Let’s now begin to explain salvation. Jesus Christ often used physical things with which we are familiar to help us understand a spiritual truth. In this case, Jesus Christ compares salvation to a birth.
… Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
There are two kinds of births, a physical and a spiritual.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)
It will further help us understand this 2nd birth if we first look at what God is like and then how He created us.
First of all, God is three persons, which we call a Trinity.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
(1 John 5:7)
With this in mind, let us now look at how God created man with three corresponding parts.
… I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
That is because “…God created man in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27)
…God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… (Genesis 1:26)
Each of these parts allows us to function properly with our surroundings. The body helps us to interact with, or communicate with, or be conscious of the physical world around us. The soul allows us to be conscious of self. The third part of us, our spirit, allows us to be conscious of and to communicate with our Creator God (who is a Spirit – John 4:24).
So, why does man need to have a 2nd birth? Watch closely to see what develops in the following verses.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)
And … the woman … took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
God promised that on the day that Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree, they would die. But as we read on, we see that their bodies did not die that day. We see them interacting and talking with one another, so their souls did not die. But something had dramatically changed. The part of them that was able to communicate, to understand, to be conscious of God, was no longer functioning. But it was not just damaged – it was separated (death) from God.
One way to look at it is this: just as the soul separated from the body equals death for the body, God’s Spirit separated from our spirit means death for our spirit.
As a parent passes his physical traits on to his children, Adam passed his spiritual condition on to his children.
And Adam… begat a son in his OWN likeness, after HIS image; and called his name Seth. (Genesis 5:3)
Notice that Seth was born in the image of Adam, NOT in the image of God.
Adam’s dead spiritual condition was transferred to Seth, and Seth transferred it to his children, and today, that dead separated spiritual condition is inherited by us all.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… (Romans 5:12)
So to be born again is simply to be born a second time; not physically, but spiritually. It is simply a “bringing to life” of that dead spirit within us.
Without a physical birth, you cannot come into this world, and likewise, according to Jesus, without a spiritual birth you cannot get into the “next world” (heaven).