Born again. It makes all the difference in the world. To enter the gates of heaven, we must be born twice. Jesus said so to the struggling, seeking old Pharisee Nicodemus in John 3:3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” All of us have been born once, but most people have not experienced the second birth. By the miracle of the natural birth, we gain physical life. But it takes an even greater miracle for a person to be be born again into spiritual life. How does this mysterious second birth from above happen? We don’t totally understand how it happens, but we know the tools that God uses to make it happen. The Word of God is preached to or read by the lost person, and then the Holy Spirit convicts their heart to feel deep guilt and sorrow over their sin. The Holy Spirit brings this conviction, which causes the person to turn away from sin (that’s called “repentance”) and put their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation (that’s called “faith”). As this happens, the Holy Spirit brings the person to life by coming to live inside them forever. Their soul is purified and given the desire and power to obey God, especially His commands to love Him and love others.
Our natural life is so short, like grass or flowers that flourish and then die in a season. But our spiritual life lasts forever because it is is given to us by the eternal Word of God. As our Spiritual Emphasis speaker has stressed this week, the glories that we chase in this life will not last. But the things that we do for Christ, and more importantly, the things that He does in us, will last for all eternity.
The Text (1 Peter 1:22-25)
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Background and Observations
• Peter has now twice emphasized the importance of the new birth as the cause and beginning of our spiritual life and growth as Christians. Similar concepts like “redeemed” and “sanctification” and “purified” have also been used to describe the idea that people must be converted or changed by God from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ. This is a work of God’s grace that no amount of our good works or effort can achieve.
• It is also important to see that almost every time that Peter, Paul, and the other New Testament authors talk about the concept of the new birth (even when they use a different word for it), they discuss it as the motivation for us to live holy lives for God. If you have been born again, there will be spiritual change. You will never be “sinless” until you die or Christ returns, but over time you should see signs that you are “sinning less” both outwardly and in your heart. The bearing of spiritual fruit is the proof that you are indeed a branch connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ (see John 15:5).
Questions to Think About
1. Whose salvation have you been praying for? What do you pray for when you pray for that person? I know what you are praying for because it’s the same thing that I pray for – “God, please save _____!” Today’s passage passage reminds us that salvation is a work of God. Only God can give someone the new birth. That is why we have to stay on our knees for the salvation of our lost friends and family. We are pleading with God for miracles that only He can do.
2. Have you ever tried to explain the concept of being born again to someone else? What did or would you say?
3. What evidence have you seen in your life that you have or have not been born again? Remember that at NRCA, any of your teachers are willing and able to talk with you about your salvation. It is the most important thing to God and to us! We love you in the Lord and want to help you know Christ and grow in your relationship with Him.