Yahshua used the opportunity to reveal a central fact about the Kingdom. “Yahshua answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Elohim,”John 3:3.
Confused by Yahshua’s statement, Nicodemus asked how can a person be born when he is old? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born all over again?
Then Yahshua detailed what He meant. “Yahshua answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Elohim.”
Yahshua said that being born again for salvation involves two fundamentals: being born of water and the Spirit. Yahshua was talking about a process of conversion. That spiritual transformation that must occur in a Believer’s life leads to a full-fledged, new creation of an individual who no longer continues in his old nature, indulging in the world’s pleasures and sins, but now reflects the very image of Yahweh in thought and action.
A Process Taking Time
Conversion is a life-long development, not an easy and quick confession followed by back to business as usual. To be found worthy of the Kingdom requires a complete, permanent change of mind and heart.
Transforming of the individual from a serial sinner into a spiritually mature individual useful to Yahweh in advancing His Kingdom requires a lifetime of tests and trials. It doesn’t happen with a mere declaration of Yahshua as one’s personal Savior; that’s only the start.
John gave us a crucial element to being born again: “For whatsoever is born of Elohim overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” 1John 5:4.
In Revelation 2:26 Yahshua says, “And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Obedience to the Word is how we overcome in this life. It leads to a position of rulership in the next, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne,”Revelation 3:21.
To be born again means overcoming. But what does “overcome” mean? Isn’t a simple confession enough? Not any more than blowing on your hands will wash away grimy dirt.
Overcoming our old nature and the pulls of this world is serious, difficult business. It takes a lifetime.
Windfall Blessings Now?
No wonder people want to believe that being born again (being “saved”) is just a five-second confession! Isaiah tells us what everyone would rather hear: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits,” Isaiah 30:10
Tell everyone that entrance into the Kingdom is easy and effortless and filled with all the worldly blessings imaginable. That’s prophesying (teaching) deceits. That’s today’s popular messages in a nutshell and an amazingly accurate prophecy about them.
The popular doctrine of being born again says it’s all downhill once you accept Yahshua. You are now saved, and you will slide on through completely unscathed. Even better, you will have great health and wealth and prosperity as well.
But where’s the evidence? Which person who has undergone real, authentic conversion has been inundated with health and riches—and no problems from then on? This most popular of sermon themes of nominal worship is fundamentally not just flawed but a lie from the very the lips of haSatan himself.
Nowhere does Yahweh’s Word teach it and nowhere is there any evidence of it in the Word. In fact, the opposite is the truth.
A Tribulation Guarantee
Instead of sunshine, lollypops and roses, many of His true Worshipers will pay the ultimate sacrifice for living for Yahweh. We read of the consequences for some followers in the end times in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Forget the sugar and spice and everything nice. Forget wealth and health. There’s going to be conflict when you take up the same walk that Yahshua took, which is the only walk that leads to salvation. This is fact and is anything but popular. The world in general has little love of the truth of Yahweh because the truth is convicting. And remember how Yahshua ended up—nailed to a post! Is Yahweh going to give you what He didn’t even give His own son? Are we to have it better than Yahweh’s own, beloved Son had it?
We are told not to be surprised when tested for our faith. Yahshua guaranteed it, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household,”Matthew 10:34-36.
This is why the way is called narrow. Salvation comes at a great sacrificial price. Peter wrote, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Messiah’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 1Peter 4:12-13.
If we follow in Yahshua’s footsteps then we will experience the kinds of things He did.
That’s all part of the refining process. Sifting takes out the junk. Heat melts away impurities. What is left is a highly refined product that Yahweh can use. He can’t utilize what is tainted with unrepented sin, 1Corinthians 6:9.
Let’s dig into the ancient language itself and see what “born again” actually means as taught by Yahshua Himself.
The Greek and ‘Born Again’
“Born again” starts with being begotten from above. Let’s look at the two words individually. “Born” is the Greek gennao and in Yahshua’s teaching means the entire birth process – from the beginning at begettal to the ending at birth. Gennao is used inMatthew 1:20, where Joseph is told by the angel that Mary’s conception (gennao , begetting) is by the Holy Spirit.
“Again” is anothen and means: 1) from above, from a higher place; of things which come from heaven or Yahweh; 2) from the first, from the beginning.
We are begotten spiritually by the Word of truth, James 1:8 tells us. Yahshua uses the process of conception and growth of a baby to illustrate the same concept with a babe in the Word. First the conception, then the gestation period, then the actual birth. In that process the newborn undergoes radical change—from a single ovum or egg barely visible to the unaided eye to the birth of a fully developed infant.
When the egg becomes fertilized the begettal occurs. Spiritually for the True Worshiper it starts at baptism, when a part of the Holy Spirit is given by the laying on of hands of the ministry to start the spiritual growth process. Paul said in 1Corinthians 1:22 that we are “…given the earnest of the spirit in our hearts.” He said again in 2Corinthians 5:5: “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] Elohim, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”
Earnest means down payment, from the Greek arrabon. It is just the initial infusion of His Spirit. So long as the person does not quench the Spirit through sin, it will then develop and grow over time to create a fully developed Believer ready to be delivered by rebirth of that believer. He is at that time “born again.”
