Conversion or the new birth, and regeneration, are one and the same. Conversion is the act of turning from sin to Christ; and regeneration is to be made a new human being by the power of The Holy Spirit. The New birth or Regeneration is the means that brings us into the family of God and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is the door to salvation and to a heavenly home. The one and only way to become a Christian is to be born again by the power of The Holy Spirit <see Jn.3:3; 14:6>. Regeneration is the creation of a new life in a person, and is referred to as “a new creation”, it is an event and not a process, it occurs in a second as the individual passes from the darkness of sin to the light of the gospel.
What does it mean to be “born again”? If a search is done on the internet there will be many links on the subject; movies, games, religious movements, and many others. But the important question is: Who needs to be born again? Biblically, the Scriptures teach that every individual on this earth needs to be born again. The next question will be: Why do I need to be born again? The answer to this question will depend upon the individual that asks the question, their life situation, their lifestyle and so on; but the real reason is that the Scriptures teach that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” <Rom.3:23 (NIV)>; and the result of this condition is: “the wages of sin is death” <Rom.6:23 (NIV)>; the Law of God demands the death of the sinner; in this life this death is experienced as a total disregard for God and a life of rebellion against God, and after death it is a total separation from God, His heaven and His kingdom. This type of lifestyle leads each individual to seek spiritual satisfaction in everything that life has to offer except that which is of God. “Oscar-winning actor Gary Busey has starred in over 60 films, including such hits as Lethal Weapon and The Firm, but Busey’s off-screen party-boy reputation and arrest record is center stage. After attending a Promise Keepers conference, his life changed dramatically. When asked if he thought about God when he was sinking into depravity, Busey states: “Of course not. There’s no way to think about God. There’s no reason to . . . ’cause your number-one relationship is with the dark side of you. . .. I learned that addiction is a failed search for spirituality.”” (Perfect Illustrations – Citation: ADDICTION-Melissa Park; Des Plaines, Illinois; source: The 700 Club, CBN). This type of lifestyle is repeated many times each day by other individuals searching for spiritually; but there are those that live a so called “clean lifestyle”; they never become involved with drugs or criminal offences, they are the faithful church attendees and social “good workers” always citing their good works as their ticket to heaven; but this is not what God requires. Christ said this to Nicodemus; “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”” <Jn.3:3 (NIV)>. Later on, in His teaching Christ also said: ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” <Jn.14:6 (NIV)>, indicating that there is only one way to be born again which is through acceptance of His sacrificial death and resurrection, and there are no exceptions or substitutions to this.
“Isn’t it grossly arrogant for Christians to claim Jesus is the one and only way to God? Why do Christians think they’re justified in asserting that they’re right and that everybody else in the world is wrong?” [Source: Lee Strobel – The Case For Faith; Objection #5: There’s Only One Way to God.] Without delving into too much of the details of this article by Lee Strobel, let us examine the source of this statement: the claim is not made by Christians, the claim has been made by Jesus Christ Himself, Christians are only repeating the claim as the gospel message is shared; so, I will end this quotation by another of Strobel’s statements: “But sometimes it’s not the manner in which the Christians try to spread their faith that’s offensive. Sometimes people are simply reacting to the message itself.” When one desires to enter and reside in the home of a neighbour or some important citizen, such entrance must be at the home-owner’s decree. Thus, entrance to God’s dwelling must be at God’s decree.
The fact is that there is nothing that any individual can personally do to be born again <see Gal.6:15; Jer.13:23; 17:9>. The universal sinful condition of mankind demands a new birth, and the holiness of God demands that all be born again <Heb.12:14>; such holiness is foreign to the sinful individual and can only be attained through the new birth; to live the life that God expects we must have the new nature of God within us – God’s own holy nature.
The New Birth (Regeneration) is not baptism. Baptism is simply a Church ordinance signifying that the individual is a Christian who identifies with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and wishes to live a Christ directed life. Neither is the New Birth a reformation; for reformation is the act of turning from certain evils while regeneration is the supernatural act of God, it is a complete turning about-face from all evil. Previously stated, all humankind have been born with the sin-nature, and there is nothing that we can do to alter or reform the old sinful nature, so there has to be a spiritual rebirth – a new creation; we need God’s Holy Nature within us; our first birth was physical, our second birth is spiritual: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world” <Eph.2:1-2; (NIV)>; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” <2 Cor.5:17 (NIV)>.
How then, is the New Birth accomplished? First, one hears and responds to the Word of God <see Jas.1:18; 1 Pet.1:23; Gal.3:2>; the New Birth is faith created – by hearing and acknowledging the Word of God. Secondly, The Holy Spirit convicts and then converts the individual, which is the act of bringing the individual into the kingdom of God, spiritual life is precipitated by the Holy Spirit <see Jn.3:5-6, 8>. Regeneration is a creative act of God and not a reformative act of mankind; God is the source, Christ is the means, the administrator is the Holy Spirit, and the method is by believing the Word of God and receiving Christ as Saviour: “He [Christ] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” <Jn.1:11-13 (NIV); see Rom.1:16; 1 Pet.1:25>.
The New Birth is evidenced in the life of the believer by the fact that the person who is born again endeavors to live a righteous life, since the new nature of God within us cannot sin <1 Jn.2:29; 3:9; 5:18a>. The individual will also make every effort to fulfill Christ’s command to love <Lk.10:27; Jn.13:34-35; 1 Jn.4:7>; and most important, believes that Jesus is the Christ <1 Jn.5:1a>. Thus, the New Life exhibits a change in attitude, mind and actions; sin is hated and Christ is loved; a total change of life!
Therefore, without Regeneration; “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”” <Jn.3:3 (NIV)>, which means that the New Life is required for all who expect and desire to entre God’s heaven; and those who have accepted Christ’s invitation through The Word of God are a “new creation” and will enter God’s heaven for this is Christ’s promise and our hope: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” <2 Cor.5:17 (NIV)>; “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV)>.
There are many who live and die in this world who have not experienced the New Birth, they die with no hope: “Philip Yancey describes a unique funeral custom conducted by African Muslims. Close family and friends circle the casket and quietly gaze at the corpse. No singing. No flowers. No tears. A peppermint candy is passed to everyone. At a signal, each one puts the candy in his or her mouth. When the candy is gone, each participant is reminded that life for this person is over. They believe life simply dissolves. No eternal life. No hope.” (Perfect Illustrations – DEATH WITHOUT HOPE Citation: Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts? (Zondervan, 1997); submitted by Van Morris; Mount Washington, Kentucky)
In who or what is your hope? Will your life just dissolve? Do you hope for heaven? You can only attain everlasting life in heaven through the New Birth.