Understanding Salvation

Regeneration

One of the greatest miracles of life is the BIRTH of a new-baby bringing joy to the Father and Mother who've brought forth new life. This baby did nothing to earn his birth but is automatically part of a Family (sonship) and Kingdom (citizenship), an inheritor and sharer in all the blessings and provisions of this Family and Kingdom. He has come to life with a nature inherited from his parents - LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.
To a great extent our birth defines us and our future.
All this is true of an even greater miracle-THE NEW BIRTH.

John 3:1-16 is the classic passage on this. Jesus chose Nicodemus, a man who had everything in the natural (a respected VIP, intelligent, well-off, a good moral man, a teacher- the kind of person you'd think didn't need saving) to declare the necessity of being REBORN. 'Unless you are born again you cannot see or enter the Kingdom... You must be BORN AGAIN' (v3,5,7). Some think we are all God's children because He made us all. This is like saying a cabinet is the son of it's maker. Creating a thing is not the same as fathering (generating) it. Jesus didn't mess around but shocked him by saying that his problem was in his birth-and to enter God's Kingdom he needed a new birth.

What was wrong with his birth? 'What is born of flesh is flesh' (v6). By physical birth we inherited a sinful nature (in the flesh) from Adam. Everything reproduces after it's kind. When Adam sinned he died spiritually and he came under the power of sin in the flesh. (Gen 2:17, 1John 1:8). His dead spirit no longer could excercise dominion. We're all born into Adam's family with the same sin-nature in the flesh. Whether our spirit comes from Adam or God at conception, the presence of the sin-nature caused us all to die spiritually. Our spirit is our means to contact and worship God but a dead spirit means we're cut off from His life. So we can't see or enter God's Kingdom. The result of being in Adam, the result of my first birth (the birth of my flesh from Adam's flesh) is that I had a dead spirit and I needed it to be made alive again (resurrected).

My Old Man (my spirit) was under the dominion of sin (in the flesh) and death. I needed it to be made a New Man which is under the dominion of Christ, which has the Divine Life and Nature. Then I can live a new life with my spirit dominant. This life automaically (by it's very nature) depends upon and is ruled by God, whereas the old flesh-ruled life is independant from God and by it's very nature cannot submit to God.

I need God to be my literal Father, re-birthing my spirit in His perfect image.

This is REGENERATION - to be born again, to be born of God, where God's LIFE recreates our spirit and we become CHILDREN OF GOD, sharing His NATURE. This automatically means we are in His FAMILY and CITIZENS in His Kingdom, sharing in all the blessings. It is a rebirth of our spirit (v6) and a reception of ETERNAL LIFE (God's life and nature) - (v15,16)

We shouldn't be surprised that we must be reborn (v7) To live in the earth we needed to be born here. To live in heaven, in God's realm we must be born into it. To be in the Kingdom of China I must be born into it, of a Chinese father with a Chinese nature. But since I'm not - I would need a rebirth. To be in God's Family and live in His Kingdom forever, I must be born of God my Father, with His nature. We can't achieve this position by our own efforts-we have to be born that way.

The New Birth is impossible by our own efforts (v4).
It must be by GRACE - no one can take credit for his birth.
It is a supernatural work of God.
'As many as received him, to them he gave the right to become (regeneration) the children of God,
to those who believe in His Name, who were BORN
NOT OF BLOOD (by being in a Christian, Jewish, or noble family)
NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH (by our works, will-power, self-effort)
NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN (no one else, no guru, group or cult can do it for you)
BUT OF GOD' (John 1:12,13)

God, our Father actually gave birth to you. He is the Father of spirits (Heb 12:9) It's just as real as our 1st Birth (v5,6). HOW? (v4) It is by the Spirit of God surrounding our spirit like water in the womb surrounds the baby (v5), actually recreating and making alive our spirit (v6)

The New Birth of the SPIRIT is like the action of the WIND (v8)

(1) It is God's work -we just receive the action of the wind.

It blows on us. 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy (the BLOOD) He SAVED US (manifested His LIFE) though the WASHING of REGENERATION and RENEWING of the Holy-Spirit.' (Titus 3:5).
Regeneration washes away the old-man and re-news our spirit.

(2) It is invisible but has tangible results. The wind communicates energy and power. You can't see it but when He blows on you and regenerates you it's very real and causes real changes.

(3) The wind blows according to laws, not randomly- it moves from high to low pressure,as in breathing. When you expand your lungs you create low pressure which draws the air in. Likewise, when there are the right conditions of receptivity in human heart (FAITH)-the Spirit blows into our spirit and imparts Eternal Life (the life and nature of God)-v16.

Nicodemus again asked HOW?- how can I have the Spirit blow upon me and recreate me? (v9)

Jesus said we need to:
(1) Humbly accept his first-hand authority to teach. (v10,11,12)

(2) Realise he is the only one who can bring us to heaven. He is God who came from heaven to open up the way to heaven and bring us to God. We must trust Him as the only way. (v13)

(3) Believe in him and his death on the cross-this was his mission on earth. Jesus used a picture from in Numbers 21:9 to explain this.
-Man is under the power of death (the snake of sin has bitten us and it's the poison has spread to all, infecting the whole body or human race)
-God's remedy was a brass serpent lifted on a pole.
-Those who LOOKED in faith at it LIVED. They received LIFE. New Life entered them, delivering them from the snake bite.

