That is the question of the ages. For two millennia this question has been asked of people from every corner of the globe at every level of society.
Have we become new creatures in Christ Jesus? Have we passed from spiritual death to spiritual life? Have our sins been forgiven? Have we been adopted into the family of God? Has the Holy Spirit come to live within us? Have we been born again?
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
These are the words that separate all other spiritual and religious endeavors from being a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ we do not believe that our good deeds, right living, observance of holy day, or pilgrimages are enough for us to please God. We follow Christ because we believe there is nothing within our own power or ability that can bring us into right standing with God. We believe that apart from Christ we are lost, separated from God by our own sin and incapable of saving ourselves. We do not believe that our good deeds can outweigh our bad deeds. We do not believe that we can overcome our faults, our failings, and our sins on our own. We do not seek to impress God with charity, sacrifice or penance in an effort to receive forgiveness for our sins. As followers of Christ, we have resigned ourselves as those who are lost; we have confessed that we are sinners who need a Savior. It is for these reasons that the mandate of the message of the gospel is found in the statement, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7)
This is the foundation of the Christian faith: regeneration, being born-again or spiritual birth. It is this belief that causes many to decry us as narrow-minded, fundamentalist or exclusionist. The New Testament teaches there is only one way to be made right with God and that one way is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The New Testament teaches us that without the new birth we cannot see the kingdom of God. Bible teachers and theologians refer to being born-again as regeneration. The Bible teaches that every person is in need of regeneration because every person is a sinner. Here are some scriptures:
For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)
For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (Romans 8:7-8)
All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:3)
Regeneration is the re-creating and transformation of a person by the Holy Spirit. It is through this process that God Himself comes into the life of a believer and it is through this process that we become children of God. As a born-again believer we are a new person who no longer conforms to this world. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We have been recreated by God to be like Jesus “truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24)
Regeneration is not something we can do for ourselves; it is something God does inside of us when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.
Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:6-7)
But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4-5)
I am writing this message to remind us that the experience of regeneration is not a natural experience but a supernatural experience. When I preach Jesus; it is Jesus Christ that I am endeavoring to introduce into the lives of others. God wants to invade the lives of people through the power of the Holy Spirit. God wants to forgive, cleanse and change people. God wants to save all who are separated from Him because of their sins. Jesus Christ paid the price to make this possible.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:12-13)
I love the church and God’s people but what we receive when we believe in Christ is something the church cannot do, it is only something that God Himself does. Our lives are changed by God and we are recreated to live a new life (Romans 6:4).
I encourage anyone reading this that has not experienced regeneration to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ so that you too can experience God’s gift of grace. Jesus said that we must be born again.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:38-39)