Are you born again or just religious?

Pastor Jeff Struecker

We’ve been covering for the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. We discussed the Holy Spirit’s role in calling people out of their sins and into a relationship with Him. Now, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit’s role in regeneration. 

The prefix ‘re’ in regeneration means again, and ‘generate’ means “to be born.” What the word regeneration means is to be born again or made alive again. 

In John chapter three, there’s a captivating story about Nicodemus, a respected religious leader, who secretly approaches Jesus at night. He fears being discovered by his peers but has a sincere question for Jesus. Nicodemus acknowledges Jesus’ remarkable miracles and His uniqueness, but before he can finish speaking, Jesus interrupts him with a mind-blowing response. In John 3:3, Jesus uses language that astounds Nicodemus. Remember the words Jesus says to him as recorded by John. Here it is. 

Memory Verse

I am asking you to commit this one verse to memory because this is one of the key verses in the Bible that talks about regeneration and the work of the Holy Spirit in being born again. 

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, the concept was foreign and confusing to him. Nicodemus wondered if Jesus meant a physical rebirth, returning to the mother’s womb. Jesus clarified that there are two births: a physical birth, represented by water and a baby in the womb, and a spiritual birth, bringing forth spiritual life. Jesus made it clear that without being born again, one cannot enter the kingdom of God or go to heaven. Understanding this language is crucial because some faith groups teach that being good or following religious rules or church membership guarantees entry into heaven.

There’s no way you can miss what Jesus is saying: without being born again, you can’t enter heaven. It doesn’t matter what position your name holds or how many religious acts you’ve performed; they won’t grant you access. I’ll use this phrase to correct the belief that being morally upright or doing more good than bad secures heaven.

I like to say it this way. If you’re born once, you’re going to die twice. If you’re born twice, you’re only going to die once. But Jesus said in Revelation 20 that anyone born again, even though they die, will live again. 

Anyone whose name is not recorded in the Book of Life will face the consequences of the second death. This refers to eternal condemnation in the lake of fire. The first death occurs when our physical bodies expire, but the second death is the everlasting punishment from God due to rebellion against Him. Those who reject the notion of being born again, experiencing both physical and spiritual birth, will face both physical and spiritual death. However, those who are born again, experiencing both physical and spiritual birth, will only face physical death once but will live again and continue living eternally.

Here’s what I’m saying. Jesus makes this abundantly clear. The Holy Spirit calls us out of our sins and trusts Him. And it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us born again so I want to put this question below for you. 

Challenge

I will add in parentheses (an event in a specific moment in time).Being born again is both an event that happens at a specific moment in time and a lifelong process. It begins even before the actual experience of being born again and it continues throughout your life. The Holy Spirit remains actively at work within you. As you grapple with this question, remember that Jesus explicitly stated that without being born again, one cannot enter or even see the kingdom of heaven.