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What Does it Mean to be Born Again?

What Does it Mean to be Born Again?

We are all born sinners. Read Romans 3:23. God is a holy, just God and he will not populate heaven with sinners. So when Adam and Eve sinned he ordered them out of the Garden of Eden. Because they had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God killed the first animal ever and he took the skins of the animals and let Adam and Eve cover their nakedness.

Jesus was Our Lamb of God

In John 1:29, when John the Baptist saw his cousin, Jesus coming, he said, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

In the Old Testament, God told the people to take a lamb and put the blood from the lamb on the doorpost of the house. Whoever was inside the house would have their sins paid for when the death angel passed over. That was until God provided our lamb, Jesus. Read Hebrews 9:22. God said without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Some people believe we need to do a list of things but God said that blood is what takes care of our sins.

I used to believe this myself. But I learned that because we are born sinners, our best is not good enough for a holy, righteous God. We need Jesus’ sacrifice. 

We Must be Born Again

Read John 3:1-7. So what does the phrase “born again,” mean? When we are born, we are born of water. That is our first birth. But when we accept God’s sacrifice of Jesus, the Bible states that we are born again. 

It happens the moment we acknowledge that what happened on the cross was not just a day in history, but it has everything to do with us. Nicodemus watching Jesus could tell that the things he did were of God. But Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand the bigger picture, the reason he came. Just like he wants us to understand how we can one day gain access to heaven.

God Loves Us

Did you ever memorize John 3:16? I knew that God loved the world. He loved us so much he gave us his most valuable gift, His only son. And God didn’t just love us after we cleaned ourselves up and tried our best. No, at our very worst, God still loves us. 

Read Romans 5:8. This verse tells us that God demonstrated his love to us while we were sinners. I used to think God loved me because I tried so hard to be good. It’s religion that tells us to clean ourselves up and then come to God, but God says just the opposite. He tells us to come just as we are and he’ll clean us.

Salvation is a Gift

Read Romans 10:17. Faith grows as we read the Word of God. And the more we get into the Bible, the more we learn about God and his character. Then when trials come we start leaning on him in a new way. With each experience we have trusting God we learn that he is able to handle things in our lives. When we are first learning about God, it doesn’t matter how much faith we have, but rather, who we put our faith in.

Read Ephesians 2:8-9. God is gracious. He saves us by his grace. Grace is unmerited favor. God grants us his favor just because. God wants us to go to heaven. Being saved from our sins is a gift from God. When we are offered a gift, what must we do? Some might think we need to thank the person who gives us the gift, but in reality, we just need to accept the gift and it is ours. 

Seeing Who Jesus Is

Read Luke 23:39-43. When Jesus was on the cross, there were two other men who also were on crosses on either side of him. One of the men looked over at Jesus and realized who Jesus was. The other man told Jesus, “save yourself and save us.”

The thief who had been watching Jesus reprimanded the other thief. He told Jesus to remember him. And Jesus said, “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

This is a perfect illustration of what we need to do to go to heaven. When Jesus told the man he would be with Jesus in paradise, he hadn’t done anything to deserve heaven. He just saw who Jesus was. Those who realize they are sinners and hear about what Jesus did on the cross are humbled to think God would sacrifice his own son just so we could go to heaven.

Our Debt was Paid in Full

Read John 19:30. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, one of the last things he said were the words, “It is finished.”

Jesus was talking about the payment for sin. In those days, when prisoners had fulfilled their sentence, the Roman guard would come and stamp a word on the prisoner’s cell wall. The word was tetelestai. And that word in greek means “paid in full.” That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “It is finished.” 

Jesus is not coming back to die on the cross again. He made the payment for our sins once for all, and then he sat down on the right hand of God. In the short time Jesus was on the earth, he accomplished what God had for him to do. 

We Can Know We Have Eternal Life

Read 1 John 5:11-12. The Bible tells us, “He that has the Son has life.” That means if a person believes that Jesus died for them they have the Son of God. And if they have the Son of God, they have eternal life. 

Jesus came and lived a perfect life and died for sinners. He shed his perfect blood, and anyone who puts their faith in what he did on the cross will be forgiven. Yes, Jesus died for the world, but more importantly, he died for individuals.

The Greatest Friendship

Read John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.” Thinking about this verse always warms my heart. No one could ever love us as much as Jesus did. 

Read Hebrews 12:2. This verse talks about how Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame. How did he do it? By looking at the joy set before him. We were that joy. The thing that is so amazing to me is that Jesus would die on the cross knowing some would still not believe in him. 

But There’s Even More

Yes, it is wonderful to know we can be born again. We can know our sins are forgiven. We can know that God not only takes our sins away, but he credits to our accounts the righteousness of Jesus. 

Read 1 John 3:2. Since we are going to be given Jesus’ righteousness, that means one day we will be like him. It’s like all our sins were transferred to his account when he died on the cross. And then we are credited with all his righteousness. Read Romans 8:16-17. We will be joint-heirs with him. All because we made one decision, the decision to trust in what he did.

He’s coming again. And one day we will be received into heaven and God will want to know one question: I sent my son who came to earth, and suffered and died on a cross shedding his perfect blood. What did you do with Jesus? And those of us who accepted him can say, “We trusted in Jesus.” And that very moment we did, we were born again.

A Prayer To be Born Again

Dear God, 

I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin or to work my way to heaven. At this moment I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in your holy presence. I thank you that Christ was raised from the dead as a guarantee of my own resurrection. As best as I can, I now transfer my trust to Him. I am grateful that He has promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take you at your word. I thank you that I can face death now that you are my Savior. Thank you for the assurance that you will walk with me through the deep valley. Thank you for hearing this prayer. 

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

(Excerpted from "The Sinner's Prayer" by John Barnett)

A Prayer for Others to be Born Again

Lord, I pray that You would teach me to yield myself to Your Spirit as I pray for the salvation of those who do not know you. Holy Spirit, teach me to trust You as a living person who leads my life and my prayers. I long to see Your power in my life just as the Apostle Paul did as he reached out to the lost (1 Corinthians 2:2-5). I thank You that You indwell, seal, sanctify, and empower me. You guide me, teach me, and pray through me. Help me to partner with You as I use Your Word in praying for the salvation of my family, friends, and co-workers. Make me sensitive to Your promptings and teach me to partner with You in praying Your Word over those who are searching for You.

(Excerpted from "A Prayer for the Salvation of Others" by Debbie Przybylski)

Anne Peterson is a speaker, poet, and published author who is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne has published 14 books including her memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival and hope. Anne believes life is hard, so she writes words to make it softer. Connect with Anne on her Website, Facebook or see her articles on Medium. You can also sign up for her newsletter and receive her free Ebook: Helping Someone in Grief: 17 Things You Need to Know.

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