The previous post about Jesus NOT saying “you have to be born again” certainly stirred up some questions and challenges from some readers. Great!
Hearing ‘Born Again’ For Years
Having heard the ‘born again’ phrase for over sixty years, I too was taken aback when I heard the real meaning to what Jesus said. So I am not surprised that those raised in or involved in ‘church’ would balk, dismiss, or wonder ‘what in the world is she talking about?!’.
It is unsettling and even upsetting to have our traditional religious teachings and phrases called into question, dismantled, or (gasp!) blown up! Resistance is to be expected.
Let me ask you a question. Does the Christian teaching you have had, does the truth that you know -REALLY set you free? Do you live in abundant joy? Do you live in certainty and confidence? Are you content in whatever circumstances you are in? Do you abide in a place of rest and peace? Do you really love yourself? Do you experience love for ALL people?
If your answer is “no” to any or all of the above questions, then maybe what you know as truth is not the fullness of truth. Just maybe you have not heard or understood the pure Gospel, the really good news!
Do I live in all those things (above) all the time? No. But I now realize it is mine to have right now right here – because that is what the New Covenant scriptures declare! I am maturing in these truths.
Hey, it really is okay to question. Just think, how many times Jesus called into question the traditions of His day!
Back to the ‘born again’
Two more points:
1) John 3:3 – Jesus totally changed the direction Nick began with, by starting with the words (various translations) – “Most assuredly” “Truly, Truly” “Verily, verily” “Truly…emphatically” “the solemn truth” “guarantee this truth” “Most certainly”
The Greek words in the text are “amḗn, amḗn…” Phonetically (am-ane’)
“amḗn definition: verily, truly, amen, so let it be; as an “emphasis marker,” introduces a statement of pivotal importance – i.e. that is essential in interpreting the over-all passage.
Looks like we need to pay close attention to what Jesus was saying!
2) Did you notice this in Jn 3:7?!
Jesus seems to conclude with a little humor by including Nick’s Greek word gennáō (Greek – beget, give birth to Jn 3:4), as He re-enforces His anóthen point about needing to be ‘from above’.
“Do not be amazed that I said to you, “You must be born again.”
Now if we grew up with this ‘born again’ phrase we would automatically think Jesus is confirming what we’ve been taught in church – ‘you have to be born again’ – i.e. you have to repent of your sins in order to be saved, you have to be forgiven of your sins, you have to ask Jesus to be your Savior. Then you are saved and can go to heaven.
But, Jesus is NOT saying that!
The Full Import of Jn 3:7
Let’s look at a few Greek words from this verse, to get Jesus’ point.
- amazed – Greek thaumázō – astonished out of one’s senses; awestruck, “wondering very greatly”
- must be – Greek deí – properly, what must happen, i.e. what is absolutely necessary, inevitable
- born – Greek gennáō – properly, beget (procreate a descendant), produce offspring; (passive) be born, “begotten”
- again – Greek anóthen – from above, from a higher place, from the first, from the very first, from of old, anew, over again, indicating repetition
Here’s my very loose paraphrase of what Jesus was reiterating for Nicodemus:
“Hey Nick, don’t be bent out of shape, what I am saying is an absolute must. Your natural birth must first originally begin at the very first from a higher place. Where you began has to happen anew, it must happen over again.”
In other words, Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to see where man originally began, before he came from his mother’s womb. Jesus would renew and restore our original source and beginning. He accomplished this through His death and resurrection. And, He also dealt sin a final death blow, once for all!
My point is to help you begin to see how important it is to get back to your beginning, your origin, your true identity. That is the really good news! Talk about freedom!
- If you find yourself absolutely unwilling to question your religious traditions then consider how confined you are. Jesus came to bring freedom. Religious rituals, rules, doctrines do not bring freedom.
- It really is okay to question what you’ve been taught. God is not nervous about or disappointed in you questioning. He longs for you to be immersed in abundant truth and know fullness.
- Don’t let your shallow identity keep you from discovering your true identity. You are meant to be ‘wowed’ with who you really are. God is certainly ‘wowed’ by you. For goodness sake – you are made in His image – why wouldn’t that be a ‘wow!’?
More points to follow! Stay tuned!