Rabbi Schneider - What Does Born Again Mean?
We are in the midst of an exciting series that I'm calling Mysteries in the Gospel of John. We're going through each chapter one by one, and we're continuing today in chapter number 3. I encourage you to get this entire series. I'm not gonna take time to review. Let's continue now, chapter 3, verse 1: Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.
Notice that it was the supernatural miracles that Jesus was doing that attracted Nicodemus. And it was because of the miracles that Nicodemus came to the conclusion that Jesus was from God. And I want to simply make the point as I've often done that God is still doing signs and wonders today to prove Himself to people. In fact, we read here in Mark, chapter 16, verse 17: These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison it will not hurt them; and they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. The point is, what attracted such large crowds to follow Jesus in his day was the miracles that He did. And it's true often times today.
In fact, I've read autobiographies, beloved ones, of missionaries, for example, that have gone from the United States to India feeling like the Lord called them to go to be missionaries to India. And they went to India, began to preach the Gospel, and after years they had almost no fruit at all. They came back to the United States whipped and beaten, discouraged. They felt like failures. And then as they were in the United States still recovering, just trying to get their, their excitement back about Jesus and the Gospel, they were exposed to signs and wonders. And they were brought then into experience the reality that God is still in the business of doing miracles. Then they learned to operate in it, just simply by having faith, praying for people, and believing God to back up His, His Word. And they started seeing miracles happen.
Get this now. Then they went back to India, preached the Gospel, but this time they also prayed for people, laid their hands on the sick, spoke to people that were possessed by demons, and miracles started manifesting. And they won hundreds of thousands of people to Christ because people witnessed the miracles. So that's what happened with Nicodemus. That's what happened with the Jewish people of Jesus's day, and beloved, it's still happening today; because sometimes what happens is when you're sharing the Gospel with people, they just think, well you know what, you know that's what you think. You know, this is what I think. And such and such, and so and so has their opinion. And they think that one opinion, you know, is the same as another person's opinion, that everybody kind of has their own religion, so to speak. But when God starts backing up your witness with miracles; in other words, maybe you share the Gospel with somebody. You just tell someone, you know what, I really believe that God's gonna reveal himself to you, you know.
Jesus loves you. And I believe that something's gonna happen in your life and you're gonna know that Jesus is real. And then you walk away. You go to your car or whatever. And you know what happens? That person that you just told, you know, Jesus loves you and I believe He's gonna do something in your life to make you know that He loves you and to make you know that He's alive, you know what happens? God cooperates with your witness that you just gave that person. To prove Himself then, He does a miracle in that person's life that you just witnessed to. And that person becomes a believer. So let's not stop believing in miracles. Let's not stop expecting miracles. And let's understand that God attracts people to himself today, often times the same way he did it in the Bible. And so Nicodemus sees the miracles and he, he's brought to Jesus, and he begins to... He comes at night. He doesn't want anybody to see him.
But let's read again: Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Now we're gonna be focusing on this term, born again.
I want you just to pause with me here for a moment. We're gonna be focusing on this term, born again, because Jesus brings it up several other times in this portion of Scripture. Many of us realize that in the world of Christism today and in the world in general, people think of Christians and then they think, you know, there, there are different classes of Christians. So they think that there are, you know, Christians that are like in the mainline churches. And then they think of the born again Christians. You know, they, they think that these, these born again Christians are, are fanatics. They don't, they, they think that you can be a Christian without being born again.
And I'm probably even speaking to many that are watching right now. You were raised in a Christian environment. You were taught, you know, the Gospel that Jesus, you know, died on the cross for your sins. You believe that. You've asked Him, you know, into your life. You love Him. You have a hunger for Him. But you don't really consider yourself a born again Christian because you think the born again Christians are certain types. Sometimes they're associated in the minds of some with those that are ignorant, or those that are narrow minded, and maybe you don't want to affiliate with the concept of being ignorant and narrow minded. And that's a concept of being born again that you've had.
