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What does it mean to be born again?


Credit: Mark Moschell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Mark Moschell/Flickr/Creative Commons

“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (reject, condemn, to pass sentence) on the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” (John 3:16)

When talking with people about my faith, I have searched the Bible to make sure I am distinguishing my faith which is Christianity from the many other faiths out there.

What makes my faith, Christianity, different or more appealing than all the others?

To understand, we need to read the words that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus who was a prominent leader and teacher of the Pharisees.  This religious sect had long lists of rules and regulations (do’s and don’ts) to follow.  They believed that obeying these laws would make them acceptable in God’s eyes.

As a result, Nicodemus felt the heavy weight of the laws of the Pharisee Sect on his shoulders. These rules hung like a noose around his neck and at times it felt like he was being strangled by them. The thought of this weight being taken off his shoulders enticed Nicodemus to have a heart to heart conversation with Jesus.

In fact, Nicodemus approached Christ secretly at night, so that his fellow Pharisees would not see him talking to the teacher that was preaching and teaching a different way of living.

Jesus had a different message about salvation and told Nicodemus:

Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Nicodemus found Christ’s words about being “born again” puzzling. He had trouble wrapping his brain around the concept of what he thought was re-entering his mother’s womb. Christ went on to explain that he was not referring to natural birth. The rebirth Christ was talking about could only happen by the Spirit of God (the original translation says “You must be born from above.”)

Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that whatever rules and laws he strictly obeyed did not qualify him to be “born again.”

So how does one become born again?

  1. Acknowledge your failure to perfectly live up to God’s standards (sin). Good works do not cancel out bad deeds.
  2.  Be aware of your need for God and truly desire change in your life. You must want it.
  3.  Believe that Christ died for your sins. By the shedding of blood on the Cross, Jesus took on the punishment for our sins. He exchanged His perfection for our imperfection. By faith in Christ, we are made perfect in the eyes of God. We appear sinless to God, because of what Christ did.
  4.  Purposefully invite God into your life.  Some people do this with a simple prayer where they admit (confess) their sin and deep need for God.  God does not force himself on anyone.
  5.  Place your trust in Christ, believing He died for your sins.  This is when the Holy Spirit comes into your life and you are “Born Again.”

Natural birth opens our senses of sight and sound and reveals natural things of our world.  The spiritual birth by the impartation of the Spirit of God enables us to see, hear and perceive life from an eternal perspective because we have entered into the Kingdom of God.

This is the gift of eternal life  where we have a relationship with God not ruled by do’s and don’ts, but rather faith in Christ.  Our relationship with God does not end with death but carries on into eternity.

Sin is a harsh reality but can dealt with by simply believing in the provision that God made through Christ’s death on the cross.

“The one believing in Him is not judged, but the one not believing already been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

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