Born Again? Who and How?
Telecast Date: November 9, 1981
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The World Tomorrow, the Worldwide Church of God presents Herbert W Armstrong... Internationally recognized Ambassador for world peace... Visiting prominent leaders around the globe... discussing the cause of world problems... and proclaiming the good news of the world tomorrow... ladies and gentlemen Herbert W Armstrong.
   Before the last presidential election, we heard a great deal from people claiming to be 'born again Christians'. I think a lot of people wonder just what do they mean by being 'born again' and I wonder if they themselves knew what it means to be 'born again.'
   We are living in a time of religious confusion. Hundreds of different sects, denominations and Christianity beside all of the other religions in the world, everyone of them believing something altogether different. Where did they get their knowledge, their religion, their belief? The answer is they got it from other people or they got it from the generation before them and it's been going on now for about 1950 years a little more in Christianity.
   It's time that a voice cries out in this Babylon of religious confusion of our day! And speaking of that very thing, the apostle John, in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, he was in a vision and he was recording what he saw and what he heard. And, he said this for us of this day now. He said, Revelation 18:4:
   "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her [that is out of Babylon. He was speaking about Babylon], Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues." (Revelation 18:4)
   Babylon, the religious confusion is deep in sin and doesn't know it. And it is time that we begin to understand some of these things.
   It was Jesus Christ who first spoke about being born again. He was talking to a Pharisee. That's over 1950 years ago when Jesus Christ was on the earth. And He said to this Pharisee, in the third chapter of John, it is recorded in verse 6, He said: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh [now, you and I were born of the flesh. We are flesh, that's what we are and flesh comes out of the ground, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6)
   That which is born of the Spirit IS spirit. Not flesh. Not out of the ground, but Spirit, composed of Spirit. That which is born of the Spirit.
   He was speaking to a Pharisee called Nicodemus. Now, the Pharisees knew that Jesus was the son of God. They knew that. And, this man Nicodemus was a prominent Pharisee so, he sort of sneaked in by night. He didn't want his fellow Pharisees to know he was going to see this man, Jesus. Jesus had come as a great newscaster. He was coming with news of the far, far future. They didn't realize that. He was speaking about the Kingdom of God. That was His message. That was His gospel, the Kingdom of God. They thought that the Kingdom of God would immediately appear. They thought He had come to overthrow Caesar and set up the Kingdom of God immediately. In other words, they thought He was a subversive. They had government positions in the government of the Roman Empire who were over the Jewish population of Palestine at that time and they had jobs that they liked very well. The Romans were using the Jews to govern themselves in all the lower or more minor offices of government although they had a king or governor there over all and they had numbers of soldiers stationed around, but pretty much the Pharisees were doing the governing. So, this Nicodemus came into Jesus, and he said, "we know [that is, we Pharisees,] we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that thou doest except that God sent him" (John 3:6). They knew that.

Born Again

   Jesus said: "Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)
   Now, Jesus was preaching the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has not yet occurred on the earth. Although people don't understand that either and some people think the Church is the Kingdom of God. I've even heard of some people saying some years ago they don't say it anymore that the British Empire was the Kingdom of God, believe it or not. Well, they don't say that anymore, but they have different ideas. In other words, apparently, they think Jesus didn't mean what He said and they have to twist it all around to mean something altogether different. Except a man be born again he can not see the Kingdom of God.
   So, He said the Kingdom of God is something that can be seen, but he couldn't see it unless he is born again.
   So, Nicodemus couldn't see it, he hadn't been born again. So, Nicodemus then said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (John 3:4)
   Now, Nicodemus knew what it was to be born again, but he didn't understand what Jesus meant by that. He knew that it meant being actually born. And so Jesus talked to him and Jesus said: "That which is born of the flesh IS flesh." (John 3:6)
   You, Nicodemus, are flesh. You who listen to me are flesh and I am flesh. We're of the dirt of the ground because you read in Genesis 2 and God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). God had made animals after the animal kind, cattle after the cattle kind, dogs after the dog kind and so on. And then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our kind."
   Man was made after the God kind to become members of the very family of God. That is not known by the religions of today either, but it's in the very Word of God. If they would only look there for the truth. This book is God speaking. The book, the Holy Bible, the world's number one seller. It's in more homes and more places than any other book in the world, yet it is the least understood, the least read and almost not ever understood, of any book because people don't seem to want to understand it, and yet it makes sense. It's a now book. It's for our day. It's written for our day and we can understand it if we are willing. But God said, God made man "... of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) That is, what was made of the dust of the ground became a soul not an immortal soul, but a living soul.
   Now, we go back here to the third chapter of John. And so, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, made of the dust of the ground. That which is born of the Spirit IS spirit. Now, in John 4:24 we read that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24) , composed of Spirit. God is composed of Spirit. He is Spirit. And, when we are born of God we will BE Spirit.
   Now, Jesus went on saying: "Marvel not that I say unto you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it listeth; and thou heareth the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or wither it goeth; so is every one born of the Spirit." (John 3:7-8)
   In other words, Spirit is compared there to air or wind and in the Greek language the word for spirit is 'pneuma' and the word for air or breath is also 'pneuma.' The same word is used for both meanings and yet Spirit is not air or wind. They are two different things altogether. But, the Spirit is also compared to water. Jesus talked about pouring out His Spirit and another prophecy speaks of pouring out God's Spirit (Joel 2:29, Acts 2:17). The Spirit is something that can be poured. It is not a ghost.

God Is Composed Of Spirit

   So, next I want you to notice in John, the first, three, four, five verses, that in the Word, which became Christ, was life. In Him is life, but man was not made with life. Man was made with a physiochemical existence. Just a temporary existence.
   Now then I want you to notice something in I John. If you are born again you will not be human. You will not be of the flesh. You will not be sinning, in I John 3:9:
   "Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed [that is, God's seed], remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (I John 3:9)
   My friends, you can sin. Even Jesus could have sinned, He just didn't. You can sin and you have sinned and so have I and so has every human being who ever lived except Jesus Christ. But, when you are born again you will not be able to sin. Now, if you will notice the second verse of this same chapter:
   "Beloved, now are we the sons of God [now, that's what we are now IF we have the spirit of God, if we are really converted Christians, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he [Christ], shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:2)
   And when He appears, He will come the Bible describes Him in the first chapter of the book of Revelation and other places as having eyes likes flames of fire and a face or a countenance shining like the very sun in full strength. And that is the way we will appear. So naturally, it doesn't appear now what we shall be, we don't appear that way. But when we are born again we will be in a condition where we cannot sin because we'll be composed of spirit and we will be born of God! Born into the family of God and God will be our Father indeed. Oh, that is a truth. It's such a pity that the people of the world are so misled by emotional, sentimental religions, a lot of "praise the Lord" and "hallelujahs" but so little understanding, so little truth, and so little knowledge of the right way of God and obedience to the God and Creator of ourselves.
   We are only an heir now if we have the Spirit of God. A converted Christian is now only an heir. Let's turn to the eighth chapter of the book of Romans for a moment. Paul is speaking to the Romans here in a letter that he wrote to the Romans and he was speaking to those who had been converted, were now begotten children of God. They're already sons of God, already children of God, but not yet born, believe it or not, just begotten. Just heirs, not yet inheritors or possessors. He said to them:
   "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell IN you [if the Spirit of God dwell in you. But] if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Romans 8:9)
   Any man that does not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him, he is not a Christian. I don't care how many church books his name is written on. I don't care how many churches he's a member of, he is not Christ's. He is not really a Christian unless the Spirit of God is in him. Now, if the Spirit of God is in him, then what? Verse 11, notice:
   "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 [that is, make immortal], shall make immortal your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:11).
   The Spirit of God is the impregnating germ of life from God Himself by which we shall be born of God. I'm going to explain a little more of that if I have time in this present program. If not, I'll continue a week from now and go on a little further.

Christ The Firstborn

   But now I would like to have you turn to I Corinthians, the fifteenth chapter, the resurrection chapter of the Bible. One of the most wonderful chapters in all of the Bible. Beginning with verse 19: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ [in other words, if you think you're already born again and here in this life, and you have hope in Christ], we are of all men most miserable. But, now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept [by a resurrection] (I Corinthians 15:19-20) The firstfruits of them that slept.
   Jesus was the first of many brethren, the first begotten, the firstborn of many brethren, as another scripture has (Romans 8:29). But, verse 21: "...since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead, for as in Adam all die so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order. Christ the firstfruits," (I Corinthians 15:21-23)
   Now He was only the first of many brethren, the firstborn of many brethren. Christ was born again! That doesn't mean Christ had been a sinner and needed salvation. But He was born once as a human being and He was born again as very God and He is God and worthy of the worship of the angels today. He is the firstborn of many brethren. We SHALL be born, but we are not born yet. Nobody, not anybody. But, "...every man in his own order, Christ the firstfruits [that was over 1950 years ago]; afterward, they that are Christ's at his coming" (I Corinthians 15:23). And then will come the end and finally even the judgment day. And it goes on without describing all of that, which is described, really, in other portions of the Bible.
   Now, let's turn back to the first chapter of Romans there for just a second, and read in the third verse about Christ our Lord and in the fourth verse how He was declared to be the son of God by the resurrection from the dead. He was declared to be the son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, but how? By the resurrection of the dead.
   Now, He was the son of God even while He was on the earth in the human flesh, but He became the son of God immortal by the resurrection of the dead. And that's the way we shall be born of God by a resurrection from the dead or a change if we are yet living at that time.
   Now, then back to I Corinthians 15 again and I would like to turn on now a little farther in this same chapter to verse 45: "And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul" [I quoted that to you from Genesis the second chapter and verse 7 just a few moments ago, a living soul, made from the dust of the ground]; the last Adam was made a quickening [or an immortal], spirit." (I Corinthians 15:45). The last Adam is Jesus Christ and He was made by resurrection of the dead, an immortal spirit, and the son of God, the firstborn of many brethren to be born of God. However,"...that was not first that is spiritual, but that which is natural and afterward that which is spiritual" (I Corinthians 15:46). The first Adam was natural. You and I are natural. Christ now is spiritual by a resurrection from the dead and we shall be spiritual by a resurrection or an instantaneous change at Christ's coming. Verse 47:
   "The first man is OF the earth, earthy [that's what we are, that's what you and I are, my friends]: the second man is the Lord from heaven." (I Corinthians 15:47)
   He was born human so He could die, born of the virgin Mary, but He was resurrected and became the firstborn of many brethren, born of God and now again very God.
   "The first man is of the earth, the second man is the Lord from heaven, as is the earthy, such are they that are earthy [that is you and I. We are earthy]: and as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly [if we are born again we will be heavenly like God the Father, like Christ the son, heavenly and immortal]. And as we have borne the image of the earthy we SHALL [not now, not already born again, only begotten. There's a great deal of difference], and we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (I Corinthians 15:47-48)
   You should go on and read the rest of it. I'm not going to take the time just now, because I want to go into some other things. But it continues to show that we are born of the earth with a temporary chemical existence. That's all.

