The Nature and Characteristics of the New Birth

By David A. DePra

Back to the Goodnews

Transcribed by software with minor edits.


What does it mean to be born from above?  How does it work? What is the experiencing of it in the Christian life?  John 3, of course, is the primary passage that has to do with the new birth.


We find, starting in verse 1, and I'm going to read there, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  Now, just ahead of time, let's just establish the fact that Nicodemus was one of the good guys.  There were Pharisees that were approachable, that could be reasoned with.  They were still Pharisees, but they were not necessarily antagonistic toward Jesus Christ.  Well, here was Nicodemus.  He was one of the leaders of the Jews, and it says he came to Jesus by night, probably because he didn't want other Pharisees to know he was coming to Jesus.  Again, isn't it amazing? It doesn't matter what age you're talking about or what situation you're talking about.


There's always a narrative, isn't there? There's a narrative that people demand that you stick to.  If you break rank with the narrative, the tradition, the group, well, you're going to be canceled, as it has come to be called in this day and age.  And so it was back then.  If the Pharisees as a group hated Jesus and you broke rank with that, well, you were going to be an outcaste, you would be considered a traitor, and Nicodemus, evidently, did not want that.  And so he came to Jesus by night and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God.  Now, that's quite admission.  He didn't say, We know you're the son of God, but, We know that you are a teacher come from God.  I have to assume that the, “we,” of this passage is not all the Pharisees, because many of them said he had a devil.  I think he's talking about his friends -- the good guys among the Pharisees.  Again – “WE know that you are a teacher, come from God, for no man can do these miracles that you do except God be with him.”  Again, quite a contrast over and against the other Pharisees that hated Jesus, that said he did those miracles by the devil.


Now, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, and we do not have it recorded here anywhere as to actually the question or questions that Nicodemus wanted to ask Jesus.  We don't see that leading off the conversation here in John 3.  What we do have leading off the conversation in John 3 is actually an answer that Jesus gives.  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, accept a man be born again.  He cannot see the kingdom of God.  From this we can conclude that Nicodemus came to ask Jesus about the kingdom of God.  Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God, a lot of parables, began with the phrase, And then the Kingdom of God shall be likened unto, and so forth.  Seek you first, the kingdom of God.  Well, the Pharisees had an idea of the kingdom of God that was strictly materialistic and national.  They believed that when the Messiah would come, that the Messiah would sit in the temple in Jerusalem and reign and rule as the Messiah, as basically the king of Israel, and that this Messiah would bring Israel back into the glory that they once had under Solomon, and that this Messiah in Israel would fulfill all the prophecies that are in the Old Testament.


Their idea of the Kingdom of God was strictly, as I noted, nationalistic.  It was all about Israel.  The Jews had no idea whatsoever in their thinking about the salvation of the world, worked through a redemptive work of the Messiah.  They didn't have a Messiah that was going to live a perfect life, die, be raised, and ascend.  They didn't have that a Messiah.  In fact, it wasn't even that a kingdom.  It was very localized and very limited.  You can imagine that when Jesus began to speak of the Kingdom of God in his teaching, how Pharisees like began to pick up ideas and thoughts in it that didn't jive with their idea of the kingdom.  I think we can conclude from the conversation and the fact that Nicodemus seemed to be somewhat open to the truth that it stirred him.  He wanted to know more.  Sometimes that's all that we can do, want more.  But if we do, God will honor that.  He'll honor openness to the truth.  So Nicodemus comes and Jesus says, Verily, verily, I say to you, 'accept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  


Now, a couple of terms here, very common Christian terms that it would pay us to get at the root of. First, the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is not the church, it's not the Millennium, the Kingdom of God, at the basic root, is the rule or sovereignty of God.  That's what the Greek word means.  When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he really was talking about God and the entire realm of God, the spiritual realm.  Certainly, in the New Testament, in reading things like the Kingdom of God is within you, the Kingdom of God doesn't come in a way that can be observed with the eyes from Luke 17, the Kingdom of God does not consist of meat and drink, but righteousness and joy and so forth and the Holy Spirit.  We see that in the final analysis, the bottom line is that the Kingdom of God is a person, the King, Jesus Christ, and then all that is under His Lordship.  That's what the Kingdom of God is in the final analysis.  Now, Israel, the world, and the millennium, and all that stuff comes into play because if the Kingdom of God is Jesus and all that is under His Lordship, all those things will eventually be under His Lordship.  But the Kingdom of God is not just those things.


