“EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It was to a believer in God, a devoutly religious attendee of the synagogue, a moral person who came to pay Him honor, that Jesus Christ uttered these solemn words. All that Nicodemus had was insufficient to prepare for his eternal meeting with God. Are you prepared to meet God?
What is Meant by Being Born Again?
To be born again is to be regenerated (given new life). When Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be reborn, He spoke not of physical birth but of spiritual birth (John 3:4-6). Jesus questioned why he did not understand this as a teacher of his people (John 3:10). The rebirth or regeneration of the nation of Israel was taught in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 37:1-10). The future rebirth of creation from its sin-cursed state was also a well-known teaching (Matthew 19:28). Nicodemus had not understood that rebirth is a word to be applied to the individual when he becomes a member of the family of God.
Being born again is a personal event. It is a new life, a new family relationship, a new power within. The Bible says we enter the Kingdom of God as one passing from death to life (John 5:24). We pass from walking in darkness to walking in light (John 8:12). We pass from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). We become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new creation is in righteousness, holiness and truth (Ephesians 4:24).
Why Must the Natural Man be Born Again?
The “natural man” refers to one just as he is born and lives in the flesh before new life from God is given.
1. He is Corrupt (Genesis 8:21).
He has a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Within his flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18).
2. He is Dead in Sins (Ephesians 2:1).
By God’s standard, there is no spiritual life.
3. He is Controlled by Satan (Ephesians 2:2).
4. He is an Enemy of God (Romans 5:10).
He has no hope and is without God in this world (Ephesians 2:12). Every child of God was at one time in this condition.
How Can a Person be Born Again?
1. Two Illustrations of New Birth.
A careful study of John 3 will not support the ideas that most people have about entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus did not mention good deeds, joining religious organizations or going through religious ceremonies. He gave two illustrations of the new birth:
a. The Wind (John 3:8). It is invisible, unpredictable in its workings and yet evident in its effects. The Source is God and not man. The New Birth has its source in God (John 1:13). It is sent from Him to invisibly and powerfully work in changing lives.
The Serpent of Brass (John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:6-9). When the people had sinned, God directed Moses to make a brazen serpent and put it upon a pole. All who believed the word of Moses and looked to the object of God’s providing were delivered. Jesus said He, as the Son of Man, would be “lifted up” like that serpent on the pole to be the object of faith that would save. That “lifting up” clearly was to be on the cross (John 12:32-33). The New Birth occurs by looking to Jesus as the One crucified for our sins.
2. Two Major Factors in the New Birth.
a. The Word of God (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). We hear the Word of truth and believe it to be saved (Ephesians 1:13; Romans 10:17). It is the seed of salvation (Matthew 13:3-9; Matthew 18-23). The New Birth comes when we genuinely believe God’s Word and obey it.
b. The Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5; John 3:5, 6, 8). He convicts men of sin (John 16:8-11) and leads them to Christ. The New Birth is a work of the Holy Spirit. It begins with conviction of sin and leads to a cleansed life, “the washing of regeneration.”
It will be noted that nothing of the above has anything to do with water baptism. In fact, baptism is not mentioned. Water is used in the Bible as a symbol of the Spirit (John 7:38-39) and of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Baptism has nothing in common with the illustrations used by Jesus of the wind and the serpent of brass. Baptism is a picture of salvation. It is very important, and it follows the new birth, but does not cause it (Acts 8:12-13; 37-38).
What Are the Results of the New Birth?
1. We have a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 11:19).
2. We partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
3. We are indwelt by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9).
4. We are children in the family of God (1 John 3:1).
5. We have eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).
6. We love the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5:1).
7. We love others, especially Christians (1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:7).
8. We have a will to obey the Lord Jesus (1 John 2:3).
9. We do not practice sin (1 John 3:9).
10. We practice righteousness (1 John 2:29).
Have you known conviction of sin and turned to Jesus Christ for deliverance? Have you believed the Gospel of your salvation and trusted in Christ?
Study Guide The New Birth
Jesus said that one cannot see the Kingdom of God unless that person has been born again. Understanding this is crucial. Please answer these questions thoughtfully.
1. Answer by circling True or False.
a. One is born again by being baptized in water. (True or False)
b. The two illustrations of the new birth given by Jesus are the sea and the serpent of brass. (True or False)
c. “Born again” is a catch phrase to be applied mainly to a change in our religion. (True or False)
2. Nicodemus first came to Jesus as (select one)
a. a believer in God.
b. a moral person.
c. a synagogue attendee.
d. a person interested in Him.
e. all of the above.
3. “Born again” means (select one)
a. joining the church.
b. changing your religion.
c. a new life from God.
d. a gradual spiritual transition.
e. believing in God.
4. The natural man must be born again because (select one)
a. he is corrupt.
b. he is dead in sin.
c. he is controlled by Satan.
d. he is an enemy of God.
e. all of the above.
5. Paraphrase (rewrite in your own words) John 1:12-13.
6. What is the role of the Word of God in the new birth (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Peter 1:23)?
. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the new birth (John 3:6-8; John 16:7-11; Titus 3:5; Acts 2:37)?
8. What are some results of the new birth?
What do you say? Explain the “New Birth” in your own words.
What do others say? Contact at least three people this week and ask them the following questions. You may wish to say something like the following:
“I’m involved in a Bible Survey here in (name city). Could you help me by sharing your opinion on three important questions? (1) Many people are using the expression “born again.” What does this expression mean to you? (2) In your opinion, how does a person become a member of God’s family? (3) Why do you think Jesus used this expression to describe what it means to become a Christian? Thank you so much for your help. Would you like for me to mail/e-mail you a copy of the survey results? Thank you.”
Record their names and addresses on the 3x5 cards provided by the class leader. Record the answers on the back, indicating if survey results are desired. Then return the cards the next class meeting. Results of the survey will be tabulated by the class leader and mailed to each person indicating an interest.