Nicodemus Reborn

Published in the December 2011 issue of Faithlink, the magazine of Faith Methodist Church

Do Christians believe in reincarnation? The Bible says that man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, there is NO rebirth again and again. However, Christians believe in being “born again”. Jesus said that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3). This raises the question, “How can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born?”

Nicodemus, a religious Jewish teacher was struggling with this issue. He was impressed by what Jesus did and said. Yet he did not dare to acknowledge that openly because of his peers. You see, Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council which was antagonistic towards Jesus. So Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. Nicodemus knew that there was something special about Jesus – that He was a teacher who had come from God. That was when Jesus said that Nicodemus must be born again. Nicodemus was puzzled, “How can someone be born when he is old?”

Jesus clarified that this “rebirth” is not a physical rebirth but a spiritual birth. To be born again is to be born from above. This is receiving a new life from God. You cannot see the spiritual birth but it is real. Just as you cannot see wind nevertheless it is real. You hear the sound of the wind but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. Nicodemus was still skeptical and asked, “How can this be?” The problem with Nicodemus is not the lack of understanding but of belief. Jesus said, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — Jesus Christ who was born as a baby. Is it better that man below tries to explain God above or that Jesus (who came from above) explains who God is and what He is like? Man (who is from the earth) speaks as one from the earth. A finite man cannot explain an infinite God! No one has ever seen God, but Jesus. He is the one and only Son, who is himself God and being closest to the Father, he has made him known to us. What did Jesus tell us about God?

“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.” (John 3:16)
The Bible also tells us that “… to all who did receive him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent … but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

All his life, Nicodemus taught others that they could earn God’s approval by following a list of rules. And now Jesus turned the tables by explaining that man simply needs to believe in Him to be born again that is born of God to become His children. This means that you have to abandon all attempts to become good or righteous to earn favor with God. Instead, you need to be willing to accept the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life offered by Jesus. When Jesus became a man, He came not to condemn man but as a Savior to provide the way of salvation for sinners. However, when He comes back a second time He will come as the Judge of all men.

Nicodemus was faced with a dilemma. Should he seek acceptance by his peers or acceptance by God? You too have to choose whom you believe? Will you believe that Jesus came to die for your sins? Sin is anything that we think, say or do that breaks God’s laws. According to the Bible, Jesus died for our sins and was buried but three days later, He came back to life. Jesus appeared first to His disciples; after that He was seen by more than 500 people at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And without dying again, He went back to Heaven, where He is today.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, He can give you a new life. So when a man believes in Jesus, he is forgiven of his sins and is born again (to become a child of God) making fellowship (friendship) with God possible. But if he chooses to reject Jesus then he chooses to stand before God on the basis of what he has done (instead of what Jesus had done on the cross). And he will be condemned because all his works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Will you believe in Jesus?

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Alan's Gleanings | Copyright © December 2011 by Alan S.L. Wong