Dear Abby: Please explain in easy pool-half language just what people mean when they say they are born again- or twice born” Thank you B>H Clay City, III
Dear B.H. They mean that they have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and have put their faith and trust in Him.
I like Abby , I think she gives good advice. Usually. Her answer here is probably right- that this is what People mean when they say they are “born again”
A more important question is, “what does God mean?”
In a letter to Benjamin Franklin, dated 1752, George Whitefield wrote:
As I find you growing more and more famous in the learned world I would recommend to you diligent and unprejudiced study of the mystery of the new birth. It is a most important study, and, when mastered, will richly answer all your pains. I bid you, my friend, remember that One at whose bar we shall both presently appear hath solemnly declared that without it we shall in no wise see His Kingdom.
If Mr. Franklin accepted that recommendation, his study carried him directly to an encounter with Jesus. for it was Jesus, for it was Jesus who coined the expression “born again”
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said. Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.
Nicodemus’ words to Jesus were flattering. This distinguished professor acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher credentialed by God – and implied his desire to learn from him.
Nicodemus was a searching man. A hurting man. He had all the trappings of success… but something was missing. Jesus saw that, and immediately cut to the chase to fill the vacuum.
I tell you the truth.” He said unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”
“I beg your pardon! Do you know who you’re talking to? I am a Jew, one of God’s chosen. Even more. I am a Pharisee. And member of the highest judicial and ecclesiastical council of the nation. And a professor of theology.” Not only was Nicodemus recognized as a citizen of the kingdom of God- he was a leading citizen. He was plenty important!
His wall was covered with plaques, and he had a bookcase full of trophies;
Jerusalem’s Man of the Year
Who’s who in Palestine
Phi Beta Wow!
Jesus knew all that! “Nicodemus, if you can get into the kingdom by way of pedigree, credentials, law-keeping and good works, you’re there in spades, my friend. But you can’t”
I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Born of water!
What does that mean?
Only one thing in the New Testament links water with spiritual birth.
When a believer is baptized his sins are forgiven, buried, forgotten.
Jesus signaled this in his conversation with Nicodemus. Then, when he was giving final directives to those commissioned to continue his work,
Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…
Now, look at the first record of their teaching after receiving those instructions.
Jerusalem. Pentecost. Peter preached about the ministry, trial, execution, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. “ God has made this Jesus whom you crucified.” He said, “both Lord and Christ.”
Many of those who heard, believed. They, like Nicodemus, were convinced that Jesus was sent by God. The Savior. Messiah.
They were also implicated as accomplices to his crucifixion. Grief-stricken, they asked, “ What shall we do? Peter replied:
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven..
Later we read the exciting story of the conversion of Saul, who became the renowned apostle Paul. who became the renowned apostle Paul. Yearning for forgiveness, he asked the same question- “What shall I do? And he was told:… be baptized and wash your sins away.”
These are Bible examples of being “born of water”. They show that baptism saves, forgives, washes sins away. Paul later wrote:
… all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life… You have been set free from sin…
Baptism eliminates past sin - cuts the connection with the past
Born of the Sprit?
What does that mean?
It means new life… pure, fresh new life! Being born of water eliminates the past. Being born of the Spirit launches you into the future. When you were born you began to live physically. When you are born again you begin to live spiritually.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Sprit gives birth to spirit.
Is there a dramatic, miraculous sign of this birth? No. Jesus said to Nicodemus:
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.
You can’t see the wind. But you can hear it, you can see its effects.
A moment ago I looked out my window. It’s a typical West Texas day- the wind is blowing. I don’t see it, but I see the evidence. Trees are swaying. Debris is swirling in the parking lot. A woman is wrapping her scarf around her neck to shield against the biting breeze.
Even so. You can’t see the Spirit. But you see the results of his presence in the life of the born again. You see the fruit of the Sprit:
…. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Born of water for the pardon of past sin. Born of the Spirit for the new life of the future.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
To be born again, Abby, is to start over.
Have you ached for a new beginning? “ if only I could start over! Free from the past – fortified for the future!”
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come