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Born Again! What Do You Mean?

Charles Hunter

Scripture quotations are taken from. The Living Bible, Paraphrased (TLB). © 1971 Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL (Used throughout this book unless otherwise stated New American Standard Bible. © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. The Amplified New Testament (Amp.), © The Lockman Foundation 1954, 1958

Born Again! What Do You Mean?

Think for a moment. Do you

really know the answer

to

that

question? Could you honestly and

effectively

tell

someone

who

had

never

heard

of

the

Bible,

or

the

expression,

“born

again”

what

it

really

means?

If

they

had

no

knowledge

of

God,

Jesus,

or

the

Holy Spirit, could you convincingly

and yet simply

get

you

ever

the

message

across? Have

tried

telling

someone what being born a human

means? How does it happen? What causes it? How can that happen?

Little

children

often

ask

questions

which

stop

the

most

knowledgeable parent or grandparent. “Mommy, how was I born?” What really happens when you are born again? What does that mean? How do you know that you are born again? It is hard to put into words an explanation that makes sense to others. One of the most learned men of the Bible times asked Jesus, “Born again! What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” (John

3:4).

We will come back to Jesus’ answer a little later, but let us look at this question from a human, earthly, explainable view. God and his Son Jesus always were; they always existed; there is no beginning or end of their lives. The Bible gives us that answer and God

has left us with signs of his creation like the sun, the moon, the stars in their perfect function, and many other proofs that there is a God, a higher being than man, so the truth of the Bible is demonstrated. God made his first earthly resident from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. God not only formed this body of man, but he put his own breath into him to make him alive. The second person, the woman, was made from a rib of the man. This was a remarkable miracle of creation by a God who could make something out of nothing. God had made the first humans, male and female, and had created within the two of them a way of reproduction. We know this because God told them to ‘Multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

Apparently

they

did

not

even

have to ask God, “How do we

multiply?” God had made a reproduction method and caused them by his Spirit to at least

understand what to do to multiply. We have evidence of this by billions of people who live on earth today. God also said, “And look! I have

given you ‘seed-bearing’ plants

... (Genesis 1:29). Seed is another creation of God. I’m not sure even

science has been able to explain how a seed can reproduce itself when

placed

in

the

right

circumstances.

We do know that a seed has life in it;

an ability to reproduce itself. If we plant a seed into good soil, then

water

and

care for

it,

it will bring

forth others of its kind, just like God told us. God’s creation, man and woman, those two beautiful “people” whom

he loved, did not obey God’s simple instructions. They sinned. God had told them that if they ate of the fruit of that one tree out of the whole garden, they would surely die. Did they die? We see in the Bible that they lived long lives after that! Their bodies did not immediately die, but something else did! God had created mankind with a spirit and soul which would live forever, and placed the everlasting soul and spirit into a

temporary house called the body. “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4 NASB). God continued in that same chapter to say that if man would obey him and not

sin against him,

“. . .

he will surely

live” (Ezekiel 18:17).

When

Adam

and

Eve

sinned,

they broke fellowship with God. This relationship that God had wanted so much to have with his created being had been destroyed, so he set into motion a plan to redeem his lost creation; to bring life back to mankind. “For the wages which sin pays is death; but the (bountiful) free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 Amp.). God’s plan for redemption started with the knowledge that even though God and Jesus are spirit beings, Jesus would have to become God in the flesh on earth, and would have to die for the sins Adam and Eve committed and the sins that followed them in their offspring. Then God planned that Jesus would come back to life again, so that we,

too, could come back from the spiritual death caused by the sin of Adam and Eve. “But someone may ask, ‘How will the dead be brought

back

to

life

again?

What

kind of

bodies will they have?’ What a foolish question! You will find the answer in your own garden! When

you put a seed into the ground it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it ‘dies’ first” (1 Corinthians 15:35), How would God make Jesus into a man? Would he again make him from the dust and breathe life into him? No, God had already designed a way for human birth.

