The born-again dogma is well known particularly among the Protestant and Evangelical Church branches.
Accept Christ into your heart and you will be born again spiritually. Meaning, your spirit will be newly created in Christ. Your spirit will literally be born from above, from God’s Spirit. I had the most amazing and equally most dramatic time during the first few weeks or months from the moment I confessed Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. It did truly seem like I was born again deep within my spirit. I felt amazing, everything around me seemed to come alive, I noticed the blueness of the sky, the simplicity but amazing miracle of birds flying high up in the air. I experienced every moment of my day with full fascination of everything that transpired around me. I felt forgiven, free from a heavy burden, delivered from a dark demonic oppression. I literally felt born again. Most of all I was now so much more aware of God’s presence in my life.
I do not question my experiences. I question how I interpreted what the reason was for those experiences. That is because I initially accepted the explanation that was given at the time by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, coming from the foundational position that everything we experience and come to believe must be tried and tested by the Word of God, I cannot help but putting my “born again” experiences through this most crucial test. Once we allow certain normalized concepts to go through this filter, what comes out the other end, might cause us to have a major paradigm shift. Well, at least that is what happened to me. Having gone through this process has in no way, in my view, diminished the value of my experiences or your experiences for that matter, of our first encounters with Jesus during our conversion. It has rather added value to it and in-depth clarity with an insight into the scriptures and Gospel truth I never possessed before. The experiences we’ve all had with the Lord remain therefore sacred and represent milestones of our walk with God.
Lets look at the construct of the presuppositions, which are the basis of the “Born Again” thesis.
- Based on John 3: 3-8 a person cannot see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again. It is only through the New Birth a believer can begin to perceive spiritual truth as per 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- The New Birth is received by faith in Christ, believing God raised Him from the dead, and by accepting Him as your personal Lord and Savior. By the way accepting Christ into your heart is a concept used interchangeably with accepting him as your personal Lord and Savior. The concept of accepting Jesus into your heart is drawn from Revelation 3: 20 where Jesus stands at the door and knocks and encourages those who open their heart to Him, that He and the Father will come and make their abode with them. John 14:23
- Before the New Birth experience, a person is spiritually dead and separated from the life and presence of God. Their human spirit is not alive unto God and still corrupted by the nature and condition of sin.
- Without the New Birth and accepting Christ as their personal Lord and Savior their eternal destination will be hell, or eventually the lake of fire.
The above outline has been preached by the proponents of Evangelical Christianity for the last several hundred years. Especially since the time of Charles Finney who first introduced the altar call in the 19th century in his meetings based on the concepts of decisional Theology.
The expression, affirmation, profession, and confession of your faith in Christ is hugely important. When a person sincerely expresses faith in Christ for the first time it could mark the cut off point in the history of your life’s journey from an old way of living to the new way of living now that you know you are in Christ. This can often include a major transformation in our internal perceptions and view of the world, which can ultimately change our lifestyles and behaviors.
That is why water baptism is a powerful expression of your faith. The act of water baptism is a statement of the end of your identification with Adam (the first creation) and our old man (Adamic nature) in Adam was crucified with Christ, and your identification with Christ in His resurrection life making up the new creation. It is also a confession of a clear conscience from the guilt of sin, and your acceptance before God in Christ. So yes, water baptism is a spiritual expression of your faith, as well as it being a metaphorical symbolical message. It is a message to your own subconscious, and it is a message of your sonship (this includes women of course. The Biblical meaning of the word “sonship” refers to the first-born son who would receive the inheritance of his father. That’s why there is no male of female in Christ for we are all first born sons through Him) in Christ to the witnesses in both the physical and spiritual world. Why is it so powerful? Because it is 1. A visual act that can be seen by yourself and the witnesses. 2. It can be kinaesthetically experienced. i.e. you physically feel that your are going under into the water and you can feel yourself coming up and that you are soaking wet. Experiencing baptismal washing in your body is registered in our consciousness and becomes a powerful anker lodged in memory, always reminding you that the old identity in Adam and the sin nature was buried deep in the waters of forgetfulness, and forgiveness. It has become the cut off point reminding you of your new life in Christ by the power of His resurrection.
