John 3:3 says, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (NKJV). Jesus was speaking to a man named Nicodemus. We learn in verse 1 that he “was a man of the Pharisees…a ruler of the Jews.” In other words he was a RELIGIOUS man and a RULER who, no doubt, was highly esteemed among the people. But Nicodemus had to learn that his religion and character was not enough to bring him into God’s kingdom; he MUST BE BORN AGAIN! He had to, like all of us, experience a NATURAL BIRTH, but what he needed now was a SPIRITUAL BIRTH in order to fit him for God’s kingdom.

Nicodemus was confused and said, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born” (verse 4)? Again, Jesus was not speaking of a “natural birth,” which comes about through earthly parents, but of a “spiritual birth” which comes through other means. So Jesus went on to say, “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” (verses 5-6). Just as we had TWO PARENTS in our natural birth (our mother and father); there are TWO AGENTS in one’s spiritual birth (the WATER and the SPIRIT). But what exactly does this mean? It seems clear the SPIRIT refers to the Holy Spirit, but what does the WATER refer to? Does it refer to “literal water” or is it to be taken symbolically? We believe the WATER is a symbol of the WORD OF GOD. The following verses would commend this view:

“You are already CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD that I have spoken to you” John 15:3

“Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and CLEANSE HER WITH THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD” Ephesians 5:25-26

Jesus was teaching Nicodemus (and us!) that the New Birth will be the result of the Holy Spirit using the Word of God to produce a new life in us. This is also confirmed by James 1:18 and 1st Peter 1:23, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth….having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

Some may be thinking, “But WHY is this spiritual birth necessary?” The answer is most humbling, for all of us were born into this world “spiritually dead.” The apostle Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 2:1, “And you He made alive, who were DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS.” We all inherited sin through our parents as David teaches us in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Sin SEPARATES us from God and that is the very meaning of being spiritually dead. But the moment we are born again God imparts a new, divine life to us. Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly ,truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, HAS ETERNAL LIFE, and does not come into judgment, but has PASSED OUT OF DEATH INTO LIFE.” That new LIFE brings us into God’s family (see John 1:12-13) where we love God and desire to have fellowship with Him. In other words, we are no longer separated from Him. Has the reader believed that God sent His Son to be your Savior (by dying for your sins on the cross…see John 3:14-16) so you could be given eternal life? If so, you HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! You have been BORN AGAIN! (327.1) (DO)