When

you

and

I

were born, it

happened

this

way:

Our earthly

father planted his sperm, which is the

human seed containing life, into the womb of our mother. This seed or life was nurtured in our mother’s womb until it developed into a

completed body, arid we came out of the womb as a living person. We were born.

God gave

Jesus a

human

body

through a divine and human combination. He chose Mary, a virgin, as the earthly mother of a divine Son. Then the seed of life was placed in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit of God. She went through what we could call a “normal” pregnancy, carrying a child in her womb for nine months, but the difference was that it was not Joseph who planted this seed. It had been divinely implanted! As a result of this, Jesus did not call Joseph his father, but he called God his Father. “Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘don’t hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT” (Matthew 1:20).

So Jesus became a human being in the same physical manner as you and I did. We have human bodies, and Jesus had a human body, but his spirit was divine as well as human because of his divine Father. Jesus not only had to be born on earth to fulfill God’s plan for our souls to live, but he had to die. He, like the seed, had to be planted into the ground and die, in order that he could bring us life, restoring eternal life to our souls. He did that for us in order to fulfill God’s plan for our redemption. Jesus said that in order for us to have this new life from heaven, we must be “born again.” How can this be? When Frances first heard the expression, “born again” she thought, “My mother is dead – how can I be born again?”

Where would God provide a seed with life that could bring new life into a dead soul? Abraham was too old to have a son through Sarah when God told him that he would have this child. God did a miracle by bringing life into the seed, the sperm, of Abraham, as well as performing a miracle in Sarah, and Isaac was born when Abraham was about a hundred years old. God promised Abraham that his children would be as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars in the heavens. Were the children of Abraham that God promised to be through his son Isaac? Was God speaking of his human descendants? Abraham believed God and trusted him so much that when God told him to sacrifice his only begotten son, he obeyed without

questioning the purpose of God. He reasoned that if God promised all these descendants through Isaac, God would raise him from the dead if he killed his son in obedience to God. THAT’S FAITH! Faith in a promise of God! What did that faith accomplish for us? “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his SEED. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your SEED,’ that is, Christ” (Galatians 3:16 NASB). Remember that it was God’s Holy Spirit who planted a seed into the womb of Mary so that Jesus could be born a human being. “You have been. regenerated – born again – not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm) but from one that is immortal by the ever living and

lasting Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23 Amp.). Jesus said those mysterious words to Nicodemus, “With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this:

Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God.” “Born again!” exclaimed Nicodemus. “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “What lam telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water (physical birth) and the Spirit (spiritual birth), he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again! Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the

Spirit. We do not know on whom he will next bestow this life from heaven” (John 3:4-8). How can one be born again? The same Holy Spirit who placed a seed, a sperm so to speak, into the womb of Mary, would be the God who would give this new life from heaven to those who are dead in sin. What seed would God use? God had prepared this seed long before when he referred to it as the seed of Abraham, the Christ; Jesus, his only begotten Son! Again just like in the birth of Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit was to plant a seed into the spirit of man, and this seed from God would bring new life into men. He would be BORN AGAIN! Jesus had to be conceived by the Holy Spirit to be born physically. We need to be conceived by the

Holy Spirit to be born spiritually. Jesus called God his Father, and when we are born again, we too call God our Father! Hallelujah! “Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God. Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the old nature leads to death, because the old sinful nature within us is against God. It never did obey God’s law and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their old sinful selves, bent on following their old evil desires, can never please God. ‘But you are not like that. You are controlled by your new nature if you have the Spirit of God living in

you. (AND REMEMBER THAT IF ANYONE DOESN’T HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST LIVING IN HIM, HE IS NOT A CHRISTIAN AT ALL) Yet, even though Christ lives within you, your body will die because of sin; but your spirit will live, for Christ has pardoned it. “And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:5-11). “No one born (begotten) of God (deliberately and knowingly) habitually practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him – His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him – and he cannot practice sinning because he is

born (begotten) of God” (I John 3:9 Amp.).

What Should I Do to Be Born Again?

Jesus is our Savior, so we can simply ask him to forgive our sins, our wrong habits and wrong

attitudes,

and

he

will.

