What does it Mean to be a Born Again Christian?

What do Born Again Christians believe?

Born Again Christians are not a separate category of Christ followers.  We are not a cult or even cult like.   We are not required to wear strange clothes or act differently than other Christians…though some of us do.  There are interesting people in any group.  So what is up with “those crazy Born Again Christians” as a very secular relative once phrased it.  Why do we call ourselves Born Again and what do we believe?   In many ways, born again Christians are just like anyone else whose chooses to follow Jesus.  In fact, we are anyone who has been saved by Jesus according to His words.  We say we are born again because Jesus says a person MUST be born again in order to inherit eternal life.  So a person must be born again to be a Christian.  But as a group, those who make this distinction tend to be different from those who would not describe themselves as “Born Again Christians”.  We take the Words of Jesus seriously when He describes the process of His salvation as new life in Him.  The old life before Jesus is gone and we have been born again into a completely new life with God.  Being born again is the greatest thing we ever receive.  It is a gift from God.  Click Here for 11 Life Changing Bible Verses about Being Born Again.

The idea of being Born Again in the Christian world is often misunderstood.  Some segments of the church are not familiar with the concept and take it lightly.  Others actively fear the idea or associate it with stereotypes. They may shun the idea itself out of fear.  I have had Christians insistently tell me that they are not born again despite proclaiming a faith in Jesus.  If their assertion is true, it is tremendously sad.  Jesus says we must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God.  It is an eternally important requirement.  It is much more than just a box that needs to be checked on our way to heaven. The new birth in Jesus is vitally important for us as believers if we wish to live a life that is filled with all of the wonders of Jesus.  The Bible tells us so.

It’s Relationship Not Religion

Early in His ministry on earth, Jesus is approached by a man named Nicodemus.  He is a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.  This means that he was an extremely impressive guy according to the culture of the time.  The Sanhedrin was the ruling body of the Jewish nation at the time.  They were under Roman rule governmentally, but the Sanhedrin was viewed as the proper heads of the Nation by the Jews.  They were part spiritual head and part political leader.  It indicates that Nicodemus was likely wealthy as well.

Pharisee has a bad association for the Christian culture, but this was not the case before Jesus.  They were a group that strived to live as purely “holy and righteous” as they possibly could at the time.  They sought to not only understand the Law of Moses and its requirements but also to keep it down to the most minute detail.  They tithed to the temple from the spices that they grew in the gardens.  If they had 10 tiny little seeds grow, they sorted them and gave tithed one.  They also made up elaborate regulations to go along with the Law to feel like they were really keeping it.  They also despised anyone who did not follow their ways and keep the Law as they saw it.  Jesus sees through all this and compares them with whitewashed tombs – shiny and clean on the outside but filled with death and decay.  But most people of the time did not see their hypocrisy.  They just saw the super religious, seriously pious men who made a great show of their devotion to God.  The perception was if anyone was good with God it was the Pharisees.

What Does it meant to Be born again Pastor Unlikely

Jesus comes into the picture preaching a message that was contrary to Israel’s expectation.  Salvation was all about faith.  A life with God was all about love, joy, and faith rather than keeping rules and outward acts.  God loved the world and sent His Son into the world to save it because man could never keep the Law despite their efforts.  Anyone believing they were keeping the Law simply does not understand it.  The whole world was loved by God and His followers were expected to be humble lights and salt to the dark world.  It is a dramatic contrast to the pained arrogant obedience of the Pharisees but Nicodemus understands a crucially important point – it is true.  So Nicodemus comes to Jesus wanting to learn more.  He knows Jesus has the answer to eternal life so he humbles himself and brings himself, the powerful respected Pharisee to the humble carpenter asking for help.  It is an amazing encounter.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  John 3

Man Cannot Get to Jesus on His Own

It took a large dose of humility to even come to Jesus, but we see first that Nicodemus is imperfect even in this aspect.  He comes to the Lord under the cover of night.  He likely does not want to be seen by his Pharisee friends asking to learn from Jesus.  This would damage his reputation.  But Nicodemus comes and this is the important thing.  Jesus calls to us to come to Him when we are weary and heavy laden.  He never says we have to do it perfectly.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus and we see a picture of man’s religion and God face to face.  When religion becomes man focused, it becomes all about what we do.  When the focus is on God, it is all about what He does.  Jesus calls Nicodemus “the” teacher of Israel and He does not appear to be mocking Nicodemus.  He is at the pinnacle of religion according to people’s opinion.  He is a respected man of God according to the world.  Yet, according to God, Nicodemus is totally lost.

