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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
What does it mean to be "born again", and who is "born again"?
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Thank you so very much for your recent letter. I am glad that you wrote, and I will try to help you with this very important question about being Born Again.
Jesus teaches us about being born again in the Bible. In John 3 we read about Jesus meeting with a religious leader named Nicodemus. It is in this passage that the Lord teaches about being born again. I have printed the entire passage below.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
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.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Nicodemus came to question Jesus, and the Lord told him in verse 3 that he had to be born again, or else he could not go to Heaven. Nicodemus questioned what He meant by that statement, and Jesus explains it to him in verses 5, 6, and 7.
There are two births. The first one is when a man is born into this world. I was born on June 21, 1959. On that day I was born in the flesh. For the previous nine months I was carried in my mother's womb surrounded by water, and her water "broke" when she delivered me. This is what Jesus is referring to when He talks about being born "of the flesh" and "of water". Being born of water and of the flesh gives us life here on earth. However, it does not give us eternal, spiritual life in Heaven. For this to happen, we need a "second" birth, or in other words, we need to be "born again." Jesus calls this being born "of the Spirit". This is a spiritual birth that takes place when a man receives Jesus Christ as His personal Savior. According to Jesus, if a human being never has this second birth, when he dies he will not go to Heaven, but will spend eternity in Hell.
In verses 14 through 18 Jesus explains how a person can be born again. First of all He shows the condition that man is in. In verse 18 he says that men were already condemned. The Bible tells us that all men are sinners. Romans 3:23 states,
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Ezekiel 18:4 says,
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
Romans 6:23 states,
"For the wages of sin is death."
Revelation 20:14-15 shows that this death does not just mean that men will someday stop breathing and be buried in the ground. It means that, because of sin, after death a man is condemned to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Those verses say,
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
This is a terrible situation, isn't it? All men are sinners, and all men are condemned to Hell because of it. However, the story does not end there. In John 3:14 Jesus said that He was going to be "lifted up" just like Moses lifted up the serpent. He is referring to another Bible story from the book of Numbers, chapter 21. In that story the children of Israel were sinning against God, and so God sent poisonous snakes into their camp, which bit them, and people began to die. The people cried out to God in repentance for their sins, and God told Moses to make a serpent out of brass and put it on top of a pole. If anyone would look at the brass serpent and believe, then they would be healed from the snake bite.
That is what happened with Jesus Christ. The world was in sin, and they were condemned to die and go to Hell because of it. However, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and was "lifted up" on the cross for our sins. He took our sins upon Himself, and became our Substitute and Sacrifice. If a man repents of his sin, and "looks" to Christ through the eyes of faith, he will be freed from the condemnation of Hell and will be born again. According to verse 15, the man who believes on Jesus as his Savior will not have to experience the "second death" in Hell, but will have eternal life with God in Heaven.
In verse 16 we see what God did. God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus Christ here from Heaven to die on the cross. Can you imagine sending your own son to die for wicked sinners? That is what God did. Even though we were unable to do anything to save ourselves, and had violated God's law, He still loved us enough to send Jesus to earth. In fact, Isaiah 53:4 tells us that on the cross Jesus was "smitten of God." In other words, God Himself placed the sins of the world on His own Son and allowed Him to be crucified for us. Isn't He a wonderful God?
In verse 18 we see the two conditions of men. Either you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead, and that He alone is the only way to Heaven, or you don't believe that. If you don't believe that, then according to verse 18 you are condemned. If a man believes that he can be good enough to get into Heaven, then he is condemned, for the Bible tells us in Titus 3:5,
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us."
If a man thinks that his baptism or his church attendance or his religious works will save him, then he is condemned, for Ephesians 2:8-9 says,
"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."
If a man believes that there is some other man or religion or institution that can get him into Heaven, then he is condemned, for Acts 4:12 states,
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
However, if a man realizes that he is a sinner, and that his sin has offended the pure and holy God, and that there is nothing that he can do to save himself, and he repents of that sin and trusts in Jesus' death on the cross alone to save him, then he is no longer condemned, but has everlasting life. He becomes Born Again.
Please allow me to share a few more verses from the Bible with you. In Acts 16, Paul was in jail, and God sent an earthquake to free him, The jailer came to him and asked him what he had to do to be saved. A similar question would be, "What must I do to be born again". The Apostle Paul's answer to him was this:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
In John 1:12-13 we read,
"But as many as received him (Jesus), 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."
In Romans 10:13 Paul wrote,
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
If you have not yet repented of your sins and called upon Jesus Christ to save you, you need to do it immediately. II Corinthians 6:2 says,
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
You need to put all your faith and trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross for you. You must believe that He is God in the flesh, and that He died and rose from the dead. You must realize that there is nothing in this world that can save your soul besides Jesus, and trust Him completely. When you believe that, pray and ask Him to save you, and He will. In John 1:12 we saw that the Bible said that if you would receive Jesus you would become a child of God. In I John 5:13 it states,
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life."
If you trust in Him, He promises that you will have eternal life, and will never go to Hell. Do you remember Revelation 20:15? It said that when you receive Christ your name is written in the Book of Life, and all who have their names written there are not condemned to the Lake of Fire, but have an eternal home in Heaven.
I hope that this letter is a help to you.
Pastor Mark Montgomery
Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209