The Christian water baptism is much different than baptisms conducted under the Old Testament. The “doctrine of baptisms”, referred to in the book of Hebrews 6:2 should be translated as the doctrine of washings or rather ceremonial washings. This was part of the system under the Sinaitic Law, which the readers of Hebrews were encouraged to let go off whilst holding on to their standing within the New Covenant in Christ.
If we look to the Old Testament, we find many commands for the use of water for purification. Before they received the Law, The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments” (Exodus 19:10). The Old Testament has regular ceremonial washings:
• The high priest was to wash himself on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:4; Ezekiel 44:19). The Hebrew word here is the general word for “wash.”
• Ceremonial washings were required by the Israelites because of the holy character of God (Leviticus 1:9, 13; 8:6, 21; 9:14; … ).
• Washing with water was necessary after being cured of a skin disease (Leviticus 13:4).
• Washing with water was necessary after sexual uncleanness (Leviticus 15).
• Washing with water was necessary after touching a dead person or animal (Leviticus 11:25).
• The command to wash is given 28 times in Leviticus alone.
The Baptism unto repentance of John the Baptist was also different from the Christian water baptism. John put together the things he knew about Old Sinaitic Covenant ceremonial cleansing with water and then added a message of repentance. This makes much sense because John called himself a voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the Messiah. Repentance and ceremonial washing became a way to prepare the arrival of the Messiah. This type of preparation was a statement of commitment to the cause of the Messiah, and His Messianic Kingdom.
Matthew 3:11 King James Version
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
When Jesus then gets baptised by John in the river Jordan, He is not performing the Christian water baptism but expressing His commitment to His mission and Ministry. He was preparing the way for the Messianic Kingdom. At the time of His Parousia, His coming on the clouds, between 67-70 A.D. He came and established His Kingdom on Earth. A spiritual kingdom with His right to rule to kingdoms of the earth.
The Old Testament ceremonial washings and John the Baptist, baptism of repentance find their fulfilment in the Christian water baptism. However, our water baptism is not a ceremonial cleansing or an act of repentance. It is our identification with the death and resurrection of Christ.
The experience of water baptism only loses its intended purpose and effect because of the hundreds of years of Theological disagreements. From one extreme view to the other. From the sprinkling of a baby, to what the right formula is that must be spoken during the act of the water baptism has diminished the power of this act and its efficacy in the minds of people. Arguing that the right formula was not spoken at the time of the water baptism, nullifies the validity of the act because it plants doubt in the believer’s mind. When a person feels obligated to perform the water baptism because of peer pressure, or manipulation from religious elders, the act of water baptism will equally not provide the same powerful result it was intended to have other than just getting wet.
The sad reality is that many of the clergy and laity have equally become confused about the original purpose of the water baptism. This lack of accurate knowledge robbed believers from a powerful key God has gave us to help us tap into the power of the Gospel. The symbolism of water baptism was a learning aid especially to people in the days of the first century believers who were not all able to read or did not all have access to a copy of the New Testament like we do today. Imagine explaining the fulfilment of the Tanakh in the promised Messiah who died but Yahweh raised Him from the dead. In addition, try to explain to the first century Hebrew that we were all crucified with Him, died with Him, in His death He put away all sin, and by Him being justified in spirit, we were all raised with Him from the dead as a brand-new creation. That is where the water baptism becomes a powerful teaching aid to convey this truth in one act of faith. Sprinkling a baby with water does not convey this message to a baby. The baby has no capacity to comprehend any of this yet. A baby cannot believe or disbelieve Gospel truth. The sprinkling of a baby with water is in fact a mystical practise of ancient paganism and has absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel of Christ. Were you sprinkled as a baby or were you involved with the religious rite of sprinkling for your children when they were babies? Your conscious was pure, and your intention was only to do what you believed to be was best for your children? I am sure you can settle this in your own mind that we all did things to the best of our knowledge at the time until we received revelation of the truth. The point is more, now you know. Let’s teach new believers about the power of water baptism. Let us do it right and make it a memorable experience that one can always look back to. Those memories would serve as an anker to draw upon the right state of mind during difficult and testing times. In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) an anker is an emotional memory placed on a certain part of the body, often when thumb and fingertips are pressed together or a location on the chest or shoulder is tapped or slapped. When I coached my sons in powerlifting, I always encouraged them to slap their shoulder right after a successful lift. In that way they would neurologically and physiologically store the great feelings they got after the successful lift in that part of their body. The next time they had to perform well on a lift they would slap the same location on the shoulder just before the lift and it would put them in the state of mind, they needed to help them perform well. By slapping that anker they would activate the same neurological and physiological reactions and remember the good feeling from the last successful lift. With regards to Water Baptism, it does not eternally redeem anyone. Water Baptism is merely the confession of faith, the confession of a clear conscience.
