What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
There is another, spiritual, invisible world, all around us, inhabited by spiritual be-ings, like angels, and ruled by a loving, caring and benevolent God, creator of the universe. There is only one way to enter this world as well.
“That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” Jesus said. You must be spiritually born into it. You must be born again, by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is like the wind, Jesus explained. We cannot physically see the Spirit of God. But just as we can “see” the wind blowing in tree tops and feel its breeze upon our faces, we can feel and see the effects of God’s Spirit in our lives. After Jesus and Nicodemus met, Jesus soon got to the very heart of what all this means: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that who- ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That’s what it means to be born again. By the Holy Spirit of God, we have the op- portunity to pass from death to life. We are no longer bound by this world and its constraints. We will not perish. Our sin, our pain, our misery, the heartaches and failures that torment and taunt us are now subject to a new order, a new way of thinking and living—a new, eternal life in the Kingdom of God!
A New Start…A First Step
Do you ever wake up in the morning and resolve — once again — to fix what- ever’s wrong in your life? Sometimes it feels like—if we could just get a new house…or job…or wife…or husband…then all our problems would go away. We promise to lose weight, eat better, work harder, work less, etc., etc. Do you ever wish you could just start over? We get that chance the moment we are born again. From the minute we are physi- cally born, God’s spirit is with us. That’s why we are so very aware of Him. Most people have a religious understanding and even an historical acceptance of His existence. But believing in Him and knowing Him is a different matter. The good news is that when we ask Jesus into our lives, He begins to transform us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new,” says 2 Corinthians 5:17. He gives us a chance to start over, to be renewed by His Spirit, to literally be born again. And the process doesn’t stop there. He continues to change us and bless us until we reach our final destination in heaven. “But we all…are being transformed…from glory to glory, by the spirit of the Lord”(2 Corinthians 3:18). “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Should I Get Baptized
Baptism is an outward sign of what has happened to you on the inside. Think of it like a wedding ceremony. People get married publicly to declare their love and commitment to one another before God and family and friends. Baptism is like that—a public commitment to Jesus. Like a wedding, it can also be a time of joy and fellowship as other believers encourage you in your faith. Baptism also symbolizes the death of our old life, the burial of our sins in a watery grave, and the beginning of a new life in Jesus. The Bible says we are “buried with Him in baptism, and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
Growing Up In Christ
Being born again is literally like starting over as a spiritual infant. In the joy and ex- citement of knowing Jesus, sometimes we are in a hurry to “grow up.” But the se- cret to spiritual maturity is that it takes time! It’s a learning process. There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth, no magic pill. Having an emotional experience does not automatically make any of us spiritual giants. This is good news! God knows that a new believer is like a precious infant who needs to be nurtured and taught. He is patient even if we aren’t. Believers are called “disciples” because we are learning new disciplines—or hab- its—in our lives. The more we apply these disciplines to our lives, the more we grow and can be used by God. Have you ever noticed that it is easier to form good habits than it is to get rid of bad habits? The best way to get rid of bad habits is to replace them with good ones! So part of our goal in this little book is to help you form new, godly disci- plines that will enrich your life and draw you closer to the Lord. Take some time to study each section and apply it personally to your life as we examine the habits of a disciple of Christ.