By Gerald Flurry
Most professing Christians think they were born again when they said they accepted Christ. But does the Bible say that’s what it really means to be “born again”? This second birth is FAR MORE than most traditional Christians assume. When Jesus spoke of being “born again,” He did not mean what most people think. It is vital that we understand this subject.
Who and What Is ‘God’?
To understand what it really means to be born again, we must first understand who and what God is, and the very PURPOSE for our existence.
The first words of the Bible are: “In the beginning GOD created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The original Hebrew word for God, throughout this account, is Elohim. That is the plural form of the Hebrew Eloah (“Mighty One”). So Elohim means “Mighty Ones”—more than one divine Personage. Also notice the plural pronouns “us” and “our” in referring to “God” in Genesis 1:26.
Elohim is a plural noun. That word stands for a single class composed of more than one individual, just like the words church, family or kingdom. Just as there is the animal kingdom and the human family, or kingdom, Elohim in Genesis 1 shows that there is also a GOD KINGDOM, or FAMILY.
Who is in the God Family? Let’s notice what the Bible reveals.
1. Who was with “God” when God created the universe? John 1:1. Is the “Word” also God? Verses 1-2. Was it the Word who actually created all things? Verse 3.
The Greek word translated into English as “Word” in John 1:1 is Logos. It means “spokesman,” or “one who speaks.”
2. By whom was all the material universe created—including this Earth and mankind? Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16-17. Who, then, is the “Word” of John 1:1? John 1:14; Ephesians 3:9 (last part). And who is the other divine member of the God Family? 1 Corinthians 8:6.
John 1:3 and Genesis 1:1 are two accounts of the same event—the original creation of the universe. Along with John 1:1-2, these scriptures reveal that the two supreme Beings of the God Family created all things. Together they planned the creation, and the Word did the actual creating. Everything was created and made by the divine Being who later became the human Jesus Christ to die for the sins of mankind!
Man Created in God’s Image
Man is not just another “animal,” as evolutionists claim. God’s purpose for creating man surpasses anything ever imagined by the human mind. Let’s continue reading the first chapter of Genesis and begin to understand the most astounding revelation of your Bible!
1. After what “kind” were the animals created? Genesis 1:20-25.
These verses specify that God created fish to reproduce after their own particular kind, birds after their particular kind, and cattle after their particular kind. Each kind has varieties within it, but all creatures reproduce only after their own “kind.” Dogs reproduce dogs, monkeys reproduce monkeys, sheep reproduce sheep, etc.
2. After what “kind” was man created? The man kind? Genesis 1:26.
Have you ever noticed that before? Man was not created after the “man kind.” He was created after the God kind! This is huge!
3. Even though man is made in the likeness of God, are both composed of the same type of “material”? John 4:24; Genesis 2:7.
There is a vast difference between spirit and dust. Although man was created in the very shape and likeness of God, he was not created out of spirit. He was made of matter, the dust of the earth, subject to death and decay. But God’s purpose is to eventually create him out of eternal spirit!
Our Awesome Destiny!
Astonishing as it may sound, God is now in the process of creating His greatest creation of all—His supreme masterpiece!
Only a very few have really understood God’s awesome purpose for human beings. The Bible reveals that awesome purpose: God is REPRODUCING HIMSELF—through mankind! Our destiny is to become the literal children of God, MEMBERS of His own divine Family! Let’s understand this amazing truth.
1. God is forming and molding man; what does Isaiah liken God to? Isaiah 64:8.
God’s creation of Adam and Eve was complete only in the physical sense. They were created perfect physically—but not perfect SPIRITUALLY. They were created of the dust—not of divine SPIRIT. They were created corruptible and subject to death—not incorruptible and immortal, like God.
But the Master Potter did not intend that mankind should remain that way!
2. Are true Christians being fashioned by God for a specific purpose? Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 2:10.
