Hello! We are on Command #43, which means that after this week there are only six commands until we have studied all 49 commands! I just read the first command e-mail that I sent out and it is very similar to this command. The first command, if you remember, is to ‘Repent.’ This week’s command is to ‘Be Born Again.’ Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7). When I first looked at this command I thought it was the same as the first command, but actually they are very different commands.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, Jesus told him that he must be born again. Nicodemus was baffled at the thought that he was supposed to return to his mother’s womb and be re-born. Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven” (John 3:5). This command is not a command to repent, but is a command that shows us that we must receive the Holy Spirit if we are to be saved. Just as a baby enters the world upon birth, so we enter the kingdom of God upon new birth. The command to repent is related, because repentance causes us to see our sin as it is and to admit that we need a Savior to deliver us from what we deserve.
So how does one become ‘born again’? To be born again means that we have received the Holy Spirit of God, because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also that after ye have believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians1:13).
We are born with a sin nature (see Genesis) that makes us guilty before God (I Corinthians15:22; James 2:10). Even in our best efforts we cannot be good people and keep God’s Laws perfectly (Romans 3:23). God loved all the people He created and wanted to have a right relationship with them so He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to the world “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but should have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:15-17). Jesus lived a sinless life and died a painful death on the cross to pay the price for the sins we had committed (Is. 53:5). With His blood He blotted out the sins that were written against us (Col. 2:13-14). He did this not, because we are good people that try to do what is right, or because we deserve a second chance. God gave us forgiveness of sins through Jesus, because He loves us (Romans 5:8). If you believe this, and repent of a life lived without God, and acknowledge that you need Christ’s sacrifice to make you right with God, then you can have eternal life. You don’t need to say a magic prayer, or have lighting come down from heaven. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
I am a sinner and I came to a place six years ago where I realized that my religiousness and my worldly ways were not good enough to get me into a true relationship with Christ. God brought me to a place where I repented of how I had been living my life. Although I repented, that was not the end of the story. I also realized that I needed Christ to forgive my sins and that I needed Him as my Savior forever. I didn’t have to say a specific prayer or walk down the church isle or know everything about what it meant to be a Christian. I knew I had violated God’s commands and did not love Him fully, and when I acknowledged this in my heart, I found I had new life. My desires changed, my thoughts changed, I had a song in my heart. The things that had once been a temptation and a snare no longer held me in bondage. I was a new creature, I was born into God’s family and my life has never been the same. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).
The message of the Gospel and the truth that we can be ‘born again’ is hard for many to grasp. The Duck Commander Phil Robertson of the show Duck Dynasty states it plainly in his interview with Lifeway. In his testimony, Phil tells of “God coming down in the flesh” to pay the price and to remove all of his sins. Then he says, “It’s actually too wild a story to dream up by human beings, especially sinful ones.” (http://waylanandbetsyowens.com/2013/03/12/duck-commander-and-the-simple-gospel/) How wonderfully true that is. The Bible tells of us the most beautiful and mind-boggling truths of love and sacrifice…something sinful humans could not come up with on their own.
-Is there a time when you repented and were ‘born again’?
-How has your life changed from that time?
-Does your daily life show that you are a member of the family of God?t
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord“ (Romans 6:23).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide