You’ve probably heard it before:  “You must be born again.”  It comes almost monotonously from quite a few religious denominations in the world today.  But do they have any idea what it really means?  If they did, I’m sure the world would not be in the mess it is in today.

Many of us have had life-changing experiences in our spiritual development. We have been influenced by relatives, especially our parents. We may have been touched by a powerful sermon or book. We have been moved to imitate the faith that we have observed in the lives of others whom we respect. Emotional events, such as the death of a loved one, may have caused us to think seriously about our values and the way we are living. And many who have been influenced by evangelical Christianity, may have said a little prayer, on the understanding that the prayer marked a point between when you were not a Christian and when you became a Christian. The prayer experience is often referred to as being born again.

In reality, all of these experiences are more or less on an even par. Any experience which draws you closer to God and which deepens your commitment to serving God, should be encouraged. However, if we are going to single one experience out from all the rest, and call it being "born again" in the sense that the Bible implies by that phrase, we should be very careful that we are talking about the same thing that the Bible is talking about.  We may be giving false hope to some, and destroying the hope of others.

In the third chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus meets a religious man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus says that he has been challenged by Jesus, especially by the miracles that Jesus has done. He knows there is something special about Jesus, that is 'from God'. Then Jesus says that this is not good enough. He says that unless Nicodemus is "born again" (as Jesus puts it), he won't be able to grasp the real truth in all that Jesus is saying and doing.

Not much more is said about being born again in that chapter, and the term is hardly used anywhere else in the Bible. But we can read what happened to other followers of Jesus. They left their jobs, their properties, and their families to listen to and learn from Jesus. Their lives were changed dramatically as a result.  For several years they rarely left his side. They waited on God for power from heaven after the ascension of Jesus, and then they went into all the world preaching about what they had experienced, and passing this message on to others. Most of them died as martyrs for their faith.

But Nicodemus? Well, it doesn’t say whether he was ever "born again". He continued to admire Jesus from a distance, but he retained his position in the Jewish religion, something Jesus had specificially referred to when he said that Nicodemus needed a much deeper change in his life. Nicodemus made a feeble attempt to defend Jesus when the Jewish leaders talked of killing him, but he quickly shut up when he was rebuked for doing so. (John 7:50-53)  He also helped to bury Jesus.  (John 19:38-40)  Sadly, Nicodemus never proved to be any more effectual as a believer than do most of those professing to be born again today. Or perhaps we should say that those who profess to be born again today do not appear to be any more effectual than was Nicodemus. They do not live the kind of lives that the disciples lived--lives which led to their deaths as martyrs for their Lord.

Peter, one of those eventual martyrs, said in his first epistle (I Peter 1:23), that a person is born again by the "Word of God". So what is this “Word of God”?  Modern-day born-againers say that it means the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible (even though such a book never existed at the time that either Jesus or Peter were alive). Of course the Bible itself says that Jesus is the Word of God.  (More on that below.)

Worse still is that most of the born-againers teach that the teachings of Jesus are not important for salvation (even though they teach that “salvation" is what being born again primarily means to them). In other words, they’ve taken that one phrase from Jesus, but rejected everything else he said.  And we have found that they strongly resist anyone  seriously questioning whether Jesus taught it the same way that they teach it.

But, back to the “Word of God”.  The Bible doesn't use the phrase born again much, but it never uses the world “Bible"  The Bible is just a bunch of books written over a period of hundreds of years, and put together by a Catholic committee almost 140 years after Jesus went to heaven  It is only tradition that has led to people calling it “the Word of God”.  Nevertheless, if people really do think that the Bible is so special, then why don’t they tell the general public what the Bible itself says about the Word of God?

St. John said (John 1:11-13) that JESUS is the Word of God, and that, if we accept Jesus, we can be born into God’s family becoming his children. He said that the Word of God was with God in the beginning, when he made the world, and that the Word of God was made flesh, and lived amongst us down here on earth. (John 1:1-4) In the Revelation (Rev. 19:13 ) we are told that Jesus has a name which the rest of the world has forgotten (or never been told), and that name is "The Word of God”.  How true!  This is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the church world today.

This phrase, the Word of God, emphasises in particular, the message (or teaching) that comes from God through Jesus. Many of us have been influenced by teachings from our parents, other loved ones, church leaders, and by the writings of many people in the Bible. But there is only One whose teachings can cause you to make the total transformation that is needed to be truly born again, and that Person (Jesus) is the Word of God, the very one who has been shoved aside by the spiritual leaders of the world, so that they can continue to peddle teachings which barely scratch the surface when it comes to really transforming our lives.

And the reason, of course, is that they do not want to go through the spiritual agony that often accompanies the rebirth that the teachings of Jesus bring to a person's life. Physical birth is a difficult experience for both the mother and the baby. It is a life and death experience. It does not leave room for thought about anything other than what the mother and child are going through at that moment.

Until we become totally obsessed with the Word of God and what he (Jesus) is asking of us, we will never be born again in the sense that Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about. We may have a religious dimension to our lives, but it will be only a hint of what God is looking for. God wants total control of all that we have and are. He wants everything we own. He wants our reputation, our emotional attachments, our dreams, and even our lives to be sacrificed on the altar for him. Not just some pretend consecration (after which we take them back and continue to use them the way we want to use them for the rest of our lives), but he wants a thorough breaking of all that we have... a death to our selves, our loves, and our lives.

Have you heard the teachings of Jesus being preached anywhere in the world?  (If so, please write in the comments and tell me about it!) All I see are builders who have left out the Cornerstone (as Jesus predicted). As a consequence, people are not being born again... they are not being saved…they are not finishing up with a personal relationship with Jesus… and they are not discovering what it really means to be a follower of Jesus.

Are they all going to hell? I don't know. That is something only God can decide. He judges us each on the amount of "light" that we have. Like with Nicodemus, we are not left with a final verdict. Yet, we look at Nicodemus' life, and all the evidence seems to suggest that he never truly responded to the light that Jesus, the Word of God, was trying to give him that one dark night when he sneaked secretly into Jesus' tent, to hear what this man of God had to say.

You've heard it now. You've heard that Jesus asks you to give it all up for him. He promises that when the old ‘you' dies, a new you will rise up in its place... a born again you.  You may want to tell me that you've had various experiences leading up to this point in your life. You may have even had angels talk to you. But remember Nicodemus. He had seen the Son of God himself, and had observed some of the miracles that Jesus did. Yet Jesus shot back at him that unless he was born again, all that had happened previously, that had led him to this one great moment, would be for naught.

I have met so many who boast of their ministry, of their revelations, of their religious experiences, of their plans and accomplishments for God. But they are not ready to take them all and break them on the rock of the teachings of Jesus, and so the very things that could have led them to salvation become rocks around their necks, drowning them spiritually.

You can only be born again by the Word of God... by humbling yourself and becoming like a little child... by sitting at the feet of Jesus, and learning all over again... from scratch... what life is really all about. To hell with all of your religious accomplishments up to this point! To hell with all of your doctrines and theology! To hell with all of your assumed spirituality! If you want to say a little prayer, say one that vows from this point on, to submit every thought, every plan, every teaching to the teachings of the Saviour of the world, to determine if it is in line with what he asks from his followers. And if you follow through on that, obeying Jesus and all that he taught, then you will discover a radical new life emerging, from this point on. You will have been truly born again... by the Word of God, who lives and abides forever!

*For more information related to this article, please check out the following video: Bro Dave Chap. #8 - Was Billy Graham Born Again?