“We” in the New Testament usually refers to Spirit-begotten Christians, as Paul intended in Ephesians 2:10. We, then—if we are true Christians—are God’s “workmanship.” We are in the process of being “created”—WHY?—“unto good works.” God, with the Holy Spirit He has put within us, is forming in us His perfect spiritual character! With our consent and cooperation, God is creating us after His own character! We are to become the supreme masterpiece of all His works of creation—individuals who will be capable of righteously exercising the awesome powers of God! Individuals who are literally children of God—who act just like their Father!
The material creation of man is only the first phase. Now the clay model has to be fashioned and molded, with our cooperation and the aid of God’s Holy Spirit, into the finished spiritual masterpiece.
What It Means to Be ‘Born Again’
Incredible as it may sound, Jesus taught that humans can be “born” into the FAMILY, or KINGDOM, of God!
1. How many individuals does God want to have in His Family? 2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:9-11; Revelation 21:7. What relationship does Jesus Christ have to the OTHER sons of God? Romans 8:29.
God plainly shows that His purpose is to increase His divine Family by bringing many sons into it! Not just one firstborn Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. To be “conformed to the image” of Christ means to become like Him—to be glorified as He is now glorified—to be a member of the divine FAMILY OF GOD even as Christ now is.
2. What must happen to flesh-and-blood Christians before they can enter God’s Family? 1 Corinthians 15:49-52; John 3:3-8.
Jesus said we must be “born again”—CHANGED INTO SPIRIT! Yes, born again—this time born of the Spirit of God as divine sons in the Family of God!
Begotten Sons Now—Not Yet Born Again
1. If we are true Christians, are we already—in this life—the children of God? 1 John 3:1-2. Are we already inheritors of the Kingdom of God? Romans 8:14-17.
Notice that although we are now the “sons” and “children of God,” we are only heirs—ones who shall, in the future, inherit what God has promised. Why? Because we are now only begotten. It is only when we are born of God that we become inheritors of God’s Kingdom—divine members of the Family of God.
Before the second phase of man’s creation—our spiritual creation—can begin, God the Father must first beget each of us by placing His Holy Spirit within our minds to join with the spirit in man. We are then impregnated, so to speak, by the “seed,” or germ, of eternal life. It is the begettal of the spiritual life of God within our minds. Much as a newly begotten physical embryo begins to grow in his or her mother’s womb, we are to grow in SPIRITUAL CHARACTER after we are begotten by God’s Spirit. This growth results from Bible study, prayer, and walking with God every day of our lives.
2. Do we actually receive of the divine nature of God when we are begotten by His Holy Spirit? 2 Peter 1:3-4. What are some of the divine characteristics, or “fruits,” of God’s nature that obedient Christians manifest in their lives after they are begotten by God’s Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23.
Born Again at the Resurrection
1. Can we humans inherit God’s Kingdom? 1 Corinthians 15:50. What must happen to us to be born as divine sons in God’s Family? Verses 51-53.
“That which is born of the Spirit IS spirit,” said Jesus (John 3:6). But we have not yet been born of the Spirit. We are STILL FLESH AND BLOOD—capable of pain and bleeding. But when born into the God Family, we will be free of human pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4). And with our new spirit bodies, we will be unfettered by the physical limitations of time and space. When Christ was resurrected—“born again”—He was able to pass through solid walls (John 20:19, 26). Any human beings who claim to already be born again are completely mistaken; after all, they are still flesh and blood.
Jesus said we must be born “of the Spirit”—we must become composed of spirit—to ever see or enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). And so the second birth is something yet to occur at the resurrection to immortality!
2. Speaking of the resurrection—when the second birth will occur—what did Paul say regarding the new body Christians will receive? 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. Will they resemble what Jesus Christ already is like? Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2; Matthew 17:1-2; Revelation 1:13-16; Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3.
Because God is spirit, when one is born of his heavenly Father, he will also BE SPIRIT—he will be composed of the same substance of which God is composed. He will be given a spirit body like Christ’s and will be GLORIFIED and given tremendous SPIRITUAL POWER. The power and glory that Spirit-begotten Christians shall receive at the resurrection will be so great that it will make their faces shine as the sun! And all who are thus born again of God will be able to see God because they will be in the Kingdom—the divine Family—of God!