Let's talk about being "born again"

From time to time you hear people talk about being "born again" or being "saved". What do they mean?

"Born again" is a metaphor introduced to religious thought by Jesus Christ.1

The relevant passage regarding being born again is found in the third chapter of the gospel of John2. Here, we see a prominent Jewish teacher of the law3 coming to Jesus under cover of night. He came to sound Jesus out. He started by stating that Jesus must be a teacher come from God because of the miracles he could do.

Jesus answer is quite remarkable. He gets right down to business with the statement:

"No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4
Nicodemus replied,
"But a person cannot climb back into his mother's womb to be born." 5
Jesus said that we need a second birth, a spiritual birth. Although the kingdom of God starts here on earth, we need a life- changing experience to sense it. Jesus said that we need to be born of "water and the Spirit" before we can join in this spiritual life.6

The water is interpreted as baptism to show our repentance, while "born of the Spirit" means the coming into our life of the Holy Spirit to make us right with God.

What keeps us from being "born again"?

To deal with this, we need to get some definitions 'under our belts'.
missing the mark; falling short of what God wants us to be. (God wants us to allow Him to be our master or Lord, so that we can love others with His love.)
literally, to turn around and walk the other way; to change our attitude about someone or something; desire to give up wrongdoing.
Holy Spirit in our life
God is spirit, and as such can look inside our hearts. If we give him permission, he can take over the "throne" of our lives, i.e. we can surrender control of our wills to him. But his control of our wills is limited moment-by-moment by our willingness.
Jesus is talking about the biggest paradigm shift known to man:
paradigm shift
pattern, example or model, Webster's dictionary
You have one model of reality, which you cash in on another, better one.
In the old model (or way of thinking), God is an ogre just waiting to pounce on you for every little mistake. He is an angry God whom we must placate. We need to work very hard indeed to be good enough to appease an angry God.

In the new model, God is a caring parent, watching attentively for any oppourtunity to help us grow up to spiritual maturity. He will go to bat for us, if we are willing to call on him.

The key to transitioning to the new paradigm is in our understanding. Heaven is pure and perfect, and no one can enter there unless they are pure and perfect.

In order to be pure and perfect, we would have to be equal with God. We would need perfect humility and perfect love. No one except Jesus Christ has ever been capable of such. Not Confucious, nor Mohammed, neither Zoroaster or Ghandi has been free of pride or ill-will. I can't claim to perfection, and I doubt if you would try making such a claim.

In the new paradigm, we come to God just as we are, imperfect in humility and lacking in love. He takes us and works with us, first by putting his perfection on us like a cloak, and then working on the inside to put His love and His humility in where enmity and pride used to be. Some of the changes appear quickly. Other changes, some quite subtle, may take a lifetime.

...Jesus sacrifice a crucial aspect

Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross is crucial for this process. A close reading of the gospel accounts will alert you to the fact that Jesus did not have to give in to the cross. Yet he gave himself up to a horrible death for us.

Jesus said that we will be saved as we look up to His sacrifice for salvation. We trust His Spirit to make us brand new, just as if we had never, ever sinned. Then we will be able to see and appreciate the workings of heaven here on this earth.

copyright notice

up 1The best way to get a taste of who Jesus Christ is, is to look in the best source document we have - the Bible. The Bible is a historical document that has been preserved for us from the first century AD. At first this was achieved by laborious hand copying, which took an accomplished scholar a year of solid work. Copyists were very careful to ensure there were no mistake in their work. However, there are variations between the various strands of copy work. None of the variations is of great effect. Sometimes, though, the difference in a word can make a passage clearer.

Having so many strands of copying helps us determine that the Bible is the most reliable book from a historical viewpoint. There are other writers, some more recent, whose works we are much less sure about - including Shakespeare!

The Bible was not originally written in English. Some of it was in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, and some in koine Greek. The Hebrew and Aramaic parts were translated into Greek before the New Testament was ever written. The whole Bible was translated into Latin. There has been a colourful history of the translations, which is beyond the scope of this document.

The Bible was also written by a number of different writers, and was collected into one work at a later date. These writers, though they are from different backgrounds, attest to the same truths. This is remarkable indeed. back

2The accounts of Jesus Christ alive on earth are in the four books called 'gospels'.

term translated 'good news'
The first four books of the New Testament portion of the Bible. These are the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
do not confuse the Gospel of John with the Epistles (letters) of John; these letters are referred to as 1st John, 2nd John and 3rd John. Written 1 John, 2 John, 3 John; or I John, II John, III John in older translations using Roman Numerals.

3 The law Nicodemus taught was the Jewish religious law. These rules defined the Jewish worship of God and observance of religious rites.back
4 John 3: 3 back
5 John 3: 4 back
6 John 3: 5 back

back copyright notice: Script copyright (c) Rick Galbraith, Dryden, Ontario, Canada: 1996

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