The Nature of a New Birth

By Adrian Rogers

Sermon Date: February 3, 1985

Main Scripture Text: John 3:1–7, 16

Outline

Introduction

I. A Birth Involves a Conception

II. A Birth Involves a Creation

III. A Birth Involves a Character

A. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Be Holy

B. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love the Lord

C. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love Lost Souls

D. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love the Bible

IV. A Birth Involves a Commencement

V. A Birth Involves a Completion

VI. A Birth Involves a Certainty

Conclusion

Introduction

We are going to begin reading in verse 1 (John chapter 3). If you did not bring a Bible with you, look in the pew racks, and there you will find a Bible. John chapter 3: “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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:1–7). And then, skip to verse 16: “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” (John 3:16).

Now, as I’ve already said, there has been quite a bit of talk about this matter of the new birth today, and so many people are really confused about the matter of a new birth. And, Jesus Christ did not talk to us about the matter of a new birth in order to confuse us but literally to confirm us and to help us to understand. Jesus was the master teacher, so He talked to us about things that we could understand and how we could become a part of the kingdom of God.

It has been pointed out that there are a number of different kingdoms. The lower kingdom is what we would call “the mineral”; that is, the minerals, the rocks, and things that are placed in mother earth. That’s the lowest stratum; that’s the lowest kingdom. And then, above that is a higher kingdom that we would call “the vegetable kingdom.” These are living things; and so, that makes them higher than minerals. And so, there’s a kingdom above the mineral kingdom, and that’s the vegetable kingdom. But, the vegetable kingdom doesn’t have conscience life. You may talk to your plants, but I really doubt that it does much good. Then, above that is the animal kingdom. Animals have conscious lives; and so, we put