The New Birth
By Pastor F. M. Riley
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be 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
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
I was sent the following email a few days ago, and was asked to give a Scriptural answer to the situation and questions set forth in it. First, the email…..
“The other day I asked an acquaintance of mine at work if she was a Christian. She often sends Christian emails to people for inspiration, so I thought this would be an open door to ask her this. She said she was a Christian. Not really knowing why, but being led by the Holy Spirit, I proceeded to ask her if she was a “born again” Christian, and she said, NO! That kind of threw me for a loop. I thought, “What’s the difference?” We had a conversation about it, and she said that she believes that Jesus died on the cross for her sins and that He rose again. I asked, “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?” She said, Yes! I told her that she was a “born again” Christian, but she still said, No! She said, “I’m saved, but I’m not born again.” She said she had never been baptized in water, only sprinkled. Being baptized makes you [according to her] born again.
A friend of mine at work told me that she is a Christian, but not a born again Christian. She said that she has not been submerged in water, only sprinkled, so she can’t be a born again Christian. I asked her if she accepted Jesus as her Lord and personal Savior and she said, Yes! I said, “Well, you are saved and that makes you a born again Christian.” She disagreed. Sooooooo…..
Question: Does a person have to be submerged in water to be born again? Is there a difference between being a Christian and being a born again Christian?
After being in the ministry 54 years, I am convinced that there is no truth in God’s Word so pure and holy and sacred, that some spiritually blind “religionist,” or even some child of God [true believer] who never seriously studies the Word, will not corrupt it to fit their own idea, opinion, theory, human reasoning, or philosophy. How very sad!
This statement certainly applies to the most basic of all New Testament doctrinal truths; that of being saved by the grace of God, or as the Lord Himself referred to it; being “born again.” Whether some want to believe it or not, the “new birth” is where the repentant believer’s life in Christ begins. Without the “new birth,” you have no life in Christ. And yes, I fully intend to back this statement up with book, chapter, and verse in this study. This truth is set forth so plainly and repeatedly in the New Testament, that no one who truly believes God’s Word should ever have reason to wonder what the “new birth” is, when it occurs, and who are the recipients of it.
In this study I want to again examine the “new birth” in the light of God’s Word, and I will leave it up to our readers to decide if they are “born again.” Join us for an enlightening study…..
The very first thing that needs to be understood and believed is that the “new birth” is a birth. Is this truth so simple that it is unbelievable to some? Apparently so! There are some today who try to spiritualize the “new birth,” explaining it away as just an emotional [religious] experience. Sic!
Hogwash! Tell me…..was your physical birth real? Did it actually happen? Were you really born into this world? Or….are you some sort of “spook” or “symbol” that just appears to be a person, but who doesn’t really exist? Yes, or No? Well…??
Folks, the “new birth” is a birth; albeit spiritual, and it is just as real as your physical birth was real. Who says so? The Lord Jesus Christ says so!
In John 3:1-21 it is recorded that Nicodemus, one of the chief Pharisees and a ruler [Master…teacher…Rabbi…John 3:2; 3:10] of the Jews, came to the Lord one night. The Lord Jesus Himself told Nicodemus plainly, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see [discern; understand; comprehend] the
The English word “born” in this chapter is translated from the Greek word, “gennao.” The literal meaning of this Greek word is “to be begotten; to be born; begotten or born.” See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 113, Strong’s No. 1080. In other words, this word refers to an actual and literal birth. There is nothing figurative or symbolic about it. It is real! This word occurs 97 times in the New Testament, giving us so many examples of the use of the word, that its meaning is indisputable. When our Lord said, “Ye must be born again,” He was talking about an actual literal birth. Therefore we are on Scriptural ground to conclude that when a man [or woman] is “born again,” an actual birth occurs. Even though it is a spiritual birth rather than a natural [fleshly] birth, it is still a real birth.
Since it is a spiritual birth, then we can conclude that it is…..