In Christ Was Life

   But, in Christ was life to begin with. He has life now and we inherit life through the resurrection and we're not born of God and not born again until we are born of the resurrection to become children of God. God is simply reproducing Himself. He is reproducing Himself! Now, God started the reproductive process in plants and in animals and finally in man. You read of that in the first chapter of Genesis. He made the plants, He made the animals each after its own kind. Cattle after the cattle kind, elephants after the elephant kind and then He said man after the God kind. But, we are not God yet by any matter of means. We're still mortal flesh.
   Your being born of the flesh is the very type and picture of your being born of God. You're first born of man, you will later be born of God. You were an ovum in your mother's womb. You came from an ovary, fertilized by a sperm cell from your father, from your father's body. That put life into that ovum and you then became an embryo and after four months you began to take on human form and shape in your mother's womb, every one of you listening to me. And then you were called, technically and medically, you were called a fetus and you still had another five months to develop physically, being fed by your mother, through your mother. Not by so much as through her. And after nine months you had developed a full physical form and shape yet quite small you were born. Now, that was being born. You came into a new kind of life and this was physical life, human life. When you're born of God you'll have God life not human life.
   Now then, you notice this; We, each of us, is an ovum. We have a spirit within man that is like the nucleus in the ovum, and the Holy Spirit of God will come and impregnate us and join with the nucleus in us which is the spirit of man that is already in him. But he needs another spirit. You know, Adam was made incomplete. Adam needed a wife so God made a woman for him, but he had a spirit that gave him a mind in addition to his brain but he needed another spirit, the spirit of God, and his mind was even only half there. And the spirit of God impregnates and gives immortal life and makes us, which is an ovum, impregnated to have an immortal life. Now the Bible says Jerusalem above, which is the Church, is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:28). The function of a church is to feed those in it with spiritual food that they may grow spiritually and in spiritual character, in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as Peter wrote. (II Peter 18)
   And, finally if we endure unto the end, if we grow in grace and knowledge, if we overcome, we shall be born and born again at the time of the resurrection. On the day of Pentecost the Church was first begotten. The Church came into existence and on that day the apostle Peter preached the first inspired sermon. At the end of his sermon there were thousands of people there who said: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" What shall we do? Let me turn to that, in the second chapter of the book of Acts and verses 38 and 39, or in verse 37:
   "When they heard Peter's sermon they were pricked in their hearts and they said to Peter and the brethren, men and brethren, what shall we do? And then Peter said unto them Repent [that is, change your mind about the way you've been living. Turn to the way of God instead of the way of this world], Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38 paraphrased)
   And, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead, will at the end, either at the time of Christ's coming or at the time of the resurrection, raise you up, and you will become immortal and become a born son of God. (Romans 8:11)
   What a wonderful truth! God is reproducing Himself. Very few understand this marvelous, marvelous truth, but at this time a voice is crying out to give you the real truth. You're not going to remember everything that I gave you. I want to send you a booklet that'll give it to you in much more detail, a booklet, 'Born Again'. A booklet called 'Just What Do You Mean... Born Again?.' What does it mean? This booklet will describe it completely and fully in a way you have never heard it described or read it or understood it before. Now, there's no charge. We don't charge for anything. This is a beautiful booklet. It's full and complete. This booklet doesn't happen to be illustrated, as most of our booklets are, because this subject didn't need illustration. However, it is one of the most important booklets that we have ever produced and I would like to give it to you. There's no followup or request for money. This program is a little different in that manner and that way, but we would like to give it to you.
   And, so, until next time, this is Herbert W Armstrong saying, "Goodbye, friends."
{1} Mr. Armstrong said fourscore by mistake

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Telecast Date: November 9, 1981
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