Have you ever met a ‘Born-Again Christian?’ What are they like? Are they overflowing with joy? I have met some who are, and I wonder at the reason behind their sense of happiness. Is it evidence of the spirit of holiness? Is it just emotion? What does it mean to be ‘born again?’ What is the source of joy? The purpose of this article is to examine what the Bible says about being ‘born again,’ and how the Scriptures define ‘joy.’
The first mention of joy in the Bible is found in this verse:
Deu_16:15 For seven days you are to celebrate in the presence of the LORD your God at the place where the LORD will choose; for the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in everything you do, and your joy will be complete.
The word for JOY in the above verse is Strong’s H8056 saw-may’-akh
From H8055; blithe or gleeful: – (be) glad, joyful, (making) merry ([-hearted]), rejoice (-ing).
WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE FESTIVALS (FEASTS) WE SAY, “CHAG SAMEACH!”
Chag Sameach (KHAHG sah-MEHY-ahkh)
Hebrew. Literally, joyous festival. This is an appropriate greeting for just about any holiday, but it’s especially appropriate for Sukkot, Shavu’ot and Pesach (Passover), which are technically the only festivals (the other holidays are holidays, not festivals).
In the first mention of “joyous” found in the Bible, the word relates to a Festival (Feast)! Not just any feast, either. It is the Feast of Sukkot (AKA: Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Tents). The same Feast that we learn all will be required to attend during the Millennial Kingdom! This Feast foreshadows the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! It’s the Feast that defines our ingathering when we will forever be with the Father! Get it? It’s our picture of Eternal Life! That is when our ‘joy will be complete!’
A SHADOW OF THE JOY TO COME
After having followed the Feasts of YHVH for the last several years, I can attest to the joy that comes from observing His Feasts. He always blesses us when we are obedient to meet Him at His appointed times. That is Joy! And it is a mere shadow of the complete joy that is to come!
Paul said (referring to Isaiah 64.4):
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind– God prepared this for those who love Him. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Do you see? It is all a part of God’s plan from before there were even human beings with eyes and ears or their own imaginations! From the beginning!
How amazing that our Creator loves us so much He made a way for those who love Him to dwell with Him forever!
If joy is found by those who claim to be ‘born-again Christians,’ maybe we should examine what that phrase means!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN AGAIN?
John 3:3-8 Jesus replied to him, “Truly, I tell you with certainty, unless a person is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus asked him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He can’t go back into his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, I tell you with certainty, unless a person is born of water and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit.
Don’t be astonished that I told you, ‘All of you must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. That’s the way it is with everyone who is born of the spirit.”
Strong’s elaborates on Yeshua’s words to be “born from above” as follows:
From a variation of G1085; to procreate (properly of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively to regenerate: – bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring.
From G507; from above; by analogy from the first; by implication anew: – from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top.
IN VERSE 3 HE SAYS YOU MUST BE BORN OF WATER AND SPIRIT.
G5204 hudatos hoo’-dor, hoo’-dat-os, etc.
From the base of G5205; water (as if rainy) literally or figuratively: – water.
G4151 pneuma pnyoo’-mah
From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.
HOW DOES THIS HELP EXPLAIN ANYTHING?
What is Yeshua telling Nicodemus? Born of water might to refer to a Mikveh (what Christianity calls baptism). Some will be surprised to learn that Mikvehs were commonplace in Judea when Yeshua walked the Earth. It wasn’t something new that John the Immerser (Baptist) inaugurated (more explanation below). So, when Yeshua spoke of being ‘born again’ Nicodemus would have understood a Mikveh. However, what did He mean by being born of the spirit?
Clearly, Yeshua was reinforcing the original instructions from YHVH. Something has to happen in our spirit – our heart – along with the Mikveh (which we can liken to being obedient to His instructions).
Deu_6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deu_10:12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
According to rabbinic literature, a Mikveh (baptismal water) refers to the womb of the world. When a convert comes out of the water it is considered a new birth! It’s a separation from the pagan world. As the convert emerges from the water, those witnessing the event cry, “Born again!” His status is changed and he is referred to as “a little child just born” or “a child of one day” (Yeb. 22a; 48b; 97b). The New Testament uses similar terms as “born anew,” “new creation,” and “born from above,” which all stem from Jewish understanding of a Mikveh (a physical event in conjunction with a spiritual birth)!
1Pe_1:23 For you have been born again, not by a seed that perishes but by one that cannot perish—by the living and everlasting word of God.
Does this inform our understanding being ‘washed by the water of the word?’
The ‘living and everlasting word of God,’ is His spirit! For we know that no one has ever seen YHVH, and that He is spirit!
John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father (this was written After the resurrection), he hath declared him. (ASV)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH?
We understand from scripture that the word of God is truth.
Psa_25:10 All the paths of the LORD lead to gracious love and truth for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
Psa_119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and each righteous ordinance of yours is everlasting.
Once we start to define each of the elements, they seem inextricably linked together.
His Word (Torah) is Truth
We are born again through a Mikveh.
Our physical act of obedience (Mikveh) is evidence of a spiritual rebirth and leads to a changed life!
Once we enter into His Covenant we observe the Feasts. (They are a source of JOY!)
Lev 23:1 The LORD spoke to Moses,
Lev 23:2 Tell the Israelis, “These are my feast times appointed by the LORD that you are to declare as sacred assemblies.
BUT THERE’S MORE!
Not only do we find joy in the Feasts, Yeshua explained to his disciples the source of his own joy!
John 15:10-11 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Have you ever noticed how Yeshua explains the source of his own joy by these words? He had a full measure of JOY because he kept His Father’s commandments and it caused him to ABIDE in HIS LOVE. Just consider that a minute.
This statement turns on its head all who think that keeping the Law is unnecessary. Yeshua didn’t think it was unnecessary! On the contrary, he understood it to be the source of his Joy! Don’t you want some Joy in your life? Yeshua said that Joy is available to all of us when we ABIDE in His love, just as he did.
Need more proof?
Mat 22:37-40 Jesus told him, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is exactly like it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
How is it that we have missed it all these hundreds of years? All of the Law and the Prophets depend (some translations say are suspended or hang upon) LOVE. Love of Father and Love of neighbor and self!
IN SIMPLE TERMS, THE TORAH IS YHVH’S DEFINITION OF LOVE
To treat the Law as a burden, or unnecessary is the same thing as saying we are not willing to give God our full measure of love. How else can we demonstrate our love for Him? It isn’t rocket science! He tells us. “If you love me, keep my commandments!”
And Yeshua prayed that we would know the joy he found in keeping His Father’s commandments!
I will close with one of my favorite verses. It is a profoundly joyful verse! It might strike you in a whole new way now that we know the source of Joy! I pray that it will be so!
Romans 8:37-39 In all these things we are triumphantly victorious due to the one who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of [YHVH] that is ours in union [Together!] with the Messiah [Yeshua], our Lord. (ISV)