Sunday: To Be Born Again
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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.

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

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?

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Sunday: To Be Born Again — 20 Comments

  1. Growth is often measured by career advancement, social elevation, economic progress, power base expansion, and fulfilling personal potential. The world reserves its honor and flattery for those who can claim merit and show some credentials in these add-ons which generally revolve around self. Alas many have been led to believe, including in the church, that the goal of life is to ‘be all you can be’ and get ahead of one’s neighbor.

    To achieve in the aforementioned areas without Christian growth is to simply accumulate perishable gains for a short season (Mark 8:36); and this while being set up for haughtiness, even if concealed within the heart. God is not in the least impressed by these accessories, which in the first place mankind cannot attain without some power from the life Giver (Deuteronomy 8:18).

    On the contrary the Creator is delighted with a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). This is His idea of growth, to become more conscious of our poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:3) and let the Lord be magnified, for He alone is worthy. It involves giving up the honor of the world and losing the taste for praise from others. It requires rejection of the ‘selfie’ (self- focus, look-at-me, spotlight-on-myself) mentality.

    To try to grow focusing on the wrong goal is to court failure. The goal is not to be anything, but to acknowledge one is nothing, and open the heart so that Christ can be everything. Self must be retired so Jesus can take over, not only in precept but practice also. Lip service will not do (Isaiah 29:13).

    More than a new start the new birth experience brings a change of direction and purpose from the world’s standards. Is it your purpose to make the Savior the sole star of your life, to decrease, so He may increase (John 3:30)?

    Like(50)
  2. Is it possible that Jesus was actually speaking of our first birth of the flesh in which we are dead in trespasses and sins and our second birth which is of the Holy Spirit (bringing life eternal)? This is what it seems to be saying in John 3:5,6. Compare this with Romans 8 where we are quickened (brought to life) by the same Spirit (Holy Spirit) that raised Jesus from the dead. It seems that if we don't have a first birth we can't have the second birth and baptism is only a symbol of this actual process. The experience of the "thief on the cross" would seem to confirm this.

    Like(6)
    • Well thank you Don. I never thought of it like that. You point out something that I'll have to ponder upon and pray to God for better understanding. I am no scholar, just a new walker in this new light. Thank you again.

      Like(5)
  3. Baptism is indeed a symbol...Romans 6:4 says it's a burial, signifying that we have died to the old life and that a new life in Christ has begun...baptism does nothing of itself to create this new life, it is a declaration of what God through the Holy Spirit has already done, not a means of receiving the Holy Spirit. Jesus already had the Holy Spirit because His humanity was conceived by Him...when He was baptised, He was not re-regenerated but anointed to begin His ministry....Christ's experience is, in my view, the correct understand of Acts 2 where Peter says if we're baptised we will receive the gift of the Spirit.

    Like(14)
    • Jesus told Nicodemus that until one is born of water and Spirit He cannot enter the kingdom of God. Jesus was born of the Spirit the first time and then baptized with water at the beginning of His ministry. Only God can be born of the Spirit the first time. This is why Jesus is the only one who has ever been worthy to be raised up like the snake In the wilderness so that we might believe in Him and be saved.

      Like(3)
  4. I am greatful for all the comments it is amazing how we are rejuvenated after accepting our Savior and being born again. I believe that being born again is a complete sign that we want to walk with our Lord Jesus through our lives

    Like(7)
  5. I remember getting baptized at 14 years so I don't remember what the conversion process had been like .What I do remember is that after my baptism everything seemed crazy in my life . I have stood and allowed God to transform me into whom he wants me to be but at times I have slipped right back into the rags of filth . Jesus wants a relationship with us and this can only be achieved when and if we spend ample time with him . ..... The more we behold him ,the more we change.

    Like(16)
    • Kedeisha, don't just spend ample time with God in the morning. However much time you spend with God in the Morning or in the afternoon on your knees is not enough. All day must be spent in watching in case selfishness takes over in the form of bad habits; and praying that the Holy Spirit take over whenever an issue arises to form good habits in the place of bad ones. This is the way Jesus said to do it. Jesus said, "Watch and pray lest you fall."

