BORN OF THE SPIRIT
1. Almighty God created men and women to become His sons and daughters through faith in Christ. He
made the earth to be home for His family. Eph 1:4,5; Isa 45:18
a. The plan was seemingly taken off track when humanity chose independence from God through sin.
When Adam and man in Adam sinned, a curse of corruption and death entered the entire material
creation. Men became unfit for sonship and earth was no longer a fit home for God and His
family. Gen 3:17-19; Rom 5:12; Rom 8:20; etc.
b. This turn of events didn’t take God by surprise. He had a plan in mind to deal with itHis plan of
redemption through Christ. Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev 13:8
1. Redemption provides deliverance or salvation from bondage to corruption and death and
restores man and the earth to our created purpose. II Tim 1:9,10; Titus 1:2; etc.
2. Christianity is about God indwelling men and women and restoring us to what He intended us
to be by His power working in us.
2. The apostle Paul prayed for Christians that we would have revelation from God and know the greatness
of His power in and toward those who believe. Eph 1:16-19
a. That power is God Himself, working in us to change us, restore us, and work through us. It is the
same power that raised Christ from the dead, the power of the Holy Ghost. Eph 1:20; Rom 8:11
b. Paul challenged believers: Do you know your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? I Cor 6:19
1. Note this translation: Are you not conscious that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit that
is in you? (Williams)
2. If Jesus is your Lord today, then God is in you! But do you live with the awareness that you
are indwelled by Almighty God and that His power is in you to work in and through you?
c. We’re talking some time to look at what the Bible says about His power in us to increase our
consciousness of this reality and make us more able to cooperate with Him as He works.
3. The night before Jesus was crucified (at what we call the Last Supper) He shared much information
with His disciples aimed at preparing them for the fact that He would soon be leaving them.
a. John 14:16,17; 26–Jesus told them that the Father would give them the Holy Spirit (another like
Himself). Jesus said the Holy Spirit had been with them, but would now be in them after He left.
b. Acts 1:3-5–Jesus was crucified, rose from the dead, and spent forty more days with His disciples
before returning to Heaven. Just before Jesus left them, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem
until they received the promise of the Father and were baptized with the Holy Ghost. This event
occurred ten days later at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
c. To fully appreciate the power in us (the Holy Spirit) and what He is in us to do we must
understand that the New Testament teaches two distinct experiences with the Holy Spiritbeing
born of the Spirit and being baptized with or in the Spirit.
1. This can be difficult to discuss because we have almost 2,000 years of various traditions that
have developed, with widely varying views regarding the Holy Spirit and what it means to be
born of and baptized in the Holy Spirit. This discussion is further complicated by the fact that
many varying views have also developed about water baptism and its purpose.
2. We must closely examine the Bible and be willing to accept its testimony above our
experience or our denominational background. We must consider what all these terms and
experiences meant to the people who lived and walked in the days of Jesus and His disciples.
B. The people to whom Jesus first came (Israel) understood from the Old Testament prophets that God will one day establish His visible kingdom on earth and live with His people forever. Those living in Israel TCC--981 2 when Jesus took on flesh and was born into this world also understood that sinful people cannot enter God’s kingdom. So they were looking for the Messiah (Redeemer) to cleanse them from their sin.
1. Matt 3:1-12–John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare Israel to receive the promised Redeemer. He
preached: Repent for the kingdom is at hand and baptized those who confessed their sins. Participation
in John’s baptism meant the individual believed the Lord’s coming was near and was preparing for it.
a. Forget what you know about baptism for a moment and consider what it would have meant to the
people in John’s day. Baptism to them meant the application of water for ceremonial purification.
This was a common practice among the Jews, as well as other cultures of that day.
1. The Jews washed whole persons (or parts thereof), clothing, vessels, utensils, and furniture as
a symbol of purification from uncleanness. Aaron and his sons were washed to prepare them
for their work as priests (Ex 29:4; Lev 8:6). Israel washed their clothes to prepare for the Lord
to meet with them on Mount Sinai after they left Egypt (Ex 19:10,11).
