Originally published September 5, 2017
Being born again is another word for the doctrine of “regeneration.” It is a supernatural work that God does within a person who comes to faith. All Christians are born again because all Christians have experienced regeneration. There’s no such thing as an unregenerate Christian. That’s not a Christian!
Being born again is about coming to Christ, turning away from sin, and trusting in Jesus as your Lord and savior. And when we come to him, there is grace. There is forgiveness for our sins.
But here’s a point that people too often miss. It needs to be a genuine faith in what Jesus has done. And the validation of that sincerity will manifest itself in a life that is transformed by the gospel. And if there is no change in your life, if there is no fruit, if there is no greater love for God, no appreciation for the work of Christ, no recognition of the cost of sins for which Jesus went to the cross, then for the sake of your own soul, you need to do some sincere soul searching into whether or not you actually believe.
There are so many things that we like to tie to regeneration. For some, they want to look at baptism. Baptism doesn’t confer regeneration to you. Baptism doesn’t make you born again if you don’t have faith. Baptism doesn’t mean anything if you don’t believe in the triune God in whose name you were baptized.
Some people like to tie it to their family. Mom and dad are Christians, or were Christians. “That’s how I was raised.” That’s a wonderful blessing. But that doesn’t mean you’ve been born again. The faith has to be your own. To
For others, it might be the Sinner’s Prayer. “I asked Jesus into my heart.”
But did you believe it? Did you place your trust in him? If there’s never been any evidence in your life that Jesus is in your heart, is he really? Don’t go through life thinking “I said this prayer one time,” or “I got baptized one time,” and that that’s all that matters if you’re living a faithless life.
This isn’t meant to undermine the justifying work that Christ did on the cross. How we are justified by Christ. And what a glorious promise that is. But that presupposes faith. This isn’t meant to undermine the work that God does in our lives, he does work in our lives through his Spirt but we have to have had faith in him to have the Spirit. We’ll talk about the in June. All of those things are still true.
But this is to say that a person who never did have faith still isn’t saved. And empty words don’t change that. And water doesn’t change that. The only thing that can change that is recognizing your inability to live up to a God who is absolutely perfect and holy. And that while you could not live up to it, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8).
Jesus said “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” It’s the regeneration of God in our souls.
It’s not some inconsequential change. It is a monumental miraculous work of almighty God.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Nothing existed and God spoke the universe into being by the power of his words.
But when it comes to being born again, the regeneration that God works in us, God takes a person who is dead in sin, God takes a person who is opposed to him, who does not trust him, and he makes us alive. He gives us a new life, a new birth.
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.