When were Jesus’s disciples born again?

Were they born again when they first started to follow Jesus? Were they born again sometime during His earthly ministry? Were they born again after his resurrection? Were they born again on the day of Pentecost? When?

John 20:20-23: The risen Jesus serves His disciples.

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

John 20:22:
He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This happened after the death and resurrection of Jesus, after the New Covenant was put into effect. Just a few days before, in the upper room at what we call the last supper, Jesus told that the New Covenant would be put into effect by His blood – what He did for us at the cross.

This is a connection with the creation of Adam, because this is a re-creation. It uses the same vocabulary as in Genesis 2:7 when the Lord breathed the breath of life into Adam, making Adam a living being.

In the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus spoke of being born again – being born of the Spirit. Physical life for the human race began when God breathed into Adam and he received the breath of life. Spiritual life begins for us when we are born from above, and God breathes His Holy Spirit in us. This is what happened for the disciples in John 20:22.

This is a connection with the New Covenant promises of Ezekiel 36-37.

The breathing uses the same wording as in Ezekiel 37: Valley of Dry bones, when breath came into the restored bodies.

The giving of the Holy Spirit is a specific aspect of the New Covenant: Ezekiel 36:26-27
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

This is a demonstration that they received the same Spirit that was in Jesus.

a. Receive the Holy Spirit: Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit, bringing new life and the ability to carry out their mission. It seems John noted a deliberate connection between this breathing on the disciples and when at creation God breathed life into man. This was a work of re-creation, even as God breathed life into the first man. This is where the disciples were born again.

Some important points:

1. Regeneration and the impartation of the Holy Spirit are aspects of the New Covenant.

2. I think an understanding of the covenants is important; I don’t really understand the “Covenant Theology” of our Reformed brethren. In this theology, there is an emphasis on two covenants that are simply not specifically named or described in the Bible – a covenant of works, and a covenant of grace. I much prefer an emphasis on what I would regard as the Biblical concepts and categories – Abrahamic Covenant, Old Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and most importantly New Covenant.

3. We see a variety of experiences with the Holy Spirit. The disciples received the Holy Spirit here in John 20; but of course, there was also a subsequent receiving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2 (as well as subsequent outpourings of the Holy Spirit afterwards). Biblical, the receiving of the Spirit is not a one-and-done event.

Does Romans 3:31 mean that we don’t have to obey God’s law?

Jose asked:

Does Romans 3:31 mean that because we have faith in Christ, we can now obey the law? Does it mean that we don’t have to obey it? What exactly does this verse mean? Please explain.

Let me turn over here to Romans 3:31 where we read:
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not. On the contrary, we establish the law.

Paul, in the larger context, is trying to show that the righteousness of God is not received or achieved by God’s people, by their keeping of the law. The righteousness of God is received or achieved by the people of God, and by their relationship of faith, trust, and love in Jesus Christ. It’s received by faith. What he’s trying to point out here in this passage is that even though the law is not the way by which we achieve righteousness before God, the law is not made void, and the law continues to have an important purpose in God’s plan.

It is just not the way that a person is made right with God. Instead, faith in Jesus Christ and the person and work of Jesus is how we are made right with God. This righteousness received by faith is an establishment of the law. First, it fulfills the purpose of the law. Secondly, under grace, under the new covenant, we fulfill the law better than under the old covenant.

Jose, that’s the best answer I could give to you here. Paul is saying that just because the law is not the way that we are made righteous before God, it doesn’t mean that God is finished with the law, or that the law has no purpose. It also means that by faith, and what God does in us by that faith relationship in him, the law is actually fulfilled. It’s established.

How does the kingdom get restored to Israel in Acts 1:6?

What does Acts 1:6 mean? Is the kingdom of heaven only for Israel? Why didn’t Jesus correct them?

Let me turn over to Acts 1:6 where we read:
Therefore when they had come together, they asked him saying, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?

What what the disciples were essentially asking for was, “Lord, is the end going to come?” There are many Old Testament promises that speak of the kingdom of God, in some aspect, being given or restored to Israel. It was not only that they would be independent again as their own nation, but that they would have this leading role in the world. This is prophesied under many prophecies in the Old Testament. Again, not only with that, but also in connection with the new covenant. The disciples were basically asking, “Lord is now the end of the age?”
Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?

I want you to notice how Jesus responded here. Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” I think this is interesting. Understand that the kingdom is not only meant for Israel. The Bible clearly tells us that in the kingdom, God will establish Israel and they will have a leading role. They will be the superpower of the world in the Messianic Kingdom.

Now, you also ask here, why didn’t Jesus correct them? Their basic understanding of the Messianic kingdom was not a mistake. What they misunderstood was the timing of it. Jesus didn’t even bother to correct their timing. He didn’t say no, because that’s not going to happen for another 2000 years. What Jesus said was the next step is for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to fulfill the purpose and the function that I have for you. I find it instructive as to what Jesus said to the disciples in response to this question, and also find it instructive as to what He did not say. He did not say that they were completely wrong in their understanding of the kingdom. What he said is No, not now. Instead, He tells them to get prepared and equipped for the job He has them do to receive the Holy Spirit.

