Friday, May 4, 2018

Baptismal Regeneration & Justification are False

By Keith Thompson

Rome teaches that an infant, child or adult is justified or regenerated, that is, born again, through the sacrament of water baptism. In Romanism regeneration or new birth is the same as initial justification. Rome rejects faith alone appropriates justification but that this ritual work does so. They say someone receives the Holy Spirit, or as the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “becomes . . . a temple of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, [DoubleDay, 1994], par. 1279 p. 357) and is justified after they take part in this ritual. The Council of Trent asserted that justification is “a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. This translation however cannot, since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, as it is written: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Decree Concerning Justification, Sixth Session, Ch. 4, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H. J. Schroeder, [TAN Books and Publishers, 1978], p. 31). The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church further explains: “Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principle effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit. By baptism all sins are forgiven, original and all personal sins, as well as the punishment for sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, [DoubleDay, 1994], par. 1262-1263 p. 353)

Regeneration is not Justification and neither is acquired through baptism

Rome’s refusal to differentiate regeneration (or new birth) with justification is a serious difficulty biblically speaking. In Holy Scripture justification is a legal verdict from God of acquittal stating that someone is declared righteous in His sight (Deuteronomy 25:1; 1 Kings 8:32;  Job 32:2; Proverbs 17:15; Luke 7:29; Romans 3:4; 5:16; 8:33-34); and it is by faith or trust alone and not works (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 3:20-22, 27-28; 4:3, 16, 5; 4:13-14; 10:4; 11:6; 2:16; 3:11; 1 Corinthians 1:28-31; Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:9). It is not an infusion of grace or someone being made righteous by the sacrament of baptism. Justification is never said to be by baptism in Scripture, but through faith apart from works. Now, regeneration is an unmerited act of God which happens to a person when they do not expect it, whereby God grants someone a new nature, the gifts of repentance and faith, and the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-27; Jeremiah 31:18; Lamentations 5:21; John 1:13; 3:3-8; 6:65; Acts 5:31; 13:48; 16:14-15; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5, 8; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25; 1 John 5:1; Hebrews 12:2) This leads to the person converting and believing in Christ and the gospel unto justification. New birth is not acquired through baptism. It is absolutely unmerited in the strictest sense. The regenerated person who already believed unto justification is to then be baptized after this (Acts 2:41; 8:12, 8:36-37; 10:43-44, 47).

Regeneration is not by Baptism.

John 1:13 precludes baptism from regenerating. In John 1:13 Jesus mentions people being “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). This text demonstrates that new birth or regeneration comes about only by the will of God and not by the will of man. Thus, when Rome says a person wills themselves to be Catholic and be baptized in order to be born again, they are clearly at odds with the biblical teaching.

1 John 5:1 precludes believing and being baptized for regeneration. Rome teaches that adults must first believe Catholicism in order to be baptized and be born again, even if, in the case of an infant or child, the faith is very small. However, 1 John 5:1 proves regeneration comes before believing or wanting to do right (i.e., being baptized): “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1). Being born of God precedes being converted and believing which is contrary to Rome since it again states adult catechumens are to already be converted and have faith before baptism and regeneration (Catechism of the Catholic Church, [DoubleDay, 1994], par. 1247-1249 p. 350). The Greek of 1 John 5:1 literally indicates the one believing has been born of God in the past. The word for “has been born” is gegennētai and it’s a perfect tense verb. This means the new birth is a completed action of the past which has an abiding result in the present. Believing is present participle indicating a present continuation of belief. Thus, since you have a perfect tense verb with the present tense participle, the action accomplished by the perfect tense verb must precede the action of the present participle. As Glenn W. Barker correctly observes: “Even as we love only because God first loved us, so also our belief is possible only because we have first been ‘born of God’. . . . ‘Believing’ in Jesus (present tense in Gr.) is a direct consequence of our ‘having been born’ (perfect tense in Gr.) of God and therefore becomes a ‘test’ of proof of that birth” (Glenn W. Barker, 1, 2 & 3 John, [Zondervan, 1981], p. 348; see also Yarborough 1-3 John, [Baker Academic, 2008], p. 269). This text utterly contradicts the idea that an unregenerate person is converted, has faith and then gets baptized in order to be born again and receive the Spirit.

