The Kingdom of God is realized in the here and now when His Covenant People have first fulfilled the required prerequisites to enter into the rule and reign of God in their personal individual lives. In this final installment, I review a necessary component that one must be born of God. What does that mean and how does that take place?
Born of God
Since the first appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago, and even unto today, there are those that God has called out to who have either not received Christ or have received and believed:
“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)
Jesus did say, “… many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mathew 22:14)
Those who have received and believed on the name of Jesus Christ have been “born” of God. They are the ones who “have all received” the “fullness” of Christ experientially “realized” in “grace and truth” (John 1:16-17). They know Christ and Christ knows them.
Being “born” of God has its foundation in the objective truth that Jesus Christ was the Word of the Living God made flesh (John 1:14). We must individually “receive” Him by faith and believe Him in order to be “born . . . of God.”
Born of God and the Kingdom
To more fully understand what is meant by being “born of God,” we look to the Apostle John in his Gospel account and in his other letters (1,2,3 John). Almost everyone is familiar with the passage in John 3:1-12ff that records the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. As you recall, Nicodemus was a Pharisee and came to Jesus “by night” as a representative and spokesman, on this occasion, of Israel’s ruling religious leadership. He and the Pharisee understood Jesus’ miracles made Him unique and acknowledged that God was “with Him.” Let’s pick it up in v. 3:
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”
Jesus wasted no time introducing the subject matter pertaining to “the Kingdom of God.” In order to “see the Kingdom” the condition to be “born again” is required and must be fulfilled first. What does “born again” mean?
It has been suggested by many our circles that this phrase, “born again” (Greek: gennethe anothen) should be rendered “born from above.” (Born: gennethe from gennao). I concur. The word “born” (gennao) is commonly understood to mean natural birth in the greater majority of the 65 verses in which it is used in the New Testament. The word translated “again” (anothen) commonly means “above” but it can also be translated and understood as:
- from the beginning (Luke 1:3)
- for a long time (Acts 26:5)
- again or anew (Galatians 4:9)
So, the context of each instance of anothen must be taken into consideration.
That being said, why would the English translations (except for a few like the International Standard Version and the New English Translation) render this phrase “born again” when it should probably be “born from above”? Apparently, Nicodemus understood this phrase as “born again” in respect to natural birth when he mistakenly answered Jesus:
“How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (John 3:4)
Perhaps the majority of the translations rendered “born again” to reflect this mistaken notion that Nicodemus thought Jesus meant natural birth.
In 3:10, Jesus chided Nicodemus for his mistaken understanding:
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?’”
As a “teacher of Israel,” Nicodemus should have known what Jesus was referring to. So, what should he have understood Jesus to mean?
Born of Water and the Spirit
Jesus explained that to be “born again” (or better “born from above”) meant to be “born of water and the Spirit.” (3:5) Even with this explanation, Nicodemus still had trouble grasping what Jesus meant. Since Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel and the Scriptures (the Old Testament) was the main source of teaching, perhaps, we might find out what Jesus was referring to there.
Indeed, if we return to the prophecy recorded in Ezekiel 36:25-27 that Nicodemus should have recalled in the context (Ezekiel 36) of restoring Israel from captivity and spiritual darkness, it matches John 3:3-7. Ezekiel 36:25-27 says:
"I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and to carefully observe My ordinances."
Clearly, the Lord God Himself promised to cleanse them with water from all their filthiness and idols (v. 25) and give them a “new heart” and “new spirit” (v. 26) and would put “My Spirit within” them. (v. 27) Again, it seems evident that this is what Christ was trying to teach Nicodemus and specified that this “born again” idea was, in fact, the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36. It was how Israelites would be “born of God” and “born from above.” God Himself would cleanse and give them a new heart and His Spirit. This was the requirement to “enter into the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Could this be what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he penned his letter to Titus?
"He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we would become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
Washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Manifesting the Kingdom – Born of God
Yes. A spiritual rebirth. Without this, one cannot perceive or enter the Kingdom of God. Manifesting the Kingdom begins here with you and me. If we want to see God’s rule and reign be realized, it must be realized first in us individually. Only then, can it be realized collectively in local church assemblies.
This short series (Where Taking Dominion Begins) was written to express different but complimentary truths taken together. Each one of us must take assessment of our position before the God of our fathers.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you . . . (2 Peter 1:10)
by Lawrence Blanchard, ND, M.Div.
Next up: It's That Time Again: Creating Racial Hatred