WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRITUALLY BORN AGAIN?
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
Please click on this link to hear briefly Norm share on what it means to be spiritually born again.
If you are only into sound bites, and care to read no further ... here is what being spiritually born again means: TO LET JESUS CHRIST BE LORD OF YOUR LIFE.
If you are interested in learning a bit more, be encouraged to keep reading.
Our primary reason for being created is to glorify God. It is the greatest privilege one can set their sights on. It is intended to last for all eternity. Yet to glorify God in the way He desires to be glorified, it is impossible for us to do so until we become spiritually born again. Yet out of the masses of humanity, most will live and die on this planet without ever becoming spiritually born again ... by their own choice.
Choosing to refuse to become spiritually born again means that it is impossible to have any deep, satisfying, intimate relationship with God that is available to each of us. When we are not experiencing that intimate relationship with God, if you're struggling in this area, if you are born again, especially if you have suffered great abuse in your life, be patient. God knows how much you long for His unconditional acceptance, and He'll reveal that to you at the right time - in the right way or ways especially just for you, we do not qualify to have Him reveal to us the deeper depths of just how much He loves us ... again if we don't choose to become spiritually born again.
A person can have everything this world possibly has to offer, and every other planet of every other galaxy, and NONE of it compares to having the KNOWING in your spirit that God accepts you unconditionally - with all your character flaws no less - because you have chosen to put Jesus Christ the Father's Son above all else than can be thought of or named. That doesn't mean you'll always FEEL like keeping Jesus Christ above all else (I speak from great personal experience!) which of course affects your and my actions, but then again I don't personally believe the Father FELT like sending His Son Jesus Christ to come to earth and die for our sins so judgment would be removed from us on the Judgment Day either. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing that the cross was looming shortly before Him, and He was in deep anguish because He KNEW there would soon come some sort of separation for a time between Him, The Father and The Holy Spirit because of our many rebellious sins against our Holy God -- He poured His heart out to the Father in prayer, asking to the effect: "If there is any way other than my having to take the punishment for the sins of every person so they can be acceptable to US on the Judgment Day and for all eternity -- if there is any other option that can make this happen -- will you grant it to Me?"
How would you like to have been Jesus at this moment hearing the Father answer back: "Son - if there was or is any OTHER way, I would grant your request."
I don't think either felt very good about the answer the Father provided. Yet it was a dimension of God's love for those who choose to become born again that will require eternity for us to TRY to comprehend - and then probably still not completely, I suspect.
And so ... Becoming "born again" is the process of spiritual rebirth by the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ speaks of in the New Testament Holy Bible. It is found in the Book of John, in the third chapter. Here is what God has to say about this very important matter:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." -- (John 3:3)
Then Jesus went on to say moments later:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." -- (John 3:5)
What then, does it mean in words we can easily understand to be "born again?" Simply stated, becoming spiritually born again means: To be reborn spiritually by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes our spirit alive to Him and Truth, whereas previously our spirit was dead to Him and Truth.
To start the process of becoming reborn spiritually by the Holy Spirit starts when we ask God for forgiveness for our sins against Him, who happens to be God the Father, God the Son (Or the Lord Jesus Christ Himself - same Person), and The Holy Spirit [simply the three distinct persons that make up God, or the Godhead] and also ask His forgiveness for the sins we have committed against others -- believe we are forgiven (which can be a process for all of us, so be patient) -- which then qualifies us to begin receiving revelation (more clear understanding) of God's Truth (Which is the Holy Bible). A hunger in us quickly develops to hear God speak directly from His Spirit to our spirit, and He does that primarily by communicating to our spirit through His Word as we prayerful give time to reading and/or listening to it. (The "Word" meaning the Holy Bible, or the Holy Scriptures if you prefer. Any acceptable modern translation of the Holy Bible is trustworthy to start out with. Check with a reputable Christian Bookstore when/if you can in obtaining your first Bible).
