by: Pastor David Huffstutler
“Have you been born again?” This question has been a popular way to ask someone whether or not he or she is a Christian. But what does this question mean?
The Bible sometimes uses birth as a metaphor to describe the impartation of God’s life to the sinner. Without this life, we are otherwise dead in our sins, follow the world and Satan, and live for our own desires (Ephesians 2:1–3; cf. 2:4–5). We would be under the wrath of God and never enter His kingdom (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:3).
In a word, spiritual birth is regeneration. Other metaphors include creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; 4:24), resurrection (John 5:25), receiving a new a pure heart (Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 5:8; cf. Deuteronomy5:29; 29:4), and experiencing a circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 9:25–26). Whatever the metaphor may be, the reception of God’s life changes one’s eternal destiny from perishing in the lake of fire to living forever in heaven. This life brings a present change as well—from living in sin to living for Christ and becoming more like Him (Colossians 3:9–10).
Sticking with the picture of spiritual birth (found in most of the Scriptures cited below), we can learn a bit about how we receive God’s life and what happens as a result. This birth does not come about by one’s heritage, desire, or the power of man (John 1:13; 3:3, 6). It is not the result of walking down an aisle, being baptized, praying a prayer, or attending services at a church. Instead, it is spiritual in nature and based upon the will and mercy of God (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3). It is an act of God (John 1:13; 3:3, 8) through His Spirit (John 3:5, 6, 8) that takes place with the sinner’s acceptance of the gospel (1 Cor 4:15), which is the living and abiding Word of God (1 Peter 1:23, 25; cf. James 1:18; 1 John 3:9). The one who is born by God believes that Jesus is the Christ and that He died to take the wrath of God upon Himself for our sins (1 John 5:1; cf. 1 John 4:10). The one born in this way knows God (1 John 4:7), loves the Father (1 John 5:1), and hopes in the resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). He loves others (1 John 4:7; 5:1), practices righteousness (1 John 2:29), and does not make a practice of sin (1 John 3:9; 5:18). He might be persecuted (Galatians 4:29), but he overcomes the world through faith (1 John 5:4). and will be protected by the Son of God (1 John 5:18). He will one day see and enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5).
If you are trusting in Christ alone for your salvation and your life has been transformed, you can know that God has imparted His life to you and that you have been born again.
All quotes ESV. Articles by Pastor Huffstutler are at davidhuffstutler.com