Necessity of the New Birth

KEY VERSE: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” —John 3:3


AT THE OUTSET, we see that today’s lesson lends great emphasis to the Apostle Paul’s counsel in II Timothy 2:15, to “rightly divide the word of truth.” A casual consideration of this admonition could lead us, and has led many, into a glaring distortion of God’s plan. For example we cite the common interpretation of Jesus’ narrative. This view has our Lord teaching Nicodemus that he, Jesus, was about to establish a church composed of all the converted of the world. This would be called the “kingdom of God,” and would eventually cover the earth, doing God’s will on earth even as it is done in heaven, and ruling through the world leaders which have been placed in their positions by men.

While it is true that our Lord will have all the families of the earth to be blessed during his future thousand-year kingdom on earth, the current subject relates not to this, but to the calling out from mankind of a little group during the present Gospel Age—the period of time between the First and Second Advents of Jesus. The Scriptures teach that this called-out class is being tested and developed now, to act as associates of Jesus in the blessing of all mankind in that kingdom—a government established by God and with rulers appointed by him, not by man.—Luke 12: 32

Nicodemus was a man of great influence among the Jews. He was a holy man, a Pharisee, a highly regarded member of the Sanhedrin. Like many Jews, it is true, that he was expecting the imminent approach of Messiah. He was looking for a king more grand than any monarch of the past—a strong, imposing figure with heavenly authority and power to lead their nation. While Jesus obviously did not fit this description, Nicodemus told him that even so, he realized no one could show such great signs unless God was with him.

Our Lord then explained, except a man be born again (John 3:7)—or, “born from above,” Marginal Translation—he could not see the kingdom of God. Not understanding, Nicodemus, asked how a man could get back in his mother’s womb and be born again? Nicodemus had taken Jesus to mean literally that one must have a physical rebirth. Jesus replied, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”—vss. 4-6

Jesus then explained what a spirit birth would mean. (John 3:8) He said the wind blows where it likes—you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from or where it goes. It is like this with everyone who has been born of the Spirit. The questioner being puzzled, asked, “How can these things be?” (vs. 9) Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I am telling you what I know and have seen—and yet you won’t believe me. But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about such things as these which happen here among men, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven?”—John 3:10-12, Living Bible

Since it is logical that there cannot be a birth of the flesh without there first being a begetting of the flesh, there cannot be a birth of the Spirit without there first being a begetting of the Spirit. Our Lord Jesus was begotten of the Spirit at the time of his baptism, but he was born of the Spirit at his resurrection.

Jesus’ brethren, following now in his footsteps, are also begotten of God’s Holy Spirit and, if faithful, will be born of the Spirit in their resurrection to live and reign with him, blessing mankind in that thousand-year kingdom so long promised by God in his Word.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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