But I want you to see with me as we continue here, being born again, according to Jesus, now just hear me, it's not a certain type of Christian. Either you're born again and you're a Christian, or you're not a Christian at all, because there's no other type of Christian than those that are born again. We're not talking, beloved one, about a certain type of Christian. We're talking about those that have literally been born of God's Spirit; those that have received His nature. And if we haven't receive His nature, if we haven't been born of the Spirit, then we're not saved. So I want you to see this. This is, listen now, this is Jesus's words Himself. This is what I like to think of, and this is just my own way of thinking of it; as a scientific spiritual reality. I mean, literally when someone comes into relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, the life of God's own Spirit, it's called Zoe Life, it's eternal life, literally comes inside that person and energizes that person. In other words, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, that's the power that comes inside someone that receives Jesus.
Let's continue on: Jesus said, in verse number 3: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless, notice that word unless, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Notice very clearly here Jesus said, unless you're born again you can't see the kingdom of God. So if anyone has had any prejudice today about those born again types, and you don't want to be one, I want you to reflect on what Jesus said here. He's saying, unless you're born again, you're not going to heaven. You can't see or experience the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are spiritually experienced. And unless we're born of God's Spirit, and this isn't just a mindset, this isn't just about believing a certain way. This is about literally receiving God's Spirit and being born of His Zoe Life, of His eternal life. You see, in Acts, chapter 2, when those believers received the Holy Spirit and the church was birthed, how did they, how were they able to speak in unknown languages that they had never learned? They were able to do it, beloved, because a life force, a literal life force, a real Spirit, came inside them and gave them an ability to speak things that they had never learned. It was real. And that's what being born again is. It's real.
So let's continue on: Jesus said, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, How could a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb, can he? I mean for those of us that are familiar with this language, we consider ourself born again, you know, it seems childish that Nicodemus would say, you know, how's a man gonna be born again? He can't go back into his mother's womb? But if you think about it, if we go back, you know, 2,000 years ago and put ourself in the shoes of someone that had never heard this term before, that had no concept of what it meant, you can understand why Nicodemus, when he heard the term for the first time would say, well how can a man be born again? He can't go back into his mother's womb, can he? Of course once again, you and I we, we hear born again, we know what it means. But Nicodemus, he had no reference for it. All he could think of was his first birth in his mother's womb, and then how can he get born again? He can't go back into his mother's womb.
Let's continue on, verse 5: Jesus answered, Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot, listen to this again, enter the kingdom of God. There's the same thing that Jesus said a few verses earlier. Jesus said earlier, unless one is born again he can't see the kingdom of God. Now Jesus says, unless one is born again, in verse 5, he can't enter into the kingdom of God. You see how important it is to be born of the Spirit. Continuing in the next verse, Jesus continues: that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, You must be born again.
So Yeshua is speaking of the two births. He's speaking of being born of the water and being born of the flesh. That's the first birth. We are born from our, from our, from our mother's womb, you know. The water sack breaks and we're born into this world. We're born of the flesh. We're born from our parents. But it's not enough to have just a birth from our parents. We have to have a second birth, a born again experience, when we literally receive the Spirit of God. In fact, Paul said in the Book of Romans, if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead does not dwell in you, then you do not have eternal life. So I just want to encourage everybody, we don't just follow a religion, beloved ones. This is so much more than a religion. This is about a living reality. This is about... I mean, if we had eyes that could see the Spirit, we would see this is literally a reality. You know, in other words, if we had a, you know, a device that could look through the flesh and see God's Spirit in us, we would literally see God's Spirit in those of us that know him because we're born again. He came into us and made us alive.
Now let's continue on to the 8th verse. We're looking at another dimension here of this spiritual experience. Jesus says here: The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. I want you to listen to this again: The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Hear me now on this. Some of us have heard sermons on this before, and what we've heard... I remember my earlier sermons that I heard on this and even preached was we heard this in reference to this verse, you know, that, that even as the wind is invisible, so we've been taught the Spirit is invisible. We can't see the winds, we were taught, but we can see the effect of the wind. We can see the branches moving. We can see the leaves blowing. And that's what God's teaching us here, that we can't see His Spirit but we can see the effects of the Spirit. But actually there's more that's being taught.
