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Born of the Spirit

by Wade E Taylor

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night….  John 3:1-2

Nicodemus waited until it was dark so he would not be recognized.  However, there is a deeper meaning as to why he “came by night.”  The Old Covenant, the Law, began in manifest glory, but had degenerated into a religious ritual which resulted in spiritual darkness.  Nicodemus walked out of this religious darkness toward the One he now recognized as being the “light” that he sought, but being a Pharisee, had not previously found.

“Again therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  John 8:12  Douay-Rheims Bible

As Nicodemus approached Jesus, he said, “Good Master.”  He was saying, “Jesus, You have something that I do not have. I have come to see what it is, and receive.”

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3 NASB

The Kingdom of God transcends and goes beyond our redemption.  Through salvation, I can say, “I have Jesus.”  But when I enter the Kingdom, I have entered a higher realm of relationship and only now can I say, “Jesus has me.”  Jesus is expressing to Nicodemus, not just the way of entrance (salvation through the shed blood of Jesus upon the cross), but the Kingdom in operation – our functioning in the realm of the Spirit, which Nicodemus witnessed as being resident in the life and ministry of Jesus.

For us to “see” the Kingdom means that we have come to recognize that once we have submitted ourselves to Jesus as being our Savior, there is much more that can be gained, if we will submit the totality of our being to Him as being our Lord.  Not being able to perceive, or recognize that which is spiritual and from above, Nicodemus then related this experience of being “born again” to the temporal realm of life 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”  John 3:4

Jesus then told Nicodemus how to experience that which had drawn him to ask this question.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:5-6

There are two distinct realms of life that we were created to experience.

The natural man relates to, and can move only in the temporal-earthly realm, as man became dead to the spiritual realm through the transgression of Adam.

The spiritual man, through regeneration – being re-born of the Spirit, relates to both the earthly and the heavenly-spiritual realm.

Every action of mankind, apart from God, flows downward.  Thus, that which is born of the flesh can only produce a fuller manifestation of the flesh.  Every action of God through our new birth, moves us upward.  Therefore, to one who has been born of the Spirit, there is an ever present call to come higher.

“My Beloved spoke, and said to me, Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away.”  Song of Solomon 2:10

Then Jesus added,

“Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life.  The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.”  John 3:7-8  Contemporary English Translation

Nicodemus had likened this experience to a “womb,” which is confining and sees only through that which another sees, but Jesus is seeking to take Nicodemus further, into the Kingdom.  Therefore, He said that there is much more, which is like the “wind.”

We do not have adequate terminology, or words to express the outworking of the Kingdom in our spiritual life experience.  Thus, by using “wind,” Jesus lifted this experience into the dimension of spirit.  In contrast to the letter of the Word, and liturgical ritual, wind can be felt but not seen.

Concerning this, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You are hearing about this experience, but in your present state of spiritual experience, you neither understand it, nor are you able to enter.  You must first be born of water and of spirit.”

The Scripture that follows will help in our understanding of what Jesus is saying:

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”  I John 5:8

Jesus did not need to speak to Nicodemus concerning the blood, for being a Pharisee, he understood the need for a blood sacrifice.  But he had no knowledge of being born of water, and of the Spirit.  To be “born of water” speaks of our being water baptized.  To be “born of the Spirit” speaks of our receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Peter said:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:38

The blood atonement of Jesus on the cross blots out our sin, as if we had never sinned.  But we still have the Adamic nature.  In water baptism, as we are totally immersed, our Adamic nature goes down to the grave, and we come up out of the water as being a new creation, with our capacity to function in the spiritual realm restored.

“Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  Romans 6:4

Our nature has been changed, and the “tap root” of our Adamic nature has been cut.  Now we can walk in “newness of life.”  Under the Law, righteous living was required, but man was incapable of this and utterly failed.  In the New Covenant the ability to live a righteous life was given (and cause you to walk in My statutes).

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments, and do them.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit provides this “ability” – that which will “cause,” or give us the “power” (Acts 1:8) that will enable us to live above sin.

Thus, the “blood” forgives our sin; the “water” changes our nature; and the “Spirit” gives us the ability (enabling power) to enter into the realms of the spiritual, above all that is earthly.  These three together, as “one,” provides a full salvation experience that will enable us to enter the Kingdom.

Jesus said that all this is comparable to the wind.  “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from, and where it is going.”  The emphasis is on a present experience, which is only available to those who respond.

This experience can be likened to an airplane on the runway.  It has an intricate mechanism, which controls it while on the ground.  But once it becomes air-borne (borne-again), all that controls the plane on the earth realm becomes of no value, and is folded away.

A new mechanism is now in control, which responds to the wind (Spirit), and lifts the plane into the heavens, above the earthly.  It is functioning under an entirely new set of laws, the aerodynamics of the wind.  In our new birth, our spiritual senses are re-born but must be developed in order to function.  This means that as we assemble ourselves together, we are to enter into and begin to flow in the Spirit.  Gradually, we will learn how to ascend into the heavenlies.

Like the Wright Brothers, who were able to fly only a short distance in the beginning, but kept trying until they could fly long distances, we will gradually learn how to function in the realms of the Spirit, as we spend time responding to the wind (quickenings in the realm of the Spirit).  We may crash a few times, but all we need do is to get back on the runway, and again respond to the lifting power of the Holy Spirit.  We will go higher and further each time.

In effect, Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, “It is far more important that you experience that which you are seeking (being lifted by the wind), rather than trying to understand it (reentering a womb).”  So also today, in faith and trust we are to respond to the lifting power of the Holy Spirit.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”  Revelation 4:1-2

There is a present call of the Spirit for us to come higher.  May each of us be among those who are responding to this call.