Lesson Two, Part 4 – The New Birth Summary

The New Birth

Part 4:  The New Birth In Summary


Nicodemus was a learned person both in secular and spiritual matters.  He was a ruler of the Jews, faithful to the Law of Moses and a believer in Jesus Christ (John 3:1; 7:50, 51; 19:39).  However, he was not well enough informed to comprehend Jesus’ statement when He said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3).

To understand the processes which accomplish a new birth we must first understand the kingdom of God as it relates to mankind, and we must understand that we were created to ultimately inherit this kingdom as God’s sons (Luke 12:32; Gal. 4:7).  We need to perceive of the concept of the two realms now available to mankind on earth.  If we have been born only once, this birth brought us into the world, but this is not where we will find God’s kingdom with Christ as king (John 18:36).  Satan rules the world (Matt. 13:38, 39; John 14:30).

Also, we must comprehend the significance of the resurrection of Jesus as it relates to the “in Christ” realm in order to understand how “His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  (I Pet. 1:3).  Jesus died for our transgressions, but He was raised because of our justification (Rom 4:25).  The resurrected Christ serves as our priest and king over a peaceful “no condemnation” realm identified as “in Christ.”  (Rom. 5:1, 2; 8:1, 2; Heb. 8:1, 2).

Christians are those people who have been called out of the world realm and into Christ.  We are the church of Christ.  The root meaning of the word church is the “called out.”  Christians are the people called out by Christ.  We must understand the church in this context in order to comprehend its relationship to the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 1:20-23).  To be “in Christ” means to be a member of His body.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit.  I Cor. 12:13

The basis for the new birth is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For the alien sinner, this is the gospel – the good news (I Cor. 15:1-5).  We proceed from spiritual death to spiritual life as we move with Jesus through all three events (John 5:24).  Finally, this brings us to God’s kingdom in Christ.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.  I Peter 3:18

For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  Col. 1:13

And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.  Eph. 2:6

The gospel is preached.  It is God’s power to save sinners for His kingdom as sons (Rom. 1:16, 17; I Pet. 2:24).  When, and if, it produces faith in the believers in the events of the cross and the kingdom of God “in Christ,” their faith becomes their motivating force (Rom. 10:17).  It moves  alien sinners to change their minds about their quality of life in the world.  They now desire the life of adopted sons in Christ (Eph. 1:5).  This is called repentance and it can happen only after faith is produced by the gospel about the kingdom of God.

Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  Acts 3:19

While in the processes of the new birth, this same faith continues to move the repentant sinner right into the waters of baptism.  The gospel, which the apostles and others who were guided by the Holy Spirit preached, produces faith in sinners.  A faith which put the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in action for them in the waters of baptism.  As these faithful sinners are being baptized, they believe their old selves are dying with Jesus, being buried with Jesus and their new selves are being resurrected with Jesus, and they are.  If their faith does not put Jesus in the water with them, nothing will happen, except they will get wet.  Paul said, a sinner is “buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  (Col. 2:12).  Sinners’ works cannot save them, but when their faith motivates God to make them alive with Him, the work of God is a wonder to behold (Col. 2:13).

The apostle Paul said it happened in baptism in Col. 2:9-14 and also in the Roman letter.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Rom. 6:3-7

Paul was one preacher who had practiced what he was told by the preacher God sent to him.  He later preached the gospel that produced the faith which he, himself, had obeyed (Acts 22:16).  He understood it was the only way he could have the remission of sins so he could be begotten from above, that is, born again.  Baptism was the way Paul was crucified with Christ and clothed with Christ (Gal. 2:20; 3:27).  Even a Gentile can become a part of Abraham’s family by a “faith motivated baptism.”  Abraham’s family is God’s kingdom on earth (Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 4:16).  When our faith puts Jesus Christ and the events of the cross in action in the waters of baptism, it can be said that “baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  (I Pet. 3:21).

There is another concept we must understand if we will appreciate the phenomenon of activity within the processes of “being begotten by God.”  We must understand the concept of the inner-outer man, because what happens before, during and after baptism happens to the inner man, the self (II Cor. 4:16).  As Peter said, “Baptism is not for the cleansing of the flesh.”  But, repentant sinners have their spirits made alive to God when God remembers their sins no more.  According to the following scriptures, the inner man, or the spirit of man, is alive to righteousness after the new birth is completed.

And He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  I Peter 2:24

And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  Rom. 8:10

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  II Cor. 5:21

      The new self is now in Christ, but the outer man is still earthy, like Adam (I Cor. 15:48).  The body with the spirit still in it is known as the outer man.  It must be brought into subjection to the inner man with the help the Holy Spirit gives us “in Christ.”  (Rom. 6:13; 8:12, 13).  The body will not be saved from physical death; its hope is in the resurrection.  When Jesus comes again there will be a making alive of the outer man in spiritual form (I Cor. 15:42-44).

If Nicodemus had been blessed with all the information we now have in God’s word, he too could have understood what Jesus meant when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:5).  But at that point no one had been born again because Jesus had not died, but after His death on the cross many people have accepted the teachings of God’s word and have been born of the water and the spirit.  This is the truth about the new birth, and it is so simple; however, this truth must be obeyed.  Please consider the following.

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.  I Peter 1:22, 23

The first time the cross and Jesus, as king, was preached, the believers were instructed by Peter in the following manner.

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38

This accomplishes exactly what the phrase “born again” means.  It means begotten from above or as we read, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:47).  “Being saved” and “born again,” is the same process.  Neither of these can happen without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it does not happen for any one personally until they have joined Jesus in this very physical, but very spiritual event.  God has provided baptism in water as the only way to join Jesus in the events of the cross.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.  Rom. 6:8

Questions for Discussion

  1. How much do alien sinners need to understand to let God accomplish their new births?
  2. What did God provide as a basis for our new birth?
  3. What is the motivating force which moves a sinner through the processes of the new birth?
  4. List the processes needed to accomplishes a new birth.
  5. In what sense is baptism a work?
  6. What did Paul practice?
  7. How does our conception of the inner-outer man help us to understand the spiritual activity in baptism?
  8. Why was it difficult for Nicodemus to understand Jesus’ statement about the new birth?
  9. What does “born again” mean?
  10. Why must sinners be baptized in water to be saved?

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