Ezekiel 36:24-27 precludes baptism from regenerating. In Ezekiel 26:24-27 we read: “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:24-27). Notice that regeneration here, that is, God giving people His Spirit, a new heart and cleansing their nature, is granted to an unworthy people who have to be pulled away from their idols and rebellion by God and caused to obey Him. Regeneration is not done because people, convert, choose to become holy and be baptized (God causes it in them in order for them to convert and become holy, etc). Hence, Rome is wrong for claiming converted people who choose to be baptized are then regenerated by God and given the Spirit. They have it backwards. On the contrary, unholy people who do not deserve or seek regeneration and who are steeped in the idolatry and worldliness receive it by grace (unearned favor) and then they obey God as a result.

Biblical teaching of total depravity/inability at odds with baptismal regeneration. The Roman Catholic idea that unregenerate men have it in them to truly bring about their regeneration by going forth in water baptism is contradicted by the fact that Scripture describes unregenerate man as dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), haters of God (Romans 8:7-8), unable to accept the spiritual things of God without the Spirit of God, those who consider spiritual truth foolish (1 Corinthians 2:14), unable to come to Christ (John 6:44, 65), unable to seek God (Romans 3:11), hostile in minds toward God and thus alienated from Him (Colossians 1:21), and having an incredibly deceitful and wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Hence, it is not possible for someone to truly convert, believe, seek God and get baptized to obtain regeneration and the Spirit. The person first requires regeneration by the Spirit if they are going to convert, seek God and believe.

Response to Roman arguments for baptismal regeneration/justification.

Acts 2:38. Roman Catholics (Dave Armstrong, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, [Sophia Institute Press, 2003], p. 39) very often quote Acts 2:38 in order to prove regeneration and forgiveness of sins are obtained through water baptism. It states: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). There are, however, some important textual considerations which clearly undermine the Roman understanding. First, for this author repentance is said to lead to forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3 17:4; 24:47; Acts 3:19; 5:31). Keep that in mind. Moreover, for Luke repentance is towards Christ and involves a receiving of His claims and identity (Acts 2:26-36; 3:17-21; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20). This repentance therefore involves changing one’s mind about Christ from disbelief to belief or acceptance. In v. 36 Peter says these Jews crucified Christ. Thus, it follows, for Luke here, baptism is a public act of repentance towards Christ involving a turning to Him. Craig S. Keener, possibly the leading Acts scholar of today, notes that for this author “baptism is not dissociated from repentance but constitutes an act of repentance; under normal circumstance, one does not separate the two” (Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 1, [Baker Books, 2012], p. 975 italics mine). Also, when it says be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” this means, as David Peterson notes, the person being baptized “actually called upon Jesus as Lord and Christ, as a way of confessing faith in him (cf. 22:16)” (David Peterson, Acts of the Apostles, ed. D. A. Carson, Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009], p. 155). F. F. Bruce also confirms this noting baptism is administered in the name of Jesus Christ “in the sense that his name was invoked or confessed by the person being baptized (cf. 22:16)” (F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, ed. Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988], p. 70). Thus, those who are baptized calling on Christ’s name, an act of repentant faith for Luke, have their sins remitted by Christ’s cross-work on the basis of the entailed repentant faith which accompanies water baptism. The baptism is thus incidental and not the instrumental cause of expiation. Such people can be said to receive the Holy Spirit if they do this, since, only those who God regenerates and gives the Spirit to, do these things (1 Corinthians 2:14). The repentant faith signified in the baptism is what leads to forgiveness of sins; and it is what accompanies reception of the Holy Spirit. Robert Gundry confirms, “‘On the basis of the name of Jesus Christ’ makes this baptism a kind of body language (accompanied by verbal language according to 22:16) that confesses Jesus as the Christ and calls on him to exercise his Christly authority by forgiving the sins repented of” (Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 472). For Peter, the one speaking in Acts 2:38, it is faith in Christ and not water baptism which saves (Acts 3:16). So for example in Acts 15:9-12 Peter says hearts are cleansed through faith and salvation is by grace, not baptism. Moreover, in the same book, Acts 28:18-20, Paul says forgiveness of sins and sanctification are through faith in Christ and that doing deeds, which is what baptism is, is what a person should do to keep with their repentance or show their repentance. Lastly, in Acts 10:43-47 Peter, while preaching, shows, contra Rome’s misuse of Acts 2:38, that forgiveness of sins is through Christ’s name and believers of this receive the Holy Spirit prior to water baptism. In fact in Acts 8:1-25 when Philip goes to Samaria to preach and people get baptized, they do not receive the Holy Spirit until the later placing of hands. Hence, again, it is crystal clear that baptism in Acts 2:38 is incidental and a public expression of repentant faith in Christ whereby men call on Christ’s name for salvation.

