John 3:5 – 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.
1 Peter 3:20 – Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1 Peter 3:21 – The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:23 – Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Jesus said in John 3:7, Ye must be born again. Every human being alive today needs to be born again to see and enter the kingdom of God, to know God, to go to heaven, to have life, true, eternal, abundant life. The new birth happens when we are saved, it is instantaneous the moment we believe, receiving the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through repentance and faith. It is not enough to be “Christianized”, you must be converted. The new birth seals us, we who believe are the sons of God right now, we know we are saved right now, we know we have eternal life right now, even while we remain in the sin cursed body of this death with a raging flesh nature to combat along with Satan and his angels and the evil world. Church going, water baptism, and every and any work (no matter how noble and good it may appear) and even a life of morality and goodness to fellow man is not enough… you must be born again. There are many who say they are Christians today who are not born again, or are born again but instead live their lives in the energy of the flesh, a tiring and futile endeavor. There are many who profess to be Christians who just flat out are not, we can determine whether someone is saved by their fruit.
The new birth produces new life, it produces works, the new birth produces unmistakable birthmarks by which we can identify true believers, by which we can determine the goats from the sheep, as we love God and others, and obey him, and keep his word and his commandments. The new birth will cost you friendship with the world, you will be hated by the world as the new birth translates us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are translated from the kingdom of the devil, the prince of this world, into the kingdom of God’s dear only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The new birth seats us in heavenly places, our conversation is in heaven, we become strangers, pilgrims, sojourners in this dark, dying world. We look and hope for our Saviour with our faith grounded in his sure word, we have here in this world no continuing city but we seek one to come, our hope lies beyond this world, we look for the consummation of our salvation when we are united with our Saviour forever in new, incorruptible, sin curse free, glorified bodies. Who can understand the new birth? Who can tell it? It is not physically detected, someone can be born again whenever and wherever, no matter where they are, no matter what they are doing, it is because the new birth is not of man, but of the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost. It is no wonder Jesus said in John 3:8 – The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
We see that Jesus said in John 3:5 ye must be born of water and of the Spirit. It is easy to overlook the “water” part of the verse, and the water has been greatly misunderstood by those not rightly dividing the word to understand what Jesus was saying. Are you seeking truth or do you read the Bible only wanting to see what you want to see? Do you bend to God’s word or does God’s word bend to you? The water part is just as important as the Spirit part, and we will see why. The Bible makes it all abundantly clear to us what the water is, but first we must see what it is not. The water does not refer to physical water baptism. It is clear from many, many areas of the Bible that water baptism does not save us (I have covered this for instance in an earlier blog on Mark 16:16). Water baptism is purely an outward demonstration of an inward truth that has already taken place in a true believer. Water baptism is a symbol, representing the spiritual baptism we have experienced when we were born again, and in and of itself it is meaningless, water baptism is a testimony to others, it declares that we have been saved, that we have been united with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, that we have newness of life, that we have chosen the Lord Jesus Christ. We are water baptized after we are saved, water baptism does not make us saved or not, it has no impact on our salvation, there are multitudes of people who have been water baptized who are going to hell.
So what is the water? This is easy, the Bible shows us what the water is and where it comes from. Study the word “water” in the Bible, you will be blessed. The water that Jesus was referring to which we must be born by can be ascertained from a vast number of references including Ephesians 5:26, John 15:3 (among many others). The Bible shows us that the water is God’s word. Your Bible is water, it is God’s word to you, the testimony of Jesus Christ. God is a spirit, and Jesus said his words are spirit and life. Jesus can and does give the true water, because Jesus is the source of the water. Jesus could offer the water to the Samaritan woman of John 4 because he is the fountain of living water. The water Jesus gives is life, because Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. You need his water, and his water alone. Man has no water to give, that’s why false prophets and teachers are referred to as clouds without water, wells without water. Jesus gives the water of life freely, without charge, it is a free gift of God. Jesus has the water, the words of life as Peter said, believe and receive what he said and you will be saved. What he said was what the Father told him to say, his words and works were of the Father, and they bore witness of Jesus. Whomsoever will, may come, and partake freely of the water. When the soldier’s spear pierced his side, water flowed forth (blood did also). The water flows because of what Jesus did at Calvary, he died for us, our sins, our curse, our condemnation, all the wrath and judgement and damnation we rightfully deserved was nailed to his cross. The fountain was opened, as the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world.