He will

east

remove

is

as from the west, never

them

from us

far

as

to

the

be

remembered again. Then if we

really, truly want Jesus to live in us,

to

be

our way,

our truth,

and our

LIFE, we can ask him sincerely and

he

will come

into our spirits,

put

there as the seed of life by the Spirit

of

God,

just

as

our

earthly

father

placed life into us by his seed in our mother’s womb. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he really did die for the resurrection of our life in him,

that he was resurrected from the dead and now lives in glory at the right hand of God the Father. If you do that simple thing, your spirit will be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Jesus will merge with your spirit and you will be BORN AGAIN spiritually! Glory to God! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). The first visit of the Holy Spirit in the earth-life of Jesus was to bring life into him as a man. The second visit was for the specific purpose of bringing him power. God was always present with Jesus, but Jesus had no supernatural power to do miracles until he was endued with the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature as a child, but until he received the power of the Holy Spirit, he could not do the supernatural. He could not cause the people to believe him until he performed miracles of healing, casting out devils, turning water into wine, raising the dead, and other signs and wonders. Only then did they believe that he was the divine Son of the Almighty God. “Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well- pleased.’ And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly

the son of Joseph, the son

of. . .

,”

and the rest of the chapter gives the parents of each parent back to Adam who was the son of God (Luke 3:21- 23 NASB):

The very first evidence of this heaven-sent power in Jesus was when he was in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He discerned the spirit of the unseen Satan, and spoke the Scriptures back to him, and won his first battle with the devil. Then immediately following that, Luke tells us, “And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. And Jesus returned to Galilee IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT” (Luke 4:13, 14 NASB). Jesus was able to overcome the temptations of the devil because he was operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. He looked at the

powerless lives of his disciples, and knew that they had to have a greater power within them than they had as sincere followers of his teachings. He had to send them something special to overcome their weaknesses when he went back to heaven. He saw Peter, who loved him so much that he left everything to follow him and was willing to die for him, turn into a defeated man who denied him and even cursed him for fear of his own life. Then we see that same Peter, after he had been endued with this power from heaven, fear no person or no thing as he boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. It was only after he received the baptism with the Holy Spirit that he could truly put Jesus above his own life. Why? Because he had been endued with something supernatural!

Jesus promised this power to all his believers and said, “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NASB). That promise is for us today! Hallelujah! What is the difference between being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and being endued with the power of the Holy Spirit? Do you receive both at the same time? Is it the same Holy Spirit doing both works? In the earthly life of Jesus it was the same Holy Spirit who planted the seed into the womb of Mary to give him human life, who later came in the form of a dove to endue him with this great power of God. Jesus gave God the credit for this supernatural power many times in

the Bible. In Matthew 12:28 (NASB), for example, he said, “But if I cast out demons BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD ” .... Can we humans today have the same power which Jesus possessed? Jesus said we would receive this power when the Holy Spirit came upon us.

I

want

to

share

with

you

a

personal experience which will, I believe, make it easier to see what happens when we receive the power.

Just as it is easy to understand our spirits being conceived by the Holy Spirit when the seed-life of Jesus was planted into us by God, we ought also to see how he plants power into us.

Your spirit is exactly

the same

size as your body! In 1969, Jesus visited me

in

an

unusual way. I had spent over a

thousand hours meditating in the Bible, searching for ways that I could please God and Christ Jesus with my life. Early that evening Jesus had spoken to me audibly and I was exuberantly, profoundly filled with the greatest joy I had ever known! I woke up in the early hours of the morning and was praising Jesus for loving me enough to speak to me personally. I was thinking how awesome it was that he would do this to one ordinary person in a city of three million people. While I was awake praising him, another mighty miracle took place. I was lying on my back with my arms resting along my sides, looking up to God with thanks in my heart, just loving him and thanking him for speaking to me. Suddenly I saw another body the same size and shape of mine, lying in