The Kingdom of God is the Lordship of Jesus in his very person, extending outward.  Now, that ought to tell us something when we read phrases like entering the Kingdom of God.  People want to enter the Kingdom of God.  Everybody would say they do.  But to enter the kingdom of God means to enter and come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Kingdom of God is the realm of God.  It's the rule of God.  It's the sovereignty of God.  You want to enter the kingdom, that's what you're coming under.  Now, that's not a bad thing, but I don't think that a lot of people have thought of the kingdom that way.  Again, we think of the kingdom as either heaven, the millennium, as an association with Christ or maybe a position of rulership or whatever.  None of those definitions are correct.  They're very limited at best and missed the point entirely.  Again, the kingdom of God is the person of Jesus Christ and all that extends from him as his Lordship and sovereignty.  So wherever Jesus is Lord, the kingdom is there.  If you want to enter the kingdom, you enter under the Lordship of Jesus.  Now, another term here in verse three is this term born again.


The term actually means to be born from above all over again.  Now, the important thing to know about being born again, and this is one of our characteristics of the new birth, just the term itself, born again, can we see that it's talking about life? You're not born into death.  You're not born on it.  You're born into life.  This is talking about life that is from above as the source, really from Christ as the source, that is brand new, meaning it's not a life that was there before.  It's a brand new life that had never existed before.  How many understand that when Jesus walked out of the tomb on the morning that he was raised from the dead, that he ushered in a life, really, it was a humanity in himself that had never existed before in all eternity.  It hadn't.  Resurrection life in Christ, new life in Christ, eternal life in Christ is not the old life in mad, Adam, fixed up? It's not the old life in Adam repaired and made better? Is not something that God finds in us as the source through the birth into the Adam race and supercharges it or spiritualizes it.


No, in Adam, all die.  At the cross, the Adam life died in Christ.  Now, I didn't say it ceased to exist.  I said it died.  It died as to being central in God's plan.  It died in having a future.  There's not going to be any more Adam race, eventually.  The Adam race died in Christ.  The Adam life died in Christ.  When Christ died the Adam life, which was really death, a living death, ironic to say it that way, it all died in him.  That's why Jesus, in 1 Corinthians 15, is called the last Adam.  The Adam that God created in Genesis is the first Adam, the first man.  Well, he sinned and he brought the entirety of the race that came from him down into death.  And there's no reprieve, there's no resurrection of that race.  There's no fixing of it.  God never lifted the death penalty from off of the Adam race.  No, Jesus didn't come to die so that the Adam race wouldn't have to.  No, Jesus came to die so that the Adam race could die in him.  Or to put it another way, rather than lift death from the Adam race because of Jesus, Jesus satisfied the death that had to happen for the Adam race.


That's why when he died, he said, It's finished.  Adam's dead in me.  In the day that you shall eat thereof, you shall surely die.  That was never lifted.  It was satisfied in Christ as our substitute.  What came out of the grave on resurrection day was not the Adam race, like all cleaned up and made pretty, wasn't the Adam race free from sin, if you know what I'm getting at? What came out of the tomb in Christ was a new race that had never existed before.  A new life.  And in Christ, the God man, the son of man, it was a new humanity that had never existed before.  Consequently, when Jesus says you have to be born from above all over again, he is saying you have to be born of a life that is not of this Earth, that did not come from this earth as the source.  It is a life that is not of this world.  It's a life that is from above.  You have to be born of that life.  And, of course, what he was getting at and what ultimately would happen is that he was saying, You have to come into a birth whereby I dwell in you, whereby Christ is our life.


How many understand nobody ever had Christ as their life until Acts 2? I mean, for Pete's sake, that life that people received didn't even exist until the end of the Gospels, until Christ was raised and ascended, Acts 2 happened what? Fifty days after Christ was raised from the dead? That's how brand new life in Christ was.  But see, we don't think of eternal life as that.  We think of eternal life as a thing that God gives us.  Some people even think that it's a legal classification and nothing more that we can expect to experience in this age.  Eternal life is not a thing.  Eternal life is a person.  When the Bible says that we are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him, it's telling us that we have been made one with Him in His resurrection life.  I'm going to understand that's why we have eternal life.  It's Him.  It's His life.  I am the resurrection and the life.  So eternal life isn't a thing.  Internal life is a person in whom there is all life, and we're joined to Him.  We have to be born again as those joined to Him.


