https://www.intouch.org/watch/what-is-the-meaning-of-being-born-again

Sermon Notes From Charles Stanley

KEY PASSAGE: John 3:1-16

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES: John 5:24 | Titus 3:5 | Hebrews 9:27

SUMMARY

What does it mean to be born again?

There are a variety of opinions on this matter, but to understand what this term truly means, we must go to the Bible. Jesus used this phrase to describe a spiritual change that is required in order to have eternal life. Unless we are born again, we cannot enter heaven.

SERMON POINTS

John 3:1-16 records a conversation between Jesus and a Jewish Pharisee. After observing His miracles and hearing His teaching, Nicodemus came to Jesus one night saying, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (v. 2). Instead of commenting on Nicodemus’ observation, Jesus told him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3).

How can I be born again?

Jesus was telling Nicodemus that his impressive education, obedience to the Law, and religious prominence in Judaism would not get him into heaven. What he needed was a brand new start—to be born from above. Being born again is the act of God by which He imparts eternal life to those who were dead in their trespasses and sins but have now accepted Jesus as Savior.

Nicodemus responded to Jesus with a question, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (v. 4). To help him understand, Jesus explained, “Unless [one] is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (v. 5). In other words, someone is born physically into this world as a baby, but to enter the heavenly realm, he must be born of the Spirit.

For his entire life Nicodemus had been taught that being Jewish and doing good works were what would gain him entrance into heaven, but now his pride was shattered, and he realized that nothing he’d done or built his life upon would benefit him eternally. He was spiritually bankrupt with no way to enter God’s kingdom.

He is not unlike many people today who have the mistaken idea that they are good enough to go to heaven. They attend church, give their offering, and may have even been baptized yet have never truly been born again. Some defend themselves by reasoning that God will surely accept them because they’ve tried to live a good life and haven’t committed any crimes. But in reality they aren’t good enough because everyone is born a sinner.

We must be careful not to make the same mistake the Pharisees did. They saw Jesus’ miraculous signs and heard Him teach, but they walked away without considering whether His claims were true. Nicodemus was different; he risked his religious reputation as a Pharisee to come see Jesus, listened to Him, asked questions, sought to understand what He was saying, and learned the truth.

What is the nature of the new birth?

  • It’s a spiritual experience. The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He convicts us of sin and helps us understand that our good works are insufficient in His eyes and will never make us fit for heaven. But He also assures us of God’s love and leads us to confess and repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
  • It’s a definite experience. Like physical birth, there’s a specific point at which a person is born again. It starts with conviction of sin and the realization that Jesus Christ died on the cross as payment for the penalty for our sin. We call out to Him for forgiveness, turn away from our old sinful lifestyle, and in faith accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. It’s not a slow process but a radical change. There must be a transformation within our hearts that is so clear that we will know beyond a shadow of doubt that we have been born again. For some people, this moment may have occurred in childhood and they may no longer have a specific memory of it. But as long as there is full faith in Jesus, they have been born again.

    Jesus is the only one who can make us fit for heaven with a new birth. All other religions rely on good works, but no one can be good enough for God because we’ve all sinned against Him. We may seem righteous in our own eyes, but when measured against the perfection of God’s standards as found in His Word, we have no hope of heaven.

    We are not saved by our righteous acts but by God’s mercy and the regeneration of the Spirit (Titus. 3:5). If we could have been good enough, then the cross was a horrible mistake because it would have been unnecessary. However, only the shed blood of God’s Son could make forgiveness possible. This is the evidence of God’s awesome love and power—that He would reach down and save sinners.
  • It’s a lasting experience. Being born again changes us forever, but this doesn’t mean that we will be perfect. Our old sinful nature is still present in us, but as we confess our sins, Jesus’ blood continually cleanses us. We are now called to a life of holiness, obedience, surrender, and love for God. There must be external evidence that proves there’s been an inner transformation.

What are the results of being born again?

  • There’s a change in our relationship with God. Until Jesus becomes our Savior, we are enemies of God. Although we may be quick to deny that we are against Him, there is no neutral ground. We have either been reconciled to God through His Son, or we are at odds with Him.
  • There is a change in our position.The separation and enmity between God and us has been removed. Now we’re a part of His kingdom and members of His family. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will never lose our salvation.
  • There’s a change in attitude. The Holy Spirit works in us, sealing us as God’s children, transforming our hearts, and living out Christ’s life through us. He gives us wisdom, reveals truth, and guides us throughout our lives.
  • There is a change in our destination. Jesus said, “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).The Holy Spirit’s presence in us is our guarantee that we are forever children of God, and our eternal destiny in heaven is secure.

RESPONSE

  • Can you point to a time in your life when you became born again? If you sense this may not have happened for you yet, what is keeping you from surrendering to Christ and receiving forgiveness and eternal life?
  • If you are born again, what fruit in your life gives you reassurance of that? How has your life changed?

Proverbs 7:4-23  (4) Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your kinsman; (5) they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words. (6) At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. (7) I saw among the simple, I noticed among young men, a youth who lacked judgment.  He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.  Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.  She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) (13) She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said:  I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows.  So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! (16) I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. (17) I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. (18) Come let’s drink deep of love morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! (19) My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. (20)  He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.  (21)With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.  All at once he followed her like an ox gong to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose (23) till and arrow pierces his liver like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.  

Proverbs 7:24-27 Now then my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.  Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.  Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.  

