Yesterday I wrote on eternal life and how it begins at the moment of Spiritual birth, and not at the moment of physical death. Jesus taught Nicodemus clearly that in order to be a child of God, one must be born Spiritually. No one is a believer in Christ if he has not been born again, born Spiritually. We cannot go to Heaven when we die unless we are born Spiritually.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “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?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’.”
– John 3.3-7
So that begs the question, “How do you know that you were born again?” As your mind starts running to answer the question, stop and consider your physical existence. How do you know that you were born physically? It is because you are alive! No one would go and pull out his birth certificate as proof that he was born. No one would go search out a video of the birth or a witness who knew his mother when she was pregnant. No. We simply understand that all who are alive now were born. That is how human life and existence begins! The actions of a man and a woman led to conception which resulted in a new life that was physically born nine months later.
Now, consider again the question, “How do you know that you were born again?” Is your knee jerk answer to say, “I asked Jesus into my heart”? Jesus very intentionally chose the imagery of birth to describe what happens spiritually when we are saved. No one has any control over when he is born, physically. It was not your choice to be conceived, to grow for nine months inside of the womb and then to come out into the world. You were not a Spirit that chose and said, “Now is my time!” This truth is the same Spiritually. Paul teaches us that before we were born again, we were dead Spiritually. There was no life in us:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
– Eph 2.1-2
We were dead and walking in Spiritual darkness. When we fumble around in the dark we cannot find our way, but God chooses to reveal His light:
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
– 2 Cor 4.6
As a dead creature that resides in the darkness, we cannot and will not ever choose to come to God on our own. It is an impossibility. It is like someone choosing to be born physically. And Jesus said that,
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
– John 6.44
God gives faith (Eph 2.8-9), and God grants repentance (2 Tim 2.25). We cannot have faith or repent in our own strength, that is of the Spirit.
And after the seed of the Gospel was planted in our lives, only God causes Spiritual growth:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
– 1 Cor 3.6-7
God grants it to some to believe:
“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”
– Phil 1.29
After God gives us this Spiritual life, He makes us a new creation. We were one type of creation before having Spiritual life, and then He recreated us into a Spiritual child of God. We did not create or form ourselves physically or Spiritually.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
– 2 Cor 5.17
Jesus Himself said that no knows God or can see God except those to whom He chooses to reveal Himself and God:
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
– Matt 11.27
And ultimately, Jesus teaches us that it is of the will of God alone that we are born Spiritually:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
– John 1.12-13
Now, understanding that Scripture teaches us clearly that the new birth, our Spiritual birth, is not anything that we do or of ourselves, but of God and His will, how do we know that we were born Spiritually? Asking Jesus into our hearts is not the proof. Spiritual life is the proof. In the very same way that we know we were born physically by the fact that we are alive, we can know that we were born Spiritually because are alive Spiritually! The moment of birth comes at the moment of faith. The moment that God reveals Himself to us, draws us to Himself, causes us to be aware of our sin and the righteousness of Christ that is made available to us by repentance, we have life. Then God begins the work of sanctification: causing us to die to our flesh and be transformed into the image of Christ.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
– Phil 1.6
God began the work of salvation in our lives and He will complete it. He is the one who is causing our Spiritual growth and maturity, by transforming us.
Does that mean that we are off the hook of responsibility? Most certainly not! We know that people go to Hell as punishment for their sins, and we know that we prove ourselves to be of God by our submission to the Spirit. If we refuse to obey then we ultimately prove ourselves to have never been saved, to have never been of God. Therefore if we continue in sin we know that the just reward is an eternity separated from God in Hell. But we also must understand that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit alone that we can obey. Thus we must seek Him daily, we must rely on His strength and pursue His will. We must die to our flesh, put away the deeds of sin that we enjoy, and put on righteousness – by the strength and power that He provides.
Are you alive Spiritually? Do you hear the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin and righteousness (John 16.8)? When you approach a decision and entertain a sinful path, does the Spirit convict you? When you choose to sin, do you experience the grief of the Spirit and desire to make right what was wronged? Do you understand the voice of the Spirit guiding you to make decisions that honor God, that proclaim the Gospel, that obey His word? Do you enjoy worshiping Him and making much of Him? Do you have hope? Do you have peace? Do you have faith?
These are the markers of Spiritual life. Not an action that you preformed, a prayer that you prayed or a card that you signed. Do you know that you were born?