A zealous Christian confronted a politician and asked her, Have you been born again? Angry at what she deemed a personal question, the politician replied, It worked the first time, thank you.
Maybe it did, but considering our fallen nature, our first birth isn’t enough, at least not for eternal life. For that, we must be born again.
Read Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15. How did Jesus explain what it meant to be born again?
No doubt Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, knew the Old Testament Scriptures, which speak about the need for a new heart and God’s willingness to create it in us (Ps. 51:10, Ezek. 36:26). Jesus explained to Nicodemus this truth and how it can happen.
The dialogue recorded by John ends with Jesus’ words. No answer from Nicodemus. He probably went home immersed in profound reflections. Quietly, the Holy Spirit worked in him, and three years later he was ready to openly become Jesus’ disciple.
The fact that it is necessary to be born again shows without a doubt that our previous birth is insufficient from a spiritual standpoint. The new birth must be a double one: of water and of the Spirit. In light of John the Baptist’s ministry, Nicodemus easily understood that to be born of water referred to baptism with water. What he also needed to know was that to be born of the Spirit is the renewing of the heart by the Holy Spirit.
There are similarities between physical and spiritual births. Both mark the beginning of a new life. Also, we produce neither birth ourselves; it’s done for us. But there is also an important difference between them: we were unable to choose if we wanted to be born physically; we can, however, choose to be born spiritually. Only those who freely decide to allow the Holy Spirit to generate a new spiritual self within them are born again. God respects our freedom and, although eager to transform us, He does not change us by force.
Think about the way in which the Lord produced your conversion. It does not matter if it was through dramatic circumstances or through a long and imperceptible process of transformation. How have you experienced the new birth?