What Does it Mean to be Born Again?

babyA friend on Google+ posted a very inspirational piece called, “Born Again – the DNA of Eternal Life”. The music is moving, the images inspiring, and the message encouraging. However, I had some thoughts that I feel are pertinent to  understanding what it means to be born again. So here is my reaction to his piece.

Jesus is the Living Word/Living Torah. He came as a man, but did not do anything against the Torah of God. If he did, he would have disqualified himself as the atoning, perfect lamb without spot or blemish.

John 1:1-2, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning; and the Word became a human being and lived with us.

Deut 13:1-6

“If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, ‘Let’s follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them,’ you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being. You are to follow Adonai your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him;  and that prophet or dreamer is to be put to death; because he urged rebellion against Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from a life of slavery; in order to seduce you away from the path Adonai your God ordered you to follow. This is how you are to rid your community of this wickedness.”

Romans 8:3

 For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin].  (emphasis mine)

Jesus brought the promise of the new covenant given in Jeremiah, which is very similar to the previous covenant at Sinai. The difference is that the new covenant has God’s Torah written on our hearts, where the old one is written on tablets of stone. However, it is the same Torah.

Jeremiah 31:31-33

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Emphasis mine)

Romans 8:3-4

 For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. (emphasis mine)

First, let’s make sure we understand – what is sin?

1 John 3:3-6

Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him. So no one who remains united with him continues sinning; everyone who does continue sinning has neither seen him nor known him.

Second, we need to understand that God gave the promised new covenant to Israel and Judah. As followers of the Master, we are grafted into the family of Abraham. But do we really understand the how and why of it? Personally, other than quoting scripture, I wasn’t sure how this worked. Then I had a clarifying revelation as I studied the notes on Genesis 12:7 and Joshua 24:2-3 from First Fruits of Zion’s Torah Club.

Abraham was from the line of Eber, so was called a Hebrew. He was also one who ‘crossed over’.  The word ‘ever’ in Hebrew means across.  It is the same as the word‘Hebrew’. When we believe in the promise of Messiah, the one who came to purge us from sin, we come across from death to life, from sin to righteousness.

But what exactly is life? What is death?

God gives us a clear definition. Obedience to his Torah is life. Disobedience is death.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

 “Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil — in that I am ordering you today to love Adonai your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you are drawn away to prostrate yourselves before other gods and serve them; I am announcing to you today that you will certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to enter and possess.

“I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving Adonai your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him — for that is the purpose of your life!”

Wait…what? Did he really reveal to us the purpose of our life?

Yes he did. All these years, all these books and millions of dollars spent and made to discover the purpose of our life, and there it’s been sitting in the bible these 4,000 years! The purpose of our life is to love God, pay attention to what he says, and cling to him. He made it so simple for us.

Yet, is this all about us? Absolutely not!

Jesus said he is the light of the world which gives life (John 8:12) and if we follow him, we will have that light. As disciples, we should be just like our Rabbi, living as he did, following and interpreting Torah as he did. When we do this, we spread that light, repair the world, and usher in his return.

So to sum it all up, the rebirth process is death to our old sinful nature and life to our new Torah obedient nature.  It is loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

 

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