By Dennis Huebshman
Once again, I would like to discuss the phrase “Born Again”. Let’s take a look at what two different translations of the Bible have to say. In the King James book of John 3:3; Jesus answered and said unto him (Nicodemus), verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be Born Again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3: 7-8: “Marvel not that I said unto thee ye must be Born Again. The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst tell whence it cometh and wither it goeth, so that is everyone that is born of the Spirit. 1 Peter 1:22-23, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being Born Again not of corruptible seed but of uncorruptible by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. (All emphasis throughout is mine)
Now, let’s look at these same verses in the New English Translation, and you may see why I prefer this version. John 3:3, “Jesus replied, I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3: 7-8, “Do not be amazed that I said to you, you must all be born from above. The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit. 1 Peter 1: 22-23, “You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from unperishable seed through the living and enduring word of God.”
Looking at both versions, does anyone doubt Jesus is speaking figuratively when saying “Born Again” or “Born From Above” or “Born Anew”? If it were me, I would be right there along with Nicodemus asking for clarification as to what He meant other than to suggest we would have to re-enter our mother’s womb. Nicodemus was of the Sanhedrin who had been taught “The Law” most of his life. Jesus was telling him that he would have to forget his past training by which the law had been changed so much by religious leaders over the centuries to make it fit what they believed it should be, not what God had intended. It was no longer God’s law, but their version of it. Jesus was letting Nicodemus know he would have to start learning FRESH about the meaning of salvation.
Starting with Romans 10:9, “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.” You will note, the words Born Again are not there, but the passage implies accepting the Savior which a person had not done before. In other words, “renewed thinking”. And it doesn’t say “may” be saved, but “will” be saved.
You may be wondering at this point why I am giving these details and the ones that will follow. Someone told me the other day, that unless a person is “born again” and no other term was acceptable, that person would not go in the Rapture to meet Jesus in the air. A statement that I made, and stand by, was being challenged when I said ALL BELIEVERS will rise up to meet Jesus in the air/clouds when He comes. The person said that it was necessary for them to be specifically BORN AGAIN, or they would not be true believers. I tried to explain that the Savior was speaking as an illustration, the same as He did in many parables, but could tell by the response this didn’t get through. It’s either “born again” or nothing. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash.
Depending on the translation, Jesus either said “born again” or “born anew”, but in either case it was a mind thing. Matthew 19:14; Mark 19:14 and Luke 18:16 all say that Jesus told the disciples to allow the children to come to Him for such as them would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18: 2-3 was even more specific; “He called a child and had him stand among them and said, I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
He was in no way telling them they had to actually become a child as that would have been impossible. He was saying they would have to be able to accept the truth as a child does. Up to a certain age, children have not been indoctrinated beyond the ability to accept something new, and as He told Nicodemus he had to be able to go back to that stage of learning, so the truth could replace all the propaganda he had been filled with at the Sanhedrin. It would be as if he had to be re-born with a fresh new outlook. Semantics.
A person who has not heard the gospel before or is in the process of just learning about it is being asked to look at what’s written in the Bible and try to clear their minds of outside influences. When they see, “ALL who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13) they need to know this does not apply to any particular organized religion or other group as Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female for ALL ARE ONE in Christ Jesus.” It applies to ALL who will believe in and accept Him No mention of born again.
Our salvation is an individual event and it’s a personal relationship with the Savior. Romans 10:12 is similar to Galatians 3: 28 and says, “For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of ALL who richly blesses ALL who call on Him.” And then Romans 3: 28, “For we consider a person (individual) is declared righteous by Faith apart from the Works of the Law.”
When we read God’s word, there are some things that are to be taken figuratively. Example: John 10: 7 and 9 both say Jesus says He was a “door”. We know He was not literally a door. In come cases, He gave exact meaning leaving no doubt as to its intent. Example: John 14:6, Jesus said I Am The Way, The Truth and The Life; NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me.” This is pure and straightforward and is the narrow gate in Matthew 7: 13-14.
Jesus told the religious leaders in Matthew 23:24, “Blind Guides, you strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel!” He was in the middle of the “Woe-be’s” and was letting them know their “Religion” was not God’s law, and they were heading for eternal damnation if they didn’t change. They were in a pride thing same as satan in Isaiah 14: 12-14.
Jesus wants us to open our hearts and minds and accept Him without all the semantics. It’s plain and simple that Jesus came to this earth as a human (but still fully God); lived a sinless life; allowed Himself to be sacrificed (John 10:18) by crucifixion to provide a pathway to forgiveness that we could never accomplish on our own. He died as a human and His glorified body was raised by the Father 3 days later. He ascended to Heaven and ALL who call on Him to be their Savior receives the Holy Spirit to live within them. Jesus is and has always been and always will be fully God – 1/3 of the Trinity. He wants you and I to be with Him forever if we will accept Him. He will force Himself on no one. Don’t make this complicated.
Titles such as Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Orthodox and whatever do not impress the Father. To be saved, one must be a “Christian” (Christ Follower) and a True Believer. This is the Church, the individual people, not a building and not the organized man-made fancy titles. These are the ones that will go “up” to meet Him as given in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17; “For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a shout of command with the voice of the Arch Angel and with the Trumpet of God, and the dead (this is important) IN CHRIST will rise first. (17) Then we (also IN CHRIST) will suddenly be caught up together with them (the dead) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we (ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST) will always be with the Lord.”
For anyone to put a different meaning on Believers is to put qualifications like the Sanhedrin did to match what they thought the law should be. This is passing a “judgment” that belongs to the Father, and His will prevails. Personally, I am content to leave this in His hands, the same ones that created the Heavens and the Earth and even ME!
Remember, He will turn no one down. If you will ask Him to be your Savior, He will gladly accept the role. Just remember, it’s a free gift that He already paid for in full. I love a song that the Florida Boys put out a few years back called, “WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS, I WAS ON HIS MIND.” I believe that He saw all my sins even then, yet He still loves me and wants me to be with Him. How could I ever turn down such a generous offer? How could you?