"Ye Must Be Born Again"

by Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.
 
Jesus said: "Ye must be born again.What does "born again" mean?  Why is it so important?  How is a person born again?  When does this birth take place?  Where does it take place?  And who can be born again?  These serious questions are answered in the verbally inspired, inerrant, divinely preserved Word of God-the Holy Bible.  Jesus said to God the Father, "Thy word is truth" (Joh 17.17).  To be born again, you must obey the undiluted truth contained in the Bible concerning this subject. When people believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ they are born again and they are saved from Hell.
 

The Importance of Being Born Again

Jesus warned: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3.3-5).

If the person who is not born again will not be allowed into the Kingdom of God, then where will he go?  The Bible is extremely clear about this.

Why Being Born Again Is Necessary

"Ye must be born again" to enter the Kingdom of God lest you pollute God's kingdom with sin.  The fallen Adamic race (which includes us all) is by nature sinful and in rebellion against God.  Man's nature must be changed to make him fit to enter the Kingdom of God.  In Ephesians 2.3 Paul tells the Christians in the church at Ephesus that before being born again they were "by nature the children of wrath, even as others."

That man's nature is fallen and sinful is declared over and over again in the Bible:

In other words, every man is born from his mother's womb with a fallen and depraved nature.  Depraved means "morally bad; corrupt; perverted" (Webster's Dict.).  By nature humans are rebels not righteous, sinners not saints. By nature all men hate both God and His laws.  Because Jesus is God, natural men loathe Him, use His name in vain, and despise His teachings and commandments.  When Jesus went back to Heaven to receive His kingdom, the citizens of earth "hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to rule over us" (Luke 19.14).  Most citizens of earth still hate Jesus. It should be obvious to everyone that men cannot be allowed into Heaven with the rebellious nature with which they were born.  Heaven would be polluted and spoiled if murderers, homosexuals, rapists, adulterers, fornicators, kidnappers, thieves, robbers, liars, deceivers, or any other sinners were permitted to enter it's gates.  For Heaven to be without sorrow, tears, sickness and death, all rebels against God must be---and will be---excluded from its realm. If all this be so, some object, then why did God create man with a nature which continually desires to do that which God has declared wrong?  The answer to that question is that "God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Ecc 7.29).  God did not create man with a depraved nature; the first man, Adam, was made "in the image of God" (Gen 1.27).  But Satan tempted Adam through Eve, and Adam sinned and fell from his original exalted state.  "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom 5.12).  "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom 5.19).  People are not sinners because they sin; rather they sin because they are by nature sinners.  Therefore a spiritual rebirth is essential.

Another question often asked is, Why did God create such a heinous creature as Satan, who would tempt humans to sin?  Again the Bible reveals to us that Lucifer (the angel now called Satan) was not evil when God created him, but was originally perfect.  After Lucifer's fall God said to him:

God created angels and humans with free wills---able to choose a course of action without God's intervention.  Such freedom provided opportunity for both angels and men to do wrong as well as right.  But God wants us to love, worship, and obey Him because we want to, not because we are programmed to.  Lucifer and Eve and Adam, of their own volitions abused their freedom and choose to sin against God.  God did not want them to sin, and certainly did not make them sin.  Nor is it God's fault when you or I sin, but we each alone are responsible for our own sins.

In summary, the only hope we have of being made acceptable to God is to be born again so as to become children of God, receiving a new nature which cannot sin, and therefore will not pollute Heaven.  The new birth is God's provision to return man to his original exalted condition.

 

What Born Again Means

"Born again" refers to the miracle in which the Holy Spirit of God replaces the rebellious and sinful nature of a man with a new nature which has new, righteous desires.  It means a change in one's inner man, not in one's body.  A man named Nicodemus once asked Jesus: In other words, this is a spiritual birth being discussed, not a physical birth.  You would not be able to see it happen, but you would see it change the behavior of the person to whom it happened.  Though invisible as the wind, this birth is just as real as the wind-and as powerful.

Some people think that born again refers to the resurrection of the body at the last day.  Not so.  Being born again makes us children of God now: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (1 Joh 3.2).

Also, in the following quotation "were" (past tense) shows the born again experience to be in the past for the believer, not in the future:

Obviously, therefore, the term "born again" does not refer to the resurrection of the body, but rather to the miracle by which a sinner is changed into a new creature in Christ.

How to Be Born Again

Some men believe that to be born again they must keep the Ten Commandments and do good works.  But how can people who have not yet been spiritually born do anything good?  They are not yet spiritually alive, but are "dead in trespasses and in sins....having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2.1-12).  Their own depraved nature dooms their efforts to do good works to failure.  For it happens to them according to the true proverb: "The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Pet 2.22).  They may modify their behavior, but they are powerless to change their nature---they still lust to sin.  Like the Pharisees of old, they are "like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Mat 23.27). The words "regeneration" and "renewing" refer to the spiritual new birth.  In other words, we are saved by being born again, not by attempting to do works of righteousness. God alone can change man's nature.  God alone can do the work of regeneration.  God alone can save us.  Therefore our faith must not be in ourselves, but in God alone.

Note in Titus 3.5 above, that we are saved by the "washing of regeneration," not by the washing of baptism.  Baptizing a sinner will not change his nature any more than bathing a pig will change it into a lamb.  Thousands of baptized sinners are found in the jails and prisons of this world.  Obviously baptism did not change their natures, and is therefore not the new birth.

In John 3.5 Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  Some people have misinterpreted this to refer to baptism.  The very next verse, however, clarifies the matter: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."  The water birth is the physical birth (there is water within each mother's womb), and produces a fleshly body.  The spiritual birth is a miracle of the Holy Spirit and produces a new creature in Christ.  As has been rightly said by many others, if a person is born only once, he will have to die twice.  "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20.14-15).  But if a person be born twice he will only have to die once.

If a person is not born again by being baptized or by doing good works, how then is a person born again?  By placing his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Clearly, the above verses show that a person is not born again by being baptized, or by doing good works, but simply by placing his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day.
 

The Benefits of Being Born Again

The most obvious benefits of being born again are that you will be allowed into the Kingdom of God and will therefore not be cast into the Lake of Fire.  But there are many other benefits also.  For example:

(1) "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (1 Joh 5.5); "being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom 6.18).  The born again believer is a free man!  The person who truly cannot quit his evil habits---the person still chained to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, stealing, lying, etc.---has never yet been born again.

(2) The soul of a born again believer will never die.  Said Jesus, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (Joh 11.26).  Nor shall the believer's soul remain in a rotting body in the grave.  Physical death is separation of the soul from the body, and "we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5.8).

(3) "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 Joh 3.9).  According to Gal 3.16, God's seed is Christ Jesus.  Jesus dwells in the heart of every born again believer, and promises "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb 13.5).  "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 Joh 5.18).  Because he is kept by the Holy Spirit of the only begotten Son of God-Jesus Christ himself-, that part of a believer in Christ which is born again (not his body, but his inner man) cannot sin.  The born again believer is therefore eternally secure in Christ; once saved always saved!

It must be stressed at this point, that only the born again part of a believer in Christ "cannot sin."  His body is not born again, and therefore his body does sin, and because of this must die.  It is of the physical part of the believer that the apostle John wrote, saying:

Thank God, however, the believer's body is predestinated "to be conformed to the image of God's Son" in the resurrection (Rom 8.29).  The Bible calls this great event the "adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8.23).  This future adoption of the body is not to be confused with the adoption of the soul which is the new birth, and which takes place the instant a person puts his faith in Christ (study Rom 8.9-17 and Gal 3.29-4.8).  The promised future adoption of the body is yet another proof of the eternal security of the born again believer in Christ.
 

YOU Can Be Born Again

Who can be born again?  "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 Joh 5.1).  This "whosoever" can include you.  If you will believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, YOU will be born again!
 

Where and When To Be Born Again

There is no second chance to be born again after death; there  is no purgatory.  Upon death the unbeliever goes straight to Hell to be tormented for eternity in flames, and between Heaven and Hell there is a great gulf: so that they which would pass from Hell to Heaven cannot. (Luke 16.19-31)  The fact that you are reading this tract indicates that God is working in your life to draw you unto Himself.  You must turn to God in repentance now, while God in love and mercy is calling you to salvation.  Jesus said: "No man can come unto me, except my Father which hath sent me draw him" (Joh 6.44).  We cannot believe in Christ without God's help.  Thank God, all of us are divinely empowered at least once to believe in Christ.  Promised Jesus: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all men unto me."  (Joh 12.32).  Believe in the Lord Jesus now while He draws you so you can.  Do not tempt God by putting off salvation.  God's love for you is proven: "for when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly....God commendth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5.6-8).  Do not scorn or snub the love of God.  For if God gives up on you, you are doomed.  Where ever you presently are "now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6.2).  You have no promise whatsoever of another chance tomorrow.  Would you not receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior right now right where you are? So don't wait; call upon the Lord Jesus Christ now and be both born again and saved for eternity instantly!
 
Read also "Once Saved Always Saved."

(C) Copyright 1994 by Louis A. Turk. All rights reserved. You may  reprint this article, provided you do not edit it in any way without the author's consent, and provided this paragraph is printed at the end of the article.  Other publication requires advance permission of the author.



Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

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