1 Peter 3:21 King James Version
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
We must realise that Peter was talking to his generation of believers, who were all expecting the appearing of Christ from heaven to take them home. The Hebrew people who came to believe in Jesus as their Messiah were initially bound by oath to the Old Sinaitic Covenant. Now when a Hebrew came to believe in Jesus after His resurrection and ascension, that Hebrew performed the water baptism as an outward sign of identifying with the reality of their death in Christ and their resurrection by means of the new birth in the risen Christ. By doing so they broke their obligation to the Old Sinaitic Covenant and professed their faith in Christ and the fact that their sins were forgiven. This gave them a sense of right standing with God and a good conscience toward God. That kind of faith had the promise that at the return of Christ they would either be raised out of Hades (Sheol), which was the realm of the dead where they were waiting for their resurrection, or if alive at His return they would be transformed and taken to heaven. Within their mind the water baptism did not provide redemption or save for eternal life. The Christian water baptism was the confession of their believe in the reality of their already existing redemption.
Now let’s look again at the presuppositions of the Born-Again Thesis as we go through each one of them throughout this series of articles.
1. Based on John 3: 3-8 a person cannot see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again. It is only through the New Birth a believer can begin to perceive spiritual truth as 1 Corinthians 2:14.
I get the logic of this, but we must apply a few basic and necessary principles of hermeneutics to get the most out of the verses quoted above.
- We must avoid taking verses 3 through 8 out of context from the whole chapter. It all belongs together with for example verses 16-17 and verse 36.
- We must apply audience relevance first. Who was Jesus speaking to? Who was Jesus referring to?
Doing this will bring up a whole new insight.
John 3:1-13 King James Version
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 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. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
In verse 7 where Jesus say’s, “You must be born again!” is a huge statement. It has serious implications on the evangelical born again theory. It has been so overlooked: the “ye” (You) in this part of the sentence is plural, not singular. Jesus was not talking about Nicodemus as an individual. He was referring to the Hebrew people Nicodemus as a teacher and elder was representing. The plural “you” was referring to the Hebrew people.
As Jesus continues to speak, He elaborates on the principle of “ye” (plural) to show how Nicodemus and the Hebrew people, had no control over the process of being born again.
Just as a child does not create himself, neither chooses to be born, or initiate his own birth, so too, the Spirit gives birth to spirit. Conclusively “you” the people, have no choice over the matter because the Spirit, like the wind is completely independent of the peoples or individuals control or choice. Though we have a huge responsibility to use our power of choice to choose for the things that support Godly values, and resist the things which bring destruction, the free will of the Hebrew people in this context or us for that matter, has no bearing on the Holy Spirit to will the New Birth of a people.
Additional point here. Scholars suggest that the word “again” is not the best translation of the word, and it should translate as “above”. So then that sentence should read: “You (the people) must be born from above”, also denotes the origin of the spiritual birth.
The point Jesus was making was that it was crucial for the Hebrew people, and really for all of humanity to become the recipient of the birth from above. We were to become part of the new creation with a new heaven and earth, which was said by the Prophets would come, not by the choice or the initiative, or the control of individuals. Rather, it would be by the choice, control, and initiative of God.
John 1:13, Young’s Literal Translation:
13 who not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but of God were begotten.
As I already indicated in other articles that our modern Bible translations not only contain the scriptural truth, it also contains many strategically located erroneous translations. They are the consequences of a conspiracy to suppress the truth of the real Gospel. (Romans 1:18) I believe this to be very much the case with the topic on the New Birth and Decisional Theology. The message that many millions of Christians have accepted as dogma that Christ has made eternal redemption available for all, but that the additional step each individual must make in order to receive this gift is to accept Christ in their heart is largely ignorance as a consequence of this conspiracy. The Gospel really is the heralding and proclaiming of a past finished event, not something that will happen to you when you believe.