Furthermore, if we are sincere about our getting RIGHT with God and STAYING right with Him, we become empowered by the Holy Spirit to begin becoming obedient to the commands in the New Covenant God has given humanity, or better known as the New Testament Bible. (Again - be patient with God and patient with yourself in terms of being obedient to all the New Testament commands. God didn't make the world in one day. Forgiveness for our sins is instant when we ask God's forgiveness. The process of obedience to God's commands is a process which involves time, and some are able to walk in obedience to God quicker than others.)
So the moment a person asks Jesus Christ to be their Savior -- asking His forgiveness for their sins and then declaring that they believe He paid full penalty on the cross for all their sins so their sins won't be held against them on the Judgment Day ... they have officially started the spiritual born again process that Jesus speaks of in the third chapter of John. (If this act of obedience to God of asking for His forgiveness and believing that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for their sins happens - say one minute before a person dies - and they meant it with all their being, the are as "spiritually born again" as they need to be - to be right with God to spend eternity with Him and not have their sins held against them.
However ... for those who continue living down here ... our mind or soul now needs to be regenerated (Regenerated -- more fully meaning: Our way of thinking and believing needs changed for our actions to change) as well, (we are a three-part being: Spirit, Soul, Body. Your soul is comprised of your mind, will and emotions) and it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to help bring that about, but the individual who is spiritually born again must will that to happen. The individual must work diligently in cooperation with God, in fact, to wash his or her mind with Truth, seek God for understanding of that Truth, believe that Truth, and do all they can to obey that Truth. This is what is commonly referred to as the process of sanctification, and also referred to in the Bible as "working out your salvation daily."
[Don't get confused by what that means. NO ONE can obtain salvation (forgiveness of sins) by doing ANYTHING other than asking God to forgive them of their sins and then fully believing that Jesus Christ did in FACT pay full penalty for each and every one of our sins by taking the punishment on the Cross for them. And BECAUSE God accomplished that for us totally FREE OF CHARGE ... we need to begin living our lives in sincere appreciation for Him doing so. We are playing games with ourselves and God if we think God doesn't expect us to start living our lives in appreciation to the free salvation (Salvation meaning: Full forgiveness for our sins so we won't be judged for them on the Judgment Day) He has granted us. Showing Him our appreciation is simply working diligently at OBEYING what has been written for us to OBEY in the The New Testament Bible .. and that isn't just haphazardly "now and then" when a guilty mood strikes us].
Being born again of the "water" and of "the Spirit" means that we must "wash ourselves" (wash our mind and spirit) with the truth of the Word of God (primarily New Testament, but not excluding the Old Testament completely either). God's holy Word is truth. All truth starts in God's Word, and all truth will be sustained through all eternity by God's Word. What does not line up and agree with God's Word is very temporary, opposite of truth (which is a lie and satanic deception), and will pass away. God's truth will never pass away. Gods Word can be viewed as His "spiritual contract with the human race." It is also God's law book. It can also be considered God's "Love Letters" to those who will receive it.
The washing with water also has very important symbolism dating back to Old Covenant times. When the Jewish people were cleansed of their sins in the temple, water played a very important part in it. The washing of water during that cleansing process within the temple was pointing to the "washing away of our sins" by the innocent shed blood of THE Lamb (meaning none other that Jesus Christ shedding His innocent, perfectly pure - sin free - sinless blood on the Cross).
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." (John 17:17)
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:22-23 NKJV)
Another passage of scripture confirming the above two scripture passages is found in Ephesians 5:25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
A secondary revelation of being born of the "water" speaks of baptism into the death, burial and resurrection of the very person of Jesus Christ. When a believer gets water baptized, they are giving a visible demonstration of obedience and faith likened to two things:
A funeral: They are saying to God and others that they want their sinful nature to die in the "watery" grave, and ...
A resurrection celebration: They are saying to God and others that they want to be raised to newness of spiritual life -- empowered by the Holy Spirit to help live with power over sin and obedience to the will of God on a daily basis.
