What Does Being Born Again Really Mean?

Dr. John Ankerberg: I remember the day that I invited Christ to come into my life. And, you know, some people talk about the experience of falling in love with a girl or a guy, and it was a real moment, okay? But for me it was a moment where all of a sudden, I realized, “I know God personally.” And I just couldn’t fathom it. And I couldn’t stop from telling people, “I know God.” It’s something that people should have. 

Erwin Lutzer: And, you know, that’s the problem with Nicodemus. He was so overloaded with rules, but he had no reality. He had lots of rules to live by, but he had no relationship. John, there are people listening to us today who don’t understand that you can know God personally once you are born again, and the Holy Spirit of God changes your desires. Now, Jesus goes on and says that there is mystery connected with this. He says, you know, the wind blows wherever it wishes, and we don’t know too much about where it’s coming from and where it’s going. And the word wind in the text here is the same word as the word Spirit, and you will only know the difference because of the context. So, the Holy Spirit of God works mysteriously.

John Ankerberg: Yes.

Erwin Lutzer: Now, when a person is converted, it is instantaneous. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t all kinds of incremental issues which eventually lead him to conversion. And that certainly is true.

John Ankerberg: Yes.

Erwin Lutzer: I could give examples of that. And there are people who are listening today who have had the gospel shared with them in different ways. And God has brought them to this moment to see this program for this moment in their lives that they may accept Christ as Savior. And once that happens, it is an instantaneous change.

John Ankerberg: Yes. Erwin and I, we went to church all of our life, but we weren’t born again. We probably sang in the choir; I went to the Christian boy’s club; I played with all my Christian friends; I read the Bible with our family. I still wasn’t born again. And you can be a church member, a choir member, an usher. You can do good works. You can take care of the poor. You can give money in the offering plate, and you still aren’t born again. This is something; it’s a gift that only God gives and it’s a gift that you desperately need. 

Now, Erwin, you’ve got a tremendous illustration of how you can have a fantastic entrance into the kingdom of God by being born again. I’ll like you to share it with the people.

Erwin Lutzer: I’m so glad to be able to share this illustration, because when we begin to think about entering into the kingdom of God, it’s going to be an awesome experience. And I have to emphasize again that Jesus said, “You must be born again.” So, take it from Jesus. 

Many years ago, my daughter and I were in Washington, DC. My wife wasn’t able to be with me at that time. And I was speaking in a church that was just outside of Washington. When I was finished, a member of the Secret Service came to me after I had preached and said, “I’m a member of the Secret Service. Would you like to go into the White House, into the Oval Office tomorrow?” Now, of course, that was very exciting. And Monday happened to be the Labor Day weekend, and this was during the time when the first President Bush was president, and so perhaps security was not quite as tight as it is today. So, obviously, we agreed that we would meet him on Monday morning in one of those little huts that you frequently see on television. 

And there were a number of guards that were there at the gate. Now, what’s interesting is that the guards looked at him, the Secret Service agent, then they looked at us, and they said, “Oh, you’re with him? Go on in.” 

Now, when you get to the door of the White House, what you discover is that there are more guards there. And they looked at the agent and then they looked at us, and they said, “Go on in.” At the door of the Oval Office there was one guard that was standing at attention. He kind of glanced at us, saw that we were with a Secret Service agent, and he said that we could go in. Now, we couldn’t go to the president’s desk, but we were able to enter into the Oval Office. 

Now, as I reflected on this, I thought to myself: Imagine all of us dying. And all of those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit as we are talking about today, imagine that all of us are on our way to the kingdom of God, to the Holy City, the very presence of the Almighty. And let us also imagine that along the way there are sentries of angels that are kind of guarding the heavenly city. We go past the first group. They look at Jesus, who comes to accompany us, and they say, “You’re with Him? Go on in.” We come to another group of angels. “You’re with Him?” They look at Jesus. “Go on in.” 

And then we have a flashback. And we think of all of our sins, because now in the distance we see the holiness of God. And we think to ourselves, “We can’t go in.” We can’t go in, because among us there are those who are criminals and done horrible things. And the rest of us, who perhaps haven’t done all of those awful things, still had a lot of iniquity in our hearts that we committed. But the angel looks at Jesus and says, “You’re with Him? Go on in.”

Then Jesus presents us to the Father and says, “Father, these are your people. They are all born again. They are redeemed by Your blood. And I have inspected them, and I find no fault in them. They are yours. They are redeemed.” 

Imagine entering into the kingdom of God, and the only way to get there is to be born again and accept the words of Jesus and the work of Jesus.

(Extracted from our series “How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God – Part 2.”

About Dr. John Ankerberg interviews Dr. Erwin Lutzer

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