#10) What is your born-again experience?

September 27, 2008

“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God;
for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:1-8

This powerful excerpt from the Word of God is a humbling and eye-opening truth that many people misunderstand, including Nicodemus, the great religious leader of the day [John 3:10]. In modern society, the term ‘born-again’ has taken on so many different meanings, that it seems to not only have no power in the world, but it has lost its power from the pulpit as well. If we truly understand and heed what Jesus is actually saying about being born-again in the context of which He taught it, then we leave no room for error or our own interpretation of what it means. Therefore, the more we understand what Jesus is saying, the more we realize the immediate implications, the miracle of regeneration and ultimate eternal ramifications of the soul.

Nicodemus was very learned in the Scriptures of the Law. He was one whom others sought for guidance and he taught others. Yet, the term ‘born-again’ confounded all of his knowledge because, according to Jesus, it was something that could not be learned. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” he asked. Nicodemus’ inquisition was not primarily focused on eternal miracles but simply on righteousness according to the law, as he was a Pharisee. It is clearly a foolish question to inquire about the biological impossibly of one returning to his mother’s womb after he is born into the world. Certainly he knew this was an impossibly, but term born-again had never entered his mind prior to Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” [v. 5]. There must have been a fear-stricken ignorant state of mind in Nicodemus as this implication was completely foreign to everything he has ever learned or taught. As Jesus shifts gears from earth [natural birth] to heaven [supernatural birth or ‘born-again’], he opens up the true spiritual or heavenly realm.
“That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [v.6].” This verse implies a diametrical difference between the two births. The fact that we are all born [in the flesh] from a woman does not mean that we are all born-again. Even if we all wanted to be born-again [which many people claim to be], apart from the granting and predestinating of God by exuding Grace, it is as much of an impossibility as it is to be born from a woman. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit [v. 8].” No one can see wind or how it works in everyday circumstances. It is uncontrollable and unalterable by any human force. It comes whenever and from wherever God wills it to come and goes wherever God wills it to go. He made it and designed it. So it is with the salvation of the soul.

Although the ‘experience’ of being born-again may vary from individual to individual, the ultimate realization of being born of the Spirit is the same. It is receiving life to the soul by Grace and the Holy Spirit of God through faith. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27
It is a completely new life of faith. We literally pass from death to life as our hearts are revolutionized by the Spirit. Paul teaches,
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

In John 3, Jesus was not only teaching the difference between natural birth and spiritual birth, but also ascertaining the difference between carnal knowledge and spiritual knowledge. Nicodemus proved his carnal mindedness and unregenerate state when he asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” [v. 9]. He was clearly not born again as he did not know what it meant to be “born of water and the Spirit”, which was Jesus’ very definition of the new birth. Since Nicodemus was a natural man, having no spiritual faculties of knowledge and wisdom given him by the Spirit, he was ignorant of the profound yet only primary event in the true Christian life [on earth]. Although Nicodemus probably knew more of the Scriptures than most modern day Christians, he remained in spiritual ignorance as he was dead in his sins.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

After reading the Gospel of John, it becomes clearer that merely believing or inquiring is not enough to be born-again. Jesus ends the encounter with Nicodemus by proclaiming, “Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” John 3:11-12
In two sentences from Jesus, everything that Nicodemus studied, represented, stood for and defended all of his life was immediately brought to ashes. It is not a mistake or a mere chance that one of the most religiously learned Pharisees of the time was confounded and embarrassed with real spiritual knowledge. Jesus not only told Nicodemus that he did not believe heavenly things; He said that he did not even believe the earthly things. Namely, Nicodemus was not questioning Jesus as God but as “someone that has God with him” [v.2]. Jesus was merely a religious leader to Nicodemus; someone who could stir up a crowd with his signs and wonders. Jesus was not his Lord as he was the disciples [whom He was with that evening]. He did not waste time or even attempt to debate with Nicodemus but cut him to his heart in only saying that he must be born-again and that every deed performed thus far in his life is only worthy of eternal damnation. Nicodemus attended numerous religious services as he was a religious teacher! He fasted, gave to the poor, tithed, prayed and read the Scriptures. Yet, it was all for naught as it did not glorify God but pleased his self-righteous religiosity. He wanted to make a name for himself. It was not done out of faith in Jesus Christ.

“He who believes in Him in not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21

Jesus preached the correspondence of believing and repenting in the process of being born-again. If we are to be saved, we need not only believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but also repent of the infinite sins we have committed against Him. If we find ourselves believing that Jesus is the Son of God but love the darkness or our sin, then we blaspheme the perfection of His Name. “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4
When true believers acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, we abide in Him by walking as He walked [1 John 2:6]. One who is born-again wants his deeds to be exposed as the original disciples did. Peter could not walk with Jesus having sin in his heart for Jesus said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” The truth of the Gospel and saving knowledge is coming to the light, who is Christ, so that our [evil] deeds can be exposed to the reality of judgment. These sins that are exposed are ultimately nailed to the Cross on which He hung and, by His blood, Mercy and Grace, are no longer remembered. This miracle of miracles results in eternal life. Otherwise, we are like Nicodemus, merely making intermittent inquisitions to Christ while leading an infinitely blasphemous life.


One Response to “#10) What is your born-again experience?”

  1. Nick Says:

    Great post AJ

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