“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'”
“Born Again.” This is a turn-of-phrase that a lot of people in America are familiar with. It is, however, an idea that a lot of people don’t truly understand.
C.H. Spurgeon says that “regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are ‘born again,’ for there are many who fancy they are, who are not.”
I believe the relevance of this idea is huge, especially in our Christian society today. There are christians, and there are Christians. What I mean by this is that simply being called a Christian doesn’t make it so. It’s not a group you join; there is no secret handshake, and no special member card. There needs to be something more; that something being the idea of being “born again.”
This is such an odd idea — being born again. For one, it’s literally impossible. You can’t return to the womb and be born again. We also know that’s not what Jesus is implying when he talks about being born again (read John 3:1-15, or more specifically verses 4-6 where a man named Nicodemus asks Jesus this very question about literally being born again).
This second birth is a spiritual birth — which sounds somewhat mysterious. There is no real human way to measure, or even truly describe this birth by the Spirit. Nonetheless, it is a change that is known and felt by those who have been “born again.” It is, as Spurgeon puts it, “known by works of holiness, and felt by gracious experience.”
Basically, it’s supernatural. It’s not a work that we can physically do. It’s a reforming of the heart at the deepest level. It’s a complete renewing of our nature so that we are no longer the person we used to be, but rather a new creation in Christ Jesus. Spurgeon illustrates this morbid (but right-on-the-nose) image about the difference between a true Spirit-led, born-again transformation and our own efforts to create the illusion of being born again: “To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other.”
Our cry out to the Lord, if this Spirit-breathed transformation is true, will sound like this:
“O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, you are my everlasting Parent; unless the Holy Spirit has breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I have been to this day, ‘dead in my trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is completely derived from You O God. ‘My life is hid with Christ.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Is this the cry of your own heart? Is this the truth you find yourself standing on?
Think about it …