Summary: What are the signs that we are truly born again? This sermon seeks to list those signs and to invite all to experience the rebirth that only Christ offers.
[This was from a sermon series I preached based on the sermons of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. While the illustrations and language are updated, many of the concepts and ideas, as well as the general structure and message of the sermon, are taken directly from Wesley’s sermon entitled "The Marks of the New Birth" which was first preached in the 1750’s.]
“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) What does that mean? What, exactly, does it mean to be born again, to be born of God, to be born of the Spirit? After they have been born again, people will often say, “I am a child of God,” but what do they mean by that?
We usually connect being born again with baptism, especially since baptism is called being “born of the water and of the Spirit” in the Bible. And we figure that baptism and being born again go hand in hand, with baptism meaning born of the water and being born again meaning born of the Spirit.
But let’s take a closer look at what these things are, and what the benefits are of being born again. What, exactly, is the new birth? What does it mean to be born again?
Maybe we don’t have to give a definition of this experience, since scripture itself does not give one to us. However, the question is of the greatest importance to every human being, because, after all, “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” No one, without being born again, can get to heaven.
So, since it is so important, I will, as clearly as possible, point out to you what the new birth is. I will explain how you may know when a person has been given this new birth, by showing the signs of it. And I will show you the signs of this new birth as I find them stated in the Bible.
The first sign of the new birth is faith. In Galatians 3:26, Paul tells us that faith is essential, saying “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” And John 1:12 says, “To all who received Christ, and who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” He continues that those with faith are “born, not by blood nor by flesh, but of God." Elsewhere , the Gospel of John says, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God."
However, the Bible isn’t talking about the kind of faith that stays in the head but doesn’t touch the heart. It is not merely an intellectual belief, although it includes that. True and living faith is not simply an agreement with the *idea* that Jesus is the Christ. True and living faith is not simply the intellectual belief that says, “I believe in the Bible” or “Jesus is Lord.” True and living faith doesn’t just affirms that the Apostles’ Creed is true.
If that kind of intellectual belief were true and living faith, then even the demons would be considered “born again,” because even demons have that kind of intellectual faith. Even the demons heard the words of Jesus and knew he was the Son of God, for they saw his mighty deeds. But that’s obviously not living or true faith. That’s merely an intellectual faith that fills the head but leaves the heart empty.
True and living Christian faith is more than just mentally agreeing to a set of doctrines or creeds. Truly being born again doesn’t just mean our brains agree with a set of beliefs. True and living faith is something that God forms in our heart. True faith means having a trust and confidence that through Christ our sins are forgiven. Living faith means knowing that even though we’ve been separated from God, God has reconciled us and we have been brought close once more.
When we talk about faith being the sign that we’re truly born again, this is the faith we’re talking about. A faith that indicates a deep and profound trust in God, not a trust in our own good works. A faith that knows we have been reconciled to God, and the broken relationship with God has been made whole again. A faith that says loud and clear that our confidence isn’t in ourselves. Our confidence is in God alone.
This kind of heartfelt faith can be found in this story.
You may have heard about the man named Blundon who around the turn of the century attempted to cross the Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Ten thousand onlookers watched as he inched his way across the Falls. When he got across, the spectators were just delighted and started to chant his name in celebration of this great achievement.