“Are you one of those born again Christians?” I was asked. I answered yes. Why did I say that I was born again? Verse 3 says that God has caused us to be born again. The NIV says He has given us new birth and the Greek says He begot us again. Of course, I remember some of the older translations that have all the “begets” in the O.T. The meaning is clear that we are born again. Also the more famous verse is John 3:3, In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (NIV) There is also James 1:18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (NIV) 1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. (NASB)
I am struck by the fact that three different authors of books in the Bible have mentioned this phenomenon which is the beginning of Christian life. It wasn’t just John, but also Peter and James. Like Nicodemus, the person who asked me didn’t get it. It was babbling to him. He claimed to be a Christian but his life didn’t demonstrate it. There is no getting around the fact that something changes in people when they become Christians. If nothing changes, then there has not been a new birth. If I had continued in my ways after being born again I wouldn’t be able to claim to be born again. By the way, I know I changed because the person who ask me the question wanted me to go back to my former habits which had become disgusting to me.
In these last two verses, being born again is linked to the Word of God. It seems clear that without His Word, we can’t become born again. 1 Peter 2:2 says that as newborn babies we should crave the pure milk of the Word. One of the things that happened after being born again is that I had a desire to read the Bible. Even more amazing, was that I could understand it. A man at a men’s breakfast group asked the others how we could understand the Bible. I don’t remember the exact passage because it was many years ago, but it was evident that this person was either not born again or so infrequently in the Word that he had stagnated.
Heb 5:12-14 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®)
One reason for this blog is that I don’t want to be in this position of only knowing the basics and not being able to use the Word to tell the difference between good and evil. When I face situations I want to be able, first of all, to recognize that something might be wrong with the picture. If my only view of life is what I get from the world (TV, magazines, movies, newspapers, Dr. Phil, teachers, professors, conservative or liberal talk show hosts, etc) then I may easily stroll through life sinning blatantly and not have a clue that I’m dishonoring God. However I want my world view to be shaped by God’s Word so that I can see that something is wrong. The next thing is to formulate and carry out actions that are also shaped by God’s Word. I can’t do that if all I’m doing is reading the Bible briefly or sporadically. I need to dig into His Word so I don’t just walk away after my time in the Word and not be moved closer to what God wants.
I may be born again, but I also need to keep on growing. I pray that is everyone’s desire.