05. March 2015 · Comments Off on What It Means to Be Born Again · Categories: Bible Teaching

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

In John 3:7, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.” He was speaking to Nicodemus who did not understand what He meant. It seems that many today also do not understand this. I remember several years ago I was speaking to a lady about the Lord. She was a fine Catholic who practiced what she had been taught. Sadly, though, she had not been taught how to be born again. She was religious and knew about God, and she seemed to be interested in learning more about God, but I perceived in my spirit that she had never been born again. I also perceived that she did not know it. As I was speaking to her, I inwardly prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom in how to help her. People brought up in church and in a Christian home from a child may not actually remember the specific moment they were born again, but it is, indeed, a definite occurrence. Your natural birth was certainly a moment that could be recorded. Most people know what day, and some know even the minute, they were born naturally. The spiritual birth is just that real. So, I asked her if she could tell me when she was born again. She thought about it for a moment and then said, “I think it was when my husband was water baptized. It was such a moving experience.”

I knew I could help her, but I thought I should go slowly so she could see the difference herself. In their preaching in the 18th century, John and Charles Wesley called this “mental assent.” That is so prevalent yet today. People have a head knowledge of God or of Jesus Christ. Some have had an emotional experience that involved some aspect of religion, and they think that’s spiritual. Also, since people are spirit-beings, they can have spiritual experiences without their spirits actually being born again.

Many people believe in Jesus Christ exactly the same way they believe in some historical figure. They believe Jesus lived the same way they believe that George Washington lived. They acknowledge that Jesus is Lord in the same way they might acknowledge the President of the United States, the Queen of England, or any other prominent person. This affirmation of head knowledge, or mental assent, does not cause someone to be born again.

I began to tell this lady what the Bible says, and that the new birth must be based on receiving Jesus Christ as revealed by the Word of God. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 says that we’re born again by the Seed of God’s Word. According to 1 Corinthians 12:13, it’s also the Spirit of God that baptizes us into the Body of Christ. Water baptism is certainly an important outward witness. In some cultures, it’s a crucial testimony to the allegiance of Christ. It’s also an important way to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as we recognize that we are buried with Him in baptism and raised up with Him in newness of life (Rom 6:4). However, the only baptism that saves us is the one baptism mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Some ministers make a mistake and emphasize the water over the Blood. Only the precious Blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse sin. Romans 3:25 says it clearly, that the remission of sin is by faith in the Blood. Romans 10:9-10 teaches us that when one confesses Jesus as Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead, salvation occurs at that very moment.

I’m quite sure many are water baptized as merely a religious practice or ritual without any spiritual significance at all. It’s simply a dry sinner going down and a wet sinner coming up. Titus 3:5-6 says that it’s not our works of righteousness, but His mercy that saves us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost which is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ. This is received when mixed with a heart-felt desire for God and faith in His Word. Many people go through religious practices, but it’s not having been dedicated as a baby, confirmed, sprinkled, baptized, joining the local church, simply repeating someone’s prayer, signing the role, completing the classes, shaking the preacher’s hand, or any other outward demonstration that produces the spiritual birth from Heaven. It’s good to follow good practices, to join a good church, to be baptized, to repeat from your heart what someone else encourages you to believe and pray, but these things must be based upon your own heart trusting in God, His Word, and His Spirit. When you’re born again, you have a change of heart. Some are hoping they’re saved, but the Bible says that we know we’ve passed from death unto Life because of the presence of God’s love in our hearts. 1 John 5:13 says that you may know it.

When you call on the Name of the Lord, believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and confessing Him as the Lord of your life, you’re saved. You’re born again. That is when the Spirit of God baptizes you into the Body (1 Cor 12:13). And the Spirit of God cannot be fooled. He knows if you’re actually believing in your heart. Jesus said in Mark 16:16 that he that believes and is baptized is saved. The Spirit of God knows when you believe. Furthermore, there’s a change that takes place in your heart. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says that you’re a new creature (person), that old things have passed away, and that all things are new and of God.

I told this lady some of my experience when I was born again. I also told her about the disciples and their experience. People should understand that the Church started on the Day of Resurrection, and not the Day of Pentecost. When Jesus was raised from the dead, that same day at evening, He appeared to the disciples. John 20:22 tells us that He breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” This was not the fullness of the Spirit or the baptism with the Holy Ghost, but this was their receiving the Spirit of Christ. The apostle Paul said in Romans 8:9 that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is none of His. Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Spirit of Christ. They were born again that moment. Luke 24:49 gives us more insight into that moment. As He breathed on them, He also said He was sending the “promise of the Father” upon them. This promise was that of a new spirit in them and His Spirit in them. They were born again that moment, that evening, the Day of Resurrection. I told her that they experienced a change in their hearts. The studious reader of the Bible can clearly see the change that came into them. Before Jesus appeared to them, according to John 20:19, they were locked up in a room “for fear” of the religious persecution of that hour. They had fear in their hearts. But after Jesus breathed on them and they received the new-birth experience, Luke 24:53 tells us that they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God! The temple is the very place where they were afraid to go just the day before. They changed!

I was at a minister’s gathering one time where the pastors were telling of the moves of God in their services. One would say how many had recently gotten saved. Another would say how many had recently gotten saved. Then a pastor said, “I’m having more trouble getting them lost than I am getting them saved!” I knew immediately what he meant. It’s hard to get people saved when they don’t know they’re lost. In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said that the “poor in spirit” would be blessed. That refers to people who know their need for God.

As I spoke to this lady, she began to see her spiritual condition. I spoke of the Bible, my experience, and the disciples’ experience. She said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that.” She wanted more of God. She wanted a heart-changing experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, based upon the Word of God and faith in the cleansing Blood of Christ. I led her to the Lord. She was born again. She learned what it truly means to be born again.

Friend, have you been born again? According to Romans 10:9-10, confess with your mouth Jesus as the Lord of your life, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Ask God to forgive you, to cleanse you of all sin, and to make you a new person in Jesus Christ. Receive His Holy Spirit by faith in His Word in Jesus’ Name. Tell someone about this decision. Get into a good Christian church that teaches the Bible, putting emphasis on the New Testament. Have fellowship with other Believers. Amen.

Tony McCanless

To order this and other books and tracts: www.mccanlessministries.com/books.htm

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