But when was Humanity born of God by His Spirit, if not at the time when we individually first said our “sinners prayer”?
Scripture tells us exactly when this happened.
1 Peter 1:3 King James Version
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
It happened at the time of the resurrection of Christ.
As we saw in John 3 Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and ruler of the Hebrews approached Jesus with questions about the miracles and was probing for more insight, but Jesus challenged him. Jesus’ reply to him was full of prophetic revelation. In verse 10 Jesus said: 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? (John 3:10)
The Lord pointed out to him that Nicodemus being a Pharisee and ruler of the people, who should have understood at least the references Jesus made to the Tanakh. It should have been obvious to Nicodemus, but it wasn’t. The Old Testament references to the “born from above” theme or of a water/Spirit regeneration does have it precedence in the Tanakh. The thing that Nicodemus did comprehend straight away though as opposed to the Christian of today is that Jesus was talking about Israel as a people. There is however no record or example. No precedence. The Old Testament does not contain examples of a personal, inner transformation of exclusively individuals. Yes, the Holy Spirit did come upon Kings, Priests and Prophets, but that was an endowment to perform miracles, or prophecy, or do other great works. The New Birth from above is not the anointing of the Holy Spirit and Power to manifest the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. The New Birth from above was not foreshadowed in just one individual life in the Old Testament. Contrary to that the Old Testament does foreshadow a national and corporate new birth of a people. This was also always an independent act of God. The references to a born from above or regeneration theme are all related to corporate Israel as a nation.
Ezekiel 37:4 King James Version
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
Notice, those dead bones had no ability to hear the Word of the Lord or believe and then ask Yahweh for redemption and receive anything form God. God had to give those bones life by breathing His Spirit upon them.
At was that way from the beginning when God breathed His Spirit into Adam and he became a living soul. Now, someone might say, “well, there is your example of a born from above experience, Adam was just one individual.” Correct, one person who did not believe, ask and then received. God gave him life. It was not Adam’s choice. Adam also represents the whole human race. When Adam sinned, we all sinned. In the same way the last Adam, Jesus Christ was one man – Son of God – and in Him the whole human race of Adam died and rose in the resurrected Christ as a New Creation. As Adam represented the whole human race, so did Christ even more represent the human race. Romans 5.
Ezekiel 11:19 King James Version
19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
The above verse was definitely not talking about an individuals choice to receive the gift of a new spirit. God gave this Word to Ezekiel for Israel, the people as a whole.
Look at the previous verses.
Ezekiel 11:17-18 King James Version
17 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
This prophecy was a foretelling of what God was going to do and that it could only be a sovereign work of God. Man had no say in it and neither was it in an individuals capacity to either choose to accept or reject this work of God. The bones and skeletons of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones received new life first before they had the ability to hear the word of the Lord.
The records of Jesus raising the dead reveals how the power to resurrect the dead, or the power unto spiritual regeneration (born from above) is a work of God outside of man’s realm of influence. The dead had no ability to respond to a sermon, believe and pray to accept Christ. The Lord first gave them new life before they had the desire or ability to request such a gift. Yes, Jesus did speak the words “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43) and “Talitha Cumi”, (Mark 5:41) raising the girl from the dead. But these were Jesus’ commands reaching into Sheol calling forth the spirit of Lazarus and of the young girl to enter back into their body. Then there was an instant healing miracle, and their physical bodies were both completely made whole after which they continued to live their life’s on earth. Maybe whilst they were in the realm of the dead they might have had an opportunity to either accept Jesus’ call or resist His command. We don’t know. What we do know is that Jesus took the full initiative. He had prayed, He knew the Father heard Him. He knew that His Words would go forth and the Holy Spirit would supply the resurrection power.
Luke 7:14-15 King James Version
14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
The dead man couldn’t hear, at least not physically. Then Christ first gave new life. Just as it took Jesus’ a supernatural miracle to raise the physically dead before they could respond corresponds to the supernatural miracle of redemptive salvation to take place before mankind could respond.
