Born of the Spirit
On the night of July 10, 2006 the author was pondering what it means to be a son of God in following Christ Jesus. The Lord spoke this message strongly to the author’s heart.
A disciple of Christ is one who “follows” Jesus in all things. The genuine follower of Christ will hear, receive and apply Jesus’ Words to his life. Jesus says that whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them shall be established and secure (Lk 6:47-48). This article will consider the depth of just what it means to follow Jesus or be Christlike. This journey will actually completely transform who you are and your outlook and actions with regards to all things.
When God redeemed the children of Israel from Egypt, He led them out into the wilderness and spoke His Words directly to man at Mount Horeb. Man greatly feared God and did not want to hear God’s Words directly from God, but rather from a man such as Moses. Exodus 20:18-19, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” AND Deuteronomy 18:16, “…saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.”
God told Moses: Deuteronomy 18:17-19, “…They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
The coming of this Holy One in whose mouth God would place His Words was prophesied well in advance (Is 7:14, 8:10, 9:6, Jer 23:5-6). In the course of God’s timing, the Word of God (Who is God, Jn 1:1-3) was made flesh to speak God’s Words to man – as a man. Christ was known as Emmanuel or “God with us (Mt 1:23).”
The Word was made flesh and called Jesus, the Son of the Highest (Lk 1:31-32). Christ came to speak God’s truth to man – as a man (in flesh). Jesus was emphatic that He did not speak His own Words, but rather the Father’s Words (Jn 3:34, 7:16-17, 8:28, 38, 12:49-50, 14:10-11). John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Jesus was this one who would come and speak God’s Words (truth). Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the one in saying: Acts 3:22-23, “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” The Words spoken by Christ (given by the Father) will be required of man. Jesus said man would be judged by these Words (Jn 12:48). The faithful martyr Stephen also acknowledged that Jesus was this prophesied one (Acts 7:37-39). God in these last days hath spoken unto us by His Son (Heb 1:2).
When Jesus was with Peter, James and John (the pillars of His future church) at the mount of transfiguration (Mk 9:1-6), the following significant event occurred: Mark 9:7, “And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” This brings us back to when God appeared in a cloud at Mount Horeb and the people feared to hear God. God now appears in a cloud and directs us to listen to the one He has raised up from among the brethren to speak His Words (Deut 18:17-18). Jesus was sent of God to speak God’s Word or truth. John 3:34, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” The Father’s message to these men was “hear Him.” Jesus said on several occasions: “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear (Mk 4:9, 23, 7:16).
The most significant thing that we must understand is that Jesus was sent by God to speak God’s Words to man. Christ not only spoke these Words, but led by example in actually walking these Words for all men to see. Jesus always said, “Come, follow Me (Mk 8:34).” Jesus perfectly walked God’s expectations for man in the “exact” way that man is to “follow.” You must now walk as He walked and be conformed to Christ’s image which is God’s expectations (Col 2:6, 1 Jn 2:6). This writing will detail how one is empowered to do this.
These spoken Words of Christ will be required of man. Peter concluded his statement that Jesus came to bring God’s Words by saying: Acts 3:26, “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” The purpose of God’s Words or truth is to turn man from his iniquities (transgressions of God’s will). This is the effect that must be realized in you. Your earthly life will be measured by God’s Words and whether or not you conformed to them and thus turned from your iniquities – unto righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24).
Furthermore, Jesus said: Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (also Mk 13:31).” Jesus said man would be judged by these Words (Jn 12:48). So, if Christ’s Word shall never pass away and all of creation will be held accountable to these Words, doesn’t it behoove us to take them very seriously? Can anything possibly be more important than the Lord’s Word?
Christ has given us God’s Words and walked them by example. Hebrews 12:18-21, “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:).” This was the dreadful sight whereby men feared to hear God’s Words directly from God.
Through Christ’s Words and the Holy Spirit whom He has given us, we are made perfect. Hebrews 12:22-23, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” They are made perfect by hearing, receiving and applying God’s Word to their lives. They do this through the power, leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. These are led to become the sons of God (Rm 8:14).
