What it means to be born again – Part 2
“Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The “water” here means the word men hear through preaching. It convicts, cleanses and draws them to Calvary where mercy and forgiveness are granted. The Spirit of God applies the word to the heart to effect conversion and change of life.
After conversion, the new-born babe begins to bear the fruit of the spirit. At the same time, there is a cessation of sin,
quite unlike the natural man who cannot do without committing sin everyday, either in thought or in his actions or both. The truth is, when a person repents, he turns away from darkness and embraces the Lord for justification, regeneration, conversion and a new life.
Now saved, “he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” (1 John 3:9).
Hatred, bitterness, crime and violence are all gone. He has a new trength to overcome the world. Salvation experience is the same for everyone, everywhere regardless of denomination or race. When one is saved, he is a new creature with a new life and follows a new way of life with a new name. His mind is renewed: old habits, tastes, amusements, worldly pleasures, fraudulent businesses, fruitless religious activities and covenants with anti-Christian societies all pass away. The new birth experience also comes with a new principles of life, new love for the things once hated and new hatred for sinful things once loved. It equally comes withth new thoughts about God, oneself, the world and the life to come, and new thoughts about priorities in life. God wants everyone to be born again; there is no alternative to spiritual rebirth.
Although the operation of God’s Spirit in new converts is not visible to the eye, the effects of transformation are undeniably expressed in their lifestyle. Newly born believers express their experience everywhere they live and as they interact with others. They become changed husbands, wives, children, students, merchants, professionals among others because everything they do has a touch of the new birth.
Everywhere they go they demonstrate the character, behaviour, conduct and lifestyle of the new life.
As the wind blows and we cannot see, but only feel its effects, so it is with the new birth; others might not know when or how the transformation by the Spirit took place in the life of a newly born believer, but they can affirm its effect and genuineness in the converted. In the early church, the new converts “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Transformed, the Ethiopian eunuch confessed the Lordship ofJesus Christ. Similarly, Saul of Tarsus, once converted, also began to preach Jesus. “The grace of God” is always visible in the character of the new believer. Besides, the Spirit bears witness and fills the heart of the born again Christian with peace and joy. The Spirit operates in his character to give him a new heart and life. His understanding is illuminated and his will is subdued. He has hope of heaven and fears eternal separation from God.
The desire of the new believer is redirected to think of pleasing God at all times. It is the only gateway into God’s kingdom and escape from hell. Christ repeatedly emphasised the indispensability of conversion or the new birth when He said: “Ye must be born again.”
• Further Reading (King James Version): John 3:1-8; Matthew 5:20;18:3; Luke 13:3,5; John 12:24;15:4; Revelation 2:5. John 3:3,5,6;
Galatians 5:19-24; John 3:7,8; 1:12,13; 1 Peter 1:3,23; 2:2,9; Galatians 4:29; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4,18; 2 Corinthians 5:17. John 3:8; Acts 2:41,42; 8:35-39; 9:17-20; 11:21-23; 16:30-34; 19:18,19; John 3:3,7.
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