acceptance, accountability, active participants, awareness, confess, confessions, cooperate, justification, rebirth, sanctification, sin nature, sin-guilt, spiritual beings, stubborn minds, unregenerate
Many people are familiar with the Bible’s passages that deal with Jesus explaining to Nicodemus why he must be born again, yet many of these same people are still blind about their own born-again condition. They are unaware that being redeemed and being born again are not synonymous. They also simply do not understand that being born again (regenerated) is an imperative. In other words, they fail to understand that their new birth has to be achieved before their salvation can be received.
Jesus teaches Nicodemus that, unless his human spirit is changed so that he can begin his life anew, he will not be able to enter into Heaven. To make sure that Nicodemus thoroughly understands the importance of Jesus’ born again command, Jesus adds, “…The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born again of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven” (John 3:5-6, NLT).
Now although many theologians teach that the “water” Jesus refers to in John 3:5 is the physical birth (human beings’ first birth), which is accompanied by a flow of watery amniotic fluid, in truth, the “water” Jesus is making a reference to is the spiritual cleansing performed by the washing of the Word of God. Since the Word of God also is called the Living Water of Jesus the Christ, then Jesus the Christ is saying that God’s Holy Spirit will use the Living Water to perform the necessary regeneration that human beings must experience before God’s spiritual purification (sanctification) process can continue in them. Thus, human beings’ dead spirits first must be born again before people can become spiritual, but the only way for human beings to be born again is for them to experience the rebirth of their human spirits that only God’s Grace, which is activated by the power of His Holy Spirit, can make happen. Indeed, no man or woman can become spiritual without first experiencing the regenerating operation of the Grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit that work together, simultaneously, in order to create humans’ new birth status.
Unfortunately, there are far too many believers, in Christian churches and ministries, who are using the term “born again” to refer to “something” that human beings do under their own strength, power, and predilection; they insist that being born again is a decision, or a commitment, or a rededication they make. However, as already stated, the new birth that Jesus the Christ speaks about is “something” that only the Grace and Power of God can make happen. Consequently, a person is not born again because he or she confesses, repents, believes and accepts, but a person confesses, repents, believes and accepts because God’s Holy Spirit already has regenerated him or her! Regeneration, then, is solely the work of God’s Grace through the power of His Holy Spirit, and not the work of men and women!
Since being born again is wholly, completely, and supremely because of God’s Holy Spirit power and His marvelous Grace, by God’s design, humans are not participating in their new birth, because nothing they do, say or think can influence their regeneration. Once their human spirits experience the new birth, then the Holy Spirit is able to convict them about their need to be aware of their sins, to accept responsibility for their sins, and to confess (agree with God about) their sin-guilt awareness (an awareness of their born in sin nature). Therefore, it is during the initial and subsequent Holy Spirit convictions that follow individuals’ born again experience that humans become active participants in God’s plan of redemption.
Once again, individuals’ active participation in their own salvation begins immediately after their spiritually dead human spirits (their spiritual hearts) have been regenerated (reborn). It is at this point in God’s redemption plan that people sincerely can confess their awareness of and accountability for their sins, confess their specific sins, repent their specific sins, confess that they believe in the Lord Jesus the Christ, and accept Him as their personal Savior. Their confessions, belief and acceptance will bring about their justification. After they have been justified by Jesus the Christ’s righteousness, which means they have been put in right standing with God, the Holy Spirit who is now inside them is able to begin to sanctify (transform) them into the image of Christ. However, if believers do not cooperate with the Holy Spirit (participate in His sanctification process), the Holy Spirit cannot mature believers’ born-again spirits and, thus, He will not be able to change the way their unregenerate (stubborn) minds think!
So, what does being spiritual really mean? To a true believer, being spiritual means being born again by the Grace of God and the mighty working power of the Holy Spirit so that the indwelling and infilling Holy Spirit can begin and conclude the sanctifying process of spiritually maturing believers in their faith. Once again, no person can become spiritual without first experiencing God’s Grace and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, which work in tandem.
Finally, being spiritual means that a born again, saved believer now is more concerned about the well-being of his or her soul, the Mercy and Grace of God, and the importance of eternity, as opposed to his or her carnal concerns about the pleasures of the flesh; the profits of money, fame, and material possessions; the restrictions of time; and/or the limitations of the five senses (seeing, tasting, feeling, smelling, and hearing). In essence, truly spiritual beings are those who have been reconnected to their Creator and Father God through their initial new birth and their subsequent justification. Moreover, their new birth and justification are Creator, Father God’s redemption plan experiences that permit spiritual beings not only to be able to have a Father-child relationship but also to be able to fellowship with their Father God (who is Spirit) by worshipping Him in Spirit and Truth.