Thursday, June 13, 2013

You Must Be Born Again

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  ~John 3:9
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” ~John 3:7

For Christians, there are few things that are more misunderstood than the work of regeneration and the new birth. Pastor Nemmers explained how this passage in John chapter 3 is perhaps one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible.


I believe the reason so many misunderstand or look past the clear teaching in this passage is because it lays the responsibility and act of salvation solely in the Hands of God! When Jesus said “You must be born again,” He indicated that the work of regeneration leading to salvation is not initiated by us. It is not that we first believe and then are born again, but the Spirit of God regenerates our hearts (born again) which enables us to believe! Belief unto salvation follows being born again.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~John 3:8

This is the reason Jesus made the point about the work of the Spirit in the New Birth. There is nothing we can do to bring it about and being Born Again is accomplished by the Spirit of God alone. It is much like our own birth; it is something that happens to us, not by us. Pastor Nemmers gave us five things that the New Birth is not. All of them are things many people believe you must do to be Born Again, when in fact there is nothing you can do. Those five things were:

  1. Accepting truth about Jesus 
  2. Being raised to believe 
  3. Getting baptized 
  4. Being deeply moved by a message 
  5. Praying a prayer 

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ~Ezekiel 36:25-27

When God spoke of the New Covenant in the Old Testament, He described what the New Birth would be like and how it would be brought about. Notice in Ezekiel chapter thirty-six how God is the One doing and acting while the one being saved is acted upon and contributes nothing to being born again. You might be thinking right now “So why is this so important?” The reason it is so important is because our regeneration and subsequent salvation are for God’s glory and not our own. If we contributed to being Born Again in even the smallest way then we would have reason to glory in our own accomplishment. The Apostle Paul explained this far better than I can…

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~1 Corinthians 1:26-31


  1. Five questions that Baptists and evangelicals should ask themselves:

    1. Does the Bible state that a sinner is capable of choosing righteousness/choosing God?

    The Bible states that the sinner must believe and repent, but are these actions initiated and performed by man of his own intellectual abilities, or are faith, belief, and repentance a part of the entire "package" of salvation? Are faith, belief, and repentance part of the "free gift"? Does God give you faith, belief and repentance at the moment he "quickens" you, or does he require you to make a decision that you want them first, and only then does he give them to you.

    2. Is there any passage of Scripture that describes salvation in the Baptist/evangelical terms of: "Accept Christ into your heart", "Make a decision for Christ", "Pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner's Prayer)". Is it possible that being "born again" is something that God does at a time of his choosing, and not something that man decides to do at a time of his choosing? Is man an active participant in his salvation in that he cooperates with God in a decision to believe, or is man a passive participant in his salvation; God does ALL the work?

    3. Is the Bible a static collection of words or do the Words of God have real power, real supernatural power? How does the Bible describe the Word? Is it the meaning of the Word that has power or do the words themselves have supernatural power to "quicken" the souls of sinners, creating faith, belief and repentance?

    4. Does preaching the Word save everyone who hears it or only the "predestined", the "elect", the "called", the "appointed" will believe when they hear the Word?

    5. WHEN does the Bible, if read in its simple, plain, literal rendering, say that sins are forgiven and washed away?

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  2. Hi Gary! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. I want to answer your questions in the order you asked them.

    1. The Bible states human beings are sinners and are incapable of choosing righteousness or choosing God, in fact the unregenerate sinner hates God and is His enemy (Ps. 14; Rom. 3:10-18; 1 Cor. 2:14)

    2. Faith and repentance are gifts given by God to those whom His Spirit regenerates (Eph. 2:8,9).

    3. God gives the sinner the faith and repentance first, they are not something generated by the sinner first... that would not and could not happen(Eph. 2:8,9; 1 Cor. 2:14).

    4. There are no passages that say we are to accept Christ into our hearts or make a decision for Christ, etc. etc. Being born again is something done by God to us and not based on those other things first (John 3:3-8).

    5. God does all the work of salvation and man's part is to repent and believe as the Gospel commands. The faith to believe and the repentance are also supplied by God so that only He gets the glory (Mark 1:15; Eph. 2:8,9; 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

    6. The Bible is living and sharper than any two edged sword... it has real supernatural power to save. The faith to believe and be saved comes by hearing the Word of God (Heb. 4:12; Rom. 10:17).

    7. Preaching the Word accomplishes all that God intends for it to accomplish. It saves whom He wants it to save and drives away and condemns whom He wants to drive away (Is. 55:1).

    8. Sins were forgiven when Jesus propitiated the wrath of God at His death on the Cross. Our sins were forgiven there. (The New Testament)

    Now a question for you... What were all these questions for? I apologize if you misunderstood the post and thought I was somehow something that would lead people to believe other than how I answered your questions.

    Thanks for stopping by!