A Birth from Above
The English word “again,” as used in John 3:3 and 3:7 is translated from the Greek word, “anothen.” This Greek word literally means, “from above; from a higher place; from heaven; from God.” See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 52, Strong’s No. 509. What the Lord was then literally telling Nicodemus in John 3:3 was, “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see [discern; understand; comprehend] the
Nicodemus, just like some today, obviously did not understand this statement, for he replied to the Lord by asking a dual question, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? But the Lord replied to Nicodemus’ dual question by pointing out that a person must experience two births if they want to “enter into the
The first birth is the natural birth; a birth “of water.” Contrary to how some would like to “interpret” this verse, it is obvious from the context that when Nicodemus asked the Lord the two questions, Nicodemus had the natural birth process in mind. It is also obvious that the Lord answered him in the context of what he was asking. Folks, the first birth [the natural birth] is a water birth. Ask any woman who has ever given birth to a child, and she can tell you. Just before the child is born the “water sack” breaks, and water comes pouring out of the womb. This truth regarding the natural birth is even confirmed in God’s Word. Read Job 38:8. Obviously, if a man [or woman] has not been “born of water,” then they haven’t been born at all. They don’t exist!
Moreover, it is only those “born of water” who need salvation, and are candidates for salvation. Salvation is what God planned and prepared for lost men and women, boys and girls. Salvation is not for angels, or for animals or birds or fish or creeping things. They are not the ones who introduced sin into the human race. Salvation is for fallen humanity. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:21. This is why the Lord said, “Except a man be born of water…..” Also notice that this expression, “born of water,” has absolutely nothing to do with baptism. To force such an “interpretation” into this passage is to violate both the wording and the context of the passage. Romans 3:4 and 2 Timothy 2:15 are still in the Bible.
But then the Lord added, “…..and of the Spirit….” This is speaking of a “second birth;” a spiritual birth in addition to the natural birth, and such is absolutely necessary if a man [or woman] wants to “enter into the
Today there are people who claim to be “Christians,” but who also say they have never been “born again.” Well, that is really too bad….for them. For without being “born again” they will never “enter into the
This second birth; the “new birth,” is a birth from above; from Heaven; from God Himself. The Lord Himself, in using the Greek word, “anothen,” made it quite clear that the “new birth” is a birth that comes from above, and is therefore…..
A Birth of the Spirit
The Lord Jesus Himself clearly stated, “Except a man be born…..of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
Three times in these verses the Lord connected being “born again” with being “born of the Spirit.” That the “new birth” is then a birth of the Spirit is indisputable. The Lord Himself said that the “new birth” is “a birth of the Spirit” and that settles the matter. While man by nature is outwardly “born of the flesh,” the repentant believer is inwardly “born of the Spirit.”
Folks, if you have not been “born of the Spirit,” then you have not been “born again,” for the “new birth” is a birth of the Spirit. Therefore, regardless of what you may profess or claim, you are still lost in your sins and are on the way to hell. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, “Ye must be born again,” 3:7. Therefore without having experienced the “new birth” you have no salvation.
I want again to emphasize that baptism has nothing to do with being “born again.” Baptism is a burial, not a birth, Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12. In the act of baptism a true believer who is already a “born again” child of God is figuratively burying the “old man,” in order that the “new man” [“new creation in Christ Jesus,” 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15] might prevail in their life, Romans 6:5-14. The act of baptism is also a public confession [“witness”] before men, Romans 10:8-10; 1 John 5:8. In the act of baptism “born again” believers are publicly confessing before men that they have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, that they are not ashamed to confess Him before men [Matthew 10:32-33], and that they are publicly identifying themselves by baptism with Him who died, was buried, and rose again. Glory to God!
But in no way does baptism save, or is even necessary for salvation. Explicit proof of this truth is given to God’s people in Luke 23:39-43. The repentant believing thief that was crucified with Christ was never baptized, yet the Lord told him, “…..Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” That repentant believing thief was “born again” the instant he placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory to God!