Listen to it as I read it this final time: The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; now get this, here's the point I want to make, so is everyone, get it, so is everyone, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. So the point that Jesus is making here is not just that the Spirit and the wind are invisible and we can see the effects, but don't know where the wind is gonna go and where it's coming from because it's invisible. Jesus goes beyond that and he says, so it is with everyone that's born of the Spirit. We don't know where the wind's coming from or where it's going, and so Jesus said is the case with everyone that's born of the Spirit. You know what this means? We're not led just by logic. We're led by a supernatural Spirit. We don't know where the Spirit's gonna go next. We don't know exactly what the Spirit's gonna do next. We can't see the Spirit, but rather we just yield to the Spirit and are led by the Holy Spirit. We just have to flow with the Holy Spirit.
Do you understand this concept that Jesus is making here? He's saying the wind's gonna, it blows where it wishes. Listen again: The wind blows where it wishes. It goes where it wants to go, right. We can't control the wind. It's gonna go wherever it goes. We don't know where it came from. We don't know where it's going. It's moving around us. It's mysterious. It's invisible. It's beyond our control. All we can do is see the effects of it. Jesus said, such is the case with everyone that's born of the Spirit. We need to release ourselves from hanging on just to things that we can see so that we can be led by God's invisible Spirit. Otherwise, we're not gonna be able to walk with the Holy Spirit. But too many of us, we've got everything so planned out and we're so, we've got everything in such a box, that we can't possibly fully move with the Holy Spirit because we've put God in a box.
But in order to be led by the Spirit, and the Bible said, unless we're led by the Spirit that we're not sons and daughters of God. In order to be led by the Spirit, we've got to give up control and instead just become spiritually sensitive so that we can discern what the Holy Spirit's doing. And then when we discern it to the best of our ability, 'cause none of us are perfect, we obey him and we follow him. We move. You see, beloved, so much of walking with the Spirit has to do, listen now, with our sanctified intuition and our sanctified conscience. In other words, if we become spiritually sensitive, if we can get enough peace in the Holy Spirit to become aware of the people around us, so that we can slow down enough to read their body language, so that we can be still enough that we can sense what the Holy Spirit is showing us about them.
Maybe they're hurting inside. Maybe they're afraid. If we'll get into peace and begin to look to the Holy Spirit for discernment and revelation, we're gonna become so effective in the lives of those around us and we're gonna be able to effectively navigate circumstances of life in the Holy Spirit. But we need to develop our spiritual ears. This is why Jesus said to every church in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, when he wrote a personal letter to each one of the seven churches there, he ended each one of those letters with these words, He that has an ear to hear, Jesus said, listen, he that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. So I want to ask us a question today, you and I. Do we have ears to hear? The Spirit is gonna blow where he wishes. We don't know where he's gonna come from, where he's gonna go, what he's gonna do next. We have to have ears, a spiritually sensitive heart so that we can follow him as he moves.
You see, I have found, beloved ones, as I'm paying attention trying to develop a supernatural consciousness of God around me, of God's presence in my life, the Lord will literally just give me words to speak to people. And what happens is I'll speak the words that He gives me. I'm not saying words always just a prophecy, thus saith the Lord. I'm not talking about that. I'm just talking about I'll literally sense what I'm supposed to say. Now I'm not talking about being 100% right or 100% sure all the time. But I'm just saying I'm aware of the dimension and the reality of God's Spirit that's at work in my life. I want to pray for you right now and I want to pray for myself, that God will open our ears to hear, and give us an ability that's beyond what we have to be able to discern the Holy Spirit's activity in us and how He wants to move through us. God has called us, beloved child of God, to live a supernatural life. It's not of this world.