Now, how does that happen? We're going to read here in a second how it happens.  It's basic gospel stuff.  But we have to understand here that to be born again, to be born from above, is to be born of a life that is not of this world, that is not of any human being except for Christ, the God-man, and it is therefore not subject to the laws and the nature of physical life.  It's actually the nature of it is beyond that.  We see a bit of this in verse 3, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  We could turn that around in a positive vein.  If a man is born again, he can see the kingdom of God.  Now, I would also add that doesn't mean he sees in the first five minutes, but he has the capacity and the potential to see what he could not see otherwise.  And if you read this verse, you can't escape the incredible conclusion that if we are not born from above with that new life in Christ, we can't see.  We cannot see that which belongs to Christ, that which belongs to life in him, that which has to do with the life, sovereignty, and spirit of God.


We can't.  There's no use arguing about it and trying to grunt real hard and cause ourselves to be able to see what we can't see.  There's no formula here that will enable you and I to have a clue about the things of God.  There's no equation.  There's no hoop to jump through religiously.  There's no training course to take.  There's no 10-step program.  There's no Bible study to go to.  There's no works you and I can do.  There's no service we can render.  Accept a man, be born from above all over again with that life that is from above in Christ, we can't see.  Now, at once, that ought to be both terrifying, I'll explain that in a minute, and hopeful.  What that means is that if left to yourself, if left to your capacities as a natural human being, you have no access to the spiritual realm within you.  Zero.  That should be terrifying because it ought to make us realize that unless we were born again, we're going to be lost.  We're going to be lost as far as walking with God, let alone life itself.  Do we understand that when Jesus says, Except a man be born from above, and he's talking about this life that is of him, that he is talking about the only salvation that there is?


I don't think we hear this enough, but if you and I are not born from above the way the Bible means that we're not saved, I mean, we're not.  It doesn't mean we can't be.  It doesn't mean that God isn't calling us to Christ, it doesn't mean that we might not have a relationship with God in the sense of being a seeker, being somebody that is interested in the things of God.  It doesn't mean we don't have any faith at all.  But the fact of the matter is you got to go on.  I can't find any indication in scripture that it is possible to be saved, to have salvation, to have eternal life again, which is Christ in us, unless we are born from above.  It's the same life.  God doesn't give us two lives.  He doesn't give us a probationary life and then the real life.  There's not a life that saves us and then a life that we receive when we're born from above.  Now, I certainly do believe that there are millions of Christians who are, if we can use this as an analogy, who have been begotten, just like a baby is begotten in the womb.


There has been a conception that has taken place.  There is eternal life there.  There is the life of Christ there.  I believe that you could have that and yet not actually have come out into a birth, per se, whereby you can live and function and move as a full-blown, born-again believer.  But it's still the same life.  It's still the same life.  Just as the life of a baby, life of an adult goes back to the life that they had when they were born as a baby, which goes back to the life they received when they were conceived, which gets into why abortion is murder, whole other subject.  They're the issue for abortion is whether there's life there or not, a human life.  You translate that over into the spiritual realm and the issue is, is there life there? Well, if there is, it's the life of Christ because he is the only life that there is, that is of God for us.  There's either life there or there isn't.  But make no question about it.  You have to be born again to be saved, even if that new birth is a begotten condition or a conception.


If you look up these words, born again in the New Testament, Greek, it can be used interchangeably between born and begotten.  It's the same word in each case.  You and I could conceivably be begotten of God.  There has been a conception there of life, just the way Mary conceived.  That was Christ in there.  That was him.  It was life.  But you and I can't do a whole lot until we are actually birthed from out of that to a functional condition in the new realm of the kingdom of God.  We certainly can't see, we can't hear.  I've talked about the senses.  How many understand that there's absolutely nothing about the five senses of natural man that can gain access to the realm of the kingdom, that can gain access to God.  You can't find God with your natural vision, your natural hearing, your natural taste, your natural smell, your natural feeling, you can't.  Emotions can't reach up and find God.  There's no access there whatsoever.  Period.  There's no capacity.  You can't even get started.  You have to be born from above before you can actually functionally begin to see here and so forth with the Lord.


