still in the process of forming and molding man as a potter works with clay? Isa. 64:8. Did Job realize God was forming a special creation in his life? Job 14:14-15.
Notice the latter part of Job 14:15, "thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." The work was Job. Job knew he was a piece of divine workmanship in the hands of the Master Potter.
7. Are Christians being fashioned by God for a specific purpose? Isa. 43:7; Eph. 2:10.
"We," then — if we ar.E2 indeed Christians — are God's workmanship. We, today, are being created — why? — "unto good works." God, with the Holy Spirit He has put within us, is forming in us perfect spiritual character. He is creating us in His own character image.
The Gospel message Jesus brought to man• kind reveals that God is reproducing Himself. Jesus' Gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. But the Bible shows that Kingdom is dual. It is not only the ruling government that Christ will establish on the earth when He returns, but it is also the Family of God.
And, incredible as it may sound, Jesus taught that humans can be born into the Family or Kingdom of God!
At present there are only two members in the God Family — God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. But God is in the process of increasing His Family. And you can be born into it!
8. Does God plainly show that it is His purpose to increase His divine Family by bringing many sons into it? Heb. 2:10; Rev. 21:7. Isn't Jesus Christ actually the firstborn of many sons of God? Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18.
To be "conformed to the image" of Christ means to become like Him — to be glorified as He is glorified — to be a part of the divine Family of God as Christ now is.
Only a relatively few have really grasped the tremendous significance of this marvelous truth. But this is what salvation is all about. Our destiny is to become literal born-again children of God — members of His own divine Family!
9. If we are true Christians in God's sight, are we already — during this mortal life — the children of God? I John 3:1-2. Are we therefore already inheritors of the Kingdom of God, or only heirs to it? Rom. 8:14-17.
Notice that although we are now the children of God, we are only heirs — ones who shall, in the future, inherit the glory of God with Jesus Christ. Why? Because we are now only begotten children. It is only when we are spiritually born of God that we become inheritors of God's Kingdom — divine members of the Family of God.
Before the second phase of our creation — our spiritual creation — can begin, God the Father must first beget each of us by placing His Holy Spirit within our minds, which can be compared to an egg or ovum. We are then impregnated, so to speak, by the seed or germ of eternal life. It is the begettal of the spiritual life of God within our minds. And much as a newly begotten physical embryo begins to grow in its mother's womb, we begin to grow in spiritual character after we are begotten by God's Spirit. This growth comes about through Bible study, prayer and walking with God in obedience to Him as we are empowered by His Holy Spirit within us.
And so all Spirit-begotten Christians are now the unborn children of God the Father, in the same sense that an unborn human fetus is the child of its human parents.
10. Can one enter God's Kingdom while still flesh and blood? I Cor. 15:50. What must happen before we can be born as divine members of God's Family? Verses 51-53.
"That which is born of the Spirit is spirit," said Jesus (John 3:6). But we have not yet been born of spirit. If you don't think so — if you think you have already been born again — then recall when you last cut your finger. Did you feel pain? Did your finger bleed? Then you are still flesh and blood — you haven't been born again.
After Christ was born again by His resurrection, He was able to pass through solid walls (John 20:19, 26). Do you think those who claim to have been born again can match this feat? Of course not.
Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever been born again. Jesus said you must be "born of spirit" — you must become composed of spirit — to ever see or enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). And so the new birth is something yet to occur at the coming resurrection of the dead.
When the glorified Christ returns to earth, we shall become like He is (I Thess. 4:16-17; I John 3:1-2) — full-grown spiritual adults. At that instant, our present physical bodies will be transformed, made like His glorified body — born again as members of God's own Family — as God's own glorious offspring with eternal life inherent within ourselves — as His immortal sons to reign with Jesus Christ our elder brother
This brief exposition of the new birth could only touch on some of the main points of this fascinating study. Those who are interested in more comprehensive coverage of this extremely important subject should enroll in our free Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course
, and the format is the same as with these ministudies.