Acts 22:16. Another text cited by Catholics in order to try to establish baptismal regeneration/justification is Acts 22:16 which says: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). However, this is the same case as with Acts 2:38. Baptism while calling on Jesus’ name here represents repentant faith in Christ. And it is Christ’s expiatory sacrifice received by repentant faith which expiates sins and turns God’s wrath away from someone (Luke 18:10-14; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 3:23; 5:1). Baptism is incidental. Again, for Luke repentance (Luke 3:3 17:4; 24:47; Acts 3:19; 5:31) towards Christ and His identity and work (Acts 2:26-36; 3:17-21; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20), resulting in coming to Him, is what leads to forgiveness of sins. Thus, Luke taken as a whole clearly proves baptism while calling on Christ is meant to be seen as an expression of the repentant faith which results in forgiveness of sins. To further prove this it should be noted that the same speaker, Paul, in Romans 10:9-10 says confessing with your mouth Christ is Lord and believing in your heart that God raised Him is what saves you. Those who are water baptized do this and hence can be said to be saved after being baptized. Again baptism is not the instrumental cause of justification here but is incidental. Paul again confirms this in Acts 16:30-31 when the jailer asks Paul what he must do to be saved. If Paul was Roman Catholic and believed baptism was the instrumental cause of justification he should have said “believe and be baptized.” However, he instead simply says to believe in Christ and he will be saved. Paul again confirms in Acts 13:38-39 that believing appropriates forgiveness of sins and frees us. As noted in Acts 26:18-20, Paul says forgiveness of sins and sanctification are through faith in Christ and that doing deeds, which is what baptism is, is what a person should do to keep with their repentance or show their repentance.

Titus 3:5. Another common text Catholics misuse to support their teaching is Titus 3:5 which says, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Catholic scholars Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch claim: “Paul links the idea of regeneration with a baptismal washing that cleanses us of sin and gives us a new birth into the family of God” (Scott Hahn, Curtis Mitch, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, [Ignatius Press, 2010], p. 407). However, there are quite a few reasons Paul’s reference to the washing of regeneration is not referring to water baptism. First, baptism is never once called “washing” in all the biblical passages which mention baptism taking place, or which discuss the subject. Second, it can not refer to the human act/work of baptism since the opposite of this washing of regeneration is “works done by us in righteousness.” Baptism is a work done in righteousness, the very thing the washing of regeneration said to not be. The only thing opposite of works according to Scripture is faith/trust, not baptism (Romans 4:5). So this washing of regeneration must refer to faith. Third, Paul already explained what this washing is in Ephesians 5:26 when he said, “he might sanctify her [the church], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). The same Greek word for washing, “loutron,” is used in both of these texts. In fact, Ephesians 5:26 is the only other instance of the word appearing in the New Testament. What Paul has in mind here is a divine inner act of God wherein this “washing of water with the word,” as Robert Gundry notes, “identifies the cleansing water as the proclaimed gospel, belief in which washes away the filth of our trespasses and sins” (Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 776 italics mine). How do we know this washing of water with the word refers to God washing our sins after we receive the gospel message or “word” (Gk. rhēma) by faith? Because in many texts Paul identifies “the word” as the gospel which is preached and believed (1 Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:2). For example, Ephesians 1:13 mentions, “the word [rhēma] of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). And Colossians 1:5 speaks of “the word [rhēma] of the truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). According to Paul, the gospel is Jesus died for sins, was buried, rose and appeared (1 Corinthians 15:1-6). Thus, again this “washing of regeneration” in Titus 3:5 and “washing of water with the word” in Ephesians 1:13 is a divine act of God which is associated with the gospel proclamation being received by faith. Water baptism is not being discussed in either text. Some Catholics claim baptism is not a work. However, again, the only thing which is said not to be a work is faith (Romans 4:5). Baptism is never said to not be a work in Scripture. To claim baptism is not a work because God does it in us, as certain Catholics do, is egregious because then nothing would be considered a work since God does everything through us: both faith and all works (Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 1:11; Ephesians 2:10). The fact is everything outside of faith is a work even if God does it through us (Romans 4:5). Thus, Titus 3:5 can't be teaching baptism saves. Lastly, the first century apostolic father Clement interpreted Titus 3:5 as meaning men are justified by faith apart from any consideration of works, not by baptism: “we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 32). Clement, a student of the apostles, clearly alludes to Titus 3:5’s mention of justification not being based on works wrought in righteousness, but by the washing of regeneration and interprets that to mean it is by faith apart from any consideration of works

