The Born-Again Experience: Now or Later? Part 1
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 11, 1999

Last Updated :
January 3, 2009


Jesus And Nicodemus' Conversation, Another View, Defining
'Earnest Of The Spirit', Coming Glory, Jesus' Beneficiaries
We Are Bought With A Price, Two-Fold Salvation - Redemption
Of The Body And Salvation Of The Spirit, Mystery Of God And
The Seventh Trump, Jesus' Proof Of The Resurrection, Our
Spiritual Temple, Enigma Of New Jerusalem, Some Challenging
Questions, What Is Our 'Treasure In Earthen Vessels'?




Within modern Christianity, many people are familiar with
the term 'born-again'. As most of my Christian readers will
already know, this term finds its origin in the following
well-known conversation found in John chapter three, where
Jesus has a night encounter with the inquisitive pharisee,
Nicodemus:

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be
born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his
mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily,
I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which
is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the
Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must
be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it
cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born
of the Spirit." John 3:3-8, KJV

While I was aware of the fact that, like Nicodemus, many
people of the world fail to understand the concept of being
born again, recently, it was brought to my attention through
reading some messages from a few of our readers, that there
appears to be some degree of confusion regarding the rebirth
experience, even amongst certain Christians. The primary
confusion seems to revolve around the exact timeframe when
the born-again experience actually occurs. Personally, based
upon my study of the Holy Scriptures, I believe that one is
reborn, by faith, at the moment in which he accepts Jesus
Christ, and acknowledges Him as his Lord and Saviour. Some
Christians, however, apparently do not believe that this is
so. So the question which we must settle here, is which of
these two schools of thought is the correct one?

According to one Christian friend who wrote to me recently,
he believes that when we each receive the Gift of the Holy
Spirit, it is a sort of down payment, or 'earnest', of the
true Salvation to come. My friend then explained to me, that
it is his current belief that 'the Spirit of Christ takes up
residence in the same location as our human spirit at the
time of repentance, and actually unites with it to form the
new creature.' He continued to explain that at that time,
'it is merely an embryo, not yet born'. According to my
friend, the actual born-again experience 'is as literal as
Jesus apparently made it seem, but that it happens at the
'redemption of the purchased possesion', or in other words,
the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and at the change
Paul talks about at the last trump'. Please note that for
the sake of accuracy, all of the words within quotation
marks are my friend's own words, as it is not my desire to
misrepresent him. My friend then provided the following
verses to support his views:

"Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the
Spirit in our hearts." 2 Corinthians 1:22, KJV

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God,
who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

"Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the
redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of
his glory." Ephesians 1:14, KJV

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:
for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:52, KJV

So basically, it seems that what my friend is saying, is
that he believes that at the time one receives Christ, a new
creature is indeed created, but it is not born yet; and will
not be born, until the time of the Resurrection of the Dead,
sometime in the near future when Christ returns. While I can
certainly agree with my friend regarding the Resurrection of
the Dead, I must confess that there is a major difference in
our understanding regarding the rest of his statements. As I
stated earlier, while my friend views the rebirth experience
as a future event, I believe that it has already happened;
and that it is not the purchase of the full possession to
which Paul is referring. Of course, I don't just expect you
the reader to accept this view merely because I say so;
thus, I will now begin to share some Scriptures with you in
order to hopefully convince you of my understanding.

In the previous verses I shared with you a moment ago, the
word 'earnest' is derived from the Greek word 'arrhabon';
which my Greek lexicon defines as money, which in purchases,
is given as a pledge or down payment, that the full amount
will subsequently be paid. What Paul is stating here then,
is that God has already given us the down payment of the
Spirit. He has already given us something which is only a
small glimpse, a small reminder, of much greater and more
glorious things to come in the future. Please notice that
according to the definition of the word, it isn't just an
empty pledge; it isn't just an empty promise; not that any
of us would ever dare to even think that anyway; but there
is something attached to this special pledge from the Lord;
there is something which is given along with the promissory
note; in order to prove that it is a valid, legal, binding
agreement; and that the remainder of the amount will be paid
in full at the time appointed. Concerning the balance that
is still owed to us, the Apostle Paul wrote:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are
not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us." Romans 8:18, KJV

Perhaps you are wondering why anything is even owed to us to
begin with. We certainly don't deserve it. Well, if that is
what you are thinking, then you are absolutely right. Due to
our sinful and sometimes rebellious nature, the only thing
that we deserve, is the Lake of Fire. Not only that, but it
isn't that we are owed something directly; we are merely the
blessed beneficiaries, or recipients, of Someone else's
abundant love and mercy. As the Apostles John and Paul wrote:

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down
his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren." 1 John 3:16, KJV

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ
died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will
one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even
dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8, KJV

So you see, when the Apostle Paul talks about acquiring the
full purchased possession, he isn't talking about something
that we ourselves purchased through some degree of goodness
or righteousness of our own; he is referring to something
which was purchased for us by Jesus Christ Himself, through
His very own Sacrifice on the Cross. Consider the following
verses:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy
Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify
God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV

"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
1 Corinthians 7:23, KJV

"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but
to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:28, KJV

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to
be testified in due time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6, KJV

