Jesus made that title declaration as recorded in John 3, and it was not a suggestion for an alternative choice to enter heaven. That seems to be pretty stern, but He did not leave any alternatives. Now what does that say to those who blatantly claim that there are more ways to heaven than just by Jesus Christ? Do you mean to argue with Jesus about it? You might want to argue, then, with the Apostle Peter, for he said in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Then Jesus also said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is absolutely no “wiggle room” in any of those passages.
So let’s work our way through all of it.
When man was created, Genesis 2:7 says God “breathed” into this newly created person the breath of life, and “man became a living soul.” The man became alive spiritually (soul) and the “dust-formed” creature took on physical life. The man was told that he could eat of any tree of the Garden, but if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. As the story unfolded, he ate of that tree as his wife (whom God had also created) urged him to, and both immediately knew that they were not dressed decently. They sensed guilt and tried to cover their nakedness and hide from God. Man had discovered the knowledge of good and evil, just as God said he would if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was destined to die a physical death just as he had already died a spiritual death.
In His mercy, God provided skins of animals to cover the two human beings, thus establishing the method for restoration to fellowship with God—a blood sacrifice. Adam lived physically, 930 years, then died physically.
All humans, then and now, are born with the stamp of death in their genes from that first man, Adam. His nature is that of every one following him. That nature will not be allowed in heaven for it is dead in trespasses and sins. There must be a new birth. Surprisingly, perhaps, is the fact that one cannot repent for that sin of Adam. Only by death can it be eradicated, and for the non-believer in Christ, even that doesn’t work. That transformation of the new birth is the only means of ridding one of the sin of Adam. When the resurrection occurs, those bodies of the “dead in Christ” will be raised fully free of that old nature of Adam. Likewise, the living believer will be transformed (John 11:25-26).
Nicodemus, who was confronted with that “must” in John 3, wondered aloud just how a person could be born again from his mother’s womb. Here is the response Jesus gave him:
“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).
That reference to being “born of water” does not mean being baptized in water, but rather of the intricacies of the physical pregnancy and birth process. He points to the two types of births in the verse. Note also that Jesus specifically points out that the new birth is a spiritual one. Titus 3:5 is a reference that clarifies this in more understandable terms:
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
The verse reminds us that one cannot regenerate something that was not once generated, nor can he renew something that was not once new or present. It remains, then, that the “born-again” experience restores a person to that relationship with God that existed before the fall of man in the Garden, yet this time it is with the knowledge of good and evil. That old nature and the physical body are still doomed to die and return to the dust from which it came. Thus, when a believer in Christ, the saved person, physically dies, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Even that ancient patriarch Job knew the truths of the physical body and then its resurrection in an eternal body that is without sin and degradation:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
When Paul writes about our bodies being the temple of the living God in 1 Corinthians 6:17-20 and that believers should not conduct immoral activities therefore, we tend to slip on by what verse 17 says about our spirit, but it is an amazing truth that also resounds with a positive fallout from Galatians 2:20-21. Look at verse 17 first:
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
Then, Galatians 2:20-21:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
So Paul directs the believer, in Romans 6:11, to “Reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin but alive to God.”
Because every person is born into this world with the nature of Adam, he is already contrary to God, thus John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already.”
The transformation is truly a “regeneration” that is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17 in these words:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new!”
That new person now living in your old body is an eternal one, yet that dying physical body is still subject to evil desires. Here is how the Apostle Paul described his situation and his solution to that ever-present urge to do evil things with that new knowledge of both good and evil:
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank my God through Jesus Christ my Lord, that with the mind I, myself, will serve the law of God but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
With the thought of the mind being a resource for fighting that personal battle to live righteously, look at Philippians 2:12b-13 where we use the words “enables us” instead of “works in us” to clarify what actually happens:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.”
Closer thought on the passage reveals that man has a decision to make, and if he makes the right one, God will enable him to set his mind on it and do it.
We find that same principle in Ephesians 3:20:
“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”
That is why we must be born again. The old Adam nature will not be allowed in heaven for there is no evilness in heaven. It is not by human effort but only by faith, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.”
How can you be born again? Acknowledge your sinfulness to God and ask Him to save you. He will take care of the details of your transformation and renewal of His Spirit in you.
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