God’s Purpose in Having Some “Born Again”
1, 2. (a) What do we have to understand and appreciate before God’s purpose in having some “born again” can be satisfactorily explained? (b) What testimony does God’s Word give as to his justice, and yet what does his justice not require him to do?
BEFORE we can satisfactorily explain God’s purpose in having some “born again,” it is necessary to understand and appreciate something about the basic attributes of Jehovah God and his purposes regarding the earth and man.
2 The testimony of God’s Word leaves us with no doubt that one of God’s outstanding qualities is justice. Also, righteousness is the very foundation of his throne. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 89:14) His being just and righteous, however, does not obligate him to bestow identical favors upon all of his intelligent creatures. For example, he created some beings as spirit creatures, angels, who are far superior to humans. Nor does he reward all of his faithful earthly creatures in the same way. Thus Jesus said regarding John the Baptizer that “the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11, The New English Bible) These are points we do well to bear in mind when we consider this subject of being “born again.”
God’s Purpose for the Earth and Man
3. What delightful prospect lay before Adam and Eve upon their being created?
3 To appreciate God’s purpose in having some humans “born again,” it is essential to understand the circumstances that caused God to resort to having some “born again.” Going back to our very first parents, we find that God gave them the mandate: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection . . . every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) In their perfection Adam and Eve were children of God. Since God had placed them in a lovely garden park, filled with all manner of beautiful animals and flowers and luscious fruits, their lot was indeed a happy one. As they proceeded to subdue the earth and to fill it with their own kind, the whole earth would eventually become a paradise populated with perfect humans, even as Adam and Eve were perfect. What a delightful prospect lay before them!
4, 5. (a) Why did our first parents fail to serve God’s purpose in creating them? (b) So Jehovah arranged to have his purpose regarding earth and man carried out by whom?
4 However, our first parents lacked appreciation for all of God’s provisions for them and transgressed his law. So God ousted them from his family of sons and sentenced them to death. As a result, all of their offspring have been born sinners subject to death. (Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12) Neither our first parents nor any of their offspring have been able to carry out God’s original mandate to the human family. Does this mean that God’s purposes regarding the earth and man will never be realized? By no means, for God’s Word assures us that his purposes never fail.—Isaiah 46:10, 11; 55:10, 11.
5 How, then, will God’s original purpose regarding the earth and man be carried out? By means of a Seed, even as God foretold in the garden of Eden and as he promised also to Abraham. That Seed the apostle Paul shows to be primarily Jesus Christ.—Genesis 3:15; 22:17, 18; Galatians 3:16, 29.
How God’s Original Purpose Will Be Realized
6. By what means did God open the way for Adam’s offspring to be restored to God’s family?
6 How could Jesus Christ cause God’s original purpose to be realized? First of all, by removing the condemnation resting upon the human family due to Adam’s rebellion. Jesus was able to do this because he was born as a perfect human, Jehovah God—not Mary’s husband Joseph—being his Father. Jesus actually accomplished this removal of condemnation by dying on the execution stake as a sacrifice. In fact, one of his main reasons for coming to earth was to give his life as a ransom. Thereby he opened the way for Adam’s offspring to be restored to Jehovah’s approved family.—Matthew 28:20.
7. On the basis of what was Jesus raised from the dead a spirit being?
7 However, a dead Ransomer could not benefit the human race. Therefore, Jehovah God raised Jesus Christ on the third day, making him “alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) Jehovah did this on the basis of what had happened at the Jordan when Jesus was baptized. There, by means of his holy spirit, God had brought forth Jesus as a spirit-begotten Son. John the Baptizer not only had seen God’s spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove but also had heard God’s voice saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.”—Matthew 3:16, 17; Hebrews 10:5-10.
8. In addition to being “born again” at the Jordan, to what else was Jesus anointed and ordained?
8 Jesus thus became not only a spiritual Son of God but also the Messiah, the Christ or One anointed to be the king of God’s kingdom. Also, at the same time he was ordained to be high priest in behalf of dying mankind, in order to remove the disability of sin. (Hebrews 7:26) Further, the words of Isaiah 61:1, 2 now applied to him: “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners.” Jesus had been spirit begotten, “born again.” As God’s spirit-anointed Son he continued faithful until death, in spite of all that Satan the Devil tried to do to cause Jesus to break his integrity. So God resurrected him from the dead.
9. Because of Jesus’ faithfulness until death, God fully equipped him how and for what purpose?
9 Thereupon “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.” (Philippians 2:9-11) The fact that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead was attested to by hundreds of witnesses. Shortly before he returned to his Father in the heavens, he told his disciples: “All authority [or, power] has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Now he was fully equipped with the right to restore humankind, by virtue of his sacrificial death, and also with the power to do so, by virtue of his resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand in heaven. (Luke 22:69) Thus Jesus Christ is now in position to cause God’s original purpose regarding the earth and man to be realized. To him, therefore, apply all the Messianic prophecies.—See Psalm 72; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-10.
Why Others Are “Born Again”
10, 11. (a) What Scriptural testimony shows that Jesus will have associates in his kingdom? (b) How many will share in this privilege, and how do we know that the number given is to be taken literally?
