How can a man be born a second time?
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-5).
Perhaps the idea of being “born again” doesn’t make much sense with just an initial glance. But John went on to explain in the next eighteen chapters just how a person can be born again.
Why do I want to be born again? Because Jesus said it is the only way to get to heaven, and His words are final. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). God’s Word was true and final ten thousand years ago. His Word was true and final two thousand years ago. And His Word is still true and final today.
How then can we be “born again?” And the answer is to simply obey the Word of God which gives us FOUR steps to salvation.
The first step is to “Believe.”
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Believing requires action. In Matthew 7:24 Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man.” But in Matthew 7:26 Jesus said, “And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them is a foolish man.”
The second step to being born again is for our old man to die.
Three times the New Testament refers to our carnal nature as our “old man.” “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).
In order for us to have a new life there must first be a death or a “crucifying” of our old life.
This second step to being born again is repentance. Simply ask Jesus to forgive you for the wrong in your life. In doing so, we take on the death of Jesus Christ.
At this point it is important to notate that steps three and four are not necessarily chronological. You will find in Acts 10 that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. Even still, Peter asked, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”
The third step to being born again is the burial of the carnal person.
Paul said, “We are buried with Jesus by baptism into death…. For if we have been baptized in the likeness of Jesus death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5).
When we repent we take on the death of Christ. And, when we are baptized we take on the burial of Christ. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Acts 2:37 says, “Now when the crowd heard Peter’s preaching, they were convicted in their heart, and asked Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
They asked a direct question, “What do we need to do to be saved?”
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
The Samaritans were baptized!
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. … When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. … Simon … believed also: and … was baptized…” (Acts 8:5-13).
Philip baptized the Ethiopian!
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:26-38).
The Gentiles were baptized!
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:44-48).
John’s disciples were baptized!
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6).
In Acts 22:16, Paul said, “I was commanded to be baptized.”
The first step to being born again is to believe. The second step to being born again is to repent or make a conscious decision to die out to our carnal nature. When we do this we take on the death of Jesus Christ as a substitute for our own second death. The third step to being born again is to be baptized or to bury that old carnal man. When we are baptized we take on the burial of Jesus Christ.
And the fourth step to being born again is to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
The disciples received the Holy Ghost!
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost (the Spirit of God), and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
The Samaritans received the Holy Spirit!
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17).
The Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit!
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And the Jews which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46).
And the fifth and final step of salvation is found in Hebrews 12:14: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Obeying the Word of God is a prerequisite to being saved. And the Bible clearly states that peace and holiness are absolute must if we want to see Jesus.
Finally, there are those who would say that the only step to salvation is “to believe.” And to prove this they would use Acts 16:30-31: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” However, this is an incomplete reading of the Scriptures. The following verses (Acts 16:32-33) say, “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Two questions must be asked about this passage. Number one, what was the “word of the Lord” that Paul and Silas spoke of in verse 32? And, why were they all baptized if “believe” is the only step to salvation? The answer to both of these questions is found in all the other scriptures for every word of the Bible must be believed and obeyed.
To that end, it is not what we do that saves us. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Our salvation is provided by God. We receive salvation when we believe and obey all of the Word of God.