Childbirth is a painful and traumatic experience for both mother and child. Being born again is a process that requires the old me to die. Many would prefer to talk about His cross but then forget the fact that He said that we needed to take up our own cross to follow Him. Perhaps that’s why we see John 3:16 posted everywhere, but few like to talk about John 3:3-7.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
In John chapter 3 we hear Jesus using words like “cannot enter the Kingdom” and “cannot see the Kingdom” and “must be born again” when talking about the new birth. There were no maybes until verse 16. His cross was so that we “should not” perish. Our cross is so that we “cannot perish”. John 3:16 produced a maybe, but John 3:5 produced a guarantee.
When Jesus gave his life, it was so that we “should not” perish but have everlasting life instead. His cross made a way for us to be born again, but if we choose to save the old life that we had we then refuse to be born again. Therefore we “cannot” enter that everlasting life he promised us. That’s why he said to lose your life in order to save it (Matt 10:39; 16:25).
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye MUST be born again.”
Aside from being the greatest spoiler alert in history (oh btw the main character dies at the end) John 3:16 shows us THE WAY to eternal life, but knowing the way, and going the way are two different things. Knowing the way is to stand there and stare at His cross. Going the way is to take up your cross to follow Him.
I’m not trying to belittle His cross, don’t misunderstand me. We actually belittle His cross by not understanding what it was for. The cross was to make a way for us to be born again. If we aren’t born again we can’t be with Him in eternity one day (John 3:3). The cross was so that we should not perish, but the new birth is so that we cannot perish. We make the cross of no value if we don’t follow Him and let Him give us a new life through the new birth experience. You must be born of the water and the Spirit, or Jesus said that you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
Have you been born again? Are you certain?
Nicodemus talked to Jesus secretly in the middle of the night about the cross and the new birth. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, Peter talked about the same thing openly. He told “all of Isreal” about the cross in Acts 2:36. When they heard about the cross, they were pricked in their hearts, and asked the question, “What shall we do” Acts 2:37.
If the cross doesn’t prick your heart and make you ask “What should I do?”, then either you didn’t hear about the same cross that I did, or you don’t have a pulse.
How to be born again:
1. Hear about the Cross (Acts2:36)
2. Ask the question, “What shall I do?” (Acts 2:37)
3. Obey Peter’s response to that question, which is exactly the same as what Jesus told Nicodemus in John chapter 3. (Acts 2:38)
Acts 2:36-38 (NIV)
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The cross should lead you to the new birth.
One problem today is that people have been made to believe that baptism in water and the gift of the Holy Spirit are not the same thing as being born again. The argument is made that those are “works”, and are not required for salvation because Paul said that we are not saved by works in Eph 2:8-9.
Here are 10 reasons why that is not true:
1. Jesus said that he that believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16)
2. Jesus said that unless we are born of the water and Spirit we cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5)
3. Peter said that everyone should be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39)
4. The Bible says that no one can forgive sins but God (Mark 2:7) and baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). So, you aren’t doing anything but taking a step of faith when you get baptized. If you think you are doing work of forgiving, then think again.
5. The gift of the Holy Spirit cannot be received by “work”. It is received by surrender. It is a gift after all.
6. Romans 8:9 says that without His Spirit, we are none of His.
7. Jesus said that believers should receive the Holy Spirit (John chapter 7:38-39)
8. God said HE was going to pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). It is Him doing the work.
9. Jesus said that true worshippers must worship Him in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24)
10. The very same mouth that said we are not saved by works in Eph 2:8-9, also said that baptism in water and Spirit were not “our works” at all (Titus 3:5)
Paul to Titus 3:5-7
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Paul to the Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
If you read the whole second chapter of Ephesians, you’ll find the very same thing taught if you don’t take those two verses out of context. I especially like verse 22 that says we are a house for His Spirit, and that we didn’t build that house.
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Please also keep in mind that the original readers of this letter were already baptized in Jesus name by Paul, and filled with God’s Spirit (Acts 19;1-6).
The evidence is pretty clear that you must be born again of the water and the Spirit. Don’t delay.
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