You Must Be Born Again

Cecil F. Cox

Open your New Testament to John 3:1-7. Notice here Jesus said to a man named Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” (vs. 7). Who was this man? In verse 1 we learn he was a ruler of the Jews. What did Nicodemus think of Jesus? “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” I assume that you too believe that Jesus is “a teacher come from God.” In fact even more than that, I assume you believe Him to be the Son of God. The point we make here is that what Jesus says makes a difference. I’m sure you also believe that one must be “born again” if he will enter the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus said in John 3:5. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

In an effort to get around, side-step or avoid, water baptism in verse 5, some contend that verse speaks of two births…“born of water” physical birth; “born of the Spirit” the new birth. But look at the text. The Lord did not say “born of water and born of the Spirit.” He said, “…born of water and Spirit…” The birth (not births) Jesus speaks of is; when one in obedience to the instructions of the Holy Spirit in the written word, he is baptized in water. Look in your Bibles at Acts. 2:38, Ephesians 5:26, 1 Peter 3:21.

Neither does being "born of water and the Spirit" mean that one should receive both water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism as some believe. This cannot be because that would be two baptisms. In Ephesians 4:5 we read there is “one baptism.” Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus about 63 A.D. and he said, “There is one baptism.” It was also about this time that Peter wrote the book of First Peter. In writing about water baptism Peter wrote, “There is also an antitype which now saves us baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). The baptism of the Great Commission is “water baptism” because it is administered by man (Matthew 28:19). Since “water baptism” is the baptism of the Great Commission, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a part of the teaching of John 3:5.

In order to “see the kingdom of God”…in order to “enter the kingdom of God,” you must be “born again.” To be “born again” you must hear and learn God’s will. See 1 Peter 1:22-25. The word will teach you to believe in Jesus Christ, repent of your sins, confess that Jesus is the Christ and be baptized for the remission of your sins. In doing this you are born of water and the Spirit.