WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN AGAIN?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN AGAIN?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

We have heard the term, ‘born again Christian’, being used. But what does it mean to be ‘born again’? As Nicodemus said,

“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” John 3:4

And don’t you just love Jesus’ answer?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

Alright, so we must be born of the spirit. But what does that mean? And we must be born of water? So does that mean a light sprinkle of holy water at the alter will suffice or must we be dunked in a pool? And what kind of water? Does it have to be river water, like it was when John the Baptist was baptizing? Or will chlorinated pool water do?

And what’s all this about wind blowing where it wishes? Does it mean that once we are born again, we lose our mortal bodies? If that’s the case, does it mean that we can only be ‘born again’ when we are dead?

Beloved, what Jesus said is certainly true.

“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:11-13

There are just some people who will never get it. But for us, it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. So let us take some time today and uncover the mystery of being ‘born again’.

“Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3 [AMP]

‘How did you know?’

I have been asked this question many times in regards to differing circumstances and situations; so recently, I paused and had a good long think about how is it I was able to know enough to give others sound advice and accurate analysis of their situations?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not endowed with special powers. There is nothing supernatural about me. In fact, I have made several rather spectacular mistakes in my life, so before you think that I am some self-professed supernatural oracle, I certainly am not.

Yet, there are somethings you ‘just know’. And Jesus is very clear why you and I have that ‘gut feeling’, the deep set instinct about certain things; because it is given for us to know the mysteries of heaven. And in the case of today's study, Peter was given to know the secrets of being born again; and he clearly tells us what that means.

“…born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose]…”

When we are born again, we are transformed spiritually. The change we experience is not skin deep. It’s not a matter of us changing from a bad person to a good person because we are now afraid of the consequences of our actions; for if it were, then becoming a Christian would be no different from being stuck in an authoritarian state with punitive laws.

No, our transformation is from the inside out. It starts with changing our desires and aligning it with our Father’s. It is no wonder then that Paul says,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Because when “…anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” 2 Corinthians 5:17 [AMP]

So once we are changed and renewed, once our moral and spiritual condition have been awakened and brought into the new life; our actions, our speech, the way we do things, the way we prioritize things, they all change.

Now, women understand this best. When you’ve been with a guy long enough and the areas of his life that you would like to change don’t seem to be changing, what do others tell you to do? Yes, get married. It is hoped that the added responsibility of the marriage will change him. But honestly, does it? Then what do the others then tell you do to? Yes, have children. Again, add more responsibility and hopefully it will change him. But does it? In the end, what you are left with is the burden of juggling your work with your infant while that inconsiderate imbecile of a man you made your husband and father of your child has just dumped you both at home and went off on a ‘guys only’ trip for the week.

You see, if you want change, adding responsibility is not going to effect change because responsibility is extrinsic, it comes from the outside. The only change that is effective and long-lasting is change from the inside. And that only happens when we have an honest revelation that we are in Christ, when we realize just what it means to have Christ die for us and redeem us from our sins, when we truly understand what it means to be ‘born again’.

Now, I can think of no other persons more qualified to teach us about being born again than Peter and Paul, because these men were truly born again.

Remember how Peter treated Jesus?

“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”” John 18:15-17

And then later,

“Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said, “I am not!”
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.” John 18:25-27

Yet, when Peter next met Jesus after Jesus was resurrected,

“Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.” John 21:7 (NLT)

And Peter spent the rest of his life preaching the good news of Jesus’ salvation.

Then we remember that before he met Jesus, Paul had gone “to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2

So for them to spend the rest of their natural lives preaching the good news of Jesus and His gift of salvation was certainly a big turnaround from who they used to be; a turnaround that could only have come from being “[reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]”, “reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed”.

But that’s not the end. This transformation is for a purpose. As we can see from the lives of Paul and Peter, they were “set apart for His purpose”, brought out from the company they kept and called to fulfil a different mission. Peter no longer remained a fisherman. Paul no longer remained a Pharisee of Pharisees, “…ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” Acts 8:3 [ESV]

No, they became changed men, set apart for His service.

Beloved, being ‘born again’ does not mean that the sky turns purple or the grass turns orange. What it does mean is that you finally realize that if you have sinned, Jesus wants to restore you. Indeed,

“…God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17

Instead, Jesus is in the business of making you whole.

Always remember beloved, our Father is not a public God. He is a personal Father. Jesus does not dwell in the big and spectacular. He stays in the intimate and personal. And that is why Jesus says,

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

He knocks on your door. He doesn’t use a loud hailer. So therefore, being ‘born again’ is not a public spectacle. It is a personal revelation of Their love for you. Yes, that revelation should and will make spectacular changes in your lifestyle and habits, but remember that it was meant to first of all change you personally, intimate, from the inside out.

So rejoice, beloved, for

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for,” 1 Peter 1:3 [MSG]

And enjoy your new life for the moment you truly put your trust in Jesus, you have been born again.

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