So as I point out in such articles as 'Are You Crucified
With Christ?', we are not our own any longer. We belong to
Jesus. The main point I wish to emphasize here, is that
according to Paul, because of Christ's Sacrifice, God the
Father has already given us some kind of down payment; so we
have to ask ourselves, exactly what is it? According to my
friend's understanding, it is some sort of embryonic state.
As I have already explained, I believe that it is much more
than that. Based upon my personal study of the Scriptures, I
have come to conclude that there is a distinct difference
between our spiritual Salvation, and the physical Redemption
of our bodies. Not only that, but I believe that they occur
at different times. Furthermore, as I explain in the series
'Great Cloud Of Witnesses: God's Holy Ghosts?', should death
occur before Christ returns, I believe that our body, and
our saved spirit, will be reunited at the time of the great
Resurrection of the Dead.

As I have pointed out before, at this moment in time, God is
primarily concerned with our spiritual Salvation. As far as
our physical Redemption is concerned, it will come later. If
you take the time to really study Paul's writings, you will
see that whenever he talks about the coming Resurrection, he
is referring to physical Redemption, when the corrupt body
of flesh will be transformed and clothed in Immortality, and
reunited with our already saved spirit which, according to
my belief, will be resting in Heaven, if we have died before
the Lord's Return. Again, please refer to the series 'Great
Cloud Of Witnesses: God's Holy Ghosts?'. To substantiate my
claim, allow me to begin by sharing the following verse.
Please notice that Paul is clearly talking about physical
Redemption and not spiritual Salvation:

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the
firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within
ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of our body." Romans 8:23, KJV

Nowhere in this verse, or even in the surrounding verses,
does Paul mention the forgiveness of sins and spiritual
Salvation. His primary emphasis is on the Resurrection,
Transformation and Redemption of the physical body, and
nothing more. This is the wonderful Mystery of God at which
the unbelieving world currently scoffs; which will occur at
the glorious sound of the Seventh Trump, as we see in these
verses:

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but
we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an
eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the
dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be
changed." 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump
of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we
which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so
shall we ever be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, KJV

"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he
shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished,
as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
Revelation 10:7, KJV

In my view, this is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why
Jesus showed Himself to over five hundred people following
His Resurrection. He was making a statement. Not only was He
giving final proof of who He was and is, but the Lord was
basically telling His followers 'Look; this is what all of
you are going to receive one of these days. See me; touch
me; feel me. I want you to know and see that my Father keeps
His Word. You will rise from the dead, just as you have seen
Me rise from the dead. You will inherit and possess a body
just like my own'. As if that wasn't already enough, the
Lord then proceeded to eat physical food right before their
very eyes. Consider the following verses:

"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of
them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were
terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a
spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why
do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my
feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit
hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had
thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And
while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said
unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece
of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and
did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the
words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that
all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law
of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning
me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might
understand the scriptures," Luke 24:36-45, KJV

Now, in light of the previous verses, and considering that
Paul clearly tells us that the Redemption to come is that of
our physical body, let us read again one of the verses my
friend shared with me; however, this time, I am going to
include some of the verses which surround it, so that you
can see it in its full context. It should become quite
evident to you that the full purchased possession to which
Paul is referring, is our new transformed Eternal Body. Like
the verse I shared a moment ago, Paul does not even mention
the forgiveness of sins or spiritual Salvation until later
in the chapter:

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle
were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan,
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which
is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be
found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan,
being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but
clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God,
who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we
are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For
we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say,
and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be
present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether
present or absent, we may be accepted of him."
2 Corinthians 5:1-9, KJV

Allow me to offer a clarification for those of you who may
require one. When Paul uses the phrases 'our earthly house
of this tabernacle', 'in this tabernacle do groan', and 'in
this we groan', he is not referring to a church building of
stone where various members are groaning and lamenting; he
is referring to our weak body of flesh from which we long to
be freed into the glorious liberty of the Children of God.
You may recall that earlier I shared the following verses
with you. I am including an additional supporting verse
below it:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy
Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify
God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from
the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the
children of God." Romans 8:21, KJV

So it is evident then, that this tabernacle, or temple, is
our physical body which, for the time being, houses God's
Holy Spirit. Following are several more sets of supporting
verses which further strengthen this belief that we are each
a part of God's Spiritual Temple; and that it is from within
this Temple, that is, our body, that we must worship Him in
Spirit and in Truth:

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,
an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is
contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief
corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him
shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he
is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone
which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of
the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence,
even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient:
whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who
hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
(1 Peter 2:5-9)

"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for
ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I
will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their
God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from
among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch
not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a
Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,
saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of
my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon
him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,
which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from
my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
(Revelation 3:12)

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was
no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:1-2, KJV

In like manner, when Paul uses the phrases 'a building of
God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'
and 'our house which is from heaven', he is referring to our
coming Spiritual Body, for which we all long and groan for
in the spirit to receive. In a more general sense, as some
of the previous verses also indicate, we can also say that
Paul is referring to the New Jerusalem, of which we will all
be a part. While this may seem rather paradoxical to you, it
seems that New Jerusalem may not only be a place, but it may
also be a reference to we the Body of Christian Believers,
who are each a spiritual temple, building or pillar within
the City of God; after all, a city without inhabitants is
not really a city. Thus, while John's description of the New
Jerusalem descending from Heaven may be interpreted in a
very literal manner, it may also be a reference to we the
Saints, returning to dwell upon the New Earth. To add to
this enigma, consider Jesus' words found in John chapter
fourteen, and compare them to Paul's words below:

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so,
I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And
if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and
receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be
also." John 14:2-3, KJV

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but
fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto
an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded
together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
Ephesians 2:19-22, KJV

So the questions we must ask ourselves are these: Are the
mansions of which Jesus speaks actual buildings within New
Jersusalem, the City of God; or is the Lord saying that we
are each a mansion, or member, of God's Spiritual Household
as Paul indicates in the previous verses, which are 'fitly
framed together' and 'builded together'? Or is it possible
that both are true? In other words, is there an actual City
of Gold, of which we will be its golden citizens? Allow me
to add yet another challenging question to our list. Is
John's mention of the City and the streets being made of
gold meant to be understood literally, or is this merely a
reference to our faith which has been refined in the fires
of chastisement and tribulation? Before you answer this
question, consider the following verses which shed some
additional light on the issue:

"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10)

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will
refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold
is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them:
I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is
my God." (Zechariah 13:9)

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers
temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith
worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
(James 1:2-4)

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than
of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might
be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing
of Jesus Christ:" (1 Peter 1:7)

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial
which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened
unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of
Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed,
ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached
for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of
glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil
spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."
(1 Peter 4:12-14)

"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that
thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be
clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;
and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
(Revelation 3:18)

If I may dare be so bold, allow me ask yet another question
which may cause you to stop and ponder the possible true
significance of part of John's vision. Is the River of Life
which flows from the Throne of God really an actual river,
or is it merely symbolic of the Spirit of Truth of God's
Words which wash us clean and gives us all Eternal Life?
Again, allow me to present some interesting verses for your
consideration:

"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the
Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side
of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve
manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the
leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Revelation 22:1-2, KJV

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out
of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
(John 7:38)

"Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that
hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly."
(Proverbs 16:22)

"The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the
wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook."
(Proverbs 18:4)

"BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by
taking heed thereto according to thy word." (Psalms 119:9)

"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto
you." (John 15:3)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
(Titus 3:5)

As a final question for your consideration, if we accept
that some of John's description is meant to be understood in
an allegorical manner, is it possible that the trees which
grow along side of the River of Life, are really symbolic of
the Saints of God who, at some time in the future, will be
sent out by the Lord to physically and spiritually heal the
peoples of the world by sharing the Truth found in the
leaves, or pages, of His Holy Word? Is it even possible that
the fruit which these trees bear each month are actually the
souls which will be won, and the lives which will be changed
through our Ministry of Mercy in sharing the Word with them?
While all will be perfect and well within the Golden City,
this is clearly not the case with those who dwell without.
Before you attempt to answer these questions, allow me to
remind you of some verses I shared with you in part one:

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also
shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Psalms 1:3, KJV

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that
winneth souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30, KJV

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every
branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and
every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may
bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word
which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As
the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in
the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the
vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in
him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye
can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth
as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast
them into the fire, and they are burned...Ye have not chosen
me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should
go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:
that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he
may give it you." John 15:1-6, 16, KJV

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law
by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another,
even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should
bring forth fruit unto God." Romans 7:4, KJV

As you can see, there are truly some very profound mysteries
hidden within the Word of God, and I for one do not pretend
to fully understand them all. As to the correct answers to
my questions, hoping to not disappoint you, I must humbly
confess that I cannot answer any of them with one hundred
per cent certainty. Like the Apostle Paul, all I can say is:

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge
of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways
past finding out!" Romans 11:33, KJV

Returning to our main topic of discussion, what we have seen
thus far, is that in writing about the coming Resurrection
of the Dead, Paul seems to emphasize the Redemption of our
physical bodies, and not forgiveness and the Salvation of
our spirits. So we must ask ourselves, why is this? If you
accept my earlier explanations, then I believe that it is
because Paul already considers our spiritual Salvation as an
accomplished task; and he lets us know this by his repeated
reference to this mysterious 'earnest of the Spirit', this
hidden down payment of the Spirit which he tells us that we
already possess. In fact, these are not the only verses
where Paul mentions this. In his second Epistle to the
Corinthians he writes:

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the
excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
2 Corinthians 4:7, KJV

As in earlier verses, by using the phrase 'earthen vessels',
Paul is referring to our earthly bodies; but what exactly is
this 'treasure' of which he speaks? This is a question which
I will be answering in part two of this series. In addition,
we will take a look at such topics as Holy Ghost Power, our
inheritance in our Resurrected Bodies, the Lord's Spirit of
Promise, our Quickened Bodies, spiritual Rebirth, the Spirit
of Christ within us, the promise of Eternal Life, dead in
sin, spiritual Salvation now and physical Redemption later,
the miracle of butterflies, our coming Glorified Bodies, and
no partial birth or embryonic state. I trust that you will
join me.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .


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