So there is a time to respond and act on faith. To act on what we have come to believe to be true. Yet we need to realize that our believing doesn’t make God give you the New Birth from above by His Spirit. Your faith doesn’t make it so. Our faith is our response to what God has already accomplished in Christ, and by Christ in all of us. How can it be argued that the New Birth of the spirit in man is not consciously perceived by those who do not believe if we are all born-again? Could it be true that when you heard the Gospel the Holy Spirit bore witness with the truth and your internal senses and perception tuned into your spirit when you expressed your faith in Christ? Could it be that prior to hearing the Gospel truth you had no logical cognitive awareness of your spirit being born of God? I believe so, and if true, the born-again experience is not a spiritual re-birth that happens at the point of asking Jesus to come into your heart. It seems more likely that after hearing and believing the Gospel truth and your expression of faith in prayer, becomes the trigger to switch our awareness on to our own spiritual nature in Christ that was at first dormant and hidden away from our perception.
This is not to be confused with New Age philosophies that teach we are currently at the rise of the Age of Aquarius and there will be an awakening of Christ consciousness. I believe this New Age concept to be the result of both the sensitive meditator’s and careful observant’s and students of ancient truths. However, their insights are additionally confused by the Luciferin conspiracy to become super-human and immortal. The idea that every person will become their own Christ as they ascend energetically is as old as the lie in the garden of Eden, and straight from the serpent’s mouth. Yes, humanity is ascending energetically, and it is causing people’s ability to be aware of energetic and spiritual realities to open up. It will also cause energies dormant in the human body to awaken. Some will even show avatar like qualities. But it will not turn everyone into a Christ. The ancient believe that we can evolve into becoming like God, and immortal by virtue of our energetic ascendance is the philosophy behind the idea of the satanic eugenics program.
No, I am talking about the One and only Christ and King of Kings in whom we are all become a New Creation with each of us having within our innermost being a re-generated spirit born of God. I am talking about Christ Himself having infused into your spirit His resurrection life, the Spirit of Christ Himself. And thus we are One spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:17 King James Version
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
We were joined in marriage union unto Christ. We did not choose Him, but He chose us. John 15:16
John 3:3 King James Version
3 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.
I belabored the first points 1 and 2, to say that the born-again reality is not an individual experience God gives at the point of accepting Jesus in to your heart. The born-again experience is also not an experience as such, but a reality mostly unknown to the perception of unbelievers. In the awakening to the knowledge of the Gospel truth people become aware of their spiritual oneness with Christ and their own divine spiritual nature. As this happens it often does go hand in hand with certain experiences of spiritual nature. That’s because of the huge paradigm shifts, and tuning their awareness to spiritual realities. And so we begin to see, i.e. perceive the Kingdom of God.
The way water baptisms are normally conducted is a Minister or believer will guide the person being baptized into the water and help them out again. Even though the person getting baptized chooses to undergo this process, they are only responding to the revelation of the reality of what Christ has already done for them. The fact that another guides and controls the going under the water and coming back up indicates that this spiritual re-birth was completely a work of God alone at a time when you were not even there to have a choice about the matter.
When believers argue that we must chose to accept Christ and only then we can become born of God, and they quote scriptures like Romans 5:17 where the Apostle Paul says that we must first receive the abundance of grace, I would like to explain the following.
The Greek word for “receive” is Lambano. It is true that it is a verb and refers to the action of consciously receiving. However, this one statement is in the middle of the whole chapter 5 where Paul expressly emphasizes that the redemption of humanity took place in Christ. Simply put; Just like all sinned in Adam, all died in Christ, and all were raised with Christ.
In Romans 5:17 Paul is not saying you must first receive Christ and then abundant grace and the gift or righteousness will given you. He is saying the opposite. My slang paraphrase: “If you can accept this reality then you will begin to experience the benefits of this already existing reality.” Meaning that if you can accept that the abundance of grace and right standing with God in Christ has already been given you, then you will reign in life. I will treat this chapter in the next article on this topic more in depth.
Romans 5:17 King James Version
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Now that we do have a progressive revelation of the truth we can act on it with our response of faith. Walking in the truth of who you are in Christ will cause you to rise in the sense of you true identity and sovereignty. You will learn to walk in the freedom wherewith Christ has set you free. You will begin to walk in the supernatural of God and you will reign in life here on earth by Him who lives in you, and expresses His life through you.