A New Creation
Since being “born again” is a real birth, a birth from above, and a birth of the Spirit, it is then Scriptural and logical to believe that a completely new soul [inner man] has been brought into existence [created] for the repentant believer. The believer’s new soul has no “sin nature,” for it did not come forth from the Adamic sin nature of the flesh, but rather came from the Lord above. This is perfectly in keeping with what is stated in 1 John 3:9 and 5:18. The truth that the believer’s soul [inner man] is a “new creation” is repeatedly affirmed in the Scriptures.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it is explicitly stated, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
In Ephesians 2:8-10 we read, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
In Ephesians 4:22-24 it is explicitly stated, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation [manner of life] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Then in Colossians 3:9-11 true believers are instructed, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Sycthian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Notice that this passage explicitly states that the “new man” that has been created in the “born again” believer is no longer identified by the characteristics that identified the old man with the Adamic sin nature; that is, race, human laws, nationality, and position. See also Galatians 3:26-28, where even the gender [male; female] is set aside. Rather, the “born again” believer has been “created in Christ Jesus” distinctly separate and apart from the Adamic sin nature which governs and limits the flesh. When a repentant believer is “born again,” a “new man” takes up residence in the body of the “old man.”
I again remind our readers that the Lord told Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again [born from above],” John 3:7. See also Acts 4:12. Notice the “must.” This is why the Apostle Paul closed his epistle to the Galatians by saying, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation],” Galatians 6:15. Folks, if a person has not been “born again,” then they are not a “new creation.” They do not have a new soul [inner man]. They are not even saved from their sin. Therefore, nothing they claim to be doing for the Lord is of any spiritual value to them, because their works are only the works of the flesh. Read this passage again [Galatians 6:15], and this time believe it. Also, read again Ephesians 4:22. Folks, nothing that is done in the strength of the flesh is of any spiritual value. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Remember that the Lord Himself said, “…..a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit,” Matthew 7:17, and, “….without Me ye can do nothing,” John 15:5. If you haven’t been “born again,” you are only deceiving yourself about “serving the Lord.”
More Scriptural Verification
JOHN 1:11-13…..In this passage we are told that the Lord “…..came unto His own [Jewish nation and people], and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him [believing Jews and Gentiles], to them gave He power [ability; authority] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This passage plainly points out that every person who has truly believed on the Lord has been “born…of God.” If one has not experienced such a “new birth,” then that person is not a “son of God.” Rather, such a person is still lost in sin and is on the way to hell. In Romans 8:9 it is explicitly stated, “…..Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” If you haven’t been “born of the Spirit,” then you don’t belong to God. You are not one of His children, regardless of all your claims to the contrary. Read Matthew 7:21-23.
GALATIANS 4:22-31…..In this passage the inspired Apostle discussed the two sons of Abraham; Isaac and Ishmael. He pointed out in 4:24 that those two sons represented the two covenants; the Old Covenant of the Law and the New Covenant of Grace. In 4:24-25 it is clearly pointed out that those living under and depending upon the Old Covenant are still “in bondage.” In other words, they are still in bondage to sin; they haven’t been saved from their sins. But in direct contrast, in 4:28 it is stated that New Testament [covenant] believers are “the children of promise,” and in 4:29 that such New Testament believers have been “born after the Spirit.” Here is a passage that clearly connects being “born of the Spirit;” the “new birth,” with being made free from our sins.
Folks, if you haven’t been “born again” of the Spirit of God you are still lost in sin. It doesn’t matter what you claim. Your claims are not a sufficient substitute for the “new birth.” It doesn’t matter that you pray, study the Bible, distribute tracts, and try to do “the work of the Lord.” None of that “religious activity” will ever take the place of being “born again,” [saved by the grace of God…Ephesians 2:8-9] and none of it will ever set you free from your sins. The Lord Himself still declares, “Ye must be born again,” John 3:7.
1 PETER 1:22-23…..In 1 Peter 1:22-23 we read, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth
through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
In these inspired verses the purification of the soul “through the Spirit” is undeniably linked to being “born again.” Folks, if you have not been “born again,” then your soul has not been “purified” from sin. You are still in your sins, and are on the way to eternal destruction in hell. Is that what you really want?
