What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
By David J. Stewart
This term first appears in the Bible in John chapter three...
To understand this Biblical term, it is necessary to understand that there are TWO BIRTHS. The "first" birth is the PHYSICAL BIRTH when you were born into this world from your mother and father. When the Bible speaks of being "born of water," it is speaking about the physical birth (NOT baptism). The "second" birth is a SPIRITUAL BIRTH, which means to be born of the "Spirit" (God's Holy Spirit). This raises a couple of questions: Why does a person need to be born spiritually?...and, What is a "spiritual" birth?"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 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." —John 3:1-7
The Bible teaches that man is created in the image of God. God manifests Himself to mankind in the Persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Likewise, mankind is composed of a body, soul, and spirit. Our body is the "tent" you could say of the soul and spirit (the body is a temporary dwelling place). Our soul is composed of the heart (to feel), the mind (to think), and the will (to decide). Our spirit is dead in sin when we are born; that is, we are born void of God. No person is ever born with God. The only exception is the Lord Jesus Christ Who came as God in the flesh (1st Timothy 3:16). Our spirit is dead in trespasses and sin the Bible says...
The unsaved person cannot understand God..."And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:" —Ephesians 2:1,2
The reason why you need to be "spiritually" born is because you have never been spiritually born to begin with. So when the Bible speaks of being “born again,” it actually means “born for the second time.” You were born physically into this world, but you were born without the Spirit of God in your soul (spiritually dead). Yes, God created you, but He gave you a freewill to decide for yourself where you will spend eternity. God never forces anyone to accept Jesus as their Savior. He simply offers a warm invitation to anyone who wants to have their sins forgiven and go to Heaven. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 5:15), paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1st Peter 1:18,19). We must accept God's gift of eternal life or it WILL be forever forfeited when we leave this world (die)."But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."—1st Corinthians 2:14
God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:17, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Notice, God said they would die “the day that thou eatest thereof.” Interestingly, Adam and Eve DIDN'T die physically the the day they ate the fruit and disobeyed God's command. The reason is because they died SPIRITUALLY. Sin had entered the human race. The Bible teaches that from Adam until present time, mankind has been born spiritually dead, inherited down from Adam's sin. This is why humanity MUST be born-again. This is only possible through the Holy Spirit of God, which makes us alive again (quickeneth the Bible says) by faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
To be “spiritually” born means that God's Holy Spirit “quickens” (or makes alive) our dead spirit. When a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus as the Christ, trusting Him alone to forgive all sins—then God the Father and God the Son come into one's heart in the form of God the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). The “Holy Spirit” is “God within us.”
I have God living in my body in the form of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 tells us that the Spirit of Christ dwells within every believer. I am not God, but I have God's Spirit living in my body. The Godhead indwells every believer. The Holy Spirit of God guides me, comforts me, teaches me, rebukes me, chastises me, convicts me, encourages me, empowers me, loves me, strengthens me, and so much more. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to do these things. This is why it is critically important for every believer to live in their Bible (and make sure you have a reliable Bible—I only use the King James). A person cannot understand the Bible without the presence of the Author, and God is the Author. When you become born-again (or born for the second time), God's Holy Spirit comes into your body (1st Corinthians 3:16), never to leave (Hebrews 13:5), and you will understand many new things for the first time in your life...
It is ONLY through the Precious Word of God that anyone can be born-again. Surely, no one can be born into this world again physically... there is no turning back the hands of time. However, you most certainly can be born again, spiritually, into God's family through the Spirit of Christ... "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). The way we become "born again" is found in the Word of God..."Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." —2nd Corinthians 5:17
We are born again by the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1,14: Revelation 19:13). The following statement sums it up pretty good..."Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." —1st Peter 1:23
If you're born once, then you die TWICE; If you're born twice, then you die ONCE.
If you don't receive Jesus Christ and become a born again Christian, then you will sadly burn in Hellfire for all eternity (John 3:18, 36; Revelation 20:15; 21:8). Perhaps you say, "That born again stuff makes no sense to me." Well, most people can't explain how a black cow can eat green grass, give white milk, and then it's turned into yellow butter—but they still eat it!
The GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) is that it is very EASY to have the second birth, i.e., a spiritual birth. God came down to this earth 2,000 years ago and took upon Himself the form of a man. That man was the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1,14; 1st Timothy 3:16). Literally, the GODHEAD became incarnate (Colossians 2:9--King James Bible). Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus never sinned once (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died, was buried and rose again after three days (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus shed His blood to pay for all our sins (Colossians 1:14; 1st Peter 1:18,19), and applied that blood to the Mercy Seat in Heaven (Hebrews 9:24-26).
There are a few things you must acknowledge to be saved:
1. You are a sinner under the condemnation of God's Law (Romans 3:10,23).
2. You are GUILTY, and deserve to go to Hellfire as punishment for your sins (Romans 3:19; 6:23; Revelation 21:8).
3. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh (God's Son), died upon the cross to pay for your sins (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8). It is Jesus' blood that takes our sins away (1st John 1:7).
Jesus is the Savior (i.e., the Christ) who paid for your sins. If you realize that you're a guilty sinner (and thus need a Savior), then you simply need to believe upon Jesus to have your sins forgiven.
Acts 20:21 states: “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Repentance and faith are inseparable. Repentance is simply a change of mind that involves turning to Jesus Christ to be forgiven of one's sins. It is only when we repent, by owning to God that we are as vile a sinner as He has declared us to be in His holy Word, and place our faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins, believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that we are born-again anew. Acts 10:43 states: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
You may pray if you'd like, but you don't have to. Salvation is of the heart (Romans 10:10). If you'd like to pray, simply ask Jesus to forgive your sins and tell Him that you're trusting Him as your Savior. It matters not exactly what you pray, just as long as you realize these two main truths:
1. You are a guilty sinner under the condemnation of God's Law!
2. Jesus is the Savior who shed His blood to take away your sins!
You might pray something like this...
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a Hell-deserving sinner. I believe that you are the Son of God, the Savior, who shed your blood to pay for my sins. I now believe upon You as my personal Savior, and ask you to please forgive me of all my sins. Please save me and take me to Heaven when I die. Amen.
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