“Have you been born again?” Have you ever been asked that question? Probably not. At least, from my own experience, no – no one has ever asked me that question. Yet, it might be the most important one we need to answer, when it comes to spending eternity with God.
Jesus told a man named Nicodemus that he needed to be born again to see and enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5) I’m sure Nicodemus stood there scratching his head trying to figure that one out! “How can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” he asked. Jesus may have snickered at his response; Jewish teachers should know this. Yet, I’m sure I would have responded the same way. How can a person be born again?!
Logically speaking, it doesn’t make sense. Jesus, however, was not talking about human logic nor a natural birth. He was talking about being born again, only this time – spiritually. Just as a person must experience natural birth to enter this life, we must experience spiritual birth to enter the next.
I can relate to being born again, because it happened to me on March 15, 1971. The Spirit of God touched my life that day, and everything changed! At the time, however, I didn’t know what had happened.
The night before, I spent time walking up and down highway 17/92 in Orlando, Florida, asking God to help me know Him. You see, earlier that day, my fiancée told me that God had miraculously lengthened one of her legs during a church meeting. Even though I grew up attending church, I was not prepared for what she told me. So, like Nicodemus, I stood scratching my head, wondering how this could be… Could God be that real and personal? Do miracles still happen today? The only thing I knew for sure was that what she told me really did happen.
In Jeremiah 29:13, Scripture says that we will find God, when we seek Him with all of our heart. That’s what happened to me. The next day, Sunday morning, March 15, 1971, God revealed Himself to me in a deep and personal way. The funny part is it happened in a church service, but it had nothing to do with what happening. It was as if God pulled back the veil of heaven and spoke directly into my heart. This was over 48 years ago – and I’ve never been the same.
Hebrew 11:6 says that God rewards those who diligently seek Him, and I’m convinced that verse is absolutely true. For one thing, it happened to me. Had I not spent time asking God to make Himself known on the evening of March 14, I don’t think I would have been born again that following morning. Instead, I might have found religion – and not a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Thankfully, Jesus truly saved me that day, and I was forever changed when the breath of God blew upon my soul.
So, I can understand why Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again to enter the kingdom of God. Actually, the Bible explains it in I Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The natural man, with his natural mind, cannot understand spiritual reality. I’ve never been a science fiction fan, but they do acknowledge that there are additional dimensions in the sci-fi world. Of course, that is fiction, but there is actually a spiritual world that is very real.
In John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Since God is Spirit, the only way to know Him is through our spirit, but that part of fallen man is dead. I recently heard a radio preacher say that we are born dead. He couldn’t emphasize it enough; he must have said it ten times in a couple minutes, just to get the point across!
We are born into this world with a dead spirit, because we inherit the sin nature of Adam and Eve. Whether or not we want that to be true, it is: We are born in sin, cut off from God. And so, we sin because we have a sinful nature. It’s only natural for a sinner to do so; we shouldn’t be surprised. Even if we try to be good or do good deeds, we will never be good enough or do enough good to earn God’s favor. Unless we are born again, our spirit is dead, will remain dead, and we will live separated, cut off from God. However, the moment our spirit is reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see our sin in the light of God’s goodness – and are given the power to turn away.
Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” The word ‘repent’ means to completely turn away from the way we were living and turn to God. That verse says that the moment a person truly repents, their sins are blotted out. Wow, that’s pretty amazing!
I have to confess that I may not have fully realized the extent of my sin back on March 15, 1971. Actually, I don’t even remember confessing any specific sins on that day. However, I do know that after I was born again, I became very aware of sin – because the Holy Spirit was living in me.
How and when a person is born again can be a mystery, though in my case, it was pretty clear. I know the exact day and the approximate time. For me, it was an amazing and dramatic experience that forever changed my life. For others, it may happen over time…days, weeks, or even years. New birth seems to occur when a person becomes serious with God. It happens when we’re aware of our great need for Him, and maybe even become desperate for Him.
Again, I want to go back to Jeremiah 29… Check this out: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a) Those words were written to the Jews who were in captivity in the land of Babylon. Like them, we too are living in captivity, even in the land of the free. We may not realize it, but a person can be free on the outside, and yet, still in bondage to sin and death on the inside.
Until we repent, turn away from our former way of life, and turn fully to Christ, we will remain a prisoner of war. When we seek God with all of our heart, He promises we will find Him. After all, it’s His desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth! (I Timothy 2:4)
So, let’s go back to my original question: Have you been born again? The answer to that question may not be found in how and when it happened – but in what has happened as a result, the evidence of a changed life. You see, when the incorruptible seed of God is planted in the human heart, your life will begin to change from the inside out. (I Peter 1:23) If you are not sure whether or not you have actually been born again, all you have to do is seek Him with all your heart. Seek Him as though eternity depends on it, and He will find you. That I can promise!