Newspaper Article published 3.22.19

“The Prerequisite of Spiritual Growth:  You MUST BE Born Again”:  John 3:7

Dr. Gary M. Barker

In my meditation last week, I wrote about God’s command for every believer to grow spiritually (2 Peter 3:18).  We all know that in order to grow physically as human beings, we must first be born.  This fact is also true about a believer’s spiritual life.  A person must first be born spiritually before he can start to grow spiritually.  This truth is what the Lord Jesus Christ clearly taught Nicodemus in John 3:1-13.  Jesus told Nicodemus as a grown religious teacher that it was an absolute necessity to be “born again”.  The first birth was physical (John 3:6) and the second birth was spiritual being caused by God the Holy Spirit (John 3:7-8).  Jesus explains in John 3:15-17 what is involved in being born again.  Every person will perish and go to hell if he is not born again.  Jesus gives this warning very clearly (John 3:15-16).  This new birth occurs when a person believes in Christ as his personal Savior from sin.  Jesus was sent from heaven by His Father to die for sinners as a substitute on the cross (John 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).  God accepted Christ’s payment for sin as proved by raising Him from the dead.  This truth is called the “gospel” which means good news (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, Romans 1:16).  God demonstrated His Love for the world by sending and giving us His Son to save us from sin’s condemnation.  This is the clear teaching of the famous and well known verse in John 3:16: “But God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son”.  Jesus made the promise that if a person would believe in Him as the Savior, he would not perish and go to hell but receive the gracious gift of everlasting life and go to heaven.  In John 3:17, Jesus said that God sent His Son into the world not to condemn people but to save them.  What causes a person to be born again is that he receives everlasting life.  Everlasting life is the life God possesses which is received when a person believes in Christ.  Christ comes to live in the body of a believer resulting in being born again which is the same as experiencing spiritual birth.  In I John 5:9-12, the Bible teaches that a believer has eternal life because Christ indwells or lives in him. The apostle Paul taught in Romans 6:23 that thru Jesus Christ we can receive the GIFT of eternal life.  This gift is received by believing what Jesus said in John 3:16. When a person believes the gospel, he is born again with eternal life and is able to begin growing spiritually.  Without being born again, it is impossible to grow spiritually.  The simple truth is:  Spiritual birth must precede spiritual growth.  This theologically is called Regeneration (Titus 3:4-7).  I will write more about this in my next meditation.