He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Nicodemus knows there is something special about Jesus.  He knows Jesus is from God.  The problem is Jesus’ message is conflicting with his own life.  Therefore, he is struggling to fit the Gospel into his religious experience.  He is THE teacher of Israel and Jesus makes no sense to him.  “What is the problem, what am I not getting” are the implied questions from Nicodemus.  Jesus answers simply that since Nicodemus is not born again, he cannot understand what is going on.  It is like he is spiritually blind.  He can never understand Jesus until his blindness is removed.  Nicodemus must be born again to see the Kingdom of God!  This sightless condition is played out after Paul meets Jesus on the Road to Damascus.  Paul is struck blind for three days to match the darkness of his spiritual condition.  This continues until he is born again.

We Must Be Born Again

Very truly Jesus says as he makes His point.  It is meant to emphasize the importance.  It is really, really important to listen to this Jesus is saying.   This leaves Nicodemus confused:

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

He cannot comprehend Jesus’ words because Nicodemus is still thinking in light of man’s religion.  His question is essentially, “How can I achieve what God wants from me?”  He is understandably confused as a result as it is physically impossible.  No one can be physically birthed a second time yet Jesus says it is a requirement.

We Must be Born Again Pastor Unlikely

But Jesus is not talking about a physical rebirth.  He is talking about a work of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  1 Peter 1:3

It is impossible for men but not for God.  We must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God, a thing that is impossible.  It takes a work of God that the Bible describes as starting with the old man joining in the death of Jesus.  This is the person that we once were being put to death alongside Jesus through His suffering on the Cross.  We are then raised from the dead into a completely new life in Jesus.  Just as Jesus died and came to life again, we die spiritually and come back to life.  This resurrection or new life is the new birth that Jesus is talking about.  We must be born again in this way to inherit the Kingdom of God.  This is where our eternal destination is decided – heaven or hell?  It is dependent on whether we have been born again. Read 11 Bible Verses about being Born Again.

What does is meant to be Born Again Pastor Unlikely

We are Given a New Life in Jesus!

It is even more than just the question of whether we get to heaven.  When we are born again, we are washed clean of all of the offenses we do against God and given new hearts as part of the deal.  When the Bible says new hearts, it refers to where our hopes, dreams, loves, and emotions come from.  It is what dictates what we like and don’t like.  It controls what we enjoy doing and listening to. If you have ever met someone who was a terrible person one day and the next they are running around preaching Jesus to anyone who will listen, they likely have been born again.  Their heart is completely different from the day prior so everything about them changes too.  I personally spent more than 30 years chasing my next drink and reveling in an alcohol-fueled life style.  It was me to the core until, in a moment, Jesus took away that heart and replaced it with one that despised that lifestyle and loved Him.  That portion of my life was born again and I have never looked back.  I am a totally different man than I used to be.  That selfish old alcoholic is dead in the grave and I have been raised to new life with Jesus.  Born again means being raised into a new life in Jesus.  The old man is dead and replaced by a child of God.  It is wonderful!  For more on this read Should a Christian Drink Alcohol? or watch this Sermon on Blessed on the Pure in Heart.

We had our church baptism this past weekend.  People lined up on the side of a pool and watched as individuals lived out a picture of being born again.  The water is both a picture of the grave and cleansing.  When the person is lowered into the water, it is acting out the old man being lowered into the grave, into death with Jesus.  This seems to be a bad picture until what happens next.  That person is pulled up from the water with the cleansing liquid washing away anything that was on them as they entered the water.  The water then remains on them as they come out.  They are transformed by the contact with death and new life.  They are washed clean and marked by the process.  Everyone can see what just happened.  When they stand up after being pulled from the water, they stand in the newness of life Jesus bought for them with their own blood.  It is a picture of a life changed by Jesus.

What does is meant to be Born Again Pastor Unlikely

The old life without Jesus is one that is marred by sin and failure.  The new defined by Jesus’ victory and love.  The person we could never be by our own effort we become through a miracle of God.  It is truly remarkable.  This is why we rejoice in calling ourselves “Born again” Christians.  Our Lord who gave us new life says it is a requirement to enter into His Kingdom, our old lives of sin died when Jesus saved us and being reborn allows us to be new creations of Jesus alone.  It is an essential and glorious part of our faith.

Have you been born again?  Did you notice what Jesus said?  Very Truly, you must be born again to see the Kingdom of God.  It is a requirement.  If you are reading and realize that you have never been born again.  Read Here – How to Know God.   If you feel like you are being crushed by the weight of your sin and feel like you have done to much to be forgiven, read Am I Too Far Gone for Jesus?

 

 

2 thoughts on “What does it Mean to be a Born Again Christian?

  1. GREAT post. I was born again during the latter part of August of 2006 even though I didn’t know what it meant at the time, and I didn’t even know that I was being rescued and saved at the time by my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It took me a few months to realize that salvation had begun. God knew what He was doing all along. He soon enlightened me with His Good News.

    • Hi Chris – thank you and thanks for sharing your experience! It is so interesting how the Holy Spirit works differently in people initially, some take off like a rocket others are slower but if we keep following we all arrive at the same maturity and eventually the same destination. It is exciting to live.

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