Although this advice is directed toward young men, young women should heed it as well.  The person who has no purpose in life is simple-minded (7:7). Without aim or direction an empty life is unstable, vulnerable to many temptations.  Even though the young man in this passage doesn’t know where he is going, the adulteress knows where she wants him.  Notice her strategies: she is dressed to allure men (7:10); her approach is bold (7:13); she invites him over to her place 7:16-18); she cunningly answers his every objection (7:19, 20); she persuades him with smooth talk (7:21); she traps him (7:23).  To combat temptation, make sure your life is full of God’s Word and wisdom. (7:4). Recognize the strategies of temptation, and run away from them-fast.  

You can take definite steps to avoid sexual sins.  First, guard your mind.  Don’t read books, look at pictures, or encourage fantasies that stimulate the wrong desires.  Second, keep away from settings and friends that tempt you to sin.  Third, don’t think only of the moment-focus on the future.  Today’s thrill may lead to tomorrow’s ruin.  


[1] My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight,

[2] that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

[3] For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;

[4] but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.

[5] Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.

[6] She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

[7] Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.

[8] Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house,

[9] lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel,

[10] lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another.

[11] At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.

[12] You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!

[13] I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors.

[14] And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.” [

15] Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.

[16] Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?

[17] Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.

[18] May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

[19] A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

[20] Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

[21] For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.

[22] The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

 [23] For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly..


Colossians 3:21 Fathers (Parents), do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. 

The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement (see also Colossians 3: 21). Parenting is not easy, it takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ-honoring manner. But frustration and anger should not be causes for discipline. Instead, parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to children’s development and to their understanding of what Christ is like.

Jesus be Praised! 


These verses are not a plea against generosity, but against overextending one’s financial resources and acting in irresponsible ways that could lead to poverty.  It is important to maintain a balance between generosity and good stewardship.  God wants us to help our friends and the needy, but he does not promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make.  We should also act responsibly so that our families do not suffer. 


 “Good doctrine”: There is no wisdom but that which is linked to good doctrine, which should be the focal point of all instruction.

Sometimes in the Proverbs, it seems as if we are covering the same ground all over again. Whether this is to drive home a lesson, or whether we are picking up extra fragments of truth and that is the reason for repetition is not clear. As we said in previous lessons, wisdom is the subject. We see here, also, that a doctrine (belief) has been established.

Instructions in God’s law came from father to son in these times. It was very important not to leave out even minor details in that law. We are told again here to remember in detail the law of God and to live by it (do not forsake it).  In fact, we should make it our doctrine or way of life as well.

One of the greatest responsibilities of parents is to encourage their children to become wise. Here Solomon tells how his father, David, encouraged him to seek wisdom when he was young.  This encouragement may have prompted Solomon to ask God for wisdom above everything else.  Wisdom can be passed on from parents and grandparents to children, from generation to generation.  Ultimately, of course, all wisdom comes from God; parents can only urge their children to turn to him.  If your parents never taught you in this way, God’s Word can function as a loving and compassionate parent to you.  You can learn from the Scriptures and then create a legacy of wisdom as you teach the next generation. 


“My son” tell us who this message is to. It is not to the world in general, but to the followers of God. God reminds us to not forget His teachings but hide them away in our hearts. God also reminds us to walk in His ways.

His “commandments” here are talking about all of His ways. Just as the commandment to honor father and mother promises that our days may be long upon the earth, we see the promises of length of days here if we follow in His ways.

When you know that you have done the right things, it does bring peace. Sin brings fear of punishment, but obedience brings peace.


Solomon has taken God’s law and made it his own by faith and obedience, as well as teaching. The wisdom of these words is available to those who, first of all, understand the rich value (treasure), that wisdom possesses. Appropriating wisdom begins when one values it above all else.


 “Good doctrine”: There is no wisdom but that which is linked to good doctrine, which should be the focal point of all instruction.

Sometimes in the Proverbs, it seems as if we are covering the same ground all over again. Whether this is to drive home a lesson, or whether we are picking up extra fragments of truth and that is the reason for repetition is not clear. As we said in previous lessons, wisdom is the subject. We see here, also, that a doctrine (belief) has been established.

Instructions in God’s law came from father to son in these times. It was very important not to leave out even minor details in that law. We are told again here to remember in detail the law of God and to live by it (do not forsake it).  In fact, we should make it our doctrine or way of life as well.

One of the greatest responsibilities of parents is to encourage their children to become wise. Here Solomon tells how his father, David, encouraged him to seek wisdom when he was young.  This encouragement may have prompted Solomon to ask God for wisdom above everything else.  Wisdom can be passed on from parents and grandparents to children, from generation to generation.  Ultimately, of course, all wisdom comes from God; parents can only urge their children to turn to him.  If your parents never taught you in this way, God’s Word can function as a loving and compassionate parent to you.  You can learn from the Scriptures and then create a legacy of wisdom as you teach the next generation. 


Expanding the purpose and terms of verse 2, Proverbs engages in a process of schooling a son in the disciplines of (1) Wisdom (a different Hebrew word from that in v.2) which means discreet counsel or the ability to govern oneself by choice; (2) Justice, the ability to conform to the will and standard of God; a practical righteousness that matches one’s positional righteousness; (3) Judgment, the application of true righteousness in dealing with others; and (4) Equity, the living of life in a fair, pleasing way.


Ants can teach us about preparation; coneys (badgers) about wise building; locusts about cooperation and order; and lizards about fearlessness.  Compare this to Jesus teaching in Mathew 6:25-34 that an effective way to resist worry involves a carful observation of the birds and the hills.