the same position

as

I

was,

suspended in the air about eighteen inches above my body. As I observed this, I saw that the face was identical to mine. I thought, “What can this be?” and then realized that God had taken my spirit from my body and allowed me to see it, just as I would see another person, except that the spirit body was transparent. It looked like a thin cloud or fog through which you could see, but had exactly the same shape as my own body. The “cloud” body had no more apparent life than any other cloud in the sky until suddenly my “thinker” moved from my physical body into the spirit body. I suddenly was aware that my thinking ability and my feelings had transferred from my physical body to the spirit body, and I no longer had any sense of being in

the flesh. I know now that my soul for a moment had been divided from my spirit, and then had moved from my physical body into my spirit body. A lady who was praying for me that night had said she would lift me into the light of God in prayer. In the Spirit I saw her with her hands under my back, lifting my spirit body higher into the air. At the same time, I felt waves of energy moving through my body from my feet upward to my head; the waves, like repeating – waves of the sea, increased in frequency and speed and after rising higher than the hands of the lady, my spirit body moved at a tremendous speed upward through space. I saw nothing until suddenly a few seconds through space, I was stopped and I looked about. What I saw cannot be described in our

human

limitations,

but

it

was

a

brilliant yet soft light which lit the

whole “sky.”

 

I knew

I

was

being held

in the

light of Almighty God. I was

thinking normally, just like I did in my earth body; I had felt the energy and movement, just as I would in my earth body.

 

I

wished

I

could

have stayed

there forever, but in too short a time,

the

same

dynamic

energy

of

the

Spirit of God moved me downward

through

space

until

within

short

seconds I felt

my spirit enter

back

into

my

earthly

body.

At

that

moment I felt in body exactly like I

always have, but I knew

by

the

experience,

by

faith,

and

by

the

Word of God that my spirit and soul had left my body to go on an excursion to heaven.

From this experience, I realized the meaning of the Scripture which says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two- edged sword, and piercing as far as the DIVISION OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB). I personally believe the soul directs the function of the spirit body similar to the way our brain controls our physical body. God is Spirit; Jesus is Spirit; Satan is spirit; all angels both good and bad are spirits; and we humans are spirits. God’s Spirit is described as “wind,” as “breath” and moves like an energy or power that flows or blows like wind. Jesus said he felt healing virtue (dunamis, power) flow from him into the woman with an

issue of blood. That was the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We can understand what filling a bottle with water is like because our physical mind can see and understand and measure physical things.

Without

our

spirit

eyes

being

opened by God, we cannot see into the spirit world, therefore we have more difficulty seeing, understanding, and measuring the spirit realm. But what must happen for us to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, with God’s power? When we baptize Christians in water, we put their entire body under the water. If that body was like a bottle, it would be filled with water. In a similar way, our spirit body must be baptized with or in the Holy Spirit in order to follow God’s way

of being endued with power. Picture your invisible spirit like I saw my spirit. Picture it being submerged under water. Now, since being baptized with or in the Holy Spirit (breath, wind) is different than being baptized in water, what covers our spirit body when we are submerged in God’s Holy Spirit? It is submerged in and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. His Spirit is everywhere; it goes to and fro about the earth. “Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the Spirit” (John 3:8). When two streams of water come into one river they become alike after they are thoroughly mixed with one another. Similarly, our spirits are mixed with God’s Spirit so completely that Jesus said, “I have given them the glory you gave me –

the glorious unity of being one, as we are I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one – so that the world will know you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:22,

23).

What an awesome

thing it

is

to

realize that the life of the Son of God is living in our soul and spirit to make us one in him; and that Almighty God, our Father, actually dwells in our soul arid spirit and that he fills us entirely with his Holy Spirit. Think of it, the glorious unity of being one with God and Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior! GLORY!

The

Holy Spirit came on Jesus

like a dove (probably similar in appearance to the cloud-like spirit I saw). On the Day of Pentecost, for the very first time, the Holy Spirit came on all believers present.

“Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. “And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:1-4). Notice that the Holy Spirit came like a WIND, and that they were FILLED with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:5 we are told that “John baptized you with (or in) water, ... but you shall be baptized with (or in) the Holy Spirit in a few days.”