You have to be.  Now, what we do, and here's part of the terrifying part, is that because so much of the church is blinded to Jesus Christ, because so much of the church doesn't know what it means to be born again, doesn't even understand that Christianity is, in fact, Christ in you.  That is the new birth.  Because much of the church doesn't understand that, well, there are millions of professing Christians who are not born from above or maybe are in just that condition where there's a conception, but they haven't come out into a full-blown functionality of a birth.  Many Christians in that condition.  Then what we do is because we can read in the Bible about all the things a Christian ought to be and all the things a Christian ought to do.  Lacking the life in which all of the capacities to walk with God exist, lacking that, we try to draw those out of the natural life.  What we end up having is a Christianity that is based upon and functions within natural soul man.  Natural religious man.  Now, ultimately, that can turn into something quite evil.  I preached on how the ultimate consummate, fullness of that is antichrist, natural, atom life instead of Christ.


It's really Christ without the cross.  But millions of us, and I think we all try to do this in the beginning, regardless, God wants to eventually bring us out.  Because we don't have the capacities until we're born from above to know Jesus, walk with Jesus, see Jesus, understand spiritual truth.  Well, we nevertheless do have a brain.  We have a religiousity in our natural man.  So we read in the Bible that we ought to be doing this, that this is how we ought to function as a Christian.  We try to do so religiously as a natural man, as a natural religious man.  Of course, it has no life in it.  It can't have any life in it.  It's not of his life.  You cannot, if I can say this, accomplish anything that eternal life is supposed to accomplish.  You can't function that way unless Christ is in you unless you're born from above of his life.  You can't.  The necessity of being born again, which is right here, is pretty obvious.  It's the difference between life in Christ and, at best, an empty, natural, religious flesh, which again, ultimately is going to turn to something ugly.


And so Jesus says, Except a man be born all over again from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Now, just to cement the fact that Jesus is talking about a brand new life, a brand new humanity.  Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 5.  2 Corinthians 5.  Now, there's a lot that I could stop and talk about here, but I'm going to just mention something out of verse 16 before I read verses 17 and 18.  It says in verse 16, after talking about being raised in Christ, it says, Henceforth know we no man after the flesh.  Yes, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.  How many see that right away that statement makes no sense unless Paul was talking about senses and perception that are not of the flesh but are of the spirit.  How are you supposed to know somebody after the spirit rather than after the flesh unless you've been given a new capacity that comes from a different a life? You can't.  That's a clue in verse 16, but then in verse 17, he really gets into it.  He says, Therefore, because of all this, if any man be in Christ, what does it mean to be in Christ?


Well, it's just another way of saying Christ in you.  And what it's talking about is being joined to the Lord and made one spirit with him.  That's what it means to be in Christ, to be one in spirit with Christ.  And of course, if you're one in spirit with Christ, you have been born all over again from above because you sure weren't born one in spirit with Christ through the Adam birth.  No way for that to happen.  No, you have to die to the Adam birth by taking your place in his cross and being crucified with Christ, as we're going to see.  And then because you are being raised in Christ, one in spirit with him, and if you are, you are then in Christ.  You've been joined to him.  You've been baptized into him.  You have been planted into him, as Romans 6 says, and you are in Christ Christ is in you.  And that joining, that oneness and spirit, Paul says here, is a new creature.  Not a retread job on the old, not turning over a new leaf.  Not the old person you were, only now equipped with a better religion.  No, those are some of the things we say the new birth is, if not in words, then in practice.


We think that we just need to get a new attitude.  We need to turn over a new leaf, as I said, or we were disobedient before and now if we just obey God's law, we can consider ourselves to be a new creature.  In fact, you don't even need to be a Christian to be a new creature according to some people's definition of it.  Just go to a psychiatrist.  In fact, if you want to be a new creature, the way the world makes new creatures, well, find a cabinet full of drugs and take it and it'll make you better.  It'll get rid of depression.  It'll fix what tells you in many cases.  If all that a Christian person is, is that, somebody with a better attitude, somebody that feels better about themselves and about others, if all that a Christian person is, is somebody that acts better, then we really, in the final analysis, don't need a new birth.  We don't really even need Christ because all that we're talking about is fixing up our natural man, our Adam man.  If that's all that a Christian is, then that's pretty underwhelming, to say the least.  But that's not all that a Christian is.


