What does it mean to be "born-again?" What did Jesus mean when He said:
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD."(John 3:3) ?
Be born again? What's that? That's what Nicodemus thought as well:
"How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:4-8)
To understand what Jesus meant here, we must understand what happened to man in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says:
"And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: FOR IN THE DAY THAT THOU EATEST THEREOF THOU SHALT SURELY DIE. (Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17)
But man was enticed by the devil and he did eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It seems, however, that - contrary to God's warning - neither Adam nor Eve died after they ate of this tree. Apparently, all that happened to them was that they were cast out of the Garden. Of course, one might say that they eventually died - but that does not comport or answer to the EXACT wording of God's warning to Adam; specifically, that "in the DAY that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17). So then, we must ask ourselves, What EXACTLY died on the DAY Adam and Eve ate of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?"
What died in the Garden of Eden?
Something died in man, but what was it? Certainly man's body didn't die, neither did his soul! WHAT DIED WAS MAN'S SPIRIT - that part of man that enabled him to commune with God. It is PRECISELY for this reason that Jesus said that for man to reestablish his relationship with God [i.e., to "enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:3)] he must be BORN AGAIN; that is to say, his spirit must be REGENERATED by the Holy Spirit. In this connection, it should be noted that the term, "born again," does not refer to being born again after the flesh [after all, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit" (John 3:6)], rather it means that man's spirit - which died in the Garden of Eden - must be brought back to life a second time.
I say again, when a man is BORN AGAIN, his body is not regenerated, neither is his soul; what's regenerated is his spirit - and when that occurs, man is brought back into DIRECT relationship with God so that he -
"… may be able to comprehend [understand] ... what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height [of Christ]; and to know [His] ... love ... which passeth knowledge, that ... [we] might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:18-19).
It's when our spirit is regenerated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are enabled - through the growth in life - to be changed into Christ's likeness. And how is that accomplished? - it is accomplished as we "behold and reflect" (2 Cor. 3:18a) Christ in our spirit; and as we do so, the Bible says that we are -
"... changed into His image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18b) [The term "from glory to glory" means to be changed progressively over time from one stage of glory to the next and so on and on and on; this is the "growth in life."]
It's "beholding and reflecting" the Lord in our spirits that changes or SANCTIFIES us. This is what true godliness is all about. Again, this is exactly the practice of our Lord insofar as His walk with the Father is concerned. Jesus said,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (John 5:19)
Now the serpent was more subtil [subtle] than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
Now in all of this, we must be very careful to understand what SANCTIFICATION is, and what it is not: To be SANCTIFIED is to be changed into His LIKENESS. This means that we become LIKE Christ, BUT WE DO NOT BECOME CHRIST as some allege. We do not take on divinity in and of ourselves. To think otherwise (i.e., to think that we become "divine") is to make the same mistake that Eve made, and to succumb to the same deception that overtook her. Specifically, the Bible says:
"Now the serpent was more subtil [subtle] than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
"But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
"For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, AND YE SHALL BE AS GODS, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)
How is it that Satan tempted Eve? What was the bait? - that by eating of the tree of the "Knowledge of Good and Evil" she would become a god; she would be, as it were, "deified." (Genesis 3:5) D.R. McConnell explains "deification" in his book, A Different Gospel:
"Deification may be defined as the process whereby men are transformed into gods ... [Proponents of this view believe that] man was created with the divine nature [in Eden], sinned [through the Fall], and was filled with the satanic nature; but through the new birth, he is again infused with the divine nature. To be born again ... is to receive ‘the nature and life of God' ..." [And, remember here, we are talking about INTRINSIC oneness.]
This "GOD-DREAM" permeates our legends and myths, and echoes back down through the corridors of time to Camelot and Valhalla. Indeed, for millennia our poets, writers, priests and prophets have been telling and re-telling the legends and myths which swirl like ghostly apparitions around this dream: that there is within man a "divine spark" which longs to be set free in order to ascend to its Originator, God. Man is, therefore, divine and has a god’s role in the universe. This is what the Nazis taught; this is what Nietsche and Schopenhauer taught: that man can ascend to the heavens; that he can become divine in exactly the same fashion that Christ is divine. And it isn't just anti-Christians like Nietsche and Schopenhauer who have taught this deception, but many so-called "Christians" such as the late Kenneth Hagin have taught it (teach it) as well. Hagin, for example, alleged:
"That's who we are; WE'RE CHRIST."