      Like(6)
  6. As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtained what you wanted , when a craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special ability, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.

    Do you find this frightening? Or is it a relief to know this? All of these things you will have to relinquish sooner or later. Perhaps you find it as yet hard to believe, and I am certainly not asking you to believe that your identity cannot be found in any of those things. You will know the truth of it yourself. You will know it at the latest when you feel death approaching. Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “ die before you die” ~ and find that there is no death.

    --- The Power of Now/ by Eckhart Tolle

    Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.

    (My estimation of the word “cross” is equal to awareness of consciousness(new man). Through denying the self it stops the misidentifying with the so called “egoic” mind; man made illusion of self, the unconsciousness(old man), creator of a false identity pattern through object consciousness/form = mentally stuck in the past or future. Very seldom in present= slave to the false self or illusory perception of life skewed per this mind funk).

    The secret to life is this death (die before you die) is attained only by your free will to choose it. An unmerited gift equal only to life itself, a more abundant life indeed. A simple freedom from what I call the adult mind, nothing to do with mature behavior, freedom likened to a child’s mind, lacking judgment and disdain of the present moment, filled with forgiveness of what is, what is now. Able to be calm and move in to this present birth.

    In the bible Jesus is quoted as saying, “...the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” ( I recognize this thief as the mind made self...)

    The good news or gospel is that you can be free from your old mind. Be very still, listen to the voice, stay impartial of it for if not, it(old man) can enter through the back door, somewhat like a computer virus. You will soon realize: there is the voice, and here I Am listening to it, watching it. This I Am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not thought. It arises from beyond the mind.

    I say, fall into it; presence, being, stillness, awareness, inner space, holy spirit, peace, joy, as often as possibly and enjoy the rest of the ride! Be born again...

    ch

    Like(2)
    • I think that being born again has to do with accepting the mind of Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to motivate the very thoughts and feelings of God in us. In this way we can enter into the mind of our Creator, and in this way we become one with Him. It is our choice that makes the way open for God to do this in us. We then become Children of God thinking and acting like Him just as Jesus did. It is He that works in us to do His good pleasure through us. He leads us to life eternal rather than separation from Him which leads us away from this very life which is continually provided by God.

      The "egoic" mind is taken over by the Spirit of God and not selfishness.

      Like(3)
  7. Baptism is not an optional extra for those whose religious taste runs loosely, it's the renewal of our relationship with Christ. Though, I'm left to wonder on the following lines and somebody that need a substantive approach:-
    1.is baptism an end to itself?
    2.does baptism remove our sin?
    3.is age a factor to baptism?
    Somebody help!
    3.

    Like(1)
    • Baptism, like a wedding, is a symbolic act. Both are representative of our commitment. In the case of a wedding, we are making a public statement about our commitment to a relationship with another person. I am sure that there are people who have wedding ceremonies for a variety of reasons other than a commitment, and that is possibly the reason so many marriages fail.

      Likewise, I am sure that there are many who are baptised for all the wrong reasons. Among young people, peer pressure and the right of passage are probably foremost among the wrong reasons.

      When contemplating baptism we should recognise that it is a serious commitment, not just a trial period to see how it goes.

      Baptism does not remove sin, nor does it remove the propensity to sin. It is a public statement about who we are following.

      I am not sure that you can put a lower age limit on baptism. Young people do need to be old enough to understand what it means. Having said that, I have seen 9 year-olds who have a good understanding and I have seen older people request baptism for all the wrong reasons. Understanding the significance of commitment is a more important consideration than age.

      Like(7)
  8. Simeon I try and keep it simple I want to follow Christ He was baptized. as a Christian I want to be Baptize. With water and with His HolySpirt. I can never be Him but I want to be like Him.

    Like(1)
  9. I remember studying the conversation between Christ Nicodemus in Desire of Ages, Happiness Digest Series, I came away with some comparisons between the latter and the church itself.

    1. Nicodemus, like the church, has a knowledge of Christ, but not acknowledge Him as the Messiah, our Savior and Lord.

    2. Both to some degree believe that salvation is through works as well as family lineage ( there are those in the church who may think that being an SDA descendant secures them a place in the kingdom).

