The New Birth

Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews, and a man of some distinction, heard much about the preaching and work of Jesus, and one night called on him, evidently seeking information regarding his claims. Jesus at once presented, for his consideration, one of the fundamentals of his teachings, saying: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he can not enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5). By “born of water,” in this instance, baptism is meant. It can mean nothing else.

To be born of the Spirit means not only the receiving of the Spirit, but it includes “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). The Word of God, the seed of the kingdom, is planted in the heart. The heart takes hold of the Word, and the Word takes hold of the heart, resulting in a new creature, hence a new birth- born from above, born of God, born of the Spirit. All of this must be understood in connection with what James 1:18 says: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth”-the Word and the Spirit playing their active parts.

In a sense, it is a twofold birth-born of water, born of the Spirit. It involves a water baptism and also a Spirit baptism. In the water baptism the body is completely enveloped. In the Spirit baptism the soul or spirit of man is baptized in the Spirit–is brought completely under the influence of the Spirit. The birth of water and the birth of the Spirit must be considered jointly. By divine appointment they go together. There is no separating them with the blessed promises following.

Jesus makes the twofold birth of water and of the Spirit essential to an entrance into the kingdom. We enter the world through a material birth, but the kingdom of God must be entered through the spiritual birth; that is, born of water and of the Spirit. Man administers the rite of water baptism. But God, through Jesus Christ, his Son, administers the Spirit baptism. This is in accord with what John the Baptist taught when he said: “I indeed baptize you with water, but he (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”

–J. H. Moore,
The New Testament Doctrines,
Brethren Publishing House,
Elgin, Illinois. 1914.