Let us consider what all of this means…
The Birth of Jesus, the Son of God
John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” God sent forth His Word with the power of the Holy Ghost to accomplish His purposes for man. Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
The Word was made flesh to speak the Father’s Words or truth to man and lead them in “The Way (Ex 19:9, 16-19, 20:1-18, Jn 14:6).” The Word became flesh to redeem man from the world (corruption, the devil’s lie, sin) just as God had redeemed the children of Israel from Egypt. God’s purpose was to restore and reconcile man to Himself.
God had spoke directly to the children of Israel. This time God would come as a man in the flesh to speak His Words to man. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
How was this accomplished? The Word became flesh when the Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary. Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” – for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (Mt 1:20). Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The Holy Ghost is the power behind the Word.
The important thing to note here is that Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost and then called, “the Son of God.” The Word made flesh (dwelling in a vessel of clay) is the Son of God. At this time God the Father stated: Psalms 2:7, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee (also Jn 1:14, Acts 13:33, Heb 1:5).” Jesus came bearing God’s truth and absolutely set the example of how a Son is to relate to His Father. Jesus was filled and led of the Holy Ghost. Jesus was also submitted, obedient, loving, faithful, trusting and devoted to the Father in all things.
Firstborn of Many Brethren
Scripture states: Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Brethren resemble one another. Jesus is the first of many who will “follow” after Him – the first begotten of the dead (Rev 1:5). Those who “follow” will conform to Christ’s image or example.
How is this done? John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Jesus is the Son of God and those who follow Him will be “sons of God.” Luke 6:40, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master (also Jn 13:6).
What is the power that Jesus gives such that one can become a son of God? The power is the Holy Ghost! Jesus told His disciples: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you (Acts 1:8).” AND Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” The promise was the Holy Ghost: Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
Let us consider what has just been revealed. It was said of Jesus: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God (Jn 1:12). Now consider what Jesus told His disciples who had not yet received the Holy Ghost (because Christ had not yet been glorified, Jn 7:39): “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you (Acts 1:8).” The power to become a son of God is the Holy Ghost!
Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost and thus born (Mt 1:20, Lk 1:35). Jesus’ disciples are baptized of the Holy Ghost and thus “born again (Jn 1:12, 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17).” John 3:5-6, “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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus also said: “the kingdom of God will come with power (Mk 9:1). This is so important that we must understand: Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” To not have the Holy Ghost is to not be as Christ and thus not be His brethren.
Now “God with us (Emmanuel)” became “God in us.” When Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, He was no longer physically among us (in the flesh), but rather obtained the promise of the Father and sent the Holy Ghost to dwell within us. So it can be said: 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” AND 1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” We become a new “born again” creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
Those that are born of God are begotten of God (1 Jn 5:18). Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost and then begotten of God. Man is “born again” of the Holy Ghost and then begotten of God. Christ’s disciples follow in all things. Jesus was not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man (as was supposed of Joseph, Lk 3:23), but of God (by the Holy Ghost – Jn 1:13). Jesus’ disciples, the sons of God, are also not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (by the Holy Ghost). This is a very important point!
When John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, he emphasized that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost (Mt 3:11, Mk 1:8, Lk 3:16, Jn 1:33). Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost and all that He did was well pleasing to the Father. Christ’s disciples must also be “born again” of the Spirit and conform to Jesus’ well pleasing image or example. Christ’s disciples “exactly” follow Him in all things.
So: Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Notice that those led of the Spirit “ARE” the sons of God. These have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Rm 8:15). AND Galatians 4:6, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Jesus also called the Father “Abba (Mk 14:36).” Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
Jesus was a well pleasing Son (2 Pt 1:17)! The Holy Spirit leads Christ’s followers so that they may be the same. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (also Php 2:15).” Like Christ, those who follow Him submit to, obey, trust, love, and are devoted to God. Therefore: Jesus is truly the firstborn of many brethren (Rm 8:29) – all born and led of the Holy Ghost; and are sons of God (Rm 8:14). Jesus also gives His followers direction through the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:2).
The sons of God obey the Father. Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of God even as Jesus did righteousness (1 Jn 2:29, 3:7, Is 11:5). They keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 Jn 3:22). 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
We must relate to God as a son who loves his Father and is faithful to Him. 1 John 3:1-2, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
The cruxed of this writing is: 1) Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost and His disciples must be “born again” of the Holy Ghost. 2) Jesus was begotten of the Father and Christ’s disciples that are born of the Spirit are also begotten of the Father. 3) Jesus was filled and led of the Spirit and was called the Son of God; Christ’s followers must be filled and led of the Spirit to be sons of God. 4) Jesus was faithful and well pleasing to the Father; Christ’s disciples must conform to Jesus’ image and example in all things and also be pleasing (through obedience). AND 5) Jesus did righteousness and those who are born of Him doeth righteousness.