Nevertheless ... the act of water baptism saves no one - not the act of "water" baptism in and of itself. It is one's believing that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross paid full penalty for all of their sins is what saves them from penalty and future punishment for their sins. This alone is what saves a person from being judged for their sins on the Judgment Day and punished for them through eternity. Never be confused by that. Furthermore, it is incredibly wise to gain full understanding of what Christ's sacrifice on the cross fully means - fully accomplished for believers who place their trust in Him. I would encourage you to read this explanation of the matter, if you haven't already, to gain a fuller understanding, because it is incredibly important:
Truly, the innocent shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross is what washes the sins away of those who have asked Him to save them from their sins, and continue to believe that He has until it is time for them to pass into glory.
***[Let no one assume I don't advocate getting water baptized once you become saved. Jesus didn't need to be saved from His sins, because He never sinned, but yet if it was important enough for Him to be water baptized, how much more will God bless us if WE get water baptized? How can anyone possibly go wrong by being water baptized -- as long as they are not being coerced into it believing they MUST get water baptized otherwise their salvation is not complete? Water baptism is not something we HAVE to do. It's something a saved Christian GETS to do, and if they are wise, they WILL do, as long as opportunity presents itself. Water baptism is equated to taking holy communion. Both are a holy sacrament, but neither washes away the penalty for our sins. Both are not something we MUST do, but it is something we get to do and God simply expects us to do ... if we are wise, that is].
Being born again of the Spirit also means to desire the Holy Spirit to be your moment-by-moment Comforter and Helper and Guide into all Truth, and the clearly revealed, accurately translated Word of God never disagrees. The Holy Spirit is also referred to by Jesus as the Spirit of Truth. When someone starts making statements that do not clearly line up with the balanced - rightly divided - correctly interpreted - wisely applied New Testament Word of God ... you want to be extremely cautious about believing what they say. (Every Christian believer will do well to understand and apply: The Eight Rules Of Bible Interpretation). The function of Holy Spirit is not to bring new and different revelations that contradicts the Word of God -- that is the function of Satan and all his demonic activity ... which is to deceive. The function of Holy Spirit is to bring illumination -- to bring revelation (understanding) of both the Old Testament and the New Testament Word of God. The function of Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ and God the Father. (Note: The omission of "the" Holy Spirit in this paragraph is wholly intentional). If the early church needed the power of the Holy Spirit to be Christ's witnesses, (See: Acts 1:8), how much more does the church today need it? The Holy Spirit also imparts spiritual gifts to believers as is spoken of in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 & 14, to help the Body of Christ stay strong and effective.
As you seek to be pleasing to God the Father and Jesus Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit, He will translate you from being a servant of God into the friend of Jesus Christ. Jesus states that if you are obeying His commands, you can be His friend. Just a few hours prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told His closest disciples that He was no longer going to call them His servants, but His friends. (See: John 15:12-15). If you are willing to die because of your love for Jesus Christ, He considers you more than just His servant -- He considers you His friend. After all ... He died on the Cross to prove His love for you every bit as much as He did for his disciples.
Dying for Jesus is painfully much more than confessing your faith in Jesus Christ just prior to the moment your heart stops beating (though better late than never to have your spirit and soul saved (sins forgiven, in other words) prior to passing over into eternity!) It is the process of "dying daily" -- dying regularly to our selfish will and purposing to obey God's will. We obey God's will by knowing (hearing - studying - meditating on) His New Covenant Word (and the Old Testament Word with wisdom applied). That is to be a life-long process (though God desires that we do not postpone until tomorrow what He desires for us to do today!) which is what makes being a disciple of Jesus Christ the most painful spiritual relationship one can have with God at different times in this life, yet the one that will bring you eternal life - eternal joy with Him, and qualifies you to one day co-reign with God. (See: 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4 & 6). Through many of the trials and testings we go through in this life -- we are being trained to co-reign for the next life (eternity!).
