Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Born Again? Say What?

I recently heard some discussion over the concept of Nicodemus asking Jesus what it meant to be born again. In that discussion there was some debate as to whether or not Jesus was the only way to Heaven. I did a little research, saved some of the texts and decided to not let it all go to waste. Those questions, thoughts and a little research is the reasoning for the posting here at The Virtual Pew.

Here are some of the passages and the texts that go with them. Now I am doing something a little different, I have removed the verse numbers and all so you can read the text as was written, without the interruption. I am also including a translation that reads like it was heard, The Contemporary English Version. I challenging everyone to also do something a little different; read the verses out loud, it is important to sometimes hear what was said as well as read it. At that point, let the meaning of the words sink in, think about what they are saying, if need be, go back and look at the context of what was said. I don’t think I have pulled any of these out of context and believe it possible to discuss the meanings of these words and texts, many spoken by Jesus. I am open to discussing any of this on line here and am certainly open, and understanding as to why some may want to discuss these privately and off line via pm or email. I am also open to hearing other verses related to other religions as to what people think about how one gets to Heaven. Of course this isn’t just for Christians, but certainly with The Virtual Pew, something for folks to think about. This could be a great exercise for all that have taken part in The Virtual Pew whether a follower of Jesus, Wiccan, Atheist, Hindu, or any other follower of any other religion. It is also a great opportunity to begin an exchange as to what the passages provided here, or provided by others mean, again, whether Christian or not.

1 Timothy 2:5,6 - There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. God showed us this at the right time.

1 John 2:23 - If we reject the Son, we reject the Father. But if we say that we accept the Son, we have the Father.

1 John 5:10-12 - If we have faith in God's Son, we have believed what God has said. But if we don't believe what God has said about his Son, it is the same as calling God a liar. God has also said that he gave us eternal life and that this life comes to us from his Son. And so, if we have God's Son, we have this life. But if we don't have the Son, we don't have this life.

1 John 5:20 - We know that Jesus Christ the Son of God has come and has shown us the true God. And because of Jesus, we now belong to the true God who gives eternal life.

John 5:23 - The Father wants all people to honor the Son as much as they honor him. When anyone refuses to honor the Son, that is the same as refusing to honor the Father who sent him.

Matthew 11:27 - My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who truly knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too.

Acts 4:12 - Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.

John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father.

Romans 3:24 - But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 - With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God's trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on we will all be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10 - God doesn't intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes.

Luke 21:36 - Watch out and keep praying that you can escape all that is going to happen and that the Son of Man will be pleased with you.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 - but he will give you relief from your troubles. He will do the same for us, when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with his powerful angels and with a flaming fire.
Our Lord Jesus will punish anyone who doesn't know God and won't obey his message. Their punishment will be eternal destruction, and they will be kept far from the presence of our Lord and his glorious strength. This will happen on that day when the Lord returns to be praised and honored by all who have faith in him and belong to him. This includes you, because you believed what we said.

Deuteronomy 18:15 - Instead, he will choose one of your own people to be a prophet just like me, and you must do what that prophet says.

Deuteronomy 18:18, 19 - So when I want to speak to them, I will choose one of them to be a prophet like you. I will give my message to that prophet, who will tell the people exactly what I have said. Since the message comes from me, anyone who doesn't obey the message will have to answer to me.

John 1:11 -12 - He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God.

John 3:16-18 - God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.

John 6:35 - Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.

John 6:47 – 48 - I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. I am the bread that gives life!

John 6:50 – 51 - But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.

John 6:53-58 - Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that you won't live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you.

The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. The bread that comes down from heaven isn't like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.

John 8:12 - Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, "I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life."

John 10:27 – 28 - My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand.

John 11:25 – 26 - Jesus then said, "I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?"

John 12:48 - But everyone who rejects me and my teachings will be judged on the last day by what I have said.

Acts 2:36 - Everyone in Israel should then know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, even though you put him to death on a cross.

Acts 16:30-33 - After he had led them out of the jail, he asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Have faith in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved! This is also true for everyone who lives in your home."

Then Paul and Silas told him and everyone else in his house about the Lord. While it was still night, the jailer took them to a place where he could wash their cuts and bruises. Then he and everyone in his home were baptized.

Romans 5:21 - Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life.

Romans 6:23 - Sin pays off with death. But God's gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 4:4-6 - All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God's people. We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us.

Romans 8:2 - The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Christ Jesus and will set you free from sin and death.

Romans 8:11 - Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.

Romans 10:9-11 - So you will be saved, if you honestly say, "Jesus is Lord," and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others.

The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed,

Philippians 2:10 – 11 - So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"

Revelation 1:18 - and the living one. I died, but now I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys to death and the world of the dead.

Revelation 14:12 - God's people must learn to endure. They must also obey his commands and have faith in Jesus.

Revelation 1:5 – 6 - May kindness and peace be yours from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Jesus was the first to conquer death, and he is the ruler of all earthly kings. Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins.

He lets us rule as kings and serve God his Father as priests.
To him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.

2 John 9 - Don't keep changing what you were taught about Christ, or else God will no longer be with you. But if you hold firmly to what you were taught, both the Father and the Son will be with you.

1 John 1:7 - But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.

Hebrews 7:25 - He is forever able to save the people he leads to God, because he always lives to speak to God for them.

Hebrews 9:11 - 12 - Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are now here. He also went into a much better tent that wasn't made by humans and that doesn't belong to this world. Then Christ went once for all into the most holy place and freed us from sin forever. He did this by offering his own blood instead of the blood of goats and bulls.

Hebrews 9:14 - 15 - But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That's why his blood is much more powerful and makes our consciences clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death. Christ died to rescue those who had sinned and broken the old agreement. Now he brings his chosen ones a new agreement with its guarantee of God's eternal blessings!

Hebrews 9:24-28 - This is why Christ did not go into a tent that had been made by humans and was only a copy of the real one. Instead, he went into heaven and is now there with God to help us.

Christ did not have to offer himself many times. He wasn't like a high priest who goes into the most holy place each year to offer the blood of an animal. If he had offered himself every year, he would have suffered many times since the creation of the world. But instead, near the end of time he offered himself once and for all, so that he could be a sacrifice that does away with sin.
We die only once, and then we are judged. So Christ died only once to take away the sins of many people. But when he comes again, it will not be to take away sin. He will come to save everyone who is waiting for him.

1 John 2:1 – 2 - My children, I am writing this so that you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people.

Mark 12:10 – 11 - You surely know that the Scriptures say, `The stone that the builders tossed aside is now the most important stone of all.

This is something the Lord has done, and it is amazing to us.' "

Now the passage in question with the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus:

John Chapter 3:

John 3
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."

To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.

"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Now here is an old song from 1964 by the Gospel Harmonettes singing You Must Be Born Again. If you see the video, just double click. If you don't see the video, just click on the link below.

One of my favorites, Billy Preston did a song with Syreeta called With You I'm Born Again. For those that don't know the one known as the 5th Beatle, Billy Preston was a "Born Again" Christian and used a lot analogy in this song. It is a great one, if you see the video double click on it, if not, just click on the link.

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MICKY said...

What many have perceived as the revelation of Christ’s second coming seems to me to be strikingly similar to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God at Pentecost. Jesus Christ being God has already returned in the person of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Mike Furches & The Virtual Pew said...

Thanks for the comment, something for folks to think about.