We must understand something crucial here: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” God’s grace is the Holy Spirit of grace working in you to accomplish the Lord’s purposes (Acts 4:31-33, Php 1:25, 2:13, Heb 10:29). The Holy Spirit is the gift! Grace = gift = Holy Ghost! Peter says it well: Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (also Acts 10:45, 11:16-17).” Paul said: 2 Corinthians 9:14-15, “And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” The grace in you or unspeakable gift is the Holy Ghost which dwells in you (1 Cor 3:16).
Faith is your submission, obedience, love, trust and devotion toward God. When such faith is coupled with the Holy Ghost’s working in you, then God’s will is accomplished (Acts 5:32). This is what saves you and Christ’s death made it possible. Chist’s life and death provided: 1) God’s truth; 2) an example to follow; 3) forgiveness of past sins; and 4) the ability and means to follow – namely, the Holy Ghost.
Its not your works that saves you, but rather your obedience to the Spirit’s leading and teaching – the Spirit’s working to transform you into the image of Christ. First you receive the Holy Spirit and then your heart is purified by faith as you obey (Acts 15:8-9). – the work of faith with power (2 Thess 1:11). In other words, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand (Rm 5:2). Then the follow-on verse to the above verses makes sense (usually omitted by religious man): Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” The result of your faith yielding to the Holy Ghost is good works known as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9). Christ’s sacrifice was so that “we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).” We are “made” righteous through obedience to the Holy Ghost.
Why did John the Baptist place such an emphasis that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost (Mt 3:11, Mk 1:8, Lk 3:16, Jn 1:33, Acts 1:5)? Why did Jesus say it was expedient that He go away such that the Holy Ghost would come (Jn 7:39, 14:26, 16:7, 20:22)? Why did Christ insist that His disciples tarry at Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Lk 24:49, Acts 1:4, 8, 2:2-4)? The reason is so clear! The Holy Ghost is the grace of God. The Holy Ghost is the promise of God. The Holy Ghost is the gift of God.
Please understand: “the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Rm 5:18).” The Holy Spirit came upon man at Pentecost because Jesus, the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, received this promise from the Father and shed it forth (Acts 2:1-4, 33). By the obedience of one (Jesus) shall many be made righteous (Rm 5:19). We are “made” righteous by the workings of the Holy Spirit through our faith (submission, obedience). John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Therefore: Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
The Holy Ghost is your comforter, teacher and guide to conform you to Christ’s well pleasing image such that you become a son of God. Consider what Peter told the Jews after the Holy Ghost was come upon the Gentiles: Acts 11:16-17, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”
When God spoke to the children of Israel at Mount Horeb, they were afraid and did not want to receive Him. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among men they also did not want to hear or receive Him. John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Jesus said: “the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed (Mk 8:31).” Nevertheless, the Word of God has not returned unto the Father void, but has accomplished the Father’s purposes. As many as have received Him, He has given “power (the Holy Ghost)” to become the sons of God (Jn 1:12-13). These will be restored and reconciled back to God and shall conform to God’s original intent.
Jesus said: John 16:28, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Those who receive and follow Christ are also going back to the Father. Therefore: Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Jesus, the Word of God, has gone forth and accomplished the Father’s will in great victory – shall you be found in it?
Those who are the Lord’s are sanctified of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pt 1:2). In other words, Jesus’ disciples are filled and led of the Holy Ghost and have received forgiveness through Christ’s atoning sacrifice – redeemed by His blood (Rev 5:9).
We must “receive” God’s “truth” and walk in it. The Holy Ghost leads and teaches us the truth (Jn 14:26, 15:26). The truth sets us free from the bondage of sin (Jn 8:31-36). Therefore: John 4:23-24, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Those obedient to the Word of God will become as the angels. Luke 20:35-36, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” God’s faithful creation are His children for all live unto him (Lk 20:38). The angels were referred to as the sons of God in the Old Testament (Gen 6:2-4).