1 JOHN 2:29…..Here it is stated that “…..every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” I would then ask our readers how anyone can even think they are “doing righteousness” without being “born again”?
Folks, any lost “religionist” can attend church services, read the Bible, sing in the choir, pass out tracts, and go through all the outward motions of being a “Christian.” But does just being engaged in a lot of “religious” activity make a person a “Christian”? Not hardly! If a person hasn’t been “born again,” that person cannot engage in “doing righteousness.” The Lord is looking at the heart [Romans 10:8-10]; not at the so-called “good works” being carried out in the strength of “the flesh.” The Lord explicitly stated, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing,” John 15:4-5.
1 JOHN 3:9…..In this passage we find a wonderful truth about the “born again” believer. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Glory! What a revelation!
This is one of the most controversial passages in God’s Word, primarily because it appears to contradict 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Do these two passages contradict one another? Not at all!
If true believers would seriously study the entire subject of the “new birth,” instead of just picking out a few verses here and there, they would learn that the “born again” believer has “two natures” living in the same body.
The “born again” believer still has the old Adamic “sin nature” [with which he or she was born] living in the flesh, exactly as stated and taught in Romans 7. When a truly repentant sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, it is the soul or “inner man” which is “born again” [born from above]. The believer’s body [flesh] has not been saved and still retains the old Adamic sin nature. This is why the inspired writer explicitly declared, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing….,” Romans 7:18. It is further explicitly stated in Romans 8:23 that God’s people [all “born again” believers] are still “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” It is at the coming of the Lord to resurrect and rapture His people to glory that the fleshly body of the true believer will be “changed,” and made like the glorious body of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:51; Philippians 3:20-21. This “redemption of our body” at the coming of the Lord is another reason why the Lord’s coming to resurrect and rapture His people to glory is our “blessed hope,” Titus 2:13. At that time God’s people will finally be rid of the flesh and the “sin nature” received from Adam. Glory!
Therefore, just as Romans 7 [and other Scriptures] points out, the “born again” believer has “two natures” living in the same body. These “two natures” constantly war against each other, each nature struggling for supremacy. Which of the “two natures” you consistently yield yourself to, is the nature that will control your life, Romans 8:1-13.
While every “born again” believer still has to contend with the flesh, yet the “new creation” living in the body does not commit sin. Why? Because the true believer’s soul has been “born of God” from the “seed” of God, 1 John 3:9; 5:18. God’s own “Divine Nature” [2 Peter 1:3-4] has been imparted to the soul of the “born again” believer, making it impossible for the “new creation” to sin. It is because of the “Divine Nature” indwelling the soul of the “born again” believer, that true New Testament believers are literally and spiritually “sons of God,” 1 John 3:1-3. Glory! Praise the Lord!
1 JOHN 4:7…..This passage instructs those claiming to be God’s people to “love one another,” and explicitly states that “love is of God,” and that “every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” What a wonderful statement!
The English word translated as “love” in this verse comes from the Greek word, “agape.” This is the Greek word which literally conveys the very essence of “true love.” It goes far beyond mere “affection” or “friendliness.” It is the true love that flows forth from God Himself towards His creation; especially towards mankind. See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, pages 3, 4, and 5, Strong’s No. 25-26.
This may surprise some of our readers, but man by nature does not possess such love. What man possesses by nature is “natural affection,” 2 Timothy 3:3, and this very passage tells us that “in the last days” mankind will even be without that. Men often speak of “a mother’s love” for her children as being the highest degree of love that is possessed or displayed by human beings. This is a nice “opinion,” but it isn’t true. Read Isaiah 49:15. Today we are seeing women all over this country, and other countries of the world, who are callously murdering their unborn children in the act of “abortion,” or who are abandoning or discarding their children as if their children were a piece of trash to be thrown away. Don’t even suggest to me that “a mother’s love” is the highest degree of love among mankind. Such a claim isn’t so!
