Summary: The term "born again" has become a part of Christian venacular but many either don’t understand what it means or are turned off by it. Discover what the Bible has to say about being "Born Again."
“What Does the Bible Have to Say About Being Born Again?”
There’s a lot of talk these days in the Christian community about being “born again.” Have you this heard this question: “Are you a born again?” For many if you can answer this question affirmatively, then you’re ok. You’re in.
Just where did this idea come from? For those of you who are older than myself, you may find it interesting to realize that the phrase “born again” was not invented by former president Jimmy Carter. It wasn’t coined by Ronald Reagan in order to get the votes of conservative Christians. And it doesn’t refer to a narrow type of fringe Christianity. It’s not loony, it’s dynamic. It’s not something bizarre for those dogmatic, crazy people in another church.
I don’t know about you but sometimes these people who claim to be “born again” I find to be some of the most hypocritical people around. I grew up in such a culture. I am troubled by the ability of “born-again” Christians to wear facades. I’ve seen it. They pretend that their lives are all together and often sit in judgment of those who don’t live up to their standards. They condemn those who don’t use their language or who don’t attend the right kind of church. And yet if you were to go into their homes you would discover extreme inconsistency. You would find that their personal lives don’t always match what they claim to believe. And so for many the term “born-again” has become something which is looked down upon to the point where I hear some people say things like, “I’m a Christian, but I’m not one of those born-again types.”
As we continue on in our journey of unwrapping Christianity today the question at hand is “What does the Bible have to say about being ‘born again’?” Where does this idea come from and what exactly does it mean?
Today’s scripture reading contains the text for this concept. While the idea of becoming a new creation is taught throughout the entire New Testament the terminology “born-again” is something I could only find in this one passage.
Here’s the story: Jesus has been approached by Nicodemus a member of the Grand Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was a religious man. We know this because the Grand Sanhedrin was the ruling council of the Pharisees, a group of Jews so zealous about their faith that they went the extra mile to make sure the law was obeyed. He approaches Jesus at night probably because he wanted to discuss some very heavy spiritual matters with Jesus and knew that during the day Jesus was constantly surrounded by crowds of ordinary people unable to engage in deep conversation. Nicodemus begins his conversation by recognizing that Jesus is a teacher sent from God because of the signs that he does. But if you’re following along in the conversation you’ll notice that something is missing entirely. Did you catch what it was? Look with me at verses 2 & 3…
It’s almost as if a verse is missing. Because Jesus answers a question that wasn’t even asked. Presumably the question is “How does one enter the Kingdom of heaven?” But it’s a question that had not yet arisen in the conversation. But Jesus, as if to cut straight to the heart of the matter, before Nicodemus has even asked a question, looks deep into Nicodemus and tells him this: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born from above, or other translations say without being born again.
Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach at a meeting. He had arrived a little bit early to finish writing a letter for back home. As he finished the letter, he asked a young boy standing on the sidewalk of the location of the town post office. When the boy had given him the directions, Rev. Graham thanked him and said, “If you will come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me tell everyone how to get to heaven.” “I don’t think I will be there.” The little boy replied, “You don’t even know your way to the post office, let alone how to get to heaven.”
Three men died and were standing at the pearly gates. “What have you done to deserve Heaven?” asked Peter. The first man, a police officer, enforced the law and fought crime. Peter said, “OK, go on in.” The second was a very wealthy man who had given lots of money to charitable causes. “OK,” said Peter, “You can go on in too.” The third was a director of an HMO organization. He explained that he had helped save millions of dollars for health care and insurance companies. He had helped cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse in the system. Peter says to him, “OK come on in, but you can only stay for 3 days.”