Born Again

Reborn as a child of God

I wonder if you have come across the phrase "born again" or met someone who has said they have been "born again?" Quite simply, it is an expression taken from this verse (John 3:3) to mean they have become a Christian, reborn as a child of God.

Have you been "born again" or more literally "born from above?" It can be called conversion, repentance, or being saved, but has it happened to you? Does Christ live in your heart? Do you know it? Do you have a personal relationship with God? Many people have thought a long time about religion and Christianity and yet have never made a personal commitment to Jesus. 

Here, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee. He was an educated man in that he knew and studied the scriptures. Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night. We are not told why. Perhaps he wanted a private conversation away from the crowds. Maybe he wanted to know more before committing himself to Jesus Christ. In any event, he came and asked Jesus some questions that had been on his mind. He confessed to Jesus that he knew Jesus was a teacher come from God, because of the miracles Jesus had performed. However before he could say any more, Jesus said to him “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This could either have been a rebuke, i.e. just admiring Jesus was not enough; or Jesus had read his thoughts and had answered before Nicodemus could even ask his question. Nevertheless, when Jesus told him in no uncertain terms you must be "born again", this clearly stunned and confused him, but it didn't put him off.  “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” This seems a sensible question to raise. How can someone physically be born again? He wanted to understand.

Jesus explains further

Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Jesus says it is not a physical birth, but a spiritual one! It's a fundamental change that takes place inside a person, by the work of the Holy Spirit! The only way this dramatic change can be described is by saying it's being born again! First, there is spiritual conception and a period of growth in the womb as God invisibly works on the heart and mind. Then the birth itself as spiritual realities are grasped by faith, along with the open confession of becoming a follower of Jesus.

Conversion can happen very quickly or it can take a long time. However once God has started a work in you, you will be changed.  It has nothing to do with how educated you are, or that you have been raised by Christian parents, or what church you attend. Heaven cannot be inherited or earned. It's a work that God alone can do, to be born a child of God.

Jesus goes further "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

In saying this, Jesus is showing Nicodemus that it is God's mysterious and invisible work, not man's.

Nicodemus should have known this. He had the scriptures that promised this change. In Ezekiel, God says this "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Nicodemus needed to change on the inside, not just the outside. He needed the Holy Spirit to work in his heart. It is nothing we can do ourselves. It's Gods work of sovereign grace. We need the Holy Spirit to come to us and convict us of our sin against others, and more importantly against God. He enables us to see things clearly, and choose to turn to God and say sorry, help me, forgive me (repentance).

The Holy Spirit regenerates, he changes our whole outlook on life. He gives us a new heart. New eyes to see the truth of his word. He opens our ears to hear and understand. That is when we are born again. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us, to teach us and to help us live the Christian life.

Are you asking what must I do to be saved? Then follow Nicodemus' example, and go to Jesus, and ask him for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5)

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