Notice that this passage explicitly states that “love is of God.” In other words, God only possesses and bestows such “love” upon mankind; specifically upon “born again” believers. Read Romans 5:1-5, noticing especially verse 5, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” Could this be stated any plainer? When one receives the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior, they are “justified by faith,” and “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts….” by God’s Holy Spirit, the same Spirit which gives us the “new birth,” John 3:5-6. This is why 1 John 4:7 explicitly states that “every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Only “born again” believers possess such love. If you haven’t been “born again,” you don’t possess such love, and you can’t even depend on the “natural affection” you have by nature to be there for you when you face some crisis in life. God have mercy!
1 JOHN 5:1…..Who is it that really is “born again”? This text tells us that it is that person who “…..believeth that Jesus is the Christ…” An examination of the words used in this passage means that it is that person who believes that “Jesus” is literally and actually the Savior, and the “Christ;” the anointed Messiah sent from God, who is “born of God.” These are the true believers who have experienced the “new birth.”
No one else qualifies! Folks, being “religious,” baptized [dipped, poured, or sprinkled], a church member, a law keeper, a “good” moral person, a person “doing the best I can” being faithful to your chosen religion or church, being “active,” paying your “tithes,” etc., is not sufficient and will never be sufficient. The only people who are going to make Heaven are those who have been “born of God.” The Lord Himself clearly said, “…..Ye must be born again,” John 3:7. Could this be stated any plainer?
1 JOHN 5:4…..This passage gives assurance that the person who is “born of God “overcometh the world,” and that this “overcoming” is a result of “our faith.” Praise the Lord!
Notice that this is stated in the “present tense.” Folks, we are not going to “overcome” the world some time in the future. The “born again” believer has already overcome the world. Remember that the Lord “…..calleth those things which be not as though they were,” Romans 4:17. Glory! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
I would point out the word of the Lord Jesus to His disciples in John 16:33, “…..In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Praise God! Glory hallelujah! Through placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ [faith that was given to us by God…Ephesians 2:8-9] we have been “born again,” and in Christ we have already “overcome the world.” Folks, we may be struggling now. We may be going through trials, heartaches, and troubles. We may be discouraged and beaten down to the point that all we can do is cling to the Lord and cry out to Him for mercy. Ever been there? I have! Rest assured, our Lord knows what we are going through, and He will bring us through it all and we shall see His glory on the other side. In Christ we are “overcomers.” Christ has conquered, and Heaven awaits! Glory to God!
1 JOHN 5:18…..This passage is just more assurance that the “born again” believer will never be overcome by the “wicked one.”
Folks, if you haven’t been “born again” you don’t have such assurance. You are still lost in your sins, and only one heart beat from hell. Jesus said, “…..Ye must be born again,” John 3:7.
Folks, in this study I have pointed out every passage in the New Testament that specifically speaks of the “new birth.” There are many other related passages which I have not mentioned, but these passages mentioned make it quite clear that if a person wants to spend eternity with the Lord and His people, then they “must be born again.”
How can one be “born again”? Following are just a few of the Scripture passages telling us exactly how to be “saved” [“born again”]. The underlining is mine.
“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 3:16-17.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life,” John 5:24.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” John 14:6.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
“…..Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,…..,” Acts 16:31.
“But what saith it? The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the Word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God 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 10:8-10.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Romans 10:13.
Now dear reader, I want to know, are YOU really saved? Have YOU been “born again”? Do YOU have assurance that God has forgiven you, saved you, and imparted to you His gift of eternal life? Read Romans 6:23.
If not, or if you have any doubts, I am pleading with you today to seek the Lord as your own personal Savior. “…..make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall,” 2 Peter 1:10. See also 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Friend, I want to meet you in glory when the Lord calls all of His children “home” to be with Him forever. I care about your eternal soul. Please don’t disappoint me. I don’t want to even think of YOU spending eternity in the fires of hell. Won’t you right now; even this moment, bow your heart before the Lord, seek His face, and forever settle the question of your soul’s salvation. Remember…..
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God,” 1 John 5:13.