A Christian is a new creature.  A Christian is a brand new human being that never existed before Jesus Christ died and was raised and ascended.  It never existed before Acts 2, when, for the first time Jesus came and made himself one with human beings through the outpouring and giving of the Spirit.  Believe me, I know what the charismatics say happened in Acts 2, that's error.  Acts 2 was the birth of the New Covenant, the birth of the Church, the first time anybody was ever born from above, the first time Christ ever dwelled on anybody.  There's no question about that.  It is a fact.  And unless we get that straight, we're going to be off on a lot of other issues.  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, a new human being with a life that is from above.  Talking about the new birth here.  And it says that old things.  What old things? Well, everything you are in Adam, and you'll continue to carry everything you are in Adam till you die, because that's not eradicated or annihilated by becoming one with Christ, right? So if any man in Christ, he is a new creature, old things, all those old things in Adam are passed over, the Greek reeds.


Not passed away.  We know they're not passed away.  They still exist.  No, old things are passed over.  What does he mean? He means that all that you are in Adam, that natural soul man, all of that is passed over in reference to the new creature.  In other words, there is no part of those old characteristics of the Adam race that is incorporated into the new creation.  None of it is.  It's all passed over.  And he says, Behold, all things have become new.  All things have become new, and all things, the all things that have become new are, it says in the Greek, out from God.  In other words, you are joined to the Lord.  We are made one with Him in Spirit.  He is now our life.  And even though we continue to have a natural man and we continue to have old things, everything that has to do with the new creation in Christ, what we are in Christ, everything that has to do with the new life, all things that are of the new birth and the things of salvation, all of those things are out from the Christ who dwells in us.


Now, in contrast, what that means is none of it is of us.  Herein is the challenge, isn't it? You continue to carry, and I continue to carry in old nature, we continue to carry our five senses, our soul, life, our emotions.  Out from that comes nothing that is of God.  But out from the Christ that is in us comes all that is of God.  Now this takes us back to what I said before.  Unless you're born again, how far can you get? Because it's only through the new birth that you become one with Christ, out of whom all things emerge that are of God.  You're not born from above, Christ is not in you, then there's absolutely nothing that you can experience that's of God.  It's just that cut and dry.  And yet, as I noted, we try.  I'm sure we try unwittingly and in ignorance, but we've got millions of people trying to experience things like the gifts of the Spirit, the leadings of the Spirit.  They try to experience the Spirit of God.  They try to even experience Christ.  They're not born again.  They can't.  Now, again, that doesn't mean they're on the outs with God or that they can't come to the place, but they can't until they do what Jesus says you need to do to be born again, which we're going to read here now if we turn back to John 3.


How do you become born again? We've seen the necessity of it.  We've seen that without that, we can't see, we can't know, we really can't experience.  Well, let's get back here to John 3:3, where we left off, Except the man be born from above all over again, he cannot see the King of God.  Now, we know that Jesus was actually talking about being born from above all over again, simply because this is how Nicodemus understood it as we read in verse 4.  And Jesus didn't tell him, Well, Nicodemus, you're all wrong about this.  I don't really mean to be born.  He didn't say that to Nicodemus.  In fact, he affirmed that at least Nicodemus did understand that Jesus was talking about a birth.  Nicodemus answered, after Jesus said, You have to be born from above all over again, Nicodemus answered and said, How can a man be born when he is old? How can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? See, Nicodemus is clearly understanding that Jesus is talking about not only a birth, but about a new birth.  Can we see that? Very clear that Nicodemus understood that, and he was right.


Now, he did not understand the nature of it, which Jesus is going to tell him, but he did understand that a new birth was necessary.  A new birth other than the first birth.  It wasn't a fixing up.  It was a new birth resulting in a new life, and Nicodemus couldn't figure out, Well, how can you enter the second time into your mother's womb? So see, Nicodemus thought Jesus was somehow talking about a second natural birth.  You can't blame him for that.  We'd think that too.  In fact, I think that's what a lot of people do think.  We don't say that, but that's how we function in it.  Again, we think that the new birth is the same life fixed up, the same atom life, only now given religion and a statement of faith and some laws to follow.  It isn't.  This is talking about a brand new birth resulting in a life that is other than and far above and different than the Adam life.  Now, what Jesus is going to tell Nicademus, he's going to tell him, listen, you've understood that I'm talking about a brand new birth, but you are misunderstanding about the nature of it.


