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What Is Regeneration (Being Born Again)?We all need to understand regeneration, sometimes referred to in the Bible as being "born again." Physical birth is a wonderful thing. There is nothing lovelier than a newborn baby. A new baby is pure and clean and innocent. But what does regeneration really mean, to be born again spiritually?
All people have a sinful human nature. We are born alive physically, but dead spiritually. Ephesians 2:1 says, "You were dead in your transgressions and sins."
We are born spiritual dead, but God is a spirit, a quite alive. John 4:24 says, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
If we are born spiritually dead, but God is a spirit, then we can have no fellowship with God. We are separated from God. We have physical life, but no spiritual life. Our soul understands physical things, but we have no spirit to understand spiritual things. We need regeneration. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
The sinful human nature causes spiritual death. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned."
At physical birth, we are identified as a member of the family of our father, Adam. When my children were born, they were brand new, and pure. We need a spiritual birth to make us new and pure. We need a new father. We must be born into God's family. John 3:6 says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."
The divine solution for spiritual birth is to be born again (regeneration). Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth (being born again) and renewal by the Holy Spirit." We need to be born again, in the Spirit this time. 1 John 5:1 says, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well." Regeneration makes us twice-born. First, we're born physically, into the family of Adam. Then, through the process of regeneration we're born again, spiritually, into the family of God.
What does it mean to be born again? John 3:1-3 says, "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
Nicodemus was intelligent and honest, but he needed rebirth. There is no place for him in heaven, because of the old sin nature. His natural birth had placed him into the wrong family. He had the wrong family, the wrong father, and the wrong birth. He needed regeneration.
John 8:44 says, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
1 John 3:10 says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." If one is spiritually dead, he cannot come to God, and he cannot please God. We have no hope, unless God intervenes for us through regeneration.
John 3:4 says, "'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!'" The spiritually dead person cannot understand spiritual things, so they need to be born again.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
In John 3:5, Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." Water is used here as a symbol of the Word of God. Ephesians 5:26 says, "To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." We are born again through God's Word.
1 Peter 1:23 says, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." The water is the Word of God, the gospel. We are cleansed with the cleansing effect of the Word of God. Only faith in the gospel can bring regeneration.
Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." John 3:6 says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." Regeneration is a spiritual rebirth.
What is the role of the Holy Spirit in regeneration? We are born with a body and soul, but a dead spirit, so we cannot reach or contact God. John 16:7-11 says, "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."
In the process of regeneration, the Holy Spirit acts for our dead human spirit. He brings to our mentality in our soul an understanding and a conviction concerning the gospel. He substitutes for our dead human spirit to clarify the gospel. Romans 3:10-11 says, "As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.'" Again we see our need or regeneration.
Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The Word reveals the need for another birth. The Word reveals our spiritually dead state. The Word reveals that we're under the sentence of eternal death. The Word reveals that there is a rescue awaiting through Jesus Christ. We have to have a spiritual birth. John 3:7 says, "You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'" Nicodemus could have known the truth.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel spoke of a new Spirit. John speaks of being born again with a new spirit. John 3:8 says, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." This spiritual birth is like the wind. We cannot see it, but we can observe its effects. Although regeneration is invisible, it results in a spiritual rebirth.
John 3:9-11 says, "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony." Jesus Christ spoke the truth.
John 3:12 says, "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" We will not believe until we accept the first step of being born again. We cannot believe unless we accept the first step of being born again.
John 3:13 says, "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man." Jesus Christ is God, and only Christ has the unique position of being both God and man. Nicodemus had to trust Him to bring regeneration.
John 3:14-15 says, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Jesus is referring to Numbers 21:6-9, when the Israelites rebelled. God sent a plague of snakes, and the people were bitten by the snakes. Moses prayed for relief, and God told them to simply look at a bronze snake. They didn't do anything. They just believed God and accepted His truth.
1 Peter 1:18-21 says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." The new birth is entirely a plan of grace from God. God the Father created this plan of grace, and it includes regeneration.
James 1:18 says, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. God the Son provided this plan of grace. John 3:16-18 says, ""For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life through regeneration. God the Holy Spirit performs this plan through grace.
Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." God does this, not us. Since this plan is all of grace, our part is to simply accept it. We don't do anything to earn it. We just believe the truth. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall be born again and have eternal life.
1 Corinthians 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life by being made alive through the spiritual rebirth of regeneration.
What are the results of regeneration? When we are born again, we are given the eternal life of God Himself. When we are born again, we receive a live human spirit. When we are born again, we enter into God's family. God becomes your Father, and we become His child. We become a joint heir with Jesus Christ. When we are born again, we are made a new creation (regenerated).
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life.
If you have never accepted the truth of regeneration, do it now. It's your choice. Choose life over death.
Owen Weber 2008