“Born again” as a term for salvation, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study Material

Text: John 3:1-8 NIV

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 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.”[d]

Commentary

This phrase “born again” refers to the inner spiritual renewal as a result of the power of God in a person’s life. The phrase “born again” comes from John 3:3, 7, where Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jesus meant that all people are so sinful in God’s eyes that they need to be regenerated (re-created and renewed) by the sovereign activity of God’s Spirit (John 3:5–8). The only other occurrence of the term “born again” is found in 1 Peter 1:23. The phrase “new birth” occurs only once – in 1 Peter 1:3. The activity of God’s Spirit that regenerates sinful people comes about through faith in Jesus (John 3:10–21). Without faith there is no regeneration, and without regeneration a person does not have eternal life.

Regeneration occurs at the moment a person exercises faith in Jesus. At that point, his sins are forgiven and he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God. Similar words in the Bible describe the same concept. Paul said, “If anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Again speaking of John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that to have eternal life he must be born again. The term “new birth” denotes the fundamental change that occurs when a person surrenders his life to the Lord Jesus and is saved. His nature, desire, thoughts and the direction of his life are now in the hands of Jesus who is directing the changes.

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