Monday, July 10, 2023

What Does “Born Again” Really Mean?

 “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” – John 3:3

If you’re reading this article, one thing is for sure: You’ve been born. But here’s a more important question: Have you been born again?

One of our nation’s most famous founding fathers was Ben Franklin. Not only was he a great statesman, he was also a brilliant inventor. He invented all sorts of things: swim fins, bifocals, a more effective wood-burning stove, and, of course, the lighting rod, which came in handy with his experiments on electricity.

Well, one day Franklin received a letter from the popular British evangelist George Whitefield, who wrote: “As you have made such progress in investigating the mysteries of electricity, I now humbly urge you to give diligent heed to the mystery of the new birth. It is a most important and interesting study and, when mastered, will richly repay you for your pains.” Brilliant as he was, as far as we know, Ben Franklin never took George Whitefield’s advice.

I hope and pray that you don’t make the same mistake. Unless the rapture happens first, you will either be born twice and die once … or you will be born once and die twice, once in this life and once more in eternity. I guarantee you: The first option is a whole lot better. In John 3, Jesus reveals how we can be born twice and live forever.

Jesus was approached by a man named Nicodemus, a Pharisee who belonged to the Jewish ruling council. In other words, Nicodemus was not only a very religious man, but also a LEADER of very religious men. Yet he addressed Jesus very respectfully: “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” (v. 2). Calling Jesus “rabbi” and “a teacher who has come from God” was no small thing for a member of the high council to say to a traveling teacher who hadn’t been formally trained as a Jewish rabbi. Nicodemus also acknowledged that Jesus had been performing miraculous signs.

But instead of saying, “Thank you!” to Nicodemus’s compliments, Jesus skipped the small talk and cut to the chase: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (v. 3). Now, the idea of being “born again” actually wasn’t a new idea to the Jews in Jesus’ day. Rabbis used the term to refer to Gentiles who converted to Judaism. But Nicodemus would have been baffled by the idea that he himself—a devout Jewish Pharisee who followed God’s laws to a “T”—needed to be born again. So he responded: “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (v. 4).

You can almost hear the spiritual hunger in Nicodemus’ voice. In his heart, he must have known that something was missing. He obeyed all the laws, but he knew he was still a sinner. Nicodemus believed he would make it to heaven after he died, but he had no assurance of it. Eternal life was more a hope than a promise.

Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (vs. 5-6). In other words, anyone who is ever going to enter the Kingdom of God is going to have to be born twice: once physically, through his or her earthly mother; and the second time spiritually, through the Holy Spirit.

Entering hell is simple. You just have to be born once. And that qualification is easy to meet. Entering heaven isn’t so easy. You have to be born twice. And only the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ can grant you that second birth.

There is so much to draw from this passage, but here are just two Life Lessons:

Life Lesson #1: Even those who know the most ABOUT Jesus still need to come TO Jesus. When they met, Nicodemus probably knew more about Jesus than most people in Israel. He knew the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. He had heard some of Jesus’ teachings and had probably witnessed some of His miracles. But knowing ABOUT Jesus isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter how much you know ABOUT Jesus ... the question is, do you really KNOW Jesus?

Life Lesson #2: Hell will be full of very religious, “good” people. If you found 100 people who knew Nicodemus well and asked them, “Is Nicodemus a good man?” there’s no doubt they would have all answered with a resounding, “Yes!” But Jesus told him point-blank in verse 7, “You must be born again.” It didn’t matter how “good” Nicodemus was compared to others around him. Like everyone else on this planet, Nicodemus sinned and fell short of the glory of God. And neither his good works nor his religion could pay the high price for his sin. So, if he were to die without being born again, Nicodemus would have spent all eternity in hell. That’s the bad news that most people don’t understand today. Hell will be filled with very religious, so-called “good” people who refused to be born again. Don’t be a “good” fool. You MUST be born again.

It bears repeating: Unless the rapture happens first, you will either be born twice and die once—OR you will be born once and die twice. Which will it be for you? Humbly come to Jesus, and be born again.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us at our new worship location in Apple Valley (16209 Kamana Road), now meeting at 8:30am and 10am. You can also join us livestreaming online at Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit  

No comments:

Post a Comment