Why Do We Have to be Born Again?
by Ken Simmons
This is a serious and deeply profound subject that contains of great deal of meat and very little milk. That means we're skipping kindergarten and moving up to post graduate school. You may need to read, and then re-read this to come to an understanding. As you read I will try to cover in a few minutes what took me many years to understand. Consider this the introduction to your doctorate dissertation on the subject of being born again.
Unfortunately most Christians know that we must be born again -- Jesus said so -- but they don't know why! There is a great deal more to it than simply saying we need to be born again to get to heaven. We need to be born again so that we could even exist in heaven! Read on to find out why this is true.
Today it’s likely that everyone in the modern world has heard the phrase “born again Christian.” The secular world bristles at the phrase, seeing it as some sort of spiritual superiority, while others have seen this as a requirement if you will, that you must be born again . . . as though some type of harsh commands from a tough, iron-fisted God who is saying to the world,
"It’s My way or the Highway" -- demanding “You must be born again or I'll send you to hell."
If the world only knew who God is. He is not some mean-spirited task-master who has placed before us an impossible obstacle course through which, if successful, we might gain entry to heaven -- that is if we’re lucky enough to survive the gauntlet of His torturous life tests. No, being born again is a “love gift for the asking,” and not a test. Who better to ask than Jesus, who said,
“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3), and "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
If you’re a speed reader please turn off the turbo charger and read the following slow enough to let it penetrate deep into your being because it answers so many of our most profound questions, such as -- who ends up in heaven -- and why?
Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, and as such had a fellowship with God the Father that no one since has known except for Jesus Christ, who, as part of the Godhead comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). God created Adam and Eve that He might fellowship with man (mankind) and that man would be a reflection of His glory. That ultimately brings us to the issue of why some people end up in hell while others go to heaven because once you understand this you will begin to see why we must be born again. Consider this,
Man was made in His image, which was Spirit, Soul, and Body. This was a race of beings in whom God breathed "the breath of lives" (Genesis 2:7) and it was His intention to create this race of beings that were spiritual, with whom He could fellowship. It was God who desired this relationship with man, who would become a reflection of His glory. You should underline that last sentence for it is on that basis and that understanding that you will begin to have the foundation for knowing God’s purpose for mankind, i.e., why we're here.
Adam, who had yielded to Lucifer, the Fallen One, who first tempted Eve when he enticed her to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, said to her "your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (see Genesis 3:4). This was Satan's big lie because they already knew "good" -- now he was going to teach them "evil" -- in the form of rebellion. Now man had the choice to exercise his free will to choose between good and evil, but since being introduced to evil God's mold for man had been reversed. God then drove them out of the garden, “ . . . lest he put his hand and take also of the tree of life, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). God could not allow man to eat of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever – as he was still in his sinful, carnal state.
It was only after the fall of man that in essence another race came into being, and that was the natural man, and the natural man completely reversed God's order, sort of an upside-down metamorphosis from being one of Spirit, Soul, and Body, to becoming that of Body, Soul, and Spirit. This was a radical change, even to be thought of as a different race, or a different species, if you will, and that new race was no longer a reflection of God. The consequences would be profound and would last forever unless we experienced another transformation that would bring us back to our original state of Spirit, Soul, and Body; a state which could exist in the presence of God!
Did you ever wonder why Adam and Eve never noticed they were naked until after they had gone through this reverse metamorphosis, from being Spirit, Soul, and Body, to becoming Body, Soul and Spirit? As natural (Body, Soul and Spirit) beings they became carnal, and they were suddenly exposed, vulnerable and aware of their nakedness. They were no longer spiritual beings and their spiritual senses were dulled and their "natural" eyes were opened (Genesis 3:7). When they were spiritual beings they desired God's presence, but once they went through this tragic transformation and became carnal beings they ran and hid from God, ashamed of their nakedness.
Just as man's seed is incapable of producing dogs, or apes, and the seed of dogs and apes cannot give birth to man . . . similarly, apes will always breed apes, dogs will always breed dogs, and natural (fallen) man will always produce natural (fallen) man. The natural man, which is the seed of Adam, who had fallen due to the temptation followed by his disobedience, can only produce natural (fallen) man. His offspring will always be carnal unless they are transformed. This is why even our children must be born again, as our salvation is not automatically passed on to them through our genes.
Here's an analogy that might help you to understand. Imagine that the caterpillar wants to fly around in heaven with the butterflies, but it can never do so unless it first goes through a transformation (metamorphosis) and dies, to become a butterfly. Similarly, the natural man (like the caterpillar) must go through a transformation and die to become a spiritual man (like the butterfly) in order to exist in heaven. Consider this example as well; a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it becomes a stalk full of fine wheat.
Does that suggest that this new "transformed" being has been perfected? No, it means that everyone who has had this transformation -- this metamorphosis -- is now capable of being perfected, and God sees those who have been born again as "justified." This means that those who have not yet had this transformation are incapable of being justified. They can never be good enough, righteous enough, religious enough, or penitent enough to be worthy of heaven. They have to go through the transformation. Jesus called it being “born again."
You may recall that in our opening statement we mentioned that being born again was necessary – to even exist in heaven. The following should shed light on that statement:
When Moses saw the burning bush on the mountain and he met with God, he was instructed to hide himself in the cleft of the rock and he was permitted to see only the “hindered parts” of God. Moses was permitted to have a brief glimpse of the backside of God, and when he came down from the mountain he had to put a veil over his face because his countenance was shining so brightly “the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold him,” such was the effect of his brief encounter with God (2 Cor. 3:7).
And, “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves, and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:1-2). Jesus, who came to earth and lived as a man ["the Word became flesh and made his welling among us," John 1:14] was so transfigured that He radiated the full glory that He had in heaven while still in his fleshly body.)
If Moses’ brief encounter with God was such a radical experience that the Israelites couldn’t look at him, and if Jesus, when He was transfigured in the presence of three of His disciples, and His face “shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:1-2), what does one imagine would happen if natural, unredeemed man -- who had not yet been transformed from being Body, Soul, and Spirit, back to being Spirit, Soul, and Body, was permitted to be saturated in the glorious atmosphere of heaven? Such a being could not exist even for a brief moment – he would be instantly extinguished – vaporized!
How do we experience that metamorphosis -- how do we change from being Body, Soul and Spirit, back to being Spirit, Soul and Body? We believe in and surrender to Jesus and make Him Lord of our lives. Even though we are still imperfect beings God sees us as perfected through the sacrificial blood of Jesus. There was a price to be paid for sin and Jesus paid that price. That selfless act is what saves us and gives us the assurance of eternal life. He stood in our place and took our sins upon Himself so we would never have to stand before a righteous God and hear the words "GUILTY!"
I have done my best to explain these truths and the revelations that the Holy Spirit has given me regarding this aspect of the kingdom of God and why we must be born again. Jesus once asked His disciples "Who do men say that I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the son of the Living God" (Matthew 16: 13-16).
Jesus explained to Peter that this confession of faith was a revelation from God, and within that revelation were the "keys to the kingdom." It's not a formula, and it's not just an altar call or a prayer you repeated once. It's a supernatural revealing that Peter had, and you too must have -- a revelation that He is the Messiah, the Christ, the one who was sent to save mankind. That's why we call Him our "Savior." It's a surrender and a transformed life. I can only hope that I have done justice to such an important topic. In this lifetime you will face no greater choice."