In John 3:1-8 we learn that everyone born into this world must have another birth; they MUST BE BORN-AGAIN. As we shall see, just as one is born into this world is “born of TWO PARENTS” (a father and a mother), so the one who is born-again is “born of TWO AGENTS” (the water and the Spirit).

In verse 3 the Lord told a very religious man named Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (NKJV). Nicodemus had never heard of such a thing and all he could think of was experiencing another “natural birth” and thus he says, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (verse 4). Jesus needed to correct his thinking and teach him that it would NOT be another “natural birth” through “two human parents,” it would be a “spiritual birth” through “two spiritual agents.” So, He tells him, “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). Jesus was clearly contrasting the “natural birth” with the “spiritual birth.”

Now let’s answer your question, “What is the ‘water’ and the ‘Spirit’ that God uses in the New Birth of a sinner?” Most would agree that the “Spirit” must be the Holy Spirit, for the “s” in “Spirit” is capitalized in verses 5 & 6. So, the real question is, “What is the ‘water’ speaking of?” I believe the word “water” symbolizes “the Word of God.” Does Scripture shed any light on this to prove it is the Word of God? Yes, it does! In John 15:3 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are already CLEAN because of the WORD which I have spoken unto you.” The New Birth results in a sinner being “morally cleansed” by the Word of God. Just as literal water cleanses the body, the Word of God cleanses us morally by producing a New Nature in us. We see the truth of this cleansing by the Word in Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and CLEANSE HER WITH THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD.” The “Word of God” is used by the “Spirit of God” to bring about this miracle of cleansing that Jesus calls being “born again.” The Apostle Peter confirms that the Word of God is one of the two agents in the New Birth with these words, “Having been BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD, which lives and abides forever” (1st Peter 1:23).

Have you been born again? In order to experience this wonderful New Birth, you MUST realize that “you MUST be born again” to see and enter the kingdom of God. You MUST see that your first birth (the “natural birth”) resulted in you being “born of the FLESH,” which means you were born with a sinful nature called the FLESH (see Romans 7:17-20). And then you must turn to Jesus Christ by faith and realize that He took your place on the cross where He was judged for your sin nature (and also for the SINS that you committed…see Romans 8:3 and 1st Corinthians 15:3). If you will believe He was on the cross to be YOUR SAVIOR, you will receive “eternal life”; in other words, you will be “born again” (John 3:14-16). You will have believed the “Word of God” that the “Spirit of God” had presented to you, resulting in the New Birth.  (DO)  (520.5)