    3. Both are content with just knowledge of the truth rather than living it out through Christ.

    I'm not trying to bash anyone, however, the Bible still points out that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory (Rom. 3:23)and that the result is still death (Rom. 6:23). Many of us as God's children, to some degree as Nicodemus, try to enter into a discussion with Him concerning what we feel is best for us rather than doing His will faithfully.

    God is too wise and too passionate about us to leave us with just religious formality in our quest to become like His Son without the Holy Spirit guiding us along the way. For instance, why do we attend church regularly? Is it because we have to, want to, or need to? If we feel that we have to, then like the church of Ephesus, we have lost our first love and have given in to formality.

    If it is because we want to, then what is the driving force? If we strip away the form and fashion and get to the root of the matter, we will realize that as individuals, we've been given a revelation of just how much value God places on us and as a result we should feel drawn to express this truth in fellowship with others. As humans, we have this desire to seek truth one way or another because we sense that there is a disconn

    Like(4)
  10. a disconnect between us and the Reason behind our existence. I was one day thinking about the purpose of a city and it seems that it is for the accommodation and function of individuals uniting together for the benefit of themselves and society as a whole. But what is a city without people? What is life without meaning? My personal conversion experience regarding one specific area of my life was one that was indeed a process, one that was a constant exchange of both victories and defeats.

    The final straw came when God revealed to me that what I was doing took more away from me than what I thought I was getting. I realized that there was more to life than this, that I was more than this, and that my life was slowly declining into ruin. But final, I allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way because at the end of the day, I was tired. Tired of losing, making excuses, having a form of godliness but denying the power...just tired! And now, finally, by His grace I am finally FREE! PRAISE HIS NAME!!!

    So what I am trying to say is simply this. We had no say in our birth, and definitely no say when we die. So this window of opportunity called life, let us daily choose Christ the Reason for our very being. Sorry for the cut off earlier.

    Like(8)
  11. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, yet He received the Holy Spirit again when He was baptized...I believe the experience of Ezekiel 36:26-27 is what Jesus was born with, effectively being born "born again" while after He was baptized He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit in line with Isaiah 61:1-2...this means that He was born converted, and anointed after His baptism.

    What significance then is baptism? Does baptism give us the Holy Spirit? In terms of conversion, looking at Jesus' experience, I would say no...concerning the anointing, especially as we pray for the "latter rain"..I would say that baptism doesn't cause it, but is a requirement to receive it, because the old man of sin must receive a public burial in baptism before we can be anointed with spiritual gifts for the work of ministry, but if it is baptism that buries the old man of sin, then he must already have been put to death by the Holy Spirit in conversion terms prior to his burial

    Like(1)
  12. May question is this,can some one be baptised with water and not renewal of the heart by the holy spirit??

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    • Absolutely Alex, this is exactly what happened to Simon the Sorcerer in Acts chapter 8, when he saw the miracles Phillip did, he also "believed" (notice the scripture doesn't say he believed because of the message) and was baptized, yet his attemp to buy the ability to lay on people that they may receive the Holy Spirit (can you buy God?) shows that he was poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity, as Peter said....this is not the character of a converted person who has repented of their sins and given their lives to Jesus....no...this is the character of a miracle-chaser who wanted his audience back because he was losing his influence over the people because of Phillip's ministry

      Like(2)
  13. Born again means putting on Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. Romans 8: 13-14, 13:14

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  14. Baptismal regeneration is the false doctrine that we need to be baptized to be converted...this is not what the bible teaches..as we have Jesus for our example too...when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit,He received the Psalm 51:10 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 experience already from that moment, allowing Him to be born converted....His ANOINTING (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18-19) took place at His baptism. Before becoming adventist, I used to belong to a church that believed that they need living apostles in our time to dispense the Holy Spirit through laying of hands to ensure conversion...this is because they had an ezekiel 36-26-27 interpretation of Acts 8 and Acts 19 where laying of hands by apostles took place and the believers had an anointing, which is the Joel 2:28-32 experience for the work of mninistry....not conversion, and this is where we also get confused, resulting in many of us, even our pastors, believing in baptismal regenration

    Like(3)

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