What Does it Mean to be Born Again?
Nicodemus was a religious teacher and a member of the ruling council of the Jews. He wanted to talk to Jesus privately, so he came to visit Jesus at night. There were many people with Jesus each day, and Nicodemus was no doubt busy with his own affairs during the day as well. By coming to a visit at night, they could talk and not be interrupted.
As they started to talk, Nicodemus said that he knew Jesus had come from God. He recognized that the miracles performed by Jesus were done with a power that came from God alone? Nicodemus wanted to know more. Jesus answered that it was not enough to be admired by him for doing miracles or knowing who had sent him. Jesus flatly told him “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This was a crushing remark to Nicodemus, considering what he had been saying. Jesus did not mean to rebuke him, though. He was just carrying Nicodemus’ thought further. Without a new birth experience, he could not hope to understand the deep meanings of what had just been said.
Then Nicodemus replied, “How can a man be born again when he’s old?” This shows that Nicodemus was thinking strictly on the physical level. Jesus was talking about having a new heart. Nicodemus had been thinking about new bones and flesh. He said, “How can a man enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”‘ He was reasoning, “How can a man undo the past and start life again when he’s old?”
Since Nicodemus was thinking and talking on physical level, Jesus showed him that the laws that govern the spiritual and the physical are not the same. Jesus explained, “That which is born of the physical is physical, and that which is spiritual is spiritual.” Nicodemus was not being instructed to be again in the physical sense. Instead, he was being told that he had to be born from above, or by the Holy Spirit from heaven.
What does it mean to be born again?
The term born again can be found in many places. It has almost become popularized fad among many, and probably means different thing to different people. What does it mean to be born again? Does it mean anything to you?
Let’s go to God’s word, the Bible, to see what this term mean and why a new birth is necessary for all people. The apostle Paul says in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. “Notice that he specifically says all people have sinned – that means good and bad. Because Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, all people after them were born with a sinful nature. Romans 5:12 says wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death (physical and spiritual), and sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
We cannot place all of the blame of our sin upon Adam and Eve. As we look at our own lives, we can see that to do wrong is a natural tendency. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord (God) hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. “We do have a sinful nature. Evil man is lost from God and plan because of sin. Romans 6:23 states “the wages of sin is death (again, physical and spiritual). Yes, sin does pay wages. A life of sin may result in bad health, evil companions, broken homes, and a defeated attitude towards life itself. We have all heard of the horrors of hell: the fire, the darkness and the eternal torment. But beyond that, I believe the worst wage that sin pays is that at death, or the second coming of Jesus, our future doom is sealed.
We do have time to make our decision to become “born again” -but the time is limited. After we die, or after Jesus comes again, we offered no more chance to be a Christian. When a sinner goes to hell, there is no further contact with anything that is good and righteous. It means total sin and darkness forever. The ultimate horror of hell is the knowledge that all possibility of contact with God is lost forever.
Let’s refer to Romans 6:23 again, “But the gift of God is eternal life” (from the last part of the passage). Did you note the word gift”? God is offering you a gift. The great God who made the universe, heavens and earth, is offering you a personal gift. To receive any gift, all you have to do is accept it. Romans 5:8 say “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Just think of the love that it took for God to do that for us.
A sacrifice was needed for sin. In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were offered for sins. These sacrifices were only a covering for sin; however, they did not actually take the sin away. Jesus with his two natures (Godly and Physical) was the perfect sacrifice for sin. His death took away the sins of the world, John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The bible says that God is not willing to have anyone perish. God wanted man to be brought back into right standing with him, but there was no way for us to be saved without the sacrifice of Jesus. (Acts 4:12, Matthew 18:11).
To accept this gift, we must realize that we cannot be “good” ourselves. There is nothing good in us. Everything we are, and have, must be placed under his complete control. This is what we call taking Jesus as our Lord and personal Saviour. The Bible says in Romans 10:9 that if we take Jesus as our Lord and then believe that God raised him from the dead, then we would be saved. With our minds and hearts we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives; then we must declare with our mouth this fact to others. In doing so, we make a clean break with our past lives. We must confess our sins to God.
There will be many wrongs to be made right. Money may have been stolen, lies told, laws broken and many other misdeeds. All these things must be recognized and owned up to.
Another part of God’s gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit. This comes to us as at the time of our new birth. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and guides us in our Christian lives. After we are born again, we will notice several changes occurring in our lives. We will have an attitude of victory over sin and an attitude that is positive toward life in general. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Our attitude toward other people will change. We will want to help them become “Born Again” also. Our will become outgoing and will not be self centered anymore – a true testimony to what God can do. We will also start bearing spiritual fruits – “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, and temperance.” We will find that we lose many of our old friends and acquaintances, but we will gain many new ones as we come to know more people who are Christians.
It is very important to point out at this time that being “Born Again” is not merely a title or a label. It is more than joining a church and signing a decision card. It is not man-made reform of lifestyle – it is the direct contact between God and man through the Holy Spirit.
If you feel a tug in your heart that you are a sinner and need a new “boss” for your life, this is the Holy Spirit call upon you from God. Kneel down and humble yourself before God and accept him as your personal Saviour. Then pray this payer:
“Father in heaven, I know that I am a sinner , and I pray now that Jesus will come into my life and take control. I am sorry for my sins and need to have them forgiven and washed away with the blood of Jesus. I want Jesus to be my saviour. Prepare my heart so that I can be with those that are in heaven. Help to faithful to you and to grow more like Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
At this time, Jesus will take control of your life and God will be your father. You will truly be “born again,” and the sins of your past will be forgiven. You should share with others what you have done – and tell them you are Christian now. After you have done this, you should kneel and pray again, thanking God for what he has done for you!