“And Peter replied, ‘Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit. For Christ promised him to each one of you who has been called by the Lord our God, and to your children and even to those in distant lands!’” (Acts 2:38, 39).

What Should I Do to Be Baptized With the Holy Spirit?

You must be baptized in or with God’s Holy Spirit – filled with the wind, the breath of God himself! How can you do this? Ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, because he is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit just as

he

is

the

one

who

brings

us

forgiveness and life in him. When Frances and I received the

gift of the Holy Spirit several years

after

we had been

born again, we

were told a very human thing to do.

We were told

that

on the

Day

of

Pentecost,

the

ordinary

 

human

beings

began

to

speak

in

other

tongues

or other languages

as

the

Holy Spirit gave the utterance, the ability, or the supernatural language. We were told that all languages

were made up of a lot of mixed up

syllable

sounds;

different

sounds.

We knew that on the Day of

Pentecost

the

people

did

the

speaking, but God did the

supernatural

part,

the

miracle

of

giving

the

ability

to

speak

in

languages they didn’t know. We were told that if we would, by faith, ask to be baptized with or in

the Holy Spirit and believe that we would be, just as we had believed that we would be born again, we would receive. We also were told that because all languages were made up of a lot of mixed up syllable sounds, we as humans would have to give some simple sounds of praise and love to God, but not in English because we can’t speak two languages at once, and the Holy Spirit would give the Spirit language (the utterance). We were to continue to give the sounds by faith, but with our voice, and God would continue to give the language of the Spirit. We believed, we asked, and by faith we began to love God and praise him, but not in English, but by letting a stream of sounds like rivers of living water come forth from our hearts, and sure enough, the language began to freely flow just

like springs of living water, and we spoke in another language, one we didn’t understand, but one that God did. God has shown us in I Corinthians 14:2, 3 that we were talking to God in a spirit, unknown language. “But if your gift is that of being able to ‘speak in tongues,’ that is, to speak in languages you haven’t learned, you will be talking to God but not to others, since they won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit but it will all be a secret.” How are we born again? By faith in Jesus, and by an act of receiving him, and by being conceived by the Holy Spirit. How are we baptized with or in the Holy Spirit? By faith in Jesus, and by an act of receiving the Holy Spirit; by allowing the Spirit to come

in

with

power

and

to

give

us

evidence of it by a sign and a

wonder. “And these signs will accompany those who have believeth in My

name they will cast out demons, THEY WILL SPEAK WITH NEW TONGUES” (Mark 16:17 NASB).

Jesus said it. I believe it.

It has

happened to me, and Jesus commanded us to be born again and

filled with the Holy Spirit. What evidence do I have in my

life that I have been born again? My

whole

life changed.

My

attitudes

changed, my desire to please God

and

Christ

Jesus

changed; Jesus

became real to me. The evidence of the nature of God came into my life

and a zeal to want to be more like him was ever present. What evidence do I have in my

life

that I have been baptized

with

the Holy Spirit? The results

of

invisible

wind

an

be seen, even

though the wind cannot. The results

of the invisible Holy Spirit in my life

are visible daily. Frances

and

I

see

the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit evident everywhere we go. We find witnessing is

spontaneous, we find that exalting Jesus is natural, we find that doing

miracles

of

healing,

casting

out

devils,

speaking

in

languages we

don’t understand, giving prophecies

and

interpretations

of

tongues,

operating with words of knowledge and wisdom are as natural as breathing. We have had many reports from people who understand other

languages say they heard us speaking in languages we didn’t know as the

Spirit

gave us the supernatural

language.

Frances talked over ten

minutes in conversation with a man from India in the Indian language, but she didn’t know a word of that language. I talked to a young Jewess one night in perfect Hebrew which she understood, but which I didn’t. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6 NASB). “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, BUT BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and SPIRITUAL SONGS, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18, 19 NASB). You must be born again! You must be filled with the Holy Spirit! Welcome to the body of Christ!