What does it mean to be born again?
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
To be born again (or “born from above”), means that you have become a child of God through faith, and not of works, not of yourself or of anything that you could ever do, but solely on the basis of what Christ did by shedding his blood on the cross, lest you should boast:
- “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)
- “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
God accepts us on the basis of repentance from sin and faith towards God — specifically, faith in Christ’s atonining sacrifice provided by his shed blood on the cross.
- Repentance from sin means “turning away” from sin. It means a sincere desire to do what is right in God’s sight.
- By faith towards Jesus Christ we mean the type of faith that saves you — it is a heart desire to please God in every way, not just an intellectual “belief” that God exists and loves you or even that he “once” saved you, and you are therefore safe and secure on the basis of what you did in the past (if you were living a life of sin, it would not be consistent to rely on what you did in the past as evidence that you are truly born again. Rather, the Bible says that we must examine ourselves, and test ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith). For example, the Bible says that “even the demons believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). Their faith, therefore, does not save them!
- Atonining sacrifice: God saves you from the penalty of your sins on the basis of Christ’s shed blood on the cross. This is what we mean by ‘atoning sacrifice’ — it is the only sacrifice that is acceptable to God (as opposed to our good works, or some other method of trying to find favor with God). Jesus Christ is the only one who could provide this sacrifice, because he was, and is, ‘spotless’ in the sight of God (the only one who has never sinned). Christ did not come from man, or was conceived of man, but was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. He is God’s promised Messiah (sent one) — he is God incarnate, in the flesh, as the prophet Isaiah says, “Emmanuel”, which means, “God with us” (Isaiah 9:6). He is therefore the only one who could be accepted by God as the perfect sacrifice for sins. He is God’s perfect “[sacrificial] Lamb of God” (John 1:29) as John the Baptist said.
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