This isn't a birth that is the result of human procreation.  This isn't a birth that is out from humanity.  It isn't a birth that is of the human race.  No, it's a birth that comes from outside of the human race into you from the outside in the form of a person.  Can we see that? You don't enter a womb.  You become one with Christ who is the life.  And so Jesus wanted to explain to Nicodemus that this was something else.  It was a birth that was not from below, from and out from the human race.  It was a birth from above of an entirely different order, resulting in entirely different new creations in Christ.  In verse 5, he begins to explain this, Jesus does, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.  He cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  And he says, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Again, a total contrast, completely different.  We are all born of the flesh, into this world and of this world.  All of us are.  But the new birth is a birth of the Spirit of God, and it is not of this world.


It is from above, into this world from the outside.  It's really into you from the outside via a person named Jesus Christ.  And so the source is not the Adam race.  The source is not the natural realm.  The source is Jesus Christ.  Now, he tells you how to be born again here.  He says, Accept a man to be born of water and of spirit.  Now, Nicodemus would have understood what that meant because Nicademus was familiar with the tabernacle complex that was in the wilderness and, of course, that was then in the temple in Jerusalem.  To be born of water, which is the first step here, speaks of a death.  Speaks of a death.  And even though Jesus doesn't hear in this verse mention it, he is saying there is no new life unless there is first the death of the old life.  You have to die.  The Adam life.  You have to die to that Adam life completely.  Then a man would come after me, let him die himself, pick up his cross daily and follow me, for whosoever would lose his life for my sake will find me as his life.  Matthew 24.  So in order to be born all over again from above, the birth that is from below has to come into a complete death.


As I said earlier, because Jesus died, all who are members of the Adam race are dead in him.  Now you have to take that place and embrace the cross by faith.  But nevertheless, Adam died in Christ.  Christ was the Adam that died.  He was the last Adam.  And with him, the Adam race ended.  That life, the Adam life ended.  Now, of course, it ended a long time before that when Adam sinned, but this was the fulfillment of it, the satisfaction of death because of the sin.  And you have got to come to the cross.  You've got to come to Jesus Christ crucified, and you have got to be, as Roman 6 says, baptized into his death.  That's what water does.  It's the same exact picture.  Know ye not that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death, beginning of Romans? For we are buried with him by baptism into his death.  That's what Jesus is getting at here.  You have to become one with Christ in his death.  And if you do, then it's your death, but it's death.  It's not a fixer-up job.  And your Adam, life then has to be relinquished, renounced.


And if you do that, well, that's the first part.  If you do that, and only if you and I do it, then we come up out of the water, so to speak, and we receive Jesus Christ within by the means of the Spirit of God.  There are not two in dwellings, one of the Spirit and one of Christ.  Now we receive Christ via the Spirit of God.  It's one in dwelling.  It's one life.  Spirit is the Spirit of life.  Jesus is the life.  The Spirit of the Spirit of truth.  Jesus is the truth.  Make those into two things and you get into all kinds of error eventually.  Likewise in Romans, we are buried with him by baptism into his death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection.  Now, note something absolutely vital to see.  This isn't about us being crucified and raised the way Jesus was.  No.  This is about us being crucified in and with him so that we can be raised in and with him.


All this is about being in Christ.  It's about being one with him.  These things don't happen to us separate from the fact that they happened to Christ.  No, we simply join him.  We are planted into what he has accomplished.  That's truth.  It's all through the Bible.  So Christianity is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We are one in spirit, with Christ crucified, with Christ risen, and Christ ascended.  In other words, we're one in spirit with the person of Christ.  Don't put your faith merely in the historical acts that Jesus accomplished.  We have to have those as the foundation, of course.  But don't put your faith merely in what Jesus did.  Put your faith in the one who did those things because that's the one with whom you're one in spirit.  And if you put your faith in Christ, well, then by definition, your faith is in the fact that he died on the cross for you as your substitute.  Your faith is in the fact that you're raised in Him and that you're ascended in Him.  It's just all faith in the person.  In doing that, it includes all those acts.  Now, he says, along with all of this, he wants to make sure that we understand that we're talking about two different lives here, the death of one and the birth of another.


