Have You Really Been Born Again?
The apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, said "for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin...For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:9, 23). Then Paul tells the Romans "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). How does man overcome sin and receive the gift of eternal life?
The apostle John teaches "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God" (I John 5:4-5)?
First, John says "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world". What was John talking about when he said "born of God"? Jesus told Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). What is this "born again" stuff? This concerned Nicodemus too. "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" (John 3:4)? Notice Jesus' answer, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
What did Jesus mean "born of water and of the Spirit"? The apostle Peter gives us some help. Peter says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again ("caused us to be born again", NASB) unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3). How has God "caused us to be born again"? Peter goes on to say "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (I Peter 1:23). Peter says the means by which we are "born again" is the Word of God, the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
Did you notice the connection between being "born again" and "the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3)? What's the point? The connection between the two is baptism for the remission of sins. When one is baptized into Christ, he is "born of water", that is, "born again".
The apostle Paul said, "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 "new creature" suggests the "new birth". How does one become a "new creature"? Paul says, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature". How then does one get in Christ? "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
"What are you saying preacher?" Baptism is the new birth - the "born of water" that Jesus spoke of. Baptism is the only logical connection between being "born again" and "the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (cf. Romans 6:3-5).