Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he CANNOT see the kingdom of God.
Except a man be BORN OF WATER and the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God.
You must be born again!
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As can be seen from Jesus' own words quoted above, being born again is of utmost importance. Jesus says we must be born of water (and spirit). Few today question what Jesus meant by "born of spirit" but many ignore "born of water". Since Jesus says this is a necessity "to enter the kingdom of God" then we better be very sure what he meant so that we can fulfill this requirement.Given here are quotations of famous Church writers and preachers taken from the first century all the way through the late 18th Century. Perhaps it would be wise to consider their unified interpretation of Jesus' words before we choose more modern views...
[Author uncertain] (150-250 a.d.) Recognitions of Clement
(Book IV, Chapter 8-9) "this is His will: that you BE BORN ANEW BY MEANS OF WATER...For He who has been REGENERATED IN INCORRUPTION has made the one WHO IS REGENERATED BY WATER His heir.
"when you are REGENERATED AND BORN AGAIN OF WATER and of God...you shall be able to attain salvation; but OTHERWISE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE! For Jesus said, 'unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' [Jn 3:5] ...there is IN THESE WATERS A CERTAIN POWER OF MERCY... souls are consecrated by baptism." "...these WATERS, for they ALONE can quench the violence of the future fire, and concerning he who delays to approach them, it is clear that the idol of unbelief remains in him. ...the WATERS WHICH BESTOW SALVATION."
Tertullian, On Baptism
(Chapter 12) "WITHOUT BAPTISM, SALVATION is attainable BY NONE, chiefly on the basis of that declaration of the Lord, who says, `Unless one be BORN OF THE WATER, he has not life.'"
(Chapter 13) [Continuing the answers to objections:]
For the LAW OF BAPTISM has been IMPOSED..." [Mt 28:19] Jesus' own words, "Unless a man has been reborn of water and spirit, he shall not enter the Kingdom of the Heavens," [Jn 3:5] has tied faith to the NECESSITY OF BAPTISM. Accordingly, all thereafter who became believers used to be baptized.
Hippolytus [Irenaeus' disciple] (ca 170-236) Discourse
on the Holy Theophany
8. "The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man IN ORDER TO WASH HIM WITH WATER and the Spirit [Jn 3:5]. And He, BEGETTING us again to incorruption of soul and body...made us to have an incor- ruptible fullness. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. [2 Pet 1:4; Ps 82:6] AND IF HE IS MADE GOD BY WATER AND the Holy Spirit after THE REGENERATION OF THE LAVER, then..." "For this reason I preach: 'Come...to the IMMORTALITY OF THE BAPTISM. ...And how shall we come? How? By WATER and the Holy Spirit.
Origen, Commentary on Romans 5:9
[After quoting Lev 12:8 and Ps 51:5] "...the church had a tradition from the apostles, to give baptism even to infants. For they...knew that there is in everyone the natural stains of sin which MUST BE WASHED AWAY by the WATER AND THE SPIRIT. Because of these stains the body itself is called the body of sin.
John Chrysostom (329-389 ad)
Homily 25, John 3:5
What [Jesus] declares is this: "You say that [to be born of water] is impossible, I say that it is so ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE as to be NECESSARY, and that it is NOT even POSSIBLE otherwise TO BE SAVED."
Hear you, as many as are unILLUMINATED, shudder and groan; fearful is the THREAT, fearful the sentence. "IT IS NOT (POSSIBLE)," He says, "for one NOT born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven"; because he wears the raiment OF DEATH, OF CURSING, OF PERDITION, he has NOT YET RECEIVED his Lord's token, he is a stranger and a foreigner, he HAS NOT the royal watchword. "Except a man be BORN OF WATER and of the Spirit, he can NOT enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
Augustine, City of God
Bk 13, Ch 7
"For whichever UNBAPTIZED persons die, confessing Christ, this CONFESSION is as EFFECTIVE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS as if they were WASHED in the sacred FONT OF BAPTISM. For He who said, "Except a man be BORN OF WATER and of the Spirit, he CANNOT ENTER into the kingdom of God" [Jn 3:5], made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, "Whoever shall CONFESS me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" [Mt 10:32]
Bk 21, Ch 27
"For what does it profit a man that he is BAPTIZED, if he is not justified? Did not He who said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he shall NOT enter into the kingdom of God" [Jn 3:5], say also, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven?" [Mt 5:20] Why do many through fear of the first saying RUN TO BAPTISM, while only a few through fear of the second seek to be justified [by the righteousness of faith and holy living]?
Luther Table Talks, On Baptism
#304 - "When, in a difficult birth, the arm or leg of the baby alone comes out, we must not baptize that limb, under the idea that thereby the infant can receive baptism. Still less can it be pretended that you baptize a child not yet come into the world, by pouring water on the mother. ...John clearly shows that such practises are prohibited by Scripture: 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. We must not, therefore, baptize a child until it has actually come into the world, whole and entire.
Sermon 45, "The New Birth" (John 3:5,7)
2.3 The expression, "being born again" was not first used by our Lord in his conversation with Nicodemus. It was well known before that time, and was in common use among the Jews when our Saviour appeared among them. When an adult Heathen was convinced that the Jewish religion was of God, and desired to join therein, it was the custom to BAPTIZE him first, before he was admitted to circumcision. And WHEN HE WAS BAPTIZED, he was said to be BORN AGAIN;
4.2 the new birth is not the same thing as baptism, so it does not always
accompany baptism. They do not constantly go together. A man may possibly
be "born of water," and yet not be "born of the Spirit." There may sometimes
be the outward sign, where there is not the inward grace. I do not now
speak with regard to infants. It is certain our Church [of England] supposes
that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again;
and it is allowed that the whole Office for the Baptism of Infants proceeds
upon this supposition.
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