GETTING INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD
THINK ABOUT IT
By David Dowell
If you really want to ruffle stork feathers, just bring up the subject of what Christendom has termed the "New Birth." There are numerous of songs about being "born again." Many children's stories and musicals use illustrations of tadpoles/frogs and caterpillars/butter- flies with puppets and cartoon characters to teach it.
A helpful feature of the King James Version Bible is its use of singular and plural pronouns. This quality gives distinction to the singular words "Thou, Thee, Thy, and Thine" which all begin with the letter 'T' and indicate only one person, and the words that begin with the letter 'Y' "Ye, You, and Yours" are plural and refer to more than one person. An easy way to remember this characteristic is by the beginning letters of the words being the clue. The letter 'T' has only one vertical line, while the letter 'Y' has two. None of the popular other Bible versions (I hesitate to call them that) show this difference. They use you which doesn't specify a definite number. As a result, many important theological truths are lost and confused. Verily, verily, the language of the King James, is a peculiar treasure. You may be wondering what that has to do with this topic of being born again. It has particular significance in John 3:7 when Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Marvel not that l said unto thee, Ye must be born again. " Knowing the proper usage of the pronouns, you can plainly see that Jesus was speaking personally to Nicodemus about a group of people who had to be born again. This fact alone could change allot of traditional denominational doctrine.
Christ may have embarrassed Nicodemus when He questioned him, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things.?" 'Nic' certainly should have known, since he was a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews (John 3:1). He would' have been familiar with passages like Isa.66:7-8, "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees thought they didn't need John's message of repentance and baptism because they "had Abraham as their father"(Matt. 3:9). They believed their physical birth into the elect nation was sufficient. But when the Lord insisted to Nicodemus that 'ye' must be born again, He was talking about the nation Israel. Their first birth into the nation would not guarantee them everlasting life in the kingdom of God; they had to be born again into the believing remnant. "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Verity, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus saith unto him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. "' John 3:3-5 John baptized with water in order that Jesus would be identified as who he was. "And I (John) knew Jesus) not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water " John 1:31 And again in John 1:33, "And l knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water
As we compare scripture with scripture, we see this issue of water baptism fits into its place for Israel's cleansing in Luke 7:29-30, "And all the people that heard him (John the Baptist), and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptized of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers- rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. "The physical descendants of Abraham had to experience another birth (a spiritual birth, a new birth) and water baptism.
Now what about us? Do we get into the family of God the same way they did? They didn't believe in the death of Christ as payment for their sins and in his resurrection. They didn't even know about that. Should we follow Jesus' advice to Nicodemus? Many songs we hear tell us to do just that. And so do some of our friends. Some preachers preach it. Those who don't believe in eternal security even think you must be born again and again and again... But do we fit in that passage where the Lord was speaking to Nicodemus about Israel? Do you think it is proper for us to apply a term from scripture to us when it doesn't really apply to us?
Searching the scriptures for the phrase "born again" resulted in only John's gospel (as previously quoted) and Peter's epistle (I Peter 1:23). John's first epistle speaks extensively about being "born of God," obviously dealing with Israel's spiritual birth. Also remember that James, Peter, and John agreed with Paul to confine their ministry to the Jews in Gal 2:9("And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me (Paul), they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen and they unto the circumcision.") All of Pauls. Epistles are completely void of the words "born again."
When we read the writings of our apostle (Paul), we find out just how WE get into the family of God. God answered the question for us
"To redeem them that were under the law that we might received the ADOPTION of sons". Gal. 4:5.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of ADOPTION, whereby we cry, Abba, Father The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; Rom. 8:15-16
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Eph. 1:5-6
In this dispensation, believers are adopted into God's family. We're not born again; we're adopted as God's children!
We do acknowledge that we were dead in our sins of our flesh (Col. 2:13, Eph. 2: 1) and that God "quickened" us together with Christ. We also know that in Christ we are a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul's writings don't use the language "born again" so why would we? We don't need to, but we do need to rightly divide the word to understand the difference.
So before you attend another "Christian Baby Shower" for a new convert and give a toy frog or butterfly&ldots; THINK ABOUT IT