On Being Born a Second Time
Do not marvel when I tell you that you must be born anew.
Truly, I tell you: unless you are born anew, you will not see the kingdom of God . Unless you are born of water and the breath of God, you will not enter into the kingdom of God .
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the breath of God is spirit. The wind blows where it wishes, and we hear the sound that it makes; still we do not know from where it comes, or where it will go. So it is for those who are born anew by the breath of God.
Consider these examples: no one weaves a piece of new cloth into a ruined garment, for the new piece which is stronger will merely pull the old cloth apart, and the tear will be made worse. Neither do you put new wine into old wine flasks, less the old flasks burst, and the new wine spills out, and the investment be lost. Instead you store new wine in flasks that are new, and both are preserved.
How is it then that even after so much learning, you are not familiar with the most basic truths? If I have taught you such things, using earthly examples, and still you fail to comprehend, how will you understand if I speak to you of heavenly things?
God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world , but that the world through his son might be redeemed. Whoever believes in him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of God's only son.
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though they die on this earth, will live again. They will be given eternal life and not perish! I have told you many times already: if you believe, you will see the glory of God.
My mission is to accomplish the purpose of him who has sent me. This then is God's will: that all who hear me and these words come to truly believe in the one whom the Father has sent.
Hear this lesson: a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father: "Father, give me my portion of the inheritance." Without questioning, the father gave him his share.
Not long afterwards this same son gathered his possessions, and journeyed to a far country. There he squandered his wealth with reckless living. When his last cent was gone, a terrible famine swept the land, and he was left destitute and without friends.
Finally he found menial work tending swine. In his desperation, he was about to eat the corn husks reserved for the swine. Then, coming to his senses, he thought: my father's servants have more than enough bread with much left over; while I am about to eat the swine's food to save myself from starvation. I will return to my Father and throw myself on his mercy. 'Father,” I will say, “I have wronged you and heaven, and am no longer worthy to be your son. Let me at least be one of your hired servants.'"
So determined he rose from the dust, and began the long voyage home.
When he was still a great way off, his father saw him in the distance, and having compassion on him, ran out to meet him and embraced him tenderly.
The son began his confession. "Father,” he wept, “I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son."
The father did not let him finish, but turned instead to his servants and said: "Bring out my best clothes, and dress my son. Put my signet ring on his hand, and my finest shoes on his feet. Select our fattest calf from the field, and prepare it. Let us feast and be merry. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and now is found."
Then began a great celebration.
Towards evening the elder brother returned from a day of working in the field. As he drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. Summoning one of the servants, he asked: "What is the purpose of this celebration?"
The servant replied: "Your brother has returned home and your father has killed the fattest calf because he has returned safe and without harm."
At this, the elder brother became very angry, and refused to take part in the banquet. Even his father begged him to join in the feasting.
Stubbornly, he refused, and said, "Behold all these many years I have served you, never breaking one of your commandments. Yet you never offered me feasts to celebrate with my friends. Now my prodigal brother wanders home, who has no doubt wasted his inheritance on prostitutes and wine, and you kill the prized calf and celebrate!"
To this, the father replied: "My son, you have always been faithful to me, and you know that all that I have is yours. But it is proper that we celebrate, and give thanks this night. For your brother was dead, and is alive again; was lost, but now is found."
Unless you change your ways, and become children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The Son of Man is sent into the world to save those that are lost: for it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that even the least among you should remain outside of the kingdom.
For God so loved the world that he sacrificed his only son. Whoever believes in him shall not die, but receive everlasting life. Do you believe this?
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