10 Will Jesus Christ accomplish all these things by himself alone? No. Will he have angels ruling with him in his government? No. Sharing with him in the fulfillment of those Messianic prophecies will be some who had been humans upon earth, just as he had been. But before they can share in Christ’s Kingdom government they, like him, must first be “born again” while on earth. Jehovah’s spirit operating upon them brings them forth as spiritual sons with the prospect of everlasting life in the heavens. As such they have a special intimate relationship with God, “a spirit adoption as sons, by which spirit [they] cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:15) Jesus repeatedly held out this hope to his apostles. (Luke 22:28-30; John 14:2, 3) Similarly, the apostles made mention of this hope.—Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53; 1 John 3:2.
11 How many will gain this heavenly standing? According to all the scriptures bearing on the subject those “born again” will be comparatively few. This is what we would expect, since this is a very special prize, a most privileged official position. Thus Jesus said regarding them: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) Just how many will there be of these? The apostle John tells of seeing 144,000 spiritual Israelites sealed in their foreheads, also of 144,000 standing upon Mount Zion with the Lamb Jesus Christ. That we are to understand this number to be a literal one is apparent from the context that tells also of a “great crowd, which no man was able to number.”—Revelation 7:3, 4, 9; 14:1, 3; 20:4, 6.
A People for His Name
12, 13. What is Jehovah’s present purpose for these future Kingdom associates?
12 However, Jehovah God has purposed a work for these prospective kings and priests while they are still in the flesh as humans. And what is that? Even as Jesus was anointed to “tell good news to the meek ones,” so these are anointed to preach the good news of God’s kingdom. (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21; Acts 8:4, 12) Thus Jesus gave his early disciples the parting admonition to “make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) And just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his 11 faithful apostles that they were to ‘be witnesses of him to the most distant part of the earth.’—Acts 1:8.
13 One of the main purposes of God in having the “good news” preached in all the nations is “to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) Since God’s name is Jehovah, these are known as witnesses for Jehovah. (Isaiah 43:10-12) It is not that these anointed followers of Jesus Christ are the only ones to tell the “good news” to the meek ones, to make disciples and witness for Jehovah God. Rather, just as in ancient Israel Jehovah’s laws applied also to the alien residents in their midst, so the commands given to the spiritual Israelites apply also to their companions, the “great crowd” of “other sheep.”—John 10:16; Revelation 7:9.
14. What is another obligation laid upon these anointed footstep followers of Jesus Christ?
14 Another obligation laid upon the anointed footstep followers of Jesus Christ is that they produce the fruitage of God’s spirit, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Jesus said that his true followers would be identified by the love they displayed toward one another. (John 13:34, 35) That is why the apostle Paul counsels them: “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires, but . . . you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” Indicative of how important this obligation is for Christians are the further words of the apostle: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Corinthians 9:27) Only by proving faithful even to death can the anointed ones hope to receive “the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10.
God’s Original Purpose Not Changed
15. (a) What mistake have many professed Christians made regarding God’s purpose? (b) This has been because of the prominence given in the Christian Greek Scriptures to what hope?
15 Many professed Christians make a mistake in that they ignore Jehovah’s original purpose regarding the earth and man. His Word makes clear what this was and is, and he assures us that he does not change. (Genesis 1:28; Isaiah 45:18; Malachi 3:6) However, the Christian Greek Scriptures give prominence to Jehovah’s further purpose, announced after mankind’s fall into sin, of choosing a limited number of humans, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, to become associate rulers with his Son in the heavenly kingdom. (Genesis 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8, 18) All of these would indeed need first to be “born again,” even as Jesus Christ was. (John 3:3) However, God’s provision for salvation on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice is not limited to those whose hope is a heavenly one. This is clear even from the Christian Greek Scriptures.
One Salvation—Two Hopes
16, 17. What scriptures show that the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are not limited to those whose hope is heavenly?
16 Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) For God’s will to be done upon earth as in heaven means that there must be righteous persons living upon the earth, of whom it is foretold: “God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” This could not be referring to heaven, for there never was any outcry, sorrow, pain or death there.—Revelation 21:3, 4.
17 Indicating that there are two groups of humans that will benefit from God’s gracious provisions are the words of the apostle Paul found at Romans 8:19-21: “For the eager expectation of the creation [one group] is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God [another group]. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” So eventually all those benefiting because of their faith in Christ’s sacrifice will enjoy life as sons of God—144,000 who were “bought from the earth” to be in heaven and many thousands of millions who will enjoy everlasting life in an earthly paradise.—Revelation 7:4, 9; 14:3; Matthew 25:31-34.
18, 19. (a) What indicates that fulfillment of God’s purpose for earth and man is near at hand? (b) What individuals comprise God’s kingdom and the ‘seed of Abraham’? (c) What question remains to be considered?
18 From the foregoing it is clear that God’s original purpose for the earth and humankind will yet be realized. And the fulfillment of Bible prophecies, such as those found at Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, Luke chapter 21, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and Revelation 6:1-8, indicate that time to be at hand! Because of Satan’s rebellion and Adam and Eve’s disobedience, Jehovah arranged a heavenly reward for a privileged group, whom he will use in realizing his original purposes. It is only these that are “born again.” Together with their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, they constitute the kingdom for which Jesus taught his followers to pray. They comprise the ‘seed of Abraham’ for the blessing of “all nations of the earth.”—Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29.
19 We have considered why the Son of God and his Kingdom associates had to be “born again,” and what are their number and present obligations. However, this question remains: Just what is God’s part and man’s part in being “born again”? How can a person tell that Jehovah God has chosen him to be “born again”?
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At his baptism, Jesus became the one anointed to be king of God’s kingdom
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Jesus told his faithful followers that they were to ‘be witnesses of him to the most distant part of the earth’