By: Admin Peter
Being a Catholic, I bet at least once in your life you have met some Protestant pastor or minister who tried convincing you to convert, and one of their favorite verses is this:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Then this is immediately (or at least anytime in the conversation) followed by their question: Are you “born again”? And of course, you, thinking that he denotes a membership to a certain “church” (that’s a small “c” right there) which he really does, probably answered NO. And so by your answer, he can easily convince you that you won’t make it to heaven, all because you are “NOT born again”.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW FIRST
Whenever Protestants use John 3:3, most of the time, they will stop reading the verse right there. Because when you ask them, “How can I be born again?” (and this is basically based on experience) they will either jump from one verse to another to justify the claim or say you can only be ‘born again’ by “asking Jesus into your heart as your PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR”.
However, the Bible itself has a different claim—Jesus Himself answered that question.
If you continue reading the verse to verses 4 and 5, you will read how Nicodemus, a Pharisee, asked Jesus the “how” question:
4 “How can a man be born when he is old? Nicodemus asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God UNLESS HE IS BORN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT.…”
Now the dilemma starts, being a doubting Catholic, whose claim should you believe then?
(Tip: You can try Biblegateway.com to search the entire Bible for the phrase “personal lord and savior” or “ask Jesus in your heart” and come up with nothing. Try it.)
WATER AND SPIRIT IS JUST SYMBOLIC
Why does God want us to be born again with WATER AND SPIRIT? What most of us don’t really notice is that God works perfectly and whenever He begins new things, He always does it the same way: with WATER and SPIRIT. Let’s take a look at the BEGINNING of the Bible:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and THE SPIRIT of God was moving over the surface OF THE WATERS.
God, from the BEGINNING OF TIME, had placed particular significance in “WATER and SPIRIT”. Next is the Great Flood, where God washed the sins of the earth with WATER. And when the flood subsided, who particularly gave the sign of it? The DOVE. The SPIRIT hovering over the WATER towards Noah signified that mankind has been saved and this can be supported by what Peter said in 1 Peter 3:20-21:
“20 Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were SAVED BY WATER. 21 Whereunto BAPTISM being of the like form, now saveth you also…”
In here, Peter emphasized how BAPTISM saves you in a similar way how Noah and the others were saved by WATER. We can still go on with this citing other examples of beginnings with WATER and SPIRIT like how the people of God were saved from Egypt by the divided WATER beneath and leading FIRE/CLOUD which was the SPIRIT above (from these people, BEGAN ISRAEL).
For us Catholics, WATER AND SPIRIT (baptism) is not mere symbolism but a SACRAMENT. It is sacrament of our participation in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus (Colossians 2:12). In baptism, we’re freed from the chains of Original Sin—the state of man since the Fall—and became adopted children of God (Romans 8:14-16). In baptism, WE ARE BORN AGAIN IN WATER AND SPIRIT.
THE ONES BAPTIZED IN THE BIBLICAL WAY: THE IMMERSION!
One might argue with this point that IMMERSION in water is the authentic form of Baptism. However, one should first understand that there have been 2 types of Baptisms in the Bible: the Symbolic and the Salvific. John the Baptist made a prime distinction of these 2 when he said:
“…I BAPTIZE YOU with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come … HE WILL BAPTIZE YOU with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)
Notice that John was talking to the same set of people whom he baptized about how they WILL BE BAPTIZED in Jesus. John’s baptism, therefore, is SYMBOLIC. It was a sign done by people repenting from their sins. But this baptism isn’t the baptism that regenerates (saves) and can forgive sins. FOR NO MAN CAN FORGIVE SINS. If the John-Baptism’s role is to forgive the sins of those who take it, then Jesus would’ve never gone to be baptized by John since He is SINLESS (we’re all aware of this). The difference lies, therefore, in AUTHORITY.
Baptism doesn’t rely on the MANNER but on whose AUTHORITY. You can immerse yourself in any pool, river, canal or drum of water as many times as you like but still won’t receive Baptism if it’s administered by someone without AUTHORITY. Who’s the sole administrator of the Sacraments (the baptism in this case) then?
18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My CHURCH, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I WILL GIVE YOU THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
This may be unfortunate for some, but really, you can search for AUTHENTIC SOURCES OF HISTORY (like Grolier Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, Young Student’s Encyclopedia, etc.). And you will only end up with results that the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church is the Church founded on Peter and whose JESUS’ AUTHORITY was passed on. The Sacraments (Keys of Heaven) were Jesus’ gift to His Church. He did not leave it to random people to administer but on THE APOSTLES ONLY. These apostles were the first Bishops, who after some time, appointed helpers to manage the growing Church (Acts 6:1-7) who we now know as the Priests (you might want to learn about APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION for this).
If we are to isolate the authenticity of BAPTISM in the MANNER it is administered, then people, from places with no rivers or water to be immersed to, are deprived of salvation. Either by immersion or by little water (or even none), one can still be baptized by the AUTHORITY given by Jesus to His ONE TRUE Church.
So the next time, if one would ask you the question “Are you born again?”
Your best response should be “YES, in the AUTHENTIC AND BIBLICAL WAY”.