That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and it's all it can ever be.  It doesn't have the ability to see.  It doesn't have the ability to receive the things of God and to walk in the things of God.  But that which is born of the spirit is spirit.  We've got to see the incredible difference between the flesh and the spirit, the Adam life and the Christ life.  The old birth in Adam and the new birth in Christ.  The two are night and day.  One has to completely die in order that we may live and move and have our being in Jesus Christ.  There's a whole lot more in John 3, including, for instance, verses 14 and 15, where the cross, again, is emphasized and we got the God so love the world passage that is so well-known and so forth.  But I want to turn to 1 Corinthians to build on what we've seen here about the new birth.  Because the Corinthians Church was a church that was populated by Christians who were either not really born from above or was just in that conceived state that I mentioned, or had gotten so far off the tract following their natural man that they had lost sight.


They had lost the sight that they received when they were born from above, which is also possible.  Born-again believers can be deceived.  They can get off the tract.  They can't lose their salvation because they're born from above.  Can't be unborn.  There is no hint in scripture that if in Christ you have passed from death to life, that something can happen whereby you pass back from life again into death.  No, once that birth happens, it's done.  Now you can get off the track.  You can forfeit inheritance.  You can lose all the things that pertain to life and yet still be saved as the man in 1 Corinthians 3, it says, was.  The Corinthians had a mix of a lot of these things.  They were out of the will of God because they were operating in and out from natural man instead of seeing with the eyes that they had received and the ears that they had received if they were, in fact, ever born from above.  It's a constant battle for us.  The way that we stay in the truth is that we stay in Christ and abide in Him and continue to carry our cross and continue to allow God to do whatever it takes to keep our hearts open and centered in Christ.


Well, in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul wants to bring them back to the new birth.  He begins to say some things to them.  He says, for example, in 1 Corinthians 2:2, For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In other words, I didn't come arguing.  I didn't come with clever arguments.  He says that.  He says, In my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and the power that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  How many understand that you really cannot argue somebody into faith in Christ? You really can't in the final analysis.  You can't present a logical argument.  You can't use reasoning.  You can't lace together a bunch of clever things so that at the end of the discussion, somebody throws up their hand and says, Well, I guess I better believe in Jesus.  That don't work that way.  You can't preach with tears rolling down your cheeks and think that that is going to move somebody emotionally.  You can't scream, bloody murder, and threaten them with hell.


None of those things births anybody anew.  What you have to do is you have to preach Christ crucified.  You have to bring people face to the face with the fact that everything they are in Adam must take its place in the cross and that they're not going anywhere until that happens.  In other words, I don't have to argue with you.  All I have to do is tell you you need to die in Christ.  Until you do that, there's no discussion to have.  Now, we can talk about that, we can discuss it, we can teach it from the Bible.  But in the final analysis, we have to come to the cross and take our place in Christ, crucified, and get that settled.  We don't do that.  We're going to be operating, as the Corinthians did at best, in soul religion, religion that's of natural man and the soul.  Now Paul goes on here, having established that, and he tries to encourage them.  He says in verse 9, I have not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him.  In other words, there are things to see, but the natural man, I, has never seen these things, and there are things to hear, but the natural ear has never heard them.


In fact, natural man isn't even looking or trying to hear.  We don't even know they're there.  It's not even entering into our heart.  We're not even asking the questions.  Paul wants to establish that this is how far afield man has fallen.  I mean, you talk about a contrast.  If we can't access Jesus Christ, God, or the things of God with our five senses, we have no hope, nothing in us, that which is born of the flesh, his flesh, no capacity at all.  Think of how far we must have. . .  Mankind must have fallen in Adam because he at one time had total fellowship with God and was able to do all that.  We have no idea what the depth is to which Adam fell.  None at all, because we live in the depth naturally, and to us that's normal.  It's only when we read scriptures like verse 9 here that we recognize, my goodness, the height that Adam fell from to where we can't even perceive the need for these things.  He says in verse 10, here's hope.  He's speaking about the potentiality in the new birth, but God has revealed these things unto us by his spirit.


For the spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  He says, For what man knows the things of a man, save the Spirit of man, which is in him.  Now, you'll note that that, that again is within the natural birth.  That which is born of a flesh is flesh.  Within that birth of flesh, people can know the things of a man.  Because we are a man or a woman, we can study psychology and figure out how minds work and emotions work and so forth to a certain degree.  We can know the things of a man, but we can't know anything regarding God.  We can't get outside of that boxed-in creation that we are in Adam.  We can't.  Accept it be by dying to that and being born a new creation.  And he says, Even so, the things of God knows no man except by the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, note that phrase, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know, and here's the capacity that has been given through the new birth, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.