Man becomes God - the Valkyries and Valhalla
Hagin goes on to say -
"... every born again man is an incarnation [of God]."
And that -
"... the believer is as much an incarnation [of God] as Jesus of Nazareth."
This is what the late John Wimber of the Vineyards International was suggesting when he talked about receiving an "INCARNATIONAL endowment" (see below); this should give you some idea of just how widespread this "God-Dream" is in today's Christianity - and one should bear in mind here that the Vineyard churches are the "kissing-cousins" of Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapels.
What these men are suggesting is that when we are born again, we become as much divine as Christ is divine; that the same power that Christ possesses to command nature, we possess too - and not just as supplicants, but as actual POSSESSORS of that power in the same way Christ possesses it. This is the core belief at the heart of such so-called "Christian" concepts as the "Manifest Sons of God;" the "Manchild Company;" the "First Fruits;" "Joel’s Army;" and the "Overcomers!" For example, that's what James Robison - in whose church Ronald Reagan once said, "You cannot endorse me, but I can endorse you" - believes. He says:
"God wants us to see Jesus as MERELY the big brother in a huge family of brothers and sisters who are [intrinsically] like Him ..."
In other words, when we are born again, we become as much "God" as Christ is God, and to the same degree that Christ possesses DIVINITY, we possess DIVINITY as well! Robison - again, THE SAME PERSON WHO DID SO MUCH TO LAUNCH RONALD REAGAN'S 1980 CAMPAIGN FOR THE PRESIDENCY - continues:
"As I consider the implications of what God is telling us [i.e., that we as Christ's 'brothers and sisters' are as much 'God' as Christ is] ... my mind almost explodes. I do not believe the Church until this time has ever noticed more than a fleeting glimpse of THIS OVERWHELMING TRUTH [i.e., that we are as much 'God' as Christ is God]."
This kind of thinking is called the "Continuation of the Incarnation," and it is widely held as a belief under different names and different guises in today's church; according to this teaching, the church (i.e., every born again believer) is the essence of God; His "... on-going incarnation in the world today;" but that is a LIE, a DECEPTION; and it is the same lie that caused man to fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.
While it's true that the Bible does say that we are the "sons and daughters of God," the Bible says that we are "sons and daughters of God" by ADOPTION; we are NOT "sons and daughters of God" INTRINSICALLY. The Bible says:
"... ye have received the Spirit of ADOPTION, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:15)
And it goes on to say that He has -
"... predestinated us unto the ADOPTION of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will ..." (Eph. 1:5)
The oneness that we enjoy with the Father is a oneness of RELATIONSHIP, not an INTRINSIC oneness that a son by blood enjoys with his father.
Paul pictured the oneness that we enjoy with God as the same kind of oneness that a husband and a wife enjoy with each other:
"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
"For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, EVEN AS THE LORD THE CHURCH:
"FOR WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS [i.e., CHRIST'S] BODY, OF HIS FLESH, AND OF HIS BONES.
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." (Eph. 5:28-31)
And the Bible goes on to say:
"Wherefore they [i.e., the husband and wife] are no more twain [i.e., two], but one flesh ...." (Matt. 19:6)
But, again, this oneness is NOT an INTRINSIC oneness; IT IS AN ONENESS IN RELATIONSHIP! The husband and wife are one in their relationship, but they are not one in their nature. The man still remains a man, and the woman still remains a woman. They do not meld together and become a strange new creature: a sort of "man-woman." People who say such a thing have no idea who God really is; they have no appreciation of His great majesty, splendor and glory. There is the CREATOR, and then there is the creation - the creature. [We urge you to read our articles, "Luciferic Christianity" and "The God-Men of the American New World Order System."]
Man is a creature, a "created being." God (Christ) is from "eternity past" to "eternity future."
The Bible says:
"In the beginning was the Word [i.e., Christ], and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD.
"The same was in the beginning with God.
"ALL things were made by him [i.e., Christ]; and without him [i.e., Christ] was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1-3)
He is the great "I AM" - that is the meaning of His name – Jehovah.
It should be noted in this connection that the term "Jehovah" does not relate simply to the Father (as some allege), but to the entire Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; this is made clear in the verses above - John 1:1-3 - as well as numerous other places in the Scripture. There is NONE like Him. He is no creature. He is no "created being." The Bible says:
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING, thou art God.