And the Spirit bares witness, God’s word and the Spirit of God are inseparable, they never contradict, they always harmonize perfectly – that’s why you must be born of water and of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit honors and gives life to the word, the word of God is alive, it is truth, it carries authority and power, it has the power to give life. The water is the gospel of Christ, which is the power of salvation to anyone and all who believe. The Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, the Comforter does not speak of himself, but speaks of Christ, he bears witness of Christ, he spiritually regenerates, renews, and indwells those who receive the truth. The Holy Spirit birthing the new creature inside us spiritually circumcises us, freeing us from the flesh, making us quick and alive, bringing us into fellowship and relationship with God. We are indwelt by God, God who dwells not in temples made with hands, but in human beings… in us. Jesus was and is Immanuel – God with us, and he is more than that to the believer, he is in us, he dwells in our hearts by faith through his Spirit. He shed forth the Spirit, that’s why it was important for him to go back to heaven, so he could shed forth his Spirit upon all flesh. That’s why he said greater works would be done. He reaches the whole world through those who believe and are born again, we are the earthen vessels which bear great treasure, we have the beautiful feet which (should) bring the glad tidings of the gospel of peace to others!
If this is all too hard to imagine, to picture, to grasp, well we have a picture, a beautiful picture of the spiritual truth of John 3:5, and that picture is seen in the story of Noah’s ark. We can look at the story of Noah’s ark and see what happens to us spiritually, we can begin to understand what it means to be born of water. We know the water is God’s word. You need God’s word to be saved. God’s word is more than ink on paper, Jesus is the Word of God, he is the living Word, the Bible is the written Word. The water of God’s word floods our soul, our heart, our spirit, and it is when we are flooded with the water of the word, that the Spirit births a new creature. This is seen with the ark rising above the flood water – the ark is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit places us in Christ, we are united in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is why physical baptism is with water, being fully immersed in the water, our souls are immersed fully in God’s word, and it is from our soul receiving God’s word, the incorruptible seed, that life is drawn. John’s baptism showed the word bringing true repentance, but John’s baptism was pointed to Christ, because true repentance points us to Jesus, it does not leave us at being convicted of our sin with no hope, we must be who we baptized by and in Jesus.
The Bible says the ark was lift up when the waters came, and we also are lifted up in the ark. We are sealed in Christ, just as Noah was shut in by God. We are in him, and he in us. It was the water that saved Noah, the same water that damned the unbelieving, unrepentant world is the same water that saved Noah and his family. The days before the flood were terrible, the earth was full of unrestrained evil, corruption and violence. Similarly, our flesh is like this and produces only wickedness and unrighteousness, Paul said in our flesh dwelleth no good thing. God does not overhaul our flesh, our old man. He does away with it, and creates a new creature in us, the ark rising upon the waters is a picture of this. We still have the flesh, but it is destroyed, it is crucified, it has the sentence of death, it is only a matter of time before we are freed forever from it. Just as Pharaoh and his army could not pursue Israel beyond the Red Sea, our flesh and all our enemies cannot pursue us beyond our death or physical translation (rapture). Our death or being raptured is our pathway to our eternal life. O death, where is thy sting? The water floods our soul condemning and destroying our flesh, cleansing us, purifying us, immersing us completely, just as it purged all the sin from the earth and destroyed the old world. It is from the water that we emerge, being born of the Spirit, and that is the picture in the ark. Our old world is destroyed, we have newness of life, we are a new creature. The waters burst up from below and came down from above. The waters floods our soul. It destroys the flesh, it eliminates everything. Our soul and spirit is in the ark, in him, renewed, regenerated, freed. As the flood prevailed for 40 days and nights, so our flesh remains with us in this life here on earth, the 40 days and nights represent the testing of our faith here on earth which will come to an end, which we will come through in Christ, and as Noah stepped out of the ark into a new world, cleansed from all the sin, corruption, so we step out into a new world, and we will step out into a new world, on the ground of a new heaven and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
To finish and perhaps even further clarify (although the best way to clarify is to read yourself and let the Spirit of truth teach you), we can also look at Moses and more specifically, the meaning of Moses’ name, because he also was in an ark floating on water when he was seen and taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses name means drawn out of water, and this is what believers are – drawn out of water. That is being born of water, the water bore the ark, Noah was born of water in the ark, Moses was born of water in the ark – in Christ. Without the water, we cannot be saved, we need to be born of the water which has come to every person that has ever lived. But what will you do with it, will you be outside the ark when the water comes, and remain outside the ark? Will you refuse God? Or will you let the water wash you, flood your soul, free you, save you, will you let the water work in your heart, the water that bears witness in the earth, you are without excuse, will you receive the witness of God, will you be born again of the water and of the Spirit?