Summary: What is the meaning of "born again?" How can I know that I am born again and how does this take place?
Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist Church
January 9, 2005
"What Does it Mean to be Born Again?"
INTRODUCTION: People of all ages have tried to figure out spiritual truths. People are seekers after "something" to fill the empty spaces in their lives. Nicodemus was such a person who lived during Jesus’ time. It was so hard for him to understand what Jesus was telling him even though he was an educated man, a Pharisee who held to strict Jewish laws. He recognized Jesus as a teacher who came from God, but he didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to tell him about being "born again." Jesus told him, "I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God."
Ezekiel 36:25-27 prophesied of this spiritual rebirth by saying, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you...I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my desires."
ILLUSTRATION: Several years ago a man that I worked with said, "Well, I’M not a born again Christian. I’m a Methodist."
Sometimes today this term takes on a negative picture in people’s minds but what was Jesus trying to get across to this man who was seeking truth and wasn’t understanding it?
1. The Need For the New Birth: Nicodemus said, "I can’t understand how a person who is an adult can go back and be born all over again as a baby. I don’t understand what you are getting at." Do we?
What Jesus was trying to tell this man was that when you are born as a baby you have NATURAL life, but you need some other kind of life to go with that--SPIRITUAL life. He said, "except you are born again in a spiritual way you can’t see or perceive the kingdom of God--you just won’t understand--you just don’t GET IT." You can’t enter into it like you need to.
Why? Because we are DEAD in our sins and trespasses. We are going our own way--all we like sheep have gone astray. Isaiah 53:6 says "we have turned every one to his own way..."
But Ephesians 2:1 says, "and you hath he QUICKENED who were dead in trespasses and sins."
Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (vs. 2).
Jesus was telling Nicodemus, "You have natural birth but you also need the spiritual birth--to have your spirit made alive so that you can perceive and understand spiritual concepts.
ILLUSTRATION: It is like a light bulb that has to be plugged into the power source before that light comes on.
Or it is like a garage door opener when the electric is off. "I wait until the power comes back on." (story of pushing the button when the power was off.)
The new birth is being PLUGGED INTO THE POWER SOURCE. John 1:12 says, "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."
Jesus told him, "the wind blows and you see the EFFECTS of the wind as it blows through the trees but you can’t see the actual wind or where it comes from--you can see the EFFECTS of the work of the spirit in a person’s life." Nicodemus said, "How can these things be?"
Do we say, "How can it be? I can’t figure it out. I don’t understand?" Many people reject the new birth because they don’t understand or because they feel they are losing control of their own lives. "I’m not ready to go to church. I’m not ready to quit sinning. I want to do as I please." But this is the starting point. It is really not a difficult thing to experience the new birth yet we MAKE IT DIFFICULT for ourselves by trying to figure out how does this happen.
Let’s LET IT HAPPEN in our lives and receive by faith--believing.
We receive all spiritual things by FAITH (which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen). Hebrews 11:6 says "for without faith it is impossible to please God for we must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
2. How Do We Know We are Reborn?: We approach God through faith:
1. We Come
2. We confess our sins and ask for forgiveness
3. We change directions--that’s repentance.
4. What happens? Does ANYTHING?
I John 1:9 says if we "confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1. We do our job--ask