1 Peter 3:21. Yet another text to examine which Catholics appeal to (Patrick Madrid, Answer Me This!, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2003], p. 183) in order to support baptismal regeneration/justification is 1 Peter 3:21 which says, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). However, there are two reasons why the Roman view of this text is wrong: the meaning of the text and the context of Peter’s broader teaching. Peter makes it a point to say it is not the removal of dirt from the body which saves, that is the actual ritual, but what baptism represents is what saves, that is, an appeal for a good conscience. So Peter refutes the idea that the act of baptism itself somehow saves, that is, water removing dirt from the body. Instead what baptism represents, that is, a believer asking or appealing to God to cleanse their conscience and forgive their sins based on Jesus’ death and resurrection, is what actually saves. As Thomas Schreiner notes, “. . .Peter did not succumb to a mechanical view of baptism, as if the rite itself contains an inherent saving power. Such a sacramental view was far from his mind. . . . baptism is associated with an appeal or request to God for a good conscience. . . . believers at baptism ask God – on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ – to cleanse their consciences and forgive their sins. . . . Believers at baptism can be confident on the basis of the work of the crucified and risen Lord that their appeal to have a good conscience will be answered” (Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, The New American Commentary, [B&H Publishing Group, 2003], pp. 194, 196-197). Schreiner cites numerous scholars who agree with this position on textual and grammatical grounds such as Dalton, Grudem, Beare, Moffatt, Schweizer, Achtemeier, Goppelt, and Schelke. Now secondly, earlier in this epistle, in 1 Peter 1:2-5, Peter affirms that God’s foreknowledge, mercy and Spirit are what lead to people being sprinkled with Christ’s blood and saved, obedient, born again and guarded through faith. This is how one is washed by Christ. It’s not baptism which does this. Moreover, again in the same letter, in 1 Peter 1:21-23, Peter writes that the souls of believers are purified by obedience to the truth, which, according to the context of the verse, is by being believers whose faith and hope are in God and Christ who rose from the dead. Hence, souls are purified not by by the mechanical rite of baptism, but by being a believer who trusts God. And, Peter again in Acts 10:43 confirms: “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Then in Acts 15:9-11 Peter says the hearts of men are cleansed by faith and that people are saved through grace, not baptism. Thus, the theology of the author does not allow for the Roman Catholic view of 1 Peter 3:21.

Mark 16:16. In attempting to prove baptismal regeneration/justification, Catholics sometimes appeal to Mark 16:16 which says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). However, everything after Mark 16:8 is not in the earliest manuscripts of Mark and was thus not written by him. However, even if one assumes he did write it, one does not have to conclude water baptism saves. For, in Mark 1:8 Jesus mentions baptism of the Holy Spirit which refers to the Spirit uniting believers to Christ whereby what Christ is and did counts for the believer’s salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13). What we would have then, if we assume Mark 16:16 is authentic, is an inclusio which was a common literary devise where an author would open and end with the same theme. So, in 1:8 Mark opens with baptism of the Holy Spirit and ends in 16:16 with the same thing, not water baptism. Another example of inclusio, showing its existence in the biblical record, can be see in the fact that Matthew 1:23 it says “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). Then in Matthew 28:20 Jesus says the following at the end of the same book: “. . .And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Hence, God, that is Jesus, is with us even to the end of the age.