Just another statement in the New Testament to the effect that everything that God has given to us is wrapped up in his son, and it's all freely given.  It says it right there, freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak not in the words which man wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  Now, it says here in verse 14.  But the soul man, that's the Greek word suki, but the natural man, the soul man receives not the things of the Spirit of God.  Note that.  Receives not the things of the Spirit of God, cannot receive those things.  The Greek there means cannot incorporate into one's self.  Again, if I'm not born from above, all that I'm going to have to work with as a Christian, if I'm unaware of my condition that I'm not born from above, if I'm deceived, all that I'm going to have to work with is my soul, my natural man.  I can't receive the things of God.  Isn't that a horrible condition, a terrifying position to be in? To think that you are one in Spirit with Christ, to think that you're hearing from God, to think that God is leading you, to think that God is speaking to you, to think that you're getting prophecies like some of these people think, to think that you're going to church and having all these experiences, and yet without knowing it, you're deceived because you're not even born from above, and this is all in the soul realm.


I would submit.  There's a lot of Christians in that condition.  That's why the body of Christ is in the shape it's in.  That's why there's such rampant deception everywhere.  I don't say that as a criticism or a putdown.  I say it as a wake-up call, hoping people would wake up.  But the soul man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him.  You tell people who are living in the soul realm thinking it's the Holy Spirit.  You tell them this that I'm talking about today, they'll think it's foolish.  They'll think it's foolish that they need to hear it, probably because they think they already have it.  It says they are foolishness unto them, neither can they know them because they are spiritually discerned.  If you want to know how to discern the things of God, there's only one way.  You got to know Jesus Christ.  Period.  You want to know how to have a renewed mind? How to have spiritual sight? Well, you got to be born from above.  Then as you grow and are growing, you have to learn Christ.  To the extent that we know Christ, we know the things of God.


To the extent that we come into a realization of Christ, we can know.  First, rather, Ephesians 1:16, Paul writes, he says, I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers that the Lord God of Jesus Christ, the Father of glory —here's Paul's prayer, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of himself, in order that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.  Now, what enlightens the eyes of your understanding? A spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of Him.  Not just a spirit of wisdom and revelation in a thing or an experience that people say they have.  It's a spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of God and His son, Jesus Christ.  And if we have that and that comes with the new birth, then the eyes of our understanding can begin to see and be enlightened.  Now, I would have to say that there's a continual work of the cross in regard to that too.  If you want to learn Christ, you've got to unlearn error.  If you want to see the truth, you've got to stop seeing untruth in the sense of accepting it.


If we receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the eyes of our understanding are going to be enlightened and only then.  And he says, So that, here's the result of all that.  So that you may know what is the hope of this calling and so forth.  And so very clear progression here.  You and I have to come to Jesus Christ and repent of and renounce all that we are in Adam.  Practically speaking, that means relinquish, self-ownership, and ask God to do whatever takes to bring us into his full purpose.  Then when God does do what it takes and he'll bring a cross, we have to pick up the cross.  But we have to come repenting and relinquishing that old life.  We have to realize that in doing so, we are going to be baptized into his death and crucified with Christ.  We're going to have to leave that old behind.  It doesn't mean we lose everything in our life.  It means we lose the ownership of it.  You've got to let us keep some stuff.  You got to work for a living.  You have a family.  He doesn't say leave that.


You're going to lose ownership over yourself.  You have to come and have all that crucified, all of it in Christ, dead, buried with Him.  That's being born of water.  And then as the result of that, you'll be risen in Christ and you will be conceived and born with new capacities to see and know God, to discern and so forth.  That is the only way to be saved.  It's the only way to be born from above.  It's the only way to receive eternal life.  You die in Christ, you're raised in Him, and now He is your life because you are joined to Him and made one with Him in Spirit, Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Until that happens, we really haven't entered into the Kingdom of God because He's the Kingdom, as I noted.  Until that happens, we can't see anything.  Until that happens, we really can't move forward.  We got to go back to the basics if we do nothing else and understand that the nature of the new birth is a life, his life, and it's unlike the life that we have known.  The characteristics of the new birth, well, it carries with it a whole ability to see and know, but make sure we go back and come to the cross and come to Jesus and repent and relinquish our old life, or we're not going to have a real new birth. We're going to have a religion at best.  This is basic Christianity, but something that we need to review again and again.


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