Born Again

September 22, 2019

David Sorn

In order to enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus says we must be born again. Why is that, and what does “born again” even mean?

Born Again

September 22, 2019

David Sorn

In order to enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus says we must be born again. Why is that, and what does “born again” even mean?


Let me ask you a few questions…

What would you think of me if we were walking on a trail together somewhere and I saw some wild berries.

And as I grabbed a bunch of them, you said, “David, don’t…they could be poisonous!”

And I said, “Meh, I’m sure they’re fine”

Or what if, on that same walk, we came to a river, and there was an old rickety, wooden bridge that looked 100 years old…and honestly looked like it could fall apart any second.”

Like this one:

(Wooden Bridge Photo)

What if you said, “Let’s not cross…”

And I said, “Meh, I’m sure I’ll be fine,” and just started walking…

Or what if, on that same walk, someone came up to us and asked for all of my bank account information because they promised me they could double my money in 10 days.

What if I said, “Meh, sure, here it is!”

(back to Chief Virtue Series slide)

You’d have some serious problems with my assumptions, right?

You’d say, “My friend, you’re taking some pretty big risks here. Some of them involve the possible loss of life.”

You can’t just ASSUME everything’s going to be okay.

If you’re going to go forward, you have to know more about it.

If you’re going to eat those berries, at least get that new plant app they have where you just scan the flower or tree and it tells you if it’s poisonous!

(Show plant Identifier App Photo)

If you’re ever going to give someone your bank account info, you would need to first do A LOT of research on that person!

You can’t just assume and go forward!

(Back to Chief Virtue series slide)

Now let me ask you something.

If that’s true, and all of those things are soooo obvious to us…

Why is it that most Americans have staked where they will be for all of eternity on an assumption?

Right? Think about this…Reason with me..

One day, everyone in here will die…hopefully of old age… (105)

And you will go somewhere…

The Bible says it’s heaven or hell.

Do you know…for sure…where you will be?

Or, have you been working off a lot of assumptions?

The average American would say, “No, I don’t really know for sure.”

“I’ve just kind of assumed I’m going to heaven because (and then they explain their assumption)…

But just think about this…

Isn’t it a significantly bigger risk to assume that you know where you’re going to be for the next trillion years compared to even taking a risk with, say, your money.

And if you wouldn’t risk your money on an assumption, why would you risk your eternity?


Perhaps, if you’re here today, you’re curious about what Jesus actually teaches about this.

So let’s open up a Bible and read it.

That way we can look at what Jesus ACTUALLY says

(Page 862)

(Renovation app)

We’re going to meet a man in this passage named Nicodemus

Nicodemus is a man who was skeptical of Jesus, but curious at the same time.

And rather than just assume he was right…he’s going to investigate, so he takes his questions to Jesus.

(John 3:1-2) – NIV

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Nicodemus was a Pharisee.

He was one of the religious leaders of the day.

But most of the Pharisees were opposed to Jesus because they thought he was too forgiving of sinners.

But Nicodemus is intrigued by Jesus…so he comes to see him.

And notice that Nicodemus comes at night…so he won’t really be seen.

And maybe that’s where you are right now.

Maybe you’re intrigued by Jesus.

Maybe you’ve heard some good things about Him…

Maybe you went to church growing up…and you still have positive connotations of Jesus.

But maybe, like Nicodemus, you’re not about to come right out on social media and say, “Hey everybody…I’m looking for GOD!!”

But you’re curious enough about Him…that you’re here at a Family Fun Day event…

It’s kind of like looking for Jesus at night. J

Let me just say, “Jesus will take you anyway you come to Him” At day, during the night…doesn’t matter

Let’s look now to see how Jesus himself answers the “curious skeptic” of Nicodemus

(John 3:3-7) – NIV

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Jesus tells Nicodemus…that Nicodemus cannot see OR enter the Kingdom of God, unless He’s born again.

That’s a phrase that people have thrown out in all sorts of different ways (put that out of your mind).

The phrase originally comes from Jesus’ words in the Bible.

So what does Jesus mean by that phrase “born again?”

He means that a person will not truly experience God on earth…and will not go to heaven to be with God…unless they’re born again.

Nicodemus then, rather awkwardly says, “Um, I don’t think I’m going to fit in my mom’s womb anymore to be born a second time.”

But Jesus explains that Nicodemus is not getting it.

