Born Again Teaching
One of the most common Christian phrases is “born again”. It is one that is tossed around a lot and used so much that most people are unsure of what it really means. In reality, this phrase is one that should be studied and understood to fully understand the Christian concept of salvation.
In John 3:1-6, the Bible says
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (NIV)
In this scene the phrase “born again” is introduced to us. This learned Jewish leader approaches Jesus to acknowledge that Jesus had to be from God because of all the miracles He was performing. But in reply, Jesus says that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he has been born again. Nicodemus is slightly confused because it just doesn’t make sense. We are adults and cannot reverse time. We cannot go back and enter the womb and be physically born again. So, then is it impossible for anyone to reach heaven? At this point Jesus begins to clarify his statement.
To be born of flesh is a one-time occurrence. Nicodemus was correct in that regard. We cannot be physically born again. What has been done once cannot be repeated. But that was not what Jesus was referring to. Jesus was talking about the soul. The soul could be cleansed and the person could start a new life. But this could only be done through God’s Spirit. Jesus was telling the priest that only when a person accepted God as their Lord and received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit could they have a new life.
Peter addresses this further. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)(NIV) Peter was emphasizing here the difference between what Nicodemus was saying and what Jesus was. The body is destructible. It will die. It will decay. But the true “born again” is through something that will not die or decay. The Spirit is eternal which makes the birth of our new life in Christ so different than our physical birth.
What does being born again do for the individual? John 1:12-13 says, “yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (NIV) Upon being born again an individual becomes heir to heaven. They become the children of God. The natural birth was to your earthly parents. The spiritual birth was to God.
Upon being born again, the individual also begins to see their life a little differently. They begin to notice what is considered a sin and what is not. In fact they will begin to seek out only those things that are not sinful. When they do commit sin, they are repentant and turn from their ways. John says in 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (NIV) The continued emphasis of being born of something eternal and non-physical is seen here. There is something so special about this being “born again” that sin is treated so differently after the rebirth.
The idea of being born again is giving the individual a new start. The old life is dead and the new life begins. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the head, in order that we might bear fruit to God.” (Romans 7:4)(NIV) Before coming to Christ and accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior, our bodies, minds, and souls are given over to so many things that are unhealthy and ugly. Our physical bodies crave caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and laziness. None of these are healthy. Yet when we start a new life with Christ, we begin to crave a life without these contaminants (though some might argue the caffeine). Being born again is having a second chance.
One of the best analogies of this was given by Jesus in Matthew 9:16-17. He says, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (NIV) To accept Christ requires a new life. The old life cannot exist with Christ who knows no sin. But the new life can because it is a spiritual rebirth. It is a cleansing of the soul. It is a new beginning.
There is a process today that many accept in therapy circles. It is called rebirthing, and the purpose of it is to help the bond between parent and child grow tighter. This is used in adoption cases or where the relationship between parent and child are so estranged. The child is wrapped up in an extremely tight blanket and the birthing process is reenacted to start the relationship anew. This is a highly controversial therapy process and I am in no way cheering it on. But I am trying to show how that there are other areas that recognize a need in a person’s life to be “born again”, to have a new start, to begin again. This rebirth is reenacted by Christians through the act of immersion baptism. The person stands in the water as the world knows them with all their sin symbolically still on them. They are lowered in the water as though being laid down in the grave and is raised from the dead as Christ rose from the dead. The water washed their sin away and their new birth has occurred with a new life.
To be born again in a Christian world is to discover eternal life through Christ. Only through such a life changing and life-altering experience will your name be written in the Book of Life. Being born again is tossing aside your old life with the old desires of fornication, using, and gossiping. It is accepting a life of such fulfillment that nothing on this earth could possibly compare.
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