QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
Regarding Born Again
♦ I’ve sinned so much. Could I really be a son?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“I have had people to tell me I might be of the anointed. I have sinned so much in my life, how can this be possible? To be like our great and wonderful teacher Jesus Christ? Then the holy spirit bring to my heart, “All things are possible with our god Jehovah.”
To the author, we thank you for your candid inquiry. We agree with you that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) But we suspect many of our brothers share your concerns and allow this issue to be a stumbling block that prevents them from accepting their sonship. By way of our response, we hope to remove this stumbling block and be of comfort to you and to those who share your concerns.
We believe the best way we can answer this question is to point you to the parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32) (We discuss this parable in more detail in the article, “Why Are the Older Anointed Reluctant to Recognize the Younger Anointed?”)
Here, the prodigal committed all kinds of debauchery. When he came to his senses, although he knew he was a son, he felt he was no longer worthy of that status. He returned to his father and sought only to be a hired man. But the father would not accept this kind of self-pity and self-denigration from his son. Neither does YOUR Father accept that attitude from you.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and mercy when he encountered the woman who had been caught in adultery and who was about to be stoned. After wisely turning away the aggressors, Jesus asked:
“Did no one condemn you?” She said: “No one, sir.” Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way; from now on practice sin no more.”– John 8:10-11
And we follow Jesus’ example. We say to ourselves and to all those who hear us, “sin no more.” And that’s the end of that.
We find the problem with mankind in general is that many fail to appreciate the depth of divine forgiveness. We ask you, how often do you think loving and intelligent parents must forgive their erring offspring? We think, not too often. Not because the children do not err. But because there exists an intimate and understanding relationship between the two that prevent estrangements that necessitate repentance by the child and forgiveness by the parent.
The parent is able to view the immaturity of the child in the light of the more advanced parental maturity. The child, being immature and lacking in the fuller understanding of the depth of the child-parent relationship, frequently feels a sense of guilty separation from a parent’s full approval. But a true parent is never conscious of any such separation such that repentance and forgiveness need come into play.
With the earthly child and the heavenly Father, the divine parent possesses infinite and divine sympathy and capacity for loving understanding. Divine forgiveness is inevitable; it is inherent and inalienable in God's infinite understanding, in his perfect knowledge of all that concerns the mistaken judgment and erroneous choosing of the child. Divine justice is so eternally fair that it unfailingly embodies understanding mercy. Thus, sin is an experience of creature consciousness; it is not a part of God's consciousness.
Let’s take this a little further in our dealings with our brothers. When a wise man understands the inner impulses of his brothers, he will love them. And when you love your brother, you have already forgiven him. This capacity to understand man's nature and forgive his apparent wrongdoing is Godlike.
Conversely, our inability or unwillingness to forgive our brothers is the measure of our immaturity, and our failure to attain adult sympathy, understanding, and love. We hold grudges and nurse vengefulness in direct proportion to our ignorance of the inner nature and true longings of our brothers. Love is the outworking of the divine and inner urge of life. It is founded on understanding, nurtured by unselfish service, and perfected in wisdom.
So we need not concern ourselves with the quantity or even the quality of our sins. When we comprehend the Father’s divine mercy and understanding, we can see that it is only us who holds those past sins against us. We can then let them go, set them aside and start anew. That is what being “born again” is all about.
So, never may we allow our past transgressions to prevent us from accepting our true heritage and entering into the Kingdom of the Heavens. Your challenge, our dear brother or sister, is to forgive yourself. The Father’s work is already done.
We pray that the spirit of truth will lead you to this realization.
♦ Visitor does not believe Daniel or John the Baptizer will be in heaven because they were not born again.
On February 21, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Dear brothers, this question is about a discussion I read on the supposed resurrection of Daniel to the heavens. I was not convinced by your explanation as a couple of crucial issues were not dealt with.
“The first is: John 3:3 - "unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The second is: Matthew 11:11,12 - regarding John the Baptist, "...a lesser one in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is. But from the days of John the Baptist until, now the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal towards which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it".
