Want Some Answers ???
>>Dear Dr. Mark, You have given me a lot to think about. I'm going to think about your suggestions and then I will respond. One thing I would ask though is to eplain what your understanding of what Jesus ment when he said "you must be born of water and the spirit" What exactly do these words mean? Again thank you very much for your time which I'm sure is scarce. Yours truly, Paul<<
I realize CD’s (and Catholics) interpret the expression 'born of water' as ‘Christian baptism’ but outside CD's there's a liberty to hold various views. If we insist ‘born of water’ is ‘Christian baptism’, then how can we ignore the command to be “born of the Spirit? (Jn.3:3,6,7,8).
John Thomas taught that ‘baptism is the new birth’ (pg.135 Elpis Israel). So CD’s teach that ‘the Children of the covenant are born by faithful baptism’ (pg210 The Christadelphians. What they Believe and Preach. H.Tennant).The NT however, teachers that baptism is always connected with death and not with spiritual birth in the NT. Baptism is spoken of as a burial into death, under the waves and billows of death (Rom.6:4-5).
To read Christian baptism into John 3:5 is to read something not there. Jesus did not say ‘born of baptism’ but ‘born of water’ (See Ez.36:25-27 where water and spirit denote cleansing and regeneration respectively). Christian baptism had not yet been instituted. Nicodemus would have not known about Christian baptism at that time.
But this would have reminded him of John the Baptist’s emphasis on repentance (Mt.3:8,11 Mk.1:4 Lk.3:3,8). Jesus was saying then, that to enter the Kingdom, he needed to turn to Him (repent) in order to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The new birth is spoken of here as unpredictable (Jn.3:8) but there is nothing unpredictable about baptism as the day and time is fixed long before the ceremony.
If I accept the 'baptism' interpretation, this verse still does not fit with CD doctrine. For CD’s believe salvation is a ‘process’ and baptism is no guarantee of salvation. So to describe baptism as ‘a birth’ is hardly comparable when considering the alleged long transformation and work necessary to have a better chance for salvation.
Keep in mind CD doctrine is formulated to keep you loyal to CD doctrine. They teach that only CD’s can be saved. So this verse (& Mk.16:16 etc) is quoted to warn that if people want' the hope' of salvation they must be baptized by CD’s and remain loyal to CD doctrine on every point.
Its interesting that Nicodemus would have thought of the repentance that The Baptist demanded. As mentioned before, John Thomas went through his entire life without any personal repentance of sin. His preaching and writings have no personal testimony of giving up his will, his life, in surrender to Jesus. There was no confession of sin, no testimony of his conscience washed clean by the blood of Jesus. To him it was a matter of correct head belief, know enough, be faithful, be loyal, obey, effort, work, etc.
Can you see what he’s done? He missed the very thing that makes a person a child of God. And rather than God in Christ, as the beginning and end of salvation, Thomas has made man the beginning and end. He taught reformation rather than regeneration. A fixing up the old human nature, while in reality what God offers is a new nature. So one could be a CD all their life and never be truly converted and regenerated. Because the CD doctrine of salvation will not permit proper understanding of this subject.