John 3:34 reveals that Yahshua is the exception to this. He got the FULL measure of the Spirit at His immersion by John. “For he whom Yahweh hath sent speaketh the words of Yahweh: for Yahweh giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto Him].”
Resurrection by the Spirit
Now we can review what we know so far about Yahshua’s teaching of being born again. From John 3:3 we learn: “Yahshua answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Elohim.”
Nicodemus needed further clarification, which Yahshua provides in verse 5: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Elohim.”
A man who was once being counseled for immersion said he believed that baptism wasn’t really necessary. Not only did Yahshua contradict that by His own words and by His own example of baptism, but the man was essentially saying he didn’t need the Holy Spirit, either, because at baptism is the very time the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands of the elders.
Simply put, without the Holy Spirit in you, you will not be raised in the coming resurrection. Paul wrote, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Yahshua from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up the Messiah from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you,” Romans 8:11. See also John 6:63 and 2Corinthians 3:6.
The path to salvation begins with repentance from past sins followed by water baptism and laying on of hands for the Holy Spirit. Being born of water is not speaking of the fluid in the amniotic sac, as some have claimed. We all are born that way, and it would be pointless to mention it as something required of the believer when he has no choice in the matter!
To be born again we need power that comes down from above—from Yahweh Himself. And that power is the infusing of His Spirit. If this doesn’t happen, you cannot enter the Kingdom.
Changed By the Spirit
When Yahshua comes back to this earth His people will be drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit they were given at baptism. John 12:32: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.” Draw is the Greek helko and means to draw by power. The Spirit will act like a magnet, and you must be “magnetized” to be drawn to Yahshua.
This is exactly how Yahshua was resurrected: “For Messiah also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to Elohim, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” 1Peter 3:18. He was instantly changed and raised by the Holy Spirit.
Now comes the key verse 6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” What does He mean to be born of the Spirit? Once that seed of the Holy Spirit is given it grows within the mind and heart to produce a mature believer.
Ultimately, and this is the result of the entire process, that person will be physically changed to spirit essence at the resurrection.
Paul had written in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Savior.”
The process of spiritual maturity that started with repentance and water immersion ends with a miraculous transformation of a mind and heart, and from a physical human being into a spirit being at the return of Yahshua. He will raise His own at that time and reward them with a position in His kingdom.
“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death had no power, but they shall be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
This is the ultimate work of the Holy Spirit and the glorious future that awaits the faithful who keep the commandments and have the faith of Yahshua.
The saints will no longer be flesh and blood but will have spirit energy as do Yahweh and Yahshua.
Like the Wind
Yahshua demonstrated it further. He said in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
Yahshua compares the transformation to spirit essence with the wind. Wind is the Greek pneuma as demonstrated in Acts 2 when the Spirit was given and they heard a mighty sound like wind. Wind is often used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. It has much the same properties.
Wind blows where Yahweh desires it to blow. He has complete control over it. Wind is invisible, you can’t tell where it comes from and where it goes. Yet it has power. So is the spirit essence of the True Worshiper in his spirit body at the resurrection.
Yahshua in spirit form could appear and disappear at will. Suddenly there He was in a locked room with His disciples. He could present himself to His Father in heaven and be back on earth that same day. How did He do it? With Spirit power. He was spirit. Someday His chosen will have the same. Spirit essence is not limited by time, space or physical restrictions.
One must be begotten before one is born. The process of being “born again” is not a simple conversion experience. Pursuit of a Scriptural way of life must then follow.
Following are some key reasons you cannot be born again and still be a human in a physical body:
Peter explains it clearly in 1Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of Elohim, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falleth away:”
The spiritual commitment and life-change that is done spiritually ends with an actual spirit body that cannot break down, get sick, die or decay (incorruptible!). It will be immortal. Peter said plainly, being born again means not being physical, not being corruptible but incorruptible. Incorruptible is the Greek aphthartos and means immortal. It is used of Yahweh Himself. Being born again means you are immortal.
Yahshua said in John 3:6, that which is born of the spirit IS spirit, not flesh. Being born again means to be of spirit in form and substance. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Elohim; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” 1Corinthians 15:50.
“Born again” is an entire process not just a confession; a declaration of sin is just the start of the spiritual process that results in being reborn.
They No Longer Sin
Now read 1John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of Elohim doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of Elohim.”
Here is another simple test for the “born again” claim. Is the individual now sinless? Can he or she commit sin? The fact is, no human is sinless in this present world, Romans 3:23. Therefore, no one but Yahshua has been born again. He is the only one who was resurrected into spirit essence and the only one who is sinless.
Paul said in Rom. 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of Elohim.” No one is any different from anyone else on that score. John said that if you are born again you cannot sin. The reason is simple. Being born again you are now a spirit being. You’ve made the cut. You are completely transformed in mind and heart as well as in essence.
Being born again you have overcome your sinful, human nature, the world’s obstacles and Satan’s devices. As a spirit being your mind is transformed so you no longer rebel against Yahweh through sin.
“If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of him,” 1John 2:29. Righteousness is sinlessness. Show me a sinless person and I would agree that he or she is born again. I would also agree that they are now spirit beings and no longer flesh and blood.
Spirit Given by Measure
John 3:34 reveals that the Holy Spirit is given in limited fashion. As we grow in grace, knowledge, and obedience, more of the Spirit is given to us. Acts 5:32 says He gives His spirit to those who obey.
With Yahshua it was different. The Spirit was not given to Yahshua in increments, but in whole: “For He whom Elohim has sent speaks the words of Elohim: for Elohim gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him.”
But to us He gives just a small part of the Spirit at first, to see whether we will continue faithful and grow with it. “Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2Cor. 1:22). Earnest is the Greek arrhabon and means a pledge or an advance, like a down payment.
As with Yahshua’s human begettal, the Holy Spirit is given us as a spiritual “begettal.” Then as we grow spiritually more of the Spirit is given, helping us mature into the nature and righteous stature of Yahshua.
Before any spiritual begettal takes place, though, repentance must occur. We find a prime example of repentance in Acts 2. It came following Peter’s explanation to the assembled Jews who came from 15 countries to keep Pentecost, saying that because of their sins and false accusation they themselves were the ones who put Yahshua to death. They were devastated, ashamed, stirred up, and asked Peter, “What shall we do?”
They were humbled and willing to change and do anything they were asked to do. That is the spirit of true repentance.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as Yahweh our Elohim shall call” (Acts 2:38-39).
Yahshua likened the Holy Spirit to flowing water, which will cover the earth when the Kingdom comes. His cleansing blood at Passover allowed the Holy Spirit to come and remain on earth. Through the sacrifice of Yahshua we receive the Holy Spirit by baptism in His Name. Our sins are washed away, and once empowered by the Spirit, we keep Yahweh’s laws and strive to stop sinning.
Yahshua Was Born Again
You may be wondering, has anyone ever been born again? Yes indeed. As the firstfruits of many brethren, Yahshua Himself was.
Yahshua was the first to be resurrected with a body changed from flesh and blood to spirit. Those in the first resurrection shall also be changed to a spirit body: “And he is the head of the body, the assembly: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
Paul also wrote, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many believers” (Rom 8:29).
Yahshua as the firstborn among brethren was “born again.” That occurred when His physical body was changed to spirit essence when He rose from the dead. He was begotten (gennao) of water baptism and of the Spirit and was ultimately born from above (anothen) when He took on spirit form.
Being given the Holy Spirit upon baptism into Yahshua’s saving Name is just the beginning for us.
Work of the Spirit
His indwelling Spirit gives us peace of mind and produces fruits: “But the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
But beyond what it does for us now, the portion of the Holy Spirit we receive upon immersion is also a kind of pledge or security toward an inheritance one day of the Kingdom.
Paul writes that we are sealed in Yahshua with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13. He adds, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14).
Just as in a legal contract when an earnest deposit is made, there is a period during which the legal system puts everything in order. All necessary groundwork must be laid so that both parties are satisfied that they are getting just what they are bargaining for.
What, then, is expected of us during this early begettal and “spiritual gestation” period prior to being born again?
Peter writes, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be you have tasted that the Savior is gracious” (1Pet. 2:1-3). We must grow in grace and knowledge of the Word, 2Peter 3:18.
This change is imperative.Yahshua said, “Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again” (John 3:7). To be different from the natural man with his envies, jealousies, hypocrisies, lies, worldly desires—that is the work the Spirit implanted at baptism.
Most are too busy with their daily lives to focus on their Father in heaven. Only when it is too late will many get serious about how they live.
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” Luke 13:24.
His chosen are humble and teachable as little children and they put into practice what the Bible requires. “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
We develop the character and love of Yahshua our Savior through obedience, just as He did. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,” Hebrews 5:8.
Carnal Won’t Enter
Yahshua went on to say that only a few would be willing to pay the price to be in the Kingdom.
We are told plainly in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 that those who practice sin will have no place in the Kingdom, and will not be begotten of His Spirit and born again.
“Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of Yahweh .”
During the spiritual bettal when the Holy Spirit is working in the repentant heart, the old nature gives away to a completely different individual:
“Therefore if any man be in Messiah, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,”2Corinthians 6:17-18.
A Few Are Called Now
Being “begotten from above” by Yahweh’s Holy Spirit is a fulfillment of the promise made by Yahshua. The Heavenly Father is calling a few select people now to become His sons and daughters and to rule with Him in the Kingdom.
This is all made possible by the death and resurrection of His Son Yahshua, who paid the price for our sins and arose that we might have life. He is now our Advocate as we struggle to overcome the world, Satan, and our carnal nature.
He intercedes for us, and through the Holy Spirit we grow in grace and knowledge of Yahweh, fitting into His design for the faithful. Once our spiritual growth has reached a maturity that Yahweh can use for His Kingdom, then we are ready to be born again.
By: Alan Mansager