Do you have any teaching series on Exodus 20 or the Ten commandments?

What we have is a series where I sat down with two pastors of the church I used to pastor at. We walked through the law of Moses, as revealed in Exodus chapter 20. I have some teachings on the 10 commandments, available on my website, enduringword.com. My written commentary is also there where we walk through that in some detail. We will try to link the audio teaching we have or video teaching to the comment section of this video.

Was Obadiah 1:18 fulfilled, or is it yet to happen?

Can you explain Obadiah 1:18? When did this happen in history or has it not happened yet?

Obadiah 1:17-18:
But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

This is a verse speaking about the restoration of Israel. I would say ultimately fulfilled in this Messianic Kingdom, the millennial kingdom.

Verse 18:
The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau, For the Lord has spoken.

This, again, speaks of judgment that was going to come upon the nation of Edom, the descendants of Esau. What we have here in verses 17 and 18 is prophecies that have both near and far fulfillments. There was a judgment that came upon the house of Esau, upon the edomites. They were finished as a people in the first century from the Roman armies that came through that part of the world and delivered this devastating judgment to them. I would say in that aspect, this judgment on Edom, on the descendants of Esau, has happened.

This great deliverance mentioned in verse 17, the ultimate restoration of Israel, is yet to happen. Now, we see what we would call limited restorations of Israel. There, of course, was a limited restoration of Israel following the Babylonian exile when they came back into the land. In the 20th century, there was a limited restoration of Israel, but they don’t fulfill all the promises God made regarding the restoration of Israel. I would regard the judgment on Edom as being fulfilled.

Were there others like Melchizedek in the Bible?

Hi, David. I’m fascinated by Melchizedek. Do you think there were others like him?

As far as there being others like Melchizedek, I think in one sense, it would be true. In another sense, it would not be true. Here’s the sense of which would be true. In the Old Testament, there are people who were not of the lineage of Abraham. They didn’t come from Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob yet were true and genuine worshipers of the God of Israel. For example, there was Melchizedek in the days of Abraham, Jethro in the days of Moses, and Job. God had his true and faithful followers, even outside the genetic lineage of Abraham, and that is a phenomenon that was probably not reserved just for those people that I mentioned. There were probably many others like that. As far as others just like Melchizedek, there was no one just like him. He was the king of Salem, the priest of the Most High God, who received tithes from God’s people. In that sense, Melchizedek was unique. As for being somebody who had a real relationship with God, even though he was not properly under the genetic aspect of the covenant of Abraham, there were others like him.

Will Jesus forgive our sins after we have been born again?

Let me give you a categorical answer to that. Yes. Yes. Yes. 1000 times Yes.
If the only sins we could be forgiven of are the sins that we commit before we’re born again, then every one of us is going to hell. Nobody lives a sinless life after they’re born again. The gospel, the wonderful message of good news, is not just for those who have first come to Jesus Christ or who are coming to Him. It’s for everybody who needs Jesus and those who are already believers. We are very grateful that the promise of forgiveness is for believers as well. 1 John 1:9 says this: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What a beautiful, powerful promise that is. It’s a promise not only made to the person who has yet to believe, but a promise made to those who are believers.

In Ezekiel 37:12, did life come only into Israelites? Is the New Covenant only for Israel?

The breath came into the Israelites not all the nation’s according to Ezekiel 37:12.

You’re exactly correct. I would say that one might believe, based upon what the Old Testament says about the new covenant, that the new covenant was only for Israel. The passage you’re making reference to here in Ezekiel is one of those passages that might lead somebody to believe that, but this is what God revealed in New Testament times. It’s an important aspect of what Paul says was the mystery that was not revealed in prior times but is now revealed by God’s apostles and prophets. In the New Testament era, it was revealed that the new covenant would be made available to Gentiles as well as Jews. In other words, you did not have to become a Jew to receive the new covenant. It was directly open to Gentiles as well.

Can we pray directly to the Holy Spirit?

I find this a fascinating question, and I’ll give you an answer that says yes and no.
Yes, we can pray to the Holy Spirit, and we can pray to God. There’s nowhere in the Bible that condemns or prohibits the idea of praying to the spirit. However, the emphasis in Scripture is praying to God the Father, through the mediation of God the Son, inspired by and prompted by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. In my perspective, it’s not presented as a command or a prohibition to pray either to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. I find nothing wrong in a person occasionally praying to the Holy Spirit. If they prayed only to the Holy Spirit and refused to pray to God the Father or through God the Son, I would think there would be something off in their understanding. I don’t think we have a clear categorical answer, but what we have is that it’s not wrong to pray to the Holy Spirit.

How can I practice Christian disciplines without becoming legalistic?

I want to practice discipline. But I don’t want to practice legalism.

