What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
"You're born not in your mommy's tummy, but in heaven," says Sarah, 7.
Your explanation is more accurate than you probably realize, Sarah. Jesus told the inquiring Nicodemus, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The literal translation of "born again" is "born from above."
The population explosions in China and India are relatively small compared to what's happening in heaven. The beautiful part is that there's plenty of room to accommodate people from every nation who trust the Lord Jesus as their savior.
"God wants us to be born again so we can live longer," says Jacob, 7. How about forever? Is that long enough? Jesus promised eternal life to all who enter his kingdom. It's an eternal kingdom more spectacular than the most incredible kingdom ever described in any fairy tale.
"If you have not been born again, it is fun," says Adrienne, 8. "When I got saved, we stood up and people came around and hugged us. You also get to sit in the front seat."
Adrienne, I'm so glad you had a lot of affirmation from Christians when you entered God's kingdom and that you confessed Christ in public. However, some pastors imply or state that a public profession of faith, such as walking down a church aisle during the invitation hymn, is essential for salvation. A public profession of faith is strongly recommended in Scripture, but it's not a requirement for being born from above.
Check out the Apostle John's account where many rulers "believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42-43). "Believed in Him" is the same language as John 3:16 where eternal life is promised to "whoever believes in Him [Jesus]."
"It's exciting news. It's fun to think Jesus lives inside you," says Jed, 8. Yes, it is exciting. No science fiction writer could ever conceive of a story more remarkable than the reality of God indwelling his people. The Old Testament prophets foresaw a time when God would pour out his Holy Spirit upon all believers. That time is now, as the Apostle Peter proclaimed after Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 2).
"To be born again is to give your life to Jesus. In return, Jesus comes to live in you," says Emily, 7.
It's common to hear pastors and evangelists speak of being born again as giving your life to Christ. At best, it's a Christian cliche. At worst, it's inaccurate and misleading. The direction is wrong.
The Bible is clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Because we inherit Adam and Eve's sin, we are born physically alive but spiritually dead. The Apostle Paul calls this condition being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
In this spiritually dead condition, all you can do is receive God's life by trusting in the Lord Jesus as your savior. It's arrogant to assume you have something to give God in a spiritually dead state. You can walk down a church aisle, confess your sins, make promises to God, get dunked in water and join a church, but it will mean absolutely nothing if you don't receive God's life by faith in Christ alone.
Think about this: When we come to God with an empty hand and believe in his Son for our salvation, he receives the glory.
Memorize this truth: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name." (John 1:12).
Ask this question: Have you been born again?
Carey Kinsolving is a syndicated columnist, producer, author, speaker and website developer. To see Carey's Kid TV Interviews and more, visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. Print free lessons from the "Kids Color Me Bible" and make your own book. Watch for free the adventures of an 11-year-old girl traveling around the world, visiting missionaries in the Mission Explorers Streaming Video. Print Bible pictures drawn by kids that illustrate Scripture verses. Receive a complimentary, weekly e-mail subscription to our Devotional Bible Lessons.
Bible quotations in this column are from the New King James Version.
Copyright 2006 Carey Kinsolving