What happened on that Pentecost Sunday that so changed the Apostles? Why were they then able to perform so many miracles, be heard and understood in other languages, effect the baptism of three thousand souls, and thereafter fearlessly face death? For sure, something life changing happened. Was it a born again experience? Or, has an event promised by God since the beginning been misunderstood? A born again experience, is typically described as a life changing event. Not to belittle the event, but through a lot of religious speak and emotionalism one may tell you they gave their heart to the Lord and were born again — but how did Jesus describe the born again process?
Starting with what we do know, all life follows a set pattern of procreation. First comes a union of the father with the mother, conception takes place and a child is begotten. It is nourished and protected in the mother’s womb, and in the fullness of time grows to a fully developed child and then it is born. It is not born at the time of conception.
Much of the confusion of the born again enigma is caused from a misunderstanding of the Greek word gennao which the Greeks used to describe the entire conception to the birth process, This posed a real problem for the translators, as they sometimes used born when the intended meaning was begotten (or conceived).
However, at the very moment of conception the child does become the son/daughter of the parents, also it contains the DNA of both parents so that the child has the characteristics of both the husband and the wife. Note also that, like begets like this, the child is physical flesh and blood and is of the seed of the human race. A mortal human being, capable of dying!
Consider the birth of Jesus, was it different? Paul tells us that Jesus Christ was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Therefore, the DNA Jesus received from David would be of the flesh, making Jesus fully flesh and blood, a mortal human being capable of dying (Rom. 1:3). That is why John wrote, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” John also warns that anyone who says that Jesus was anything other than flesh is of the antichrist (I John 4:2-3). Hebrews 4:15 gives us more information (He) “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” How was Jesus able to lead a sinless life?
Remember that the child that is being carried by the mother is a product of both the mother and the father, with each contributing their own DNA, therefore giving the child the characteristics of both. Matthew 1:20 tells us that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit is the spiritual manifestation of the power of God and even though Jesus was born of the flesh, He was imbued with the spiritual DNA (seed) of the Father. Remember that at the very instant of conception the embryo becomes the child of the parents. So, when Mary conceived, there was a union of the seed of man and the seed of God. Jesus became the son of man as well as the Son of God.
Jesus was able to prevail through all the trials, pain and suffering of life because He was of the seed of the Father and maintained that relationship by prayer and fasting. Just because Jesus was imbued with the Holy Spirit did not make Him immediately victorious; He had to prevail, the same as we do. He had to learn obedience by the things He suffered, and thus was made perfect (Heb. 5:8-9). We too must learn obedience and be made perfect by the things we suffer.
Jesus stated in Matthew 28:18 that all power in heaven and in earth was given to Him, which is exemplified in Revelation 5:11-13. What had to happen before He was awarded that power? Continuing in Romans 1:3-4: “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” All power in heaven and in earth was given to Jesus after He was resurrected. Leaving His fleshly body behind, Jesus was born again and became the firstborn, among many to follow (Col.1:18).
Can we now understand what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 where Jesus explains the born again experience. We can go to I Corinthians 15 and read Paul’s explanation of being born again. Paul describes in great detail what a person will be like when He is born again. Does that fit the typical Christian that claims to be born again? What many Christians describe as a born again experience is really the conception by the Holy Spirit. It is the same spirit that impregnated Mary and was in Jesus. The Holy Spirit unites with the flesh of man, grows to maturity by producing the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering etc. as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, and is later born again at the resurrection into the family of God. The born again experience is a resurrection to spiritual life as explained by Jesus in John 3:3-8.
Let’s review a few scriptures that describe those who are born again.
1. They will be resurrected at Christ’s return (I Cor. 15:23).
- They will be of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5).
- They will be spirit beings (I Cor. 15:44).
- They will be immortal (I Cor. 15:53).
- They will not be flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:50).
- They will be of the Kingdom of God (Luke 13;29).
- They will be incorruptible (I Cor. 15:42 &54).
- They will be raised in glory and power (I Cor. 15:43).
- They are those that refused to accept the mark of the beast (Rev. 20:4).
- They will not be subject to the Great White Throne Judgment.
- They will not be subject to the second death (Rev. 20:6; Matt. 10:22; James 1:12).
- They will be priests of God (Rev. 20:6).
- They will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4).
- They will be those of the better resurrection (Heb. 11:35).
- They will judge angels (I Cor. 6:3).
- They will be like the resurrected Jesus Christ (I Jn. 3:2).
- Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (1 John 3:9). Obviously none of us fits that description, but that last verse is a consternation and causes much confusion for traditional Christianity.
Let’s Examine Our Present Condition
Does I John 1:8 describe what we are like now? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Why then did John say, not only we don’t sin, but we can’t sin? Is Paul’s predicament ours as well? “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:18-19). Isn’t Paul admitting that he is still flesh and a sinner?
Paul also reminds the Galatians that we are not yet righteous. “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5). He thus emphasizes that our righteousness is yet in the future and can only be obtained by faith. Have we then established that we are all sinners in spite of self-efforts?
Now Back to I John 3:9
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His (the Father’s) seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”. (Remember that the Father’s seed was implanted in us by the Holy Spirit at conception). But if we are born again now, how is it that we are sinners, yet we cannot sin?
If it doesn’t fit the template, change the meaning or wording to fit. Many of the modern translations have gone so far as to actually change John’s wording to mean what they want it to mean instead of what John said. Some have changed the word commit to words like practices, knowingly, deliberately, habitually, continue to, etc. So, the spin goes, sure we sin, but it’s not attributed to us, or similar nonsense.
Look again at the word’s John actually used. He said they “do not commit sin,” and they “cannot sin.” Strong’s Concordance says the word cannot is an absolute negative. Which means exactly what it says, Those who are born of God cannot sin! Since we obviously can sin, we do sin, and we continually sin, therefore, we are not yet born again!
Can you see the danger, if we believe we are born again at conversion, then I John 3:9 must be perverted to mean something that it does not say, leading to confusing and deleterious descriptions of the actual state of a Christian? Such as: once saved, always saved, no need to prevail as Jesus did, no need to overcome as He warned the seven churches, no need to endure to the end as He warned in Matthew 10:22. Believing one is born again now is a cheap counterfeit of the real thing that leads to disillusionment, disappointment and confusion. Don’t buy it, just as Christ, we too will be born again at our resurrection. Like Jesus was, we are conceived of the Holy Spirit, but we are still in our physical bodies, soon to be born again when we will truly lead sinless lives.
The miracle that is Pentecost is that the same spirit that begot Jesus, now begets the Christian, giving us the power to overcome.