We do want to practice discipline in our life and walk with God. Anything that’s good or important is worthy of a disciplined pursuit. Let me give you the key to avoiding legalism in this context. Refuse to look to what you do as being the basis or foundation of your relationship with God. Why are you in a right relationship with God? It is not because you practice spiritual or Christian disciplines. It’s not because you read your Bible, pray, fast, or give regularly. These are disciplines that we should cultivate, but they are not the basis of how and why we are right with God. We are right with God not because of anything we do, but of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Pursue those disciplines wholeheartedly. Yet, at the end of the day, you must realize that the basis for your relationship with God is not what you do for him but what Jesus Christ has done for you. This will help you avoid the trap of legalism.

With our lockdown, and the perception of leaving me alone is safety, how do we go about being a Christian by keeping to ourselves?

Well, it is a challenge. I don’t know if these are unique challenges. I think that the church has faced such challenges before, and we will definitely come through this. My great prayer is that we would come through this stronger and with a greater vitality in our life, in our ministry, and in our walk with God. We’re not just looking to survive this time, but to thrive in it. We need to continually look for any way that we can connect with people and reach out to them. I do think it’s fascinating that this sense of isolation and self protection is going to make people hungry for the love and care from others.

If one has trust issues, what Bible passages might help them?

Dear pastor, if one has trust issues, can you point to the best sections or verses that help to strengthen their trust in the Lord?

I find enormous help in reading through the Psalms. The Psalms have a way of describing every human experience and emotion. There you will see believers grappling with the real issues of faith. Also, it’s helpful to search the internet, Bible Promises, and look at the wonderful promises of God. Make them your meditation and the things that you focus your mind and your heart upon.

How could the Romans be the people who destroyed Edom, if the nation of Edom were Romans?? Antipater was an Idumaean.

Fascinating question you bring up here again. I believe that the Edomites and the Idumaeans are two different people groups. I was surprised at that idea when I ran across it. For many years, I had assumed they were the same. I invite you to do research, and I’ll do research for myself too. I believe that the Idumaeans were connected with Herod the Great and different from the Edomites.

Is Melchizedek a name or a title?

Well, Melchizedek is a name and a title. It’s a name, because it is used in the Old Testament, the book of Genesis, and referenced again in the Psalms and the letter to the Hebrews. It’s also a title, because the meaning of the name Melchizedek is king of righteousness, Prince of righteousness. He was the king of peace, being the King of Jerusalem. He was the king of righteousness, the ruler, the prince of righteousness. These are a few reasons that there is a strong association between Melchizedek and Jesus, but I would say the name Melchizedek is both a name and a title.

Did everyone descend from Abraham?

I thought everyone came from Abraham.

Spiritually speaking, every believer is connected back to Abraham, because we’re part of those who are justified by faith. Paul explains that in Romans somewhat in Galatians as well. Genetically speaking, we don’t all come from Abraham. The Jewish people come from Abraham, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Arabic people also come from Abraham, those descendants from Ishmael, but most people in the world do not come from the line of Abraham.

Is it possible to be “righteously judgmental”?

When are we righteously judgemental?

I would say that there’s never a time when we’re righteously judgmental. We can make righteous judgments, and a righteous judgment is simply judging things, discerning things, according to truth and fairness. As far as being judgmental, that connotates being harsh in a godly way. I would say avoid the idea of being judgmental. We can make righteous judgments, judgments that are consistent with the character and truth of God.

Do the rules of the Old Testament apply to believers today, such as the Sabbath?

Do no rules from the Old Testament apply?

No, the law still reflects the heart of God, the mind of God. There are some things in the law that are of ceremonial or symbolic nature and are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We are no longer under any obligation to keep them. There are other things that reflect God’s judgment of morality, and those things, for the most part, are repeated in the New Testament as commands or instructions for believers.

In other words, the Old Testament says, Do not murder. We can say, Oh, great. I’m under grace, not under law. I can murder. No, that’s not the idea at all. The New Testament also tells us, Do not murder. The Old Testament tells us not to steal. The New Testament does as well. We have this idea that there aren’t moral aspects to the law that are expressions of the moral heart of God. The things that are not required for believers under the new covenant, are simply the things that are either ceremonies or symbols that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are no longer required to hold on to them or to keep them.

I’ve been wondering, what about the Sabbath?

The Sabbath is a ceremony or a symbol that’s fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is why Paul can write in the the letter to the Colossians, let no man judge you regarding a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath, because you are in Christ. Because the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the obligation to keep the Sabbath law in the same way that Israel was called.

There may be wisdom in keeping the Sabbath. It goes according to our design. Under the old covenant, the Jewish people were required to keep the Sabbath. It is not placed upon believers in the New Testament in the same way, because it’s a symbol or ceremony that’s fulfilled in Jesus. If we believe that Jesus Christ, in His work, fulfilled these symbols and sermons, then we receive them as being fulfilled. We realize we are no longer under the obligation.

If you want to keep the Sabbath, you have the freedom in Christ to do so, but don’t think for a moment that it makes you more right with God.