How Can Sinners be Born from Above?

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:3).

God changes sinners into believers by the Word of Truth and the power of the Holy Spirit; so, believers are people Jesus called “born again” or “born anew” or “born from above.” In John 3:3, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” We do not completely understand how sinners are born again any more than the people of Jesus’ day understood how or where the wind blew, for Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Thankfully, the Bible does tell us that God changes believers by grace, by God’s powerful mercy and undeserved favor. Because we have sinned against our Holy God and Creator, we do not deserve the time or energy God gives us. Still, God changes believers through faith and trust in God: God the Father sent Jesus Christ into the world to do all that God knew to be necessary to save believers from their sins, to remove their condemnation and guilt, to cleanse them from all sin, and to freely give them eternal life. When Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, Jesus did so because His suffering and death on the cross were necessary. Similarly, our response of faith and trust in God and what God has done for us through Jesus Christ are necessary for us to become believers. As believers in Jesus Christ, God has given and gives us the truth of God’s Word written, the Holy Spirit, the Church, and God’s gifts to the Church to help us follow Jesus Christ and live more like Jesus Christ, to become good examples of what it means to live by faith and trust in Jesus Christ daily.

Before we became believers, we had so damaged our ability to reason, to understand, and to choose to follow Jesus Christ that God graciously changed or enhanced our ability to reason and understand the truth of the Bible, so with the help of the Holy Spirit we became believers in Jesus Christ. As Christians study the Bible and prayerfully teach or preach the truths they know from the Bible, the Holy Spirit helps their listeners believe and act upon the truths they learn. Though we do not understand the process completely, we sometimes call what happens when a sinner becomes a believer the process of being “born again” or “born anew.” Those who are “born from above” by the Word of Truth listen to or read the Bible so they can more closely follow Jesus and live like Jesus commanded and demonstrated, especially in their relationships with God with others.

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The Letter of James
Good News for Uncertain Times
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