Wednesday, 22 July 2015

gennaō anōthen - be born from above

What does it mean to be born again?

Have you ever considered what it means?

Is it what we think it is?

Does it mean to give your heart to the Lord

Or, does it mean that our kids have to attend those confirmation classes ... or some other religions rite of passage ...?

The pragmatic question born from a religious doctrine

There was once a Pharisee who became intensely aware of his own shortcomings when it came to upholding the law he was brought up with. He could see that his degree was not worth the paper it was written on.

His name was Nicodemus and he came to Jesus in the night … when the other religious preachers wouldn’t notice.

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Touched by Grace

Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus is very relevant and speaks to our questions posed above. He saw Jesus performing awesome miracles, preaching the undiluted truth, fulfilling all the scriptural prophesies he knew and he saw Him loving the sinners with an unconditional love … as only a supernatural loving God can do.

So, he asked Jesus: Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God because no man can do these miracles that you do, except if God is with him.

The conversation starts with Jesus’ response to the observations of this legalistic Jew, who now saw the true Messiah. Jesus goes into depth explaining what it means to be born from above - the born-again-experience.

Born again ... or born from above?

The term translated in our Bibles as born again originates from the Greek word gennaō with the basic meaning to be born. It is used twice in the Bible with the preposition (ana) and in all other instances in conjunction with another word, like the word Jesus used when He said to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again [gennaō anōthen], he cannot see the kingdom of GodJohn 3:3.

When Nicodemus heard these words, he made the same mistake we make thinking that we, out of our own efforts need to do something to come to this born again state. Our own efforts would only take us right back into the law instead of receiving by Grace.

My born again state happily does not depend on my effort

No! Jesus said: "gennaō anōthen" and the latter word, anōthen, means:  from above; from a higher place; from heaven; from the beginning; from the first; as you were; anew.

So, when Nicodemus asked how it can be possible for a man to be born a second time when he is old, Jesus explained that a man should be born of water and of the Spirit (above) to be able to enter the Kingdom of God instead of being fleshly minded.

You must be BORN FROM ABOVE … of the Spirit rather than born again!

How do you give birth to yourself ... again?

Jesus explains how that the (His) Spirit goes where It wishes, no one knowing whence It came from or where It goes. And so does everyone being born of the Spirit. He contrasts law-thinking (born of the flesh) to spiritual (born from above) thinking and then in the next couple of verses refers to Himself who came from above, His crucifixion and His ascension.

Jesus was born from above so that we, by receiving Him, may be born from above!

But, what about sin?

After all, there remains only one sin ... John 16:9

Even Peter, the rebellious disciple, later in his life writes: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten [anagennaō  - born into the midst; anew; amidst] us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1Pe 1:3

And in 1 Peter 1:23:

"Being born again [anagennaō  - born into the midst; anew; amidst], not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

Born by who?

The Word of God - Jesus!

Who better to hear from than the one disciple who considered himself the one that Jesus loved, John saying: Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1Jn 5:1 

Being born from above is being empowered

Being born of God places us in the right position to rule in this life and hereafter ... 

God's original plan for us to have dominion in His Kingdom!

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The name Nicodemus means conqueror [Nikō s], from the base Greek word to conquer.

It is only appropriate for John to guide us further …

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh [nikaō or conquer] the world: and this is the victory [nikē Victory] that overcometh [nikaō or conquer] the world, even our faith.

Who is he that overcometh [nikaō or conquer] the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1Jn 5:4-5
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