Q. I believe one of the main misunderstandings about being born again is John 3:5, where Jesus says to Nicodemus “The Truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit”. To many people being born of water means being baptized as a believer, and some also say being born of the Spirit refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit thus making one of both of these baptisms a requirement for salvation. Also believing means more than just having a mental assertion, it means to cleave to the point of surrendering ones life if necessary for the belief. What do you think? Could you touch on this on this point?
A. The phrase “born of water” in John 3:5 refers to a person’s physical birth. We all develop in our mother’s womb in a sack of amniotic fluid with a composition similar to sea water. When the sack bursts the water flows out and we are born shortly thereafter. That’s our first birth. We’re born again when we admit we’re sinners and accept the Lord’s death as payment for our sins. That’s our second birth, the Spiritual one that makes us children of God (John 1:12-13) and is the sole requirement for salvation. Using John 3:5 to support the view that baptism is necessary to salvation is an incorrect use of the verse.
The Greek word translated belief means to entrust our destiny solely to the Lord. It has to do with our eternal life, not our Earthly one. Otherwise our salvation would be partly due to our own works and would contradict Ephesians 2:8-9, which denies any notion of faith plus works in the salvation event. It would also make our salvation dependent on a lifelong adherence to a certain behavioral standard which conflicts with the promise of Ephesians 1:13-14 that the Holy Spirit is sealed within us at the moment of belief as God’s guarantee of our inheritance. If our salvation was contingent upon our behavior, God could not guarantee it from the moment we first believe.