"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
"Thou carriest ... [men] away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
"In the morning it [i.e., man] flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it [i.e., man] is cut down, and withereth.
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it [i.e., our life] is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Ps. 90:2, 4-6, 10)
What these verses (Ps. 90:2, 4-6, 10) make clear is that man is as NOTHING before God, and for us to suppose otherwise is a very, very stupid and even dangerous thing to imagine. Yes, the Holy Spirit does in fact indwell us, but it is not INTRINSICALLY one with us; to say that is tantamount to bringing the Creator down to the level of the creature. The Bible says, "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? - that is, to bring Christ down from above ..." (Rom. 10:6) But when we say we can be united to the Holy Spirit intrinsically, that is exactly what we are attempting to do: we are attempting to bring Christ down to our level from His exulted and UNIQUE position at the right hand of God.
I say again, we do NOT intrinsically share the divine nature. Christ is the ONLY INTRINSIC Son of God [the "ONLY begotten Son" (John 1:14, John 1:18, John 3:16, 3:18, Acts 13:33, etc.)]. He is united to the Holy Spirit and the Father INTRINSICALLY. We are not! - AND WE NEVER WILL BE.
To those IDIOTS like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn, etc. who would presume to be equal with God, He would say to them as He did to the ancient Job:
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
"Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?The Bible says:For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Psalm 103:11
"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
"Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
"Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
"Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
"That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?
"Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
"Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
"Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
"Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
"Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
"Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
"Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
"Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. (Job 38:3-5, 17-20; 40:1-2, 9-14)
Could Nietzsche and Schopenhauer do such things; can James Robison, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn, etc. do such things? If they are truly intrinsically one with the Godhead, then let them demonstrate their creative power. Let them speak things into existence out of nothing; but if they can't do that, then let them and all those like them shut up and never be heard of again. In this connection, one would do well - before imbibing the waters of this putrid well along with Hagin and many of the other leaders of today's American church - to consider the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the devil:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I WILL EXALT MY THRONE ABOVE THE STARS OF GOD: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH."
"YET THOU SHALT BE BROUGHT DOWN TO HELL, TO THE SIDES OF THE PIT." (Isaiah. 14:12-15)
Brothers and sisters, listen to me here: The fact that the CREATOR of ALL would deign to have a relationship with us - any kind of relationship -- is too much to comprehend; that the CREATOR of ALL things would allow us to be called His sons and daughters BY ADOPTION; that He would give "… his only begotten Son [to die for our sins], that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16) and that He would do so while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) -- is far beyond our poor ability to comprehend.
And more than that, that such a God - the very God who dwells in "unapproachable light" - shall in "eternity-future" take us into His arms and "… wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Re 21:4) is beyond understanding.
Now, that is something! And that is the end of what being born again is all about! - having our spirits REGENERATED so that we can have such a relationship with Him. Such a relationship is impossible for us to fathom. Indeed, the Bible says:
"… Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1Co 2:9)
However, that relationship is - to some small degree - revealed in Revelation 4:2-11:
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
"And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
"And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
"And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
"And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
"And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:2-11)
Now stop for a moment and consider what these verses reveal. We have before us a picture of the very throne of God, and the One who sits upon that throne. And around about Him sit twenty-four elders "CLOTHED IN WHITE RAIMENT" and "THEY HAVE ON THEIR HEADS CROWNS OF GOLD." These twenty-four elders represent all those who have been redeemed by the "blood of the lamb." And all these elders "fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." And this process is repeated over and over again.
Now think about that! - if this process is repeated over and over again, then clearly it implies that the crowns that the elders cast down before the throne, are then picked up and replaced on their heads. And who is the only one worthy to pick up those crowns and put them back on the heads of the twenty-four elders? Obviously, only Christ is worthy to do that. So what we have here is a continuing, everlasting process wherein the twenty-four elders cast their crowns down before the throne of God saying,, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created," and then Christ gathering up those crowns and putting them back on their heads, saying "You are worthy to wear these crowns because I have made you worthy" - and so on and on into eternity. It's an enchanted, marvelous, mystical dance of love and devotion between the Bridegroom (Christ) and the Bride (all those who have been redeemed by Christ's blood) wherein each separate party (Bride and Bridegroom) is intent on honoring the other - and this dance whirls on into eternity.