One evangelist was asked why he preached so often on "Ye must be born again." He answered, "Because ye must be born
again." Have YOU been born again? Without it, you have no hope of escaping the terrors of hell or enjoying the glories of
heaven. The Lord Jesus said, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).
I. WHAT THE NEW BIRTH IS NOT
1. It is not a religion. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a very strict religionist. He celebrated the Passover, paid tithes, said prayers, brought sacrifices, and tried to keep the Law. To HIM the Lord Jesus said, "Ye must be born again." Lawkeeping, joining the church, being baptized, or living up to a religious creed will not save you. There will be many in hell who did all of these things. Will you? Ye MUST be born again.
2. It is not morality. You may try to keep the golden rule, pay your bills, be a good neighbor, keep out of jail, and live a clean moral life, but that won't save you.
It is not recorded that our Lord said, "Ye must be born again," to cowardly, vacillating Pilate, or to two-faced, hypocritical Judas. Why? Because you would say, "I know miserable hypocrites like Judas and men like Pilate need to be born again, but I'm not like them. I wouldn't betray Christ with a kiss after professing to be His friend. I wouldn't order Jesus to be beaten and then turn Him over to a howling, blood-thirsty mob to be crucified. Gangsters, thugs, adulterers, whore-mongers, liars, drunkards, and gamblers need to be born again, but not I. I'm all right."
My friend, do you realize that God's Son spoke these words on the new birth to a man who was doing his best to gain heaven? Without a doubt, he was neither a crook, drunkard, nor gambler. He was a true husband, a good neighbor, a man of clean morals, and religious. If he needed to be born again, so do you. How do you expect to make it to heaven without being born again if Nicodemus couldn't?
3. It is not reformation. Even if you would quit all your meanness, that would not be the new birth. Your trouble is not on the outside, but on the inside. You don't need exterior decoration but interior regeneration. Satan wants you to rest in a false peace. We warn you in Jesus' name, don't be satisfied unless you have been born again.
II. WHAT THE NEW BIRTH IS
1. It is a mystery you cannot explain, but a reality no man can explain away. "The wind bloweth where it listeth (pleaseth), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). Just as Nicodemus could not understand or explain the wind, so no man can understand or explain the new birth.
But the wind is a reality no man can explain away. Only a fool would say, "I don't believe in the wind because I have never seen it and I can't understand it."
See the wind move the big limbs of an oak. Watch the wind tear a house to splinters. You cannot deny the reality of wind! You cannot see the Holy Spirit. You cannot explain Him. But see His mighty power make the harlot pure, the liar honest, the drunkard sober, the blasphemer pray, and then try to deny the reality of it.
2. It is the work of God by which a poor, lost, guilty, hell-deserving sinner who receives the Lord Jesus receives a new nature, becomes a child of God, and begins a new life. It is a second birth, a spiritual birth.
Physical life begins by birth. Spiritual life begins the same way--not by joining a church and becoming religious. You cannot JOIN the family of God, you must be BORN into it. Someone has said, "You can't make a Christian out of anybody." True, Christians are not made, they are born.
A birth is the coming into being of a new life which has the nature of its parents. When you were born the first time, you were made a partaker of the old nature, the sinful nature we all received from Adam. When you are born again, you become a partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4).
No matter what kind of a religious profession you have made, no matter how good a person you may be morally, unless you have been made a partaker of the divine nature, you are not saved. God gives you this new nature the moment you receive His Son. It is instantaneous. You can no more be born again by degrees than you can shoot a firecracker by degrees.
When you are born again, you begin living a new life; it is the evidence of the new Life dwelling within you. That is what happened when you were born the first time; you began living a life you had never lived before.
Some think they are going to heaven just because they went forward in a meeting. Be sure you are born again. There may be a more spectacular change in the life of one who is a drunken, railing blasphemer, but even in you who have not been down deep in sin, there is bound to be a change when you are born again. There will be a new attitude towards the Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, and His people.
Are you SURE you have been born again? If you are not certain about this most solemn matter, read on (John 3:36--"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.").
III. WHY YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
1. Because the Lord Jesus Christ said so. That ought to settle it.
2. Because you have a sinful nature. The nature we all receive from Adam is fallen, corrupt, and totally depraved. God says the heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). With this old nature, you could not even enjoy yourself in heaven, let alone rejoice in God's presence and worship Him. Instead, the lost are destined for a Christless eternity--an eternal hell-fire beyond the most horrible description. Heaven is a holy place. When you are born again, God gives you a new nature that you might desire holy things, now and in heaven.
3. Because you cannot save yourself. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us ..." (Titus 3:5a). Now don't skip lightly over these two quotations from God's Holy Word. Read them again and again until the truth grips you. You cannot save yourself--you MUST be born again--and that by the sovereign will of Almighty God.
IV. HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:11-13).
1. It is not of blood. You are not a Christian just because your parents may be. You do not inherit salvation from your parents. Even though your folks may be saved, if you have not been born again, you are lost.
2. Nor of the will of the flesh. It is not by your own efforts and will power. You will fail. So why not stop trying to work your way to heaven? Instead of trying, trust, receive, depend upon the One who died and rose again.
3. Nor of the will of man. It is not brought about by any of man's religious creeds, systems, or ceremonies. No man or organization can do anything to you or for you that will make you a child of God. Join what you will, go through ceremony after ceremony, memorize creeds, and try to keep the rules and regulations of man-made systems, but it will not save you.
4. But of God. The Lord Jesus said you must be born "of the SPIRIT." It is 100% God's work, not yours. It is a miracle. Only God can perform it. If God has not done a work in your life, you are not born again. Your part is to believe God's record about you: You must believe that you are a lost, worthless sinner, and in desperate need of a Savior. You must repent of your sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as both Lord and Saviour. He died on Calvary's cross, satisfying the righteousness and justice of God, that He might take your sins and punishment upon Himself. He arose and is seated today as God's Man at the right hand of the Majesty on high (see Hebrews 1:3), and He is offered to you as God's only way of salvation (see John 14:6). When you receive HIM, you will be saved, for Paul says we are "... children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).
You do not receive Christ by taking communion, or by being baptized, or by joining a church, or by any other human effort. You receive Christ by faith and trust alone in His finished work on the cross.
Ye MUST be born again!
* Adapted from a tract by Paul J. Levin; Bible Tracts, Inc.; Normal, Illinois.