In Verse 6, Jesus says, “Flesh gives birth to flesh…

He’s saying, “I’m not talking about an physical birth”

We’re talking about a spiritual birth.

The Spirit gives birth to the Spirit.

We’re talking about God Himself coming into you and making you alive…born again.

Born on a spiritual level.

How does that happen?

Let’s come back to that…

Let me first tell you that Nicodemus is having such a hard time with this because why in the world would he need to be “born again” to enter the Kingdom of God…

He thinks he needs no such thing!

If there is anyone in this room who thinks they are a good person…

You’re a good parent, a good citizen, you volunteer, you coach your kids’ soccer team, your help your elderly neighbor…you’re a good person…

I can almost guarantee you Nicodemus was a more moral person than any of us

He spent his whole life studying and memorizing the Old Testament (in the Bible).

He was spending every waking moment, trying to make sure he obeyed the 613 unique commands of “being good” that his leaders had come up with.

And Jesus looks right as this guy, who’s a way more moral person than any of us, and says, “You’re not going to go to heaven…in fact you can’t really know God…unless you’re born again”

I didn’t say that…Jesus Christ said that.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Now, Nicodemus…you’ve done a pretty good job here with your life…but if you make just a few more improvements…stop doing this…start doing that…you’ll be saved”

Nope, nothing Nicodemus has done counts.

None of it will save him.

Jesus is talking about a complete restart

Nicodemus needs to be born again.

So many people wrongly think that Christianity teaches that you just need to be good person to get to heaven.

That’s exactly what it’s NOT about.

It’s almost the exact opposite of that.

The Bible teaches that your good deeds will never be enough to save you

And only by being born again…by having God come into your life, can you be saved.

I spent the first 18 years of my life thinking like Nicodemus.

I thought…if I just do enough good.

I don’t need to be perfect…and I did plenty of awful things.

But it wasn’t like I let myself go wild either.

I was still trying to be a decent human being.

Have my good outweigh my bad

And I think that’s how many Americans think

But when I opened up a Bible for myself…and realized that even if I was holier than mother Theresa…for the entire rest of my life…it wouldn’t be enough to save me.

That was a jaw-dropping moment for me.

When I realized that the only way you can be forgiven and saved is to be born-again…

…that was the moment my entire life changed.


But I’m not sure that enough people realize that this is the teaching of Jesus.

30 years ago…maybe even 10 years ago…people always said, “Nah, I’m a good enough person…as long as I don’t kill anyone…and try and be nice…of course I’ll go to heaven”

In 2019, I’m not sure people even think that way anymore.

More and more, I meet people who say, “It actually doesn’t matter at all what I do…God accepts me as I am…and loves me…thus when I die, as a loving God, He’ll accept me into heaven”

But you ALSO can’t find that ANYWHERE in teachings of Jesus if you read the Bible yourself.

If you’ve never really read the Bible for yourself …I CAN NOT encourage you enough to do so.

if you don’t own a Bible…just take the one under your chair.

Why risk the next trillion years of your life on an assumption?

You can start right here…in the Book of John if you like.

The idea that “God accepts me as I am and will forgive me no matter what” is NOT a teaching you’ll find in the Bible.

THREE TIMES Jesus says back to Nicodemus…you must be born again.

If you’re going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…you must be born again!

Have you been born a second time?

Have you had a spiritual birth as a follower of Jesus?

If you haven’t been born again, realize that you’re risking you’re entire eternity on the hope that Jesus was lying……about the necessity of being born again to be saved.

I’m just not sure we think critically enough about our assumptions regarding eternity.

We don’t like to think of our death very much, but think of it for a moment.

When you die…and you see Jesus on the great white throne at judgment day.

And He says to you, “You were not born again…you did not accept my gift of salvation and become my follower.”

Will you say to Him…on His throne, “Oh, I just always assumed you would just accept me no matter what…so why don’t you do it my way?”

When we think of it like that…we realize that what we “think” might happen at our death is irrelevant

Something very definite will happen.

There are not 1,000 different possibilities that will ALL happen

That’s both ludicrous and illogical.

Something very definite will happen.

And the most important task of your life is humbly trying to discover what will happen when you die.


While there are some of you here today that say, “I’m good enough to go to heaven,” and others say, “Nah, God will just accept me and forgive me no matter what I do”…

There are still others of you that say, “I’ll never be good enough…I’ve made too many mistakes”

But that’s also not true…according to Jesus.

