Spiritual Rebirth - Regeneration
What does the Lord mean when He speaks of being “born again” in the New Testament?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God [John 3:3].
In John’s Gospel Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, who was confused by this teaching and asked how a man could be born when he is old? In Swedenborg’s Theological Writings we are taught that this rebirth refers to a person’s spiritual rebirth, or regeneration. To be born again, He said, is a Spiritual rebirth, of water and the Spirit of God.
Unless a man is born again, and, as it were, created anew, he cannot enter in the Kingdom of God [TCR 572(i).
But what does it mean, to be “born of water and of spirit”? The meaning of this phrase is explained in Swedenborg’s book entitled The True Christian Religion, where he reveals that “the Kingdom of God” means both heaven and the church in these verses and in other places in the Word.
“To be born of water and the spirit” means to be born by means of truths related to faith and a life lived by those truths. For truth as the meaning of water, see Apocalypse Revealed n. 50, 614, 615, 685, 932). That “spirit” signifies a life in accordance with Divine truths is clear from the Lord’s Words in John (6:63).
In the Word of the Third Testament, as revealed by Swedenborg, the regenerate [i.e. those “born again...of water and of Spirit”] are called “Sons of God” and “born of God,” and regeneration is described by “a new heart and a new spirit.”
In The True Christian Religion, no. 573, Swedenborg teaches that the expression “born again,” or “created anew,” is used because “to be created” signifies to be regenerated. That this is the meaning of “to be created” in the Word can be seen from the following passage from Psalm 51 verse 10:
Create for me a clean heart, O God; and renew a firm spirit in the midst of me.
In these two numbers from The True Christian Religion, Nos. 572 and 573, we learn that since we are not born into spiritual life, but into natural life, we must receive a new life, a spiritual life from the Lord, in order to dwell in heaven with God.
Wherefore, unless man receives new life, which is spiritual life, from the Lord, thus unless he is conceived anew, is born anew, is educated anew, that is, is created anew, he cannot dwell in heaven as the Lord teaches in John (3:iii) [TCR 572].
NOTE regarding the language of Swedenborg.
Swedenborg’s Theological Writings. were originally written in Latin. The word, “regeneration” in this English translation comes from the Latin word ‘regeneratio’, which means ‘being born again’ (re-generation is from re- “again” (see re-) + generare “to produce”). In Theology, the word “regeneration” means a “spiritual rebirth.”
To read more on this go to Life of Religion is to Do Good.
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