This is a picture of the cross where Jesus paid for our New-Birth.
He took our sin and sin was judged upon him. When they looked upon the brass serpent they saw their sin (nature) put on the stake and judged (rendered harmless). Likewise all who look in faith at Jesus bearing our sin on the cross receive the benefit of what he did there. They receive LIFE (the New Birth) When we accept the cross where our old man was crucified with Christ and a new man (spirit) was made available, the Spirit blows upon us removing the old and bringing forth the new. Thus we received NEW LIFE (rebirth) This new life we possess is called ETERNAL LIFE (God's Life and Nature) (v14,15,16). This rebirth is for WHOSOEVER WILL (v16-18). It's up to each man to receive it or not. The CONDITION is FAITH - because it's just receiving what God has done for us. (Gal 3:26)

Those who received Moses message and looked in faith were saved by believing. In the same way we received regeneration by believing the Good-News of what Jesus did on the cross. (If they don't hear they can't believe. They can be in a church for years and never hear!).

'Of His own will he brought us forth by the word of truth' (Jas 1:18)
The word is God's seed - if we receive it - the Spirit fuses with it and we are born again. 'Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God, which lives and abides forever...this word is the gospel preached to you.' (1Peter 1:23-25)

The nature of the thing born is determined by the seed.
Our 1st birth was from seed corrupted by sin. But our 2nd Birth is from incorruptible seed! Thus our new spirit is perfect uncorrupted creation, it doesnít sin, itís born of God with His sinless nature. It has the ETERNAL life and nature of God. It is incorruptible (indestructible).

'If any man be in Christ he is A NEW CREATION, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God.' (2Cor 5:17,18).

It is the creation of something all new - all of God - untouched by the fall. It's not patching up the first birth-but a new thing altogether. Its basis is Christ's finished work in death, burial and resurrection (v18-21).

The OLD MAN is removed (Col 2:11,12a; Rom 6:4-6) and replaced with the New MAN (Col 2:12b,13; Rom 6:4,5,8,11) which has the nature of Christ (Ephesians 2:10, 4:24, Colossians 3:10; Galatians 6:15, 2Peter 1:3,4). When we are put IN CHRIST - then CHRIST is also in us.

The nature and origin of this New Creation is the RESURRECTION.
The New Birth is a resurrection (John 5:21,24,25). This means our spirit was completely dead in sin and only a miraculous act of God could raise it up from death. How? - by identification with Jesus in His resurrection (1Pet 1:3)

Faith in Christ's resurrection is necessary for salvation (new birth) (1Corinthians 15:1-4,17; Colossians 2:12, Romans 4:24, 10:9). Believing in His resurrection allows the Holy Spirit to release resurrection-life for your spirit through identification with Christ.

'The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to His abundant mercy (the Blood) has begotten (BIRTHED) us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and doesn't fade away, reserved in heaven for you' (1Peter 1:3,4).

Jesus bore our death in his full humanity - spirit, soul, and body- and so His human spirit was resurrected by God's Life, as well as his body. His spirit was made alive and filled with life. The amazing thing is that the same power that raised up Jesus raised our spirit from death. (Ephesians 1:19-2:1-7). This is the origin of our salvation, our new-creation (v8-10).

We were made alive and raised together with Christ! (Col 2:11-13; 3:1). Our new life is the resurrection life of Jesus that has already overcome sin, satan, and death (it is not like having Adam's perfection before he sinned) (Col 2:15). Now the resurrected life of Christ, the spirit of Christ is in us (Rom 8:9). This life has passed through death never to die again. This is the real you -you've already overcome satan, you have been made alive, you've risen far above all the power of the enemy. (Romans 6:3-11).

We can say: '(the resurrected life of) Christ lives in me.' (Gal 2:20 on) 'Christ in you - the hope of glory' (Col 1:27). This life is the glory of God in your spirit and our certain hope is that ultimately it will fill our entire being with glory! Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead. (Rev 1:5, Rom 8:29, Col 1:18, Heb 2:10-12). We have received the same spiritual resurrection from spiritual death and will also receive the same physical resurrection as he did. This is when his glory will be released through our whole being.

THE RESULTS OF THE NEW-BIRTH
1. We are now sons of God by faith (1John 1:12, 3:2, Gal 3:26). We are now in God's Family.

2. Our spirit is now alive to God. We see the Kingdom of Heaven. Prayer, the Bible and worship at church now has reality. We know God as 'Abba Father' (Romans 8:15,16; Galatians 4:5-7)

3. We have a New Life and Nature. (John 3:16,10:10, Romans 5:5, 6:23) It is a resurrected, undefeatable, victorious life. If we walk by faith (by and from the spirit) according to this new life we'll see Christ's life and victory coming through.

4. We are born into a New Kingdom. (Col 1:13). We are citizens (ambassadors) of heaven and its resources are available and we must live by its laws. We're no longer under satan's dominion. He has no right on us because we're not in his kingdom.

5. Family love. (1Peter 1:22) Recognition of others in God's Family. 'We know we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren' (1John 3:14on).

6. Compassion for a lost world - those who haven't received this 2nd birth don't have God as Father. We must tell them how they can become children of God.

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