‘Born again’ – what’s it really mean? – Greg Laurie – www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=86326
Many are fascinated in our culture today by the lives of the beautiful people: the movie and TV stars, the sports figures and musicians, the entertainers and supermodels. We follow their every move, and we want to see where they live and what they’re wearing. Many secretly wish they were living the lives of these celebrities.
But things are not always as they appear.
What we may not know about them – and about every person, for that matter – is that deep down inside, they are lonely. I may not know you personally, but I do know there is a sense of loneliness inside every man and woman. Everyone is lonely, deep down inside. Even if you are married or have lots of friends, there is still a deep-seated loneliness inside of you. Sometimes it sweeps over you when you are surrounded by people. What it really is is a loneliness for God.
And not only is everyone lonely, but everyone feels guilty – guilty about something they have said or done and now regret. It’s a guilt that is hard to shake. It can’t be drowned in drink or psychoanalyzed away.
Then there is the fear of death. Sometimes it keeps us up at night. There is that awareness of the brevity of life. As the clock continues to tick away, we are aware of the approach of death. … Then what?
The Bible talks about a man who was very aware of his mortality. He was someone who had climbed his corporate ladder, if you will, a man who was powerful, successful, famous and wealthy. He was also devout, religious. Yet there was a hole in his heart that he didn’t know how to fill. He had heard about a rabbi named Jesus who was performing miracles, giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, healing leprosy and even raising the dead. No one had ever heard of such things. But most significantly, the things Jesus said were changing the lives of people.
So this man called Nicodemus made an appointment to meet with Jesus. And in the secrecy afforded by the night, he came to Jesus looking for answers.
Maybe you are looking for answers. Maybe you have tried most of what this world has to offer. You have been there. You have done that. You have bought the T-shirt. And you have begun to discover that nothing this world offers will fill the deepest need of your life. You might appear to have it all together on the outside, but inside you are miserable.
The same words that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus can speak to you today. These words have unlocked the mystery of life to countless millions of people through the centuries. And they will unlock the mystery of life to you, if you will listen with your heart.
Nicodemus came to Jesus respectfully looking for answers, and Jesus cut to the chase: "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3 NLT). In other words, "Let me just get to the bottom line with you, Nicodemus. You need to be born again."
Nicodemus was old. The years were passing by, and it was time to get to spiritual issues. So Jesus told him that he must be born again. The problem today is that we don’t know what this phrase means anymore. Do we really know what it is to be born again? The term "born again" has been pirated, emptied of its meaning, dragged through the gutter and given back to us, minus its power. Jesus said, "Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God." Literally, it means to be born from above. It is a change on the inside.
At this point, I believe the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus went from face-to-face to mind-to-mind. Nicodemus asked, "How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?" (John 3:4 NLT). Nicodemus could perhaps accept it in premise. But he was set in his ways. How could an old guy like him change? Was it possible? Could he really become a different person?"
Nicodemus was being convinced of the truth of what Jesus was saying. He had gone from face-to-face to mind-to-mind, and finally heart-to-heart with Jesus. He wanted to change. He wanted to be born from above. He wanted to be a different person. But how could it happen?
Jesus told him, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NLT). Jesus was saying that God so loved the world – and that included Nicodemus.
In the same way, God loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter what sins you have committed, and no matter how many failures you have had. God loves you. And He will change you.
We can talk all day about love, but love is shown by what love does. The Bible says, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation" (Romans 5:8–9 NLT). He gave. Salvation is a gift to you from God that He holds out to you.
Jesus told Nicodemus that "everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." What does it mean to believe? It means to put your trust and your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Only you can do that. Reach out and say, "I believe this for myself. I say yes to Jesus. I choose to follow Him."
But to believe not only means to take hold of something; it also means to let go. To let go of the sin that separates you from God is called repentance. The Bible says of this, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19 NIV).
When you believe in Jesus, repent of your sin and start following Him, you can know – from that moment on – that you will go to heaven when you die. Do you know that right now? There is no more important issue you will ever deal with than this one