Soon after Jesus began his public ministry, a well-known Jewish leader, Nicodemus, visited Him privately under cover of night. If anyone should have known God, Nicodemus would be your guy. He was a ruler of the Jews, member of the Sanhedrin, among the most religious, the most moral. Yet Jesus gave Nicodemus a divine imperative: “You must be born again.” Read their conversation in John 3:1-21. Not only did Nicodemus need to be born again, he didn’t even know what it was. If you haven’t experienced the new birth, if you’re not born again, no matter what denomination you might belong to, you’re not a Christian.
Why did a moral man like Nicodemus need to be born again? Why do you? Three important reasons:
We’re undeniably sinful.
You may not think you’re a sinner, but no matter how “good” you are, if you think you can go to Heaven without being born again, you’re grossly ignorant of just how sinful you are, and how holy God is.
We have unsatisfied longings.
We have a longing in our hearts that will never be satisfied without the new birth. No matter how much money, fame or pleasure you enjoy, if you’re not born again, part of you is missing.
We have unending existence.
You’re going to live forever. Long after the sun, moon and stars have grown cold, your soul will be alive either in the Heaven God prepared for those who are born again, or in Hell with those who aren’t. Without the new birth, you will live forever in Hell.
Jesus called salvation being “born again” because birth is something we all understand. Your spiritual new birth parallels your physical birth.
Six Ways the New Birth Is Like Physical Birth
1. Two Parents Are Involved
Just as physical birth requires two parents, spiritual birth requires two: the Word of God and the Spirit of God (John 3:5). When the two come together in the womb of faith, conception happens. You supply the faith (John 3:16).
2. Life Transfers from Parent to Child
At birth you receive the life of your father and mother. When you’re born again, God’s life comes into you and you’re part of the life of God.
3. Character is set
When we’re born again, we receive the character and nature of Almighty God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Christians aren’t just nicer people; they’re new creatures. Has there been a change in your character? Do you have a love for Jesus Christ? A desire for holiness? The inner witness of the Spirit? A desire to share the Lord Jesus Christ?
4. Birth is a one-time event
No baby is ever born twice. In the spiritual realm, too, it’s a once-for-all experience.
That’s one reason I believe in the eternal security of the believer. I can never be unborn. For all eternity, I’m God’s child. When you’re born again, you become a partaker of the divine nature. He will never, ever forsake you.
5. At birth, growth begins
No matter what your past has been, the new birth gives you a brand-new start. Your past, all your yesterdays, are buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (Psalm 103:12). We are…
Washed—the stain is gone.
Sanctified—set apart, clean and holy for God.
Justified—just as if you were never impure.
…a brand-new baby who must grow (1 Corinthians 6:11). Yes, you may stumble, but you’ll be in the family. Growth is a continual process once you’re born.
6. Birth brings a certain outcome
Just as physical birth began your new life, spiritual birth enables you to say, “I know I’ve been born again.” Ask yourself, “Do I see the traits of the twice-born in my heart? Am I trusting Jesus Christ?”
If not, will you? Jesus summed it up in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you’re born twice, you will live on, endless, dateless, timeless, measureless—with the Lord.
“O God, I am a sinner and I have a sinful nature by my first birth. I need a second birth. I need a new nature. I need to be born from above. Lord Jesus, You died to save me and You promised to save me if I would trust You. Thank You for paying for my sin with Your blood on the cross. Thank You for making it possible for me to be saved today. I now open my heart. I receive You by faith as my personal Lord and Savior. Forgive my sin. Cleanse me. Save me today and help me not to be ashamed of You. In Your name I pray. Amen.”