2. By the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had all kinds of rules about washing. Mark 7:3–They
complained that Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash to the wrists (literal meaning). This wasn’t the
ordinary cleansing of the hands. It was a ceremonial washing practiced by the Pharisees.
b. The word baptism is a transliteration of the Greek word bapto which literally means to dip. It has
the idea of immerse, submerge, and emerge. John immersed people when he baptized. v16
1. By the time Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were translated into English in 1611
infant baptism through sprinkling was the order of the day and the translators made an English
word out of the Greek word rather than translate it.
2. John the Baptist’s audience understood him to say: I cleanse you ceremonially by immersing
you in water in preparation for the Lord’s coming, but One is coming after me who will
cleanse you with the Holy Ghost. v11
c. Matt 4:17; Mark 1:15–When Jesus began His public ministry His first words were: Repent and
believe for the kingdom is at hand.
2. In John 3:3-5 He revealed that unless a man is born again he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God.
Born again in the Greek is literally born from above. In v6 Jesus makes it clear that He is referring to
an action carried out on a man by the Spirit of God.
a. The new birth is an inward transformation of the immaterial part of human beings accomplished
by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. It transforms men and women from sinners to
sons, from unrighteous to righteous, from dead to alive. (Lessons for another day.)
b. v5–Jesus stated that a man must be born of water and of the Spirit. Some misinterpret this to
mean that we must be water baptized to be saved. Jesus was not talking about natural water.
1. Remember, these are people familiar with ceremonial washing to symbolize purification.
They knew that, to enter the kingdom of God, they needed to be cleansed of sin. So picturing
the action of the Spirit of God on men as cleansing water made sense.
2. The Bible uses a number of word pictures to convey spiritual truths. None by themselves are
sufficient. But, all together they help us understand how an Infinite God interacts with finite
beings like ourselves.
A. We have more than just a legal relationship with God. We have a living or organic
relationship with God. We are partakers of His life and Spirit. Something of Him in us
as a result of being born again.
B. We are born again, not through the natural waters of baptism, but by the action of the
Holy Ghost when we believe on Jesus. It is a supernatural occurrence.
c. Throughout His ministry Jesus used water as a word picture of what God by the power of the Holy
Spirit would accomplish in those who believe on Him. (Remember, He compared the baptism in
the Holy Spirit to John’s baptism where he immersed people in water. Acts 1:5)
1. John 4:9-14–In talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus contrasted natural water
and its effects with the living water He would givewhoever drinks of the water I give will
never be thirsty again.
2. John 6:35–Jesus later made it clear that this water is received through believing on Him.
3. John 7:37-39–Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as living water that will flow out of the bellyof
those who receive Him.
d. In John 3:5 Jesus was referring to the cleansing, purifying power of the Holy Spirit through the
Word of God. When people believe the Word of God concerning salvation through Jesus and His
sacrifice, the Spirit of God produces the new birth in in them. I Pet 1:23; James 1:18
3. Part of Jesus’ ministry prior to the Cross was to prepare His disciples for changes in the relationship
between God and man as a result of His death. Men would become literal sons of God by partaking of
His uncreated, eternal life.
a. Much of what Jesus taught them emphasized the need for inward (as opposed to outward) change.
During the three years the disciples walked with Jesus they watched Him deal over and over again
with the Pharisees who were outwardly clean. (Lessons for another day).
b. Matt 23:26-28–The main charge Jesus leveled against them was that they looked good on the
outside, but not on the inside. Outward cleansing with natural water couldn’t correct that problem.
They (like all of us) needed inward transformation by the power of God through the new birth.
4. John 13:5-9–At the Last Supper Jesus washed His disciples feet to illustrate that believers are to serve
one another. Jesus made a statement relevant to our discussion when Peter refused the Lord. v8–
Unless I wash you, you have no part with [in] Meno share in companionship with Me. (Amp)
a. Even if the disciples took Jesus’ words to mean He needed to give them a water bath in order for
them to be clean enough for the kingdom, Jesus cleared up any confusion later in the evening.
b. Jesus revealed how He cleanses (cleans) peoplewith His Word (John 15:3). When He ended the
evening with a prayer to His heavenly Father, Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify His
followers with His Word (John 17:17). Sanctify is a different Greek word than cleanse, but the
idea is similar (to purify or consecrate)
5. This is consistent with what Paul revealed. Remember, Paul was personally taught the message he
preached by Jesus Himself. Gal 1:11,12
a. Eph 5:25-27–Paul wrote that Jesus gave Himself over to death on the Cross in order to sanctify
and cleanse the church (believers) through the washing of water by the Word.