Jump ahead to verse 16 in our chapter

(John 3:16) – NIV

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

Do you know what this means?

This is why Christianity went from 12 followers of Jesus to reaching every part of the world.

The teachings of Jesus are…you are never going to be good enough.

You will always have sin…sin that deserves God’s wrath and justice.

But God….because He LOVES you…sent His Son Jesus to die in your place on the cross.

And Jesus took the punishment that you deserved for you.

And if you would just believe in Him…become a follower of His…

You won’t perish in hell because of your sins…you would have eternal life in heaven.

In fact, your faith in Him as your Savior…THAT is what makes you born again!

When you believe in Him, He will come into you and make you a new person.

It’s a spiritual rebirth!

It will change you…forever.

It’s like going from seeing in black and white to seeing in color.

He will be with you…and give you strength and encouragement and love.

You can have a relationship with Him where He can guide you and love you.


I think this will make even more sense if I read the verses around John 3:16…maybe you’ve seen that Bible verse before, but few people have ever read the verses around it:


14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

These words stand in stark contrast to the now popular idea that God will just accept you one day no matter what.

Look at verse 18.

It says, “Whoever does not believe stands condemned”

Because they did not believe in God’s one and only Son…

God sent his own Son Jesus to die a horrific death on the cross for them…and they rejected that gift…

And thus they were not born again…and thus they will be condemned…to hell because they weren’t SAVED

To explain all this, as background, Jesus refers to (verse 14) the time when Moses lifted up a snake in the wilderness.

He’s referencing a story in the Old Testament where poisonous snakes were biting and killing people.

Moses prayed to God about it, and God said he would heal the people in an interesting way.

God told Moses, “Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole and hold it up. If anyone who was bitten looks up at the snake…they will live”

If they look up in faith…trusting in God to heal them…they will miraculously be healed…and have life.

Now look at these verses again:

(John 3:14-15) - NIV

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Where was Jesus lifted up?

On the cross!

What did he do on the cross?

He died for your sins!

And so the Bible is saying, that if you would only LOOK UP to Him as your Savior, you could be born again.

If you would look up at Jesus…believing he can save you from the poison of sin…You could have eternal life in heaven.

Think about being born.

Children can never be born by their own effort.

You can’t make yourself be born

Children are only born through the labor, the pain, and the blood of someone else.

And that’s the only way you can be saved and born again.

Through the pain and blood of Jesus Christ.

Who died on the cross for all of your sins.

But you can’t be saved, you’ll be dead in the poison of your sin… if you don’t look up to Him.

To be born again…requires an enormous amount of humility.

That’s what our entire series this month, the chief virtue…of humility…has been about.

To be born again…

means you need to come like a little child to God…

It means you have to say…

“God, I cannot save myself.”

“I do not have this all figured out.”

“I cannot FIX my own life.”

“I cannot get to you by my own good deeds”

And I must tell you there is no better choice you can make than to surrender your life to God.

Think about how much He loves you.

He has seen all of your sin…all of your mistakes.

Even your future mistakes!

And He still said, “I will send my own son to die in their place for those sins”

“To take the punishment that they deserve”

You can’t just say, “I believe…and then go on with your life as you did before…because surely then you don’t really believe”

But if you truly believe the Son of God died for you…then you will live all of your days for Him.

You will be born again…and get to be in a life-changing relationship with the God of the universe.

That’s the offer that sits before you…and it DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THAT!

And so if you’re here today…and you want to be born again…to be forgiven…to enter the Kingdom of God.

You can do so today.

Let’s just have everybody bow their heads and close their eyes…for just a minute.

If you want to make that decision to believe that Jesus died for you, and let Him into your life…to be forgiven … in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.

It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, I believe only you can save me, and I want to surrender my life to you”

This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision.

NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.

So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you and you’ve never done this before.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him for the first time, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are. (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)

If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME.

If God himself is prompting you to do something right now, don’t disobey that.

Stand up. God is talking to you!

If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?

This is just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.

So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me

IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.

So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.

As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment

I need you to do one more thing for me.

It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.

You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, one of our leaders is going to pray, but right before they do that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.

I’m going to go out there with you…and I want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.

If you didn’t stand up, but you know you made this decision too…just come out with us.

All right, one of our leaders is going to pray

But for now, would you please head out there with me.

Go ahead. We can all go together.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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