“If we agree on what it means to be born again, born of water and spirit, namely baptism and receiving the promised holy spirit, then by the account in John, Daniel would be required to be born again in order to see the kingdom of the heavens would he not?
“Also, why is a lesser one in the Kingdom of the heavens greater than John the Baptist, when by Jesus's own admission, "among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist". Presumably, it has something to do with John not having been born again, born of water and spirit?
“I note however, that a promise of "...you will be with me in paradise" was made to a man who was not I assume born again. So is it reasonable to assume that he would see the kingdom of the heavens?
“If you could spend some of your precious time answering these questions for me I will be most grateful.”
To the author, thank you for your email and, of course, we will be happy to spend time responding to your question. We provided a response privately, but we believe it would be beneficial to our visitors if we publish our response as well.
Your first question has to do with being born again. We discuss this matter in detail in the article Being Born of Spirit. But cursorily, we will offer a few points:
Being born of spirit is an event that occurs after death. The pouring out of holy spirit while we are alive is called a ‘token’ not the actual spirit birth. Ephesians 1:13-14. Since both John the Baptizer and Daniel experienced actual physical death, they are in the proper condition to be re-born ‘of spirit’ by way of the promised resurrection. (See The Promised Resurrection.)
Being born of water is symbolic of dying to our past life and being made anew in our thinking. It is not an actual death or an actual rebirth. Romans 6:4. Again, since John the Baptizer and Daniel experienced actual physical death, they have no need of being baptized in water.
Daniel was promised a resurrection. Daniel 12:13. (See The Promised Resurrection.) The only place where people are resurrected to is the heavens.
As to John the Baptizer, Jesus did not say that John the Baptist would not be a part of the Kingdom of the Heavens. Here is what Jesus actually said:
“I tell you, Among those born of women there is none greater than John; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.”– Luke 7:28
We believe Jesus is referring to the fact that while John preached that the kingdom was near, he had no real concept of what the kingdom was. He died before Jesus began his ministry about the kingdom of the heavens. This does not mean that John would be excluded from the Kingdom, only that he would have a ‘lesser’ position in the heavenly kingdom than a ‘lesser’ one who had the benefits of Jesus’ teachings. Also, please note this scripture:
“But I tell you that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.”– Matthew 8:11
So not only will faithful pre-Christian Jews be in the kingdom of heaven, but even men from the east and the west. Yes, all mankind is invited! We also point you to a recent article we published entitled Faith Sons and the Heavenly Hope that shows that many of the pre-Christian Jews had the heavenly hope!
As for the evildoer, Jesus promised that he would be in paradise. The only paradise ever referred to in the Bible is a heavenly paradise. (See The Promised Resurrection and What is God's Purpose for the Earth?) Thus, if Jesus could promise the heavenly paradise to an evildoer, surely faithful prophets like Daniel and John the Baptizer could receive the same reward, along with ‘Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and those from the eastern and western parts.’ (Matthew 8:11)
We find the best way to understand the good news of the Bible is to look at the plain and open teachings of Jesus. And if we attempt to interpret prophecy, those interpretations should be in harmony with what Jesus actually taught, rather than in conflict with, or going beyond, what Jesus taught. A fair and honest look at Jesus’ teachings shows that Jesus encouraged a heavenly hope for all. So did the Christian Bible writers. Never did any of them teach us to seek everlasting life on earth.
Also, remember, all the pre-Christian prophets prophesied about Jesus, and Paul explained that the good news would come from Jesus, not the early prophets or anyone else. (Hebrews 1:1-2) Therefore, it is error, and even arrogance, when men, proposing to be prophets 1900 years later, decide to change what Jesus and the early Bible writers taught based on their own limited comprehension of Bible prophecy. (See Proving Ourselves Worthy of the Christ.) We also note that many of the interpretations of this group of men in the early 19th century had to be changed or withdrawn many times; whereas Jesus’ teachings remain consistent and reliable, and even more so today.
We hope we have satisfactorily answered your questions. But if not, please feel free to write again.