1. Sanctify is the word used in John 17:17. Cleanse means to cleanse (literally or figuratively)
and is used of the Blood of Christ cleansing or purging us from sin (I John 1:7,9).
2. Washing is from the Greek word for bath, to bathe. It is spoke of the cleansing that takes
place at salvation.
b. Titus 3:5–Paul wrote that God saves us, not because of any righteous works we’ve done, but
according to His mercy by washing us through regeneration of (by) the Holy Ghost.
1. Washing is the same word used in Eph 5:26. Regeneration is from a Greek word that literally
means birth again or new birth.
2. When we believe the Word of God regarding Jesus and the Cross, the Holy Spirit through the
Word regenerates us or imparts eternal life to our dead human spirit and we are born again.
6. Water baptism is an outward symbol or sign of the inward change produced by the Holy Spirit through
the Word of God when a person believes on Jesus as Savior and Lord (lessons for another day).
a. Through baptism you signify the fact that you are turning from your old life of living for self to a
new life of living for God. Peter called it the answer of a good conscience toward God.
b. I Pet 3:21–Baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward
questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth (bathing), but by [providing
you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience [inward cleanness and peace] before God,[because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus
1. Luke 24:44-48–Following His death and resurrection Jesus explained to them from the Scriptures that
His death dealt with sin and men could now be cleansed from their sin through faith in Him. He called
them to preach remission or the wiping away of sin which qualifies men for the kingdom.
a. Mark 16:15,16–As part of Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples before He returned to Heaven,
He told them to preach the gospel assuring them that he that believes and is baptized will be saved.
b. Notice, believing precedes baptism. Jesus further said the one who doesn’t believe (as opposed
to isn’t baptized) shall be damned.
2. Acts 2:38–This verse is used by some to say that unless you are water baptized in Jesus’ name you
aren’t saved. The only way one can reach that conclusion is by taking this verse out of the context of
everything else the New Testament says about salvation, new birth, and water baptism.
a. Peter, who made the statement, heard every verse we’ve quoted thus far (except for Paul’s words
because he was not yet a Christian). He heard Jesus say: Repent and believe. He knew that
remission of sin comes through believing not baptism.
1. These people were baptized after they believed–Then those, who welcomed his message,
were baptized (v41, Berkeley). The word “for” in the Greek is eis which means “because”.
2. v38–Be baptized upon the ground of your confession of belief in…Jesus. (Wuest)
b. Acts 3:12-26–In Peter’s next recorded sermon he once again preached the resurrection and told the
crowd that through Jesus their sins could be wiped out. He preached the Word of God so they
would believe it (v19).
c. Acts 10–Through a series of supernatural happenings, the Lord led Peter to Caesarea where he
preached the gospel to a gentile family. In Acts 11 Peter, back in Jerusalem, recounted what took
place to the other apostles. We’ll say more next week, but note these points.
1. Acts 10:42,43–Peter preached to Cornelius and his family that the wiping out (remission) of
sins comes through believing in Jesus. He said nothing about water baptism saving them.
2. Acts 11:13,14–Peter was sent to tell the gentiles words that would bring them salvation.
d. Acts 8:5-8;12–Philip went to Samaria to preach Jesus the people believed and were baptized.
1. Acts 8:26-35–At the direction of the Lord Philip went south to Gaza and met an Ethiopian
eunuch who was reading the Book of Isaiah. Philip used it to preach Jesus to the man.
2. Acts 8:36,37–The man wanted to be water baptized. Philip’s response was: If you believe
with all your heart, you can be baptized. Believing preceded baptism.