Born Again

This phrase conjures up a variety of ideas or opinions in the minds of different people. For most it has a religious connotation. It means having some kind of a new religious experience. If asked to describe that experience the description will vary tremendously. For others it simply means a makeover such as the "Born Again Bugs" the name of a used Volkswagen dealership. They sell used VWs that have been refurbished, new paint job, etc. Also, there is a furni­ture restoration business called "Born Again Furniture". Recently I met a person who changed political parties. When I asked why the change he said, "I've been reborn."
The phrase "You must be born again" was a statement made by Jesus to Nicodemus in John's Gospel chapter 3. Jesus said "one cannot see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." Nicodemus found this very con­fusing and questioned how one could enter a second time into his mother's womb. Because of his spiritual blindness he could not comprehend what Jesus was talking about.
Have you ever said to someone I am a Christian only to have that person quickly respond by saying "I'm a born again Christian" with a tone of spiritual pride in their voice as though there is a superior variety of Chris­tian. While according to God's Word not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one, everyone who is truly repentant and believes in Jesus Christ is born again. It should be noted that Jesus did not tell every person whom He encountered that they needed to be born again to enter the Kingdom. He used terminology that confronted the person at the point of the obstacle in his life. He told the rich young ruler to sell all his goods and give to the poor. He told the scribe and the lawyer to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'' Mark 12: 30 and Luke 1O: 27.
In each case the message He wanted them to hear was there must be a total surrender of the will to enter God's Kingdom. Being a law keeper was Nicodemus' obstacle. He was both a Pharisee, a re­ligious leader, and a lawmaker, a member of the Jewish ruling party.
He felt that by making good laws and obeying them, in other words just being good, was all that was necessary. Jesus'' message to him was that man''s goodness is not good enough. In fact, God said, "Our righteousness is as filthy rags." 11 Isaiah 64:6. Jesus informed Nicodemus that a radical regeneration was imperative.
Frequently both in the Old and New Testaments God used natural situations, types to typify something spiritua1. While the type was never a perfect il­lustration its purpose was to illustrate something better, to convey a spiritual or eternal truth. In this case, the difference between the natural birth as we know it and the spiritual birth that Jesus was talking about was not only a, quality of life but a quantity of life. When one is born again· he becomes a child of God, a member of the family of God, God becomes his heavenly Father, he receives everlasting life. This life is eternal and does not end in death like our natural life. II Corinthians 4:18. Let us examine the phrase "born again". To be born means to be brought forth by birth, to live anew, to begin. Again means one more time. To en­ter God''s Kingdom and inherit eternal life one must be born one more time, spiritually.
Further examination of the text indicates that this new birth is a sove­reign act of God. It is often referred to as the miracle of the new birth because God alone brings about the birthing process. Man plays no more of a role in this spiritual birth than in his natural birth. This is what sets Christianity apart from al1 other religions. It is by grace (undeserved favor) totally God's doing, not something man does to appease God. Repentance comes only after the Holy Spirit has done His work of conviction. It is in the birthing process that one surrenders and repents. He then begins to live his new life by turning from sin and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience. kindness, goodness, faithfulness. gentleness, and self-control. Before one is born again he is incapable of living his life good enough to please God either by obeying the commandments. or keeping the Golden Rule. Go1ng forward at an evangelistic meeting, joining a church, being baptized, or taking communion wi11 not make one a member of God's family; only a radical new birth apart from man's own efforts.
we can''t make it happen, God does the birthing and gives the free gift of eternal life. This life starts at the moment of being born again. One can only receive this gift of eternal life by humbly surrendering and believing in Jesus' miraculous birth, death, and resurrection. Since God alone performs the miracle of the new birth and gives the gift of eternal life the reborn person's life should consist of praise and honor in worship of the living Lord,Jesus Christ.