John 3:3-8. The final text to examine here is John 3:3, 5 which Catholics commonly couple together in order to argue for baptismal regeneration. It says, “3Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’ . . . . 5Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3, 8). Catholics argue the text is saying one has to be water baptized in order to be born again. As Catholic scholars Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch argue, “The Council of Trent declared in 1547 that Jn 3:5 refers to Baptism. It was said that ‘water’ is no mere metaphor, but a visible sign of the Spirit’s invisible work in the sacrament” (Scott Hahn, Curtis Mitch, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, [Ignatius Press, 2010], p. 166). However, there are various problems with this position. The text is not speaking of water baptism. First, we know water baptism is not being spoken of as the instrumental cause of new birth since in v. 8 Jesus likens the Spirit who regenerates to wind which blows where it wishes and not based on the will of man. Verse 8 says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Water baptism can not be the instrumental cause of new birth here, otherwise we would know where the Spirit goes, that is, to those who want to and get baptized. No, spiritual rebirth is not predicated on the will of man and him going and being baptized as this text shows. Baptism does not appropriate new birth since it is the Spirit who decides who to regenerate and when, based on God's gracious choice alone. This coheres with John 1:13 a little earlier which shows being born again is not based on the will of man, but on the will of God: “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Second, when v. 3 says “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” the word for “and” is kai and can be seen as ascensive conjunction which would render kai as “even” or “that is.” As Matthew S. DeMoss explains in his Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, “ascensive conjunction . . . A conjunction used to add one last piece of information, which may be out of the ordinary or perhaps even the most important point (*ascensive means ‘rising’). The conjunction καί can be used this way, in which case it is translated ‘even.’” (Matthew S. DeMoses, Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, [InterVarsity Press, 2001], pp. 22-23). So the text can be translated “unless one is born of water, that is the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” What Jesus would be saying then is being born of water must be understood as being born of the Spirit, since the ascensive conjunction kai, expresses a final point of focus. He would be using a metaphor of water to explain what the Spirit does in regeneration or new birth. Thus, when the Spirit makes someone born again it is similar to water cleansing the person spiritually or internally. Thus, water baptism is not in view. As Robert Gundry confirms, “Water symbolizes the Spirit according to 7:38-39 – therefore the translation ‘water, even the Spirit’ rather than ‘water and the Spirit.’ (Note that ‘water’ drops out in the next references to the Spirit” (Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 360). Indeed, Gundry is right on water dropping out since, as D. A. Carson notes, “the rest of the discussion never mentions it again: the entire focus is on the work of the Spirit (v. 8), the work of the Son (vv. 14-15), the work of God himself (vv. 16-17), and the place of faith (vv. 15-16)” (D. A. Carson, John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1991], p. 192). If water baptism were the focus of v. 5 and so important, this is odd. Third, scholars recognize the text behind John 3:3-8 is Ezekiel 36:25-27 (among other texts) which speaks of God metaphorically sprinkling or washing His disobedient people by giving them a new spirit and heart, thereby cleansing them and causing them to obey (e.g. D. A. Carson, John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1991], pp. 194-195). D. A. Carson adds, “When water is used figuratively in the Old Testament, it habitually refers to renewal or cleansing, especially when it is found in conjunction with ‘spirit’. This conjunction may be explicit, or may hide behind language depicting the ‘pouring out’ of the spirit (cf. Nu. 19:17-19; Ps. 51:9-10; Is. 32:15; 44:3-5; 55:1-3; Je. 2:13; 17:13; Ezk. 47:9; Joel 2:28-29; Zc. 14:8). . . . Ezek. 37” (D. A. Carson, John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1991], p. 195). Hence, what Christ is saying is God must wash you metaphorically by applying His Spirit to you so that you can have a new heart, nature, spirit, etc. We know this because of conceptual similarities between John 3:5 and related Old Testament texts such as Ezekiel 36:25-27 and others, and because in v. 10 Jesus chastises Nicodemus for not understanding Him when Nicodemus was supposed to be the teacher of Israel, that is, the teacher of the Old Testament. Thus, Christ is indicating his teaching on being born of water, that is, the Spirit, is found in the Old Testament (just as we argued). Inner Spirit renewal with the Old Testament metaphor of cleansing water is in view, not literal water baptism.

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