It is the function of the Holy Spirit to not only lead you to all Truth (which is the Holy Bible), but to reveal to you what that Truth means, and to help you apply Truth to every situation you are confronted with during your lifetime. Every word Jesus spoke while on earth was and is Truth. The Bible states that Jesus Christ Himself literally is Truth! (If you ARE Truth personified, how could anything you say be anything other THAN Truth?). It is impossible to have the healthiest relationship with God without one's acknowledgment of the necessity of The Holy Spirit to draw you to God the Father and Jesus Christ, and keep you through all the storms and trials that life will hand you, and be assured, there will be many. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is the giver of Godly gifts - and any gifts that God desires to give us so others can benefit from must never be refused if we are to be truly pleasing to Him.
Jesus again addresses what the "born again" spiritual re-birth process is in John 4:23-24:
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
One cannot be a TRUE worshiper of God ... the kind of worshiper that God finds most pleasing, in other words . . . without their spirit being first "reborn" by the Holy Spirit. Their spirit must be truly born again FIRST ... otherwise they don't even know what or who truth really IS.
Jesus Christ is truth. He is the sum total of all truth. Until a person is baptized into Jesus Christ (which importantly includes being baptized into Christ's righteousness) ... they remain incapable of satisfying the demands of our heavenly Father of being a true worshiper.
Additional Spiritual Matters For Those Interested:
Jesus taught that EVERY human being born into this world is cut off from the living reality of God on a personal, intimate, meaningful level. (See: John 3:18 and John 3:36). This intimacy with God was severed because of the sin (disobedience to God) of Adam and Eve. All of the Born Again testimonies on the Precious Testimonies website are some of the facts of how OTHERS came to have intimacy restored back with God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (See: Romans 5:8-11), though that intimacy will most likely be tested time and time again. Like all believers, they are in the process of being perfected. None are perfect yet, this side of heaven. Yet scripture says they already have Christ's robe of righteousness covering them ... which is what really makes anyone perfect anyway. (For understanding, you might want to read: The Breastplate Of Righteousness).
If you desire to have closer intimacy with God . . .to ultimately have Jesus Christ call you His friend ... we encourage you to let Him wet your appetite by reading how it has happened in the lives of OTHERS. To live life KNOWING that God desires to have close intimacy with each and every person on this planet . . . and that it is available to each and every one of us and is FREE for the asking . . . it is part of what we desire to communicate to everyone visiting this website.
After all ... Your eternal spiritual well-being is God's highest concern for you. We can't express that enough. The end result of being healthy spiritually is to be set free to love and obey God with everything in your being. Loving and obeying God is based on our actions. Our actions come from what we believe. We either believe God's Truth, or everything else but God's Truth. Jesus Christ says, "I am the way, The truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).
He also said, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
Precious One ... God created you primarily for one purpose: to have you for all eternity as one of his special, personal friends. Believe it. It's the truth. It starts by desiring to become genuinely spiritually "born again" ... and that begins by getting serious about letting the Lord Jesus Christ become first your Savior and Lord.
He wants to be Lord of all your life ... not just "part" of your life. Always remember that, no matter how difficult it can become at times in letting that happen. The battlefield of our mind is our selfish will verses God's will. God's will for us is only good ... always good ... bringing us into greater dimensions of eternal life (which brings increased peace and joy). Please never forget that either, because the devil will constantly try to convince you otherwise, and our sinful nature tends to agree with the devil much quicker than it does the Holy Spirit when we first give our lives to the living God ... the Creator of all things ... the Creator of you and I - The Judge ... who determines our eternity based on what we do about Truth ... not only just believe about Truth.
I'll close with this. We were created primarily to glorify God. And out of that primary reason are secondary reasons, which are given on this link:
Thoughts About Sin - Salvation - Repentance - And Pursing Obedient Holiness To God:
A person doesn't try to stop sinning to get saved. A person is simply and truly saved by asking God to forgive them for their sins, and that only needs to be a one time occurrence up to that moment in time. (Any future sins they commit after that is taken care of by simply OBEYING 1 John 1:9 ... not somehow try to "get themselves right before they qualify.)
Now then, "Repentance" is TOP PRIORITY with God, and "repentance" is not just asking and believing forgiveness for one or more sins we have committed and leave it at that. That's simply the first half of "repentance", though a very important first half. he second half of "repentance" is working diligently with the Lord to STOP committing that same sin or sins over and over. Be patient with yourself when this applies to either you and/or some other person. God IS. (And don't let the devil wack you all out if you should commit that same sin down the road when you thought you had totally victory over it. Too many mature Christians can tell you that staying free from sin in this life is an extended grace from God for each of us and we need to treasure that protective grace of the Lord every moment we live down here).
All born again believers will sin one way or another from time to time before they die, (unless of course they become born again shortly before dying) and/or before the Lord comes back and grants them their glorified bodies ... by the way. There is no such reality TO GOD that any born again Christian is going to attain to sinless perfection (100% obedience to God) by their thoughts and/or actions constantly prior to dying and going to heaven. Positionally in Christ: Yes. In Practically: No.
YES - God wants us working diligently to TRY to attain sinless perfection (obedience to all His New Testament commands in other words and personal obedience to whatever He desires for us to do for Him at any moment in time) in this life, because it is only ultimately good for us, but truth of the matter is, it isn't going to happen. And for anyone throwing some scriptures my way taken from the Bible at the exclusion of ALL scriptures that pertain to Christians and sinning once they have become born again ... that it is possible to walk in sinless perfection indefinitely in this life - 100% obedience in thought and/or actions indefinitely prior to our dying, in other words ... please don't bother. I realize some will consider me teaching spiritual deception regarding this matter, but I've spent a great deal of time seeking God on this matter, and I am at peace with Him taking the position I've taken. If you believe differently ... be blessed and teach other Christians everything you know so they TOO can obtain practical sinless perfection (100% obedience to God) prior to their dying and/or being united with the Lord when He returns for them.
But please allow me to STRONGLY STRESS - EXHORT - WARN: God wants us working diligently at getting ALL sin out of our life. Starting with more serious sin needs to be our top priority with God. Not all sins are as serious in our relationship with God in this life as others are, (Although if we hypothetically have sinned only one sin in our life, that one sin will send us to hell if we don't receive God's forgiveness for it prior to our dying, because we will be judged for it otherwise, and just one sin against God demands the punishment of eternal spiritual death - SOME DIMENSION OF HELL FOR ETERNITY: Sin is that serious of a matter with God). Murdering another person that is not in war or done in clear self-defense [or potentially in defense of another when they can't defend themselves and they are guiltless for someone trying to murder them] has far more serious ramifications with God and society than being guilty of the sin of let us say, prayerlessness. Cheating on our spouse has far more serious ramifications than not giving money to help advance the Kingdom of God in the lives of others, as another for instance. Teaching spiritual deception to others as though it is clear and pure revelation of the truth of God's Word has a TON MORE serious ramifications of eternal significance, by the way, than getting drunk on too much alcohol on New Years Eve and puking one's guts up later in the 'turlet (If one can make it to the 'turlet in time).
Thus it bears repeating: Salvation (the initial action on our part of getting saved) is the act of asking forgiveness for our sins and believing (which can take time for some, I realize) that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all of a person's sins -- past, present and future sins -- by dying that horrible death He died on the cross and taking full punishment for our sins. Salvation is granted to us from God by our believing - not by our doing. Once we're saved, we'll be motivated to start doing as evidence that we are truly saved. Our "doing" can have a lot of setbacks; a lot of attempts to obey God and His Word met with a lot of failures on our part, but we must be wise in realizing that God is very merciful to His children; extremely graciously patient, and ohhhhhhhhhhh thank you heavenly Father - FORGIVING IN CHRIST!!!
[Another writing you might be interested in that ties in with being truly born again that you might be interested in reading: Who Is A True Christian?]
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)