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.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the
Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another
with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for
ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the
flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word
which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Pet 1.22-25)
When people believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ they are born again and
they are saved from Hell.
The gospel....by which also ye are saved....[is]
how that Christ died for our sins according
to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third
day according to the scriptures. (1 Cor 15.1-4)
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.
The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their
part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:
which is the second death. (Rev 21.7-8)
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:
There is none righteous, no,
not one...there is none that doeth
good, no, not one....all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom 3.10-23)
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.
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if
there were any that did understand, and seek after God. They are
all gone aside, they are all
together become filthy: there is none that
doeth good, no, not one. (Ps 14.2-3)
We are all as an unclean thing, and all
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all
do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
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.
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel
together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break
their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (Ps 2.2-3)
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
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit
the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind
[homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers,
nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6.9-10)
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.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which
I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they
which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
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:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the
day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. (Ez
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:
How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time
into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily,
I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is
flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not
that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where
it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence
it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
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:
[Jesus] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into
the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and
the world knew him not. He came unto his own [the Jews], and his
own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
which were born, not of blood, nor of the
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1.9-13).
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.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things
are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor 5.17).
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).
Not by works of righteousness which we
have done, but according to his mercy he saved
us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
The words "regeneration" and "renewing" refer to the spiritual new birth.
In other words, we are saved by being born again,
attempting to do works of righteousness.
For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not
of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them. (Eph 2.8-10)
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.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God....For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth
that Jesus is the Son of God?...He that believeth
on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God
hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave
of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal
life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life;
and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have
I written unto you that believe on the name
of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye
have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
(1 Joh 5.1-13)
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.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth on him should not perish,
but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world
to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned:
but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of God....He that believeth
on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall
not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (Joh 3.16-18).
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:
If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us....if
we say that we have not sinned, we make him
a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 Joh 1.8-10)
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?
If thou shalt
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved. For with
the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession
is made unto salvation....For whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
So don't wait; call upon the Lord Jesus Christ
now and be both born again and saved for eternity
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
Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.
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