Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Must I Be Born Again?

"In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

We will spend a few days considering regeneration as a result of God’s calling. Without regeneration we cannot be conformed to Christ. Once a man came to me and said, “I’d like to be a Christian, but I don’t want to be one of those born-again types.” What he meant by “born again” was a certain kind of Christian who wears his faith on his sleeve, which this man considered offensive. 

I hastened to assure him that no one can be a Christian without being born again. In our society, being “born again” has come to be associated with a certain kind of experience. In theology, however, the idea of rebirth is the same as the idea of regeneration. No particular kind of experience is needed. 

What is necessary is a transition into God’s kingdom. One way or another, every branch of the Christian church has a doctrine of being “born again.”

As we begin our consideration of rebirth, let us look at Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, recorded in John 3. We find in verse 1 that Nicodemus was “a man of the Pharisees” and also “a member of the Jewish ruling council.” As a Pharisee, he was highly educated in theology, and as a member of the Council, he ranked with a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.

Unlike so many other Pharisees, Nicodemus accepted Jesus as a “teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with Him” (v. 2). Nicodemus seems to have been genuinely inquiring about Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus answered Nicodemus’s gracious words by stating that unless a person is born again, he or she cannot see the kingdom of God. By saying this, Jesus cut down all of Nicodemus’ human accomplishments. His theological knowledge and his political good works would count for nothing unless he was born again. Jesus made rebirth an absolute necessity for entrance into His kingdom.

Nearness to the kingdom doesn’t count. Nicodemus was as close as any man, but was still far away. Either you are born again or you are not. How certain are you today of being born again into God’s kingdom?