porter barrington bible study
New Birth – Lesson 13
“You must be born again”
It is of the utmost importance that we have a clear understanding of what Jesus meant when, speaking with Nicodemus, He said, “You must be born again”. The new birth is a spiritual birth. It is as much a birth as the natural birth; it is not just a figure of speech. The first birth is of the seed of man. The second birth is of the seed of God (1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, you cannot become a child of God by joining the church, any more than a monkey could become a man by joining the human race. He may act like a man, dress like a man, and try to live like a man… but he would still be a monkey. Now, if by some miracle, the monkey could be born again of the seed of man, then… and only then, could he become a man. The only way to become a child of God is to be “born again” (John 3:3); not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God”. What is the new birth?
- The new birth is a new creation (2 Cor, 5:17).
- The new birth is a spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2:1-9).
- The new birth is regeneration (Titus 3:5).
- The new birth is partaking of the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4).
- The new birth is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, by faith (John 1:12)
- The new birth is being made the “righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21)
- The new birth is compulsory if you are to become a child of God: “You must be born again”.
1. Jesus and The Two Births (John 3:1-8 ) 1) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
In John 3:1-8, we see Jesus and Nicodemus face to face-Jesus the Son of God, and Nicodemus the son of natural man. Nicodemus was a very religious man, but he was not a child of God. What a shock it must have been to learn that his religion was not enough! It never is. He came to Jesus, addressing Him saying, “You have come from God as a teacher”. Jesus knew Nicodemus , as He knows all men (John 2:24, 25), and Jesus knew that he needed more than a teacher-he needed a Savior. He needed more than religion-he needed regeneration. He needed more than Law-he needed life. Jesus began by going right to the point when He said, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Then Jesus pointed out the dissimilarity in the two births: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (the flesh will never change); and “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (the Spirit will never change (John 3:6).
a) First, let us take a brief look at the flesh birth:
i. It produces an old sinful nature (Ps. 51:5 OT).
ii. It produces a perishable nature (1 Pet. 1:23).
iii. It produces an old nature under the sentence of death (Rom 6:23).
iv. It produces an old nature that makes every unsaved person a child of the devil (1 John 3:10).
b) Second, let us say a word about the new birth:
i. It produces a sinless nature (1 John 3:9).
ii. It produces a nature that can not sin (1 John 3:9).
iii. It produces a righteous nature (2 Cor. 5:21).
iv. It produces a divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
Every born again person has two natures: The old from the old birth, and the new from the new birth. By the old birth, we are children of the flesh; by the new the new birth, we are children of God. This is why, “You must be born again.”
2. The New Birth Issues a New Sinless Nature (1 John 3:9) 9) Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Do not try to understand it in the light of personal experience. Keep in mind that the above verse is speaking of the new nature-not the old nature-because the old nature is not born from God. The old nature is born of fallen man and is depraved. The new nature is born of God and is holy.
a) First, let us see what the verse says about the new nature:
i. The new nature does not commit sin, because it is the product of the seed (sperm) of God.
ii. The new nature cannot sin, because it is the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4) and since God cannot sin, the new nature that issues from His holy seed cannot sin.
b) Second, let us see what the Bible says about the old nature:
i. The old nature does sin any time you let it sin (Rom. 6:12). As a child of God, you will keep under the old nature (1 Cor. 9:27) by not yielding to the desire of the flesh; or the old nature will keep you under, and you will live a defeated Christian life (Rom 6:13).
ii. There is nothing good in the old nature (Rom. 7:18). The power to live a righteous life cannot be found in the old nature; it can be found only in the new (Gal. 2:20).
If you have been “born again”, you have two natures-the old and the new-and you are walking according to one of the two. Examine your Christian walk in the light of God’s Word (Rom. 8:5, 6).
3. The New Birth is Imperishable (1 Pet. 1:23) 23) Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.
In the above verse (23) we have two seeds, two births, and two natures.
a) The corruptible seed issues a corruptible nature (Rom. 1:23). The seed of man became depraved in the seed of Adam when he sinned in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6-10 OT). Corruptible man can produce only corruptible seed (Matt. 7:18). “All have sinned…” (Rom 3:23) because all are born in sin (Ps. 51:5 OT). You are not a sinner because you sin-you sin because you are a sinner.
b) The incorruptible seed issues an incorruptible nature (2 Pet. 1:4). You cannot corrupt that which is incorruptible; therefore, the incorruptible seed of God issues a new nature that cannot be corrupted at any time, or in any way. The new birth produces the life of Christ, and this life is made living in man by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:8-10).
c) The seed of man is corruptible; the birth of man is natural. Therefore, the nature of man is sinful. The seed of God is incorruptible; the new birth is spiritual. Therefore, the new nature is sinless.
4. The New Birth-Its Means (Read: John 3:14-18 ) 18 ) And as “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18) He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
a) “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” (Num. 21:5-9 OT). He lifted up the serpent for a sinful, disobedient people. When anyone was bitten by a serpent, he had a choice: He could humble himself and by a simple act of faith look and live (Is. 45:22 OT); or he could refuse to look on the serpent of bronze and die.
b) “Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Just as the serpent in the wilderness was the only means for the healing of Israel, so the death of Jesus Christ is the only means for the new birth. And the only way to appropriate the regenerating power of God is by faith in the vicarious death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
c) The sinner must come to Christ by faith, believing:
i. That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (Is. 53:1-12 OT – and Zech. 13:6 OT).
ii. And that He was buried. This is the proof of His death. He was in the grave three days and nights.
iii. And that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is the gospel that saves-but it is powerless to save until the sinner believes it (Rom. 1:16).
d) The means of the new birth is found in that:
i. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son”-to be the only means of the new birth (John 3:16).
ii. Jesus Christ gladly came into the world to become the only means of the new birth (John 12:27 – and John 17:1-5).
iii. The Holy Spirit came into the world on the day of Pentecost to convince men of their need of the new birth (John 16:7-11). A personal faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only means of the new birth.
5. The New Birth: Its Threefold Proof (1 John 5:1) 1) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
Every “born again” child of God has the threefold proof of the new birth-proof that he is a child of God. This threefold proof is: first, inward proof; second, outgoing proof; and third, outward proof.
a) “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). Your faith in Christ that He is God-is personal evidence that you are a child of God (1 John 5:10-13). This is inward proof of the new birth.
b) “Everyone who loves is born of God” (1 John 4:7-11). We are to love our fellow man with the love of God. This we are not capable of doing in the flesh; we must let God love man through us (Rom. 5:5). This is outgoing proof of the new birth.
c) “Everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). If you are born of God, you will make a practice of doing right at all times and at all cost (2 Cor. 5:17). This is outward proof of the new birth.
If you do not have the threefold proof of the new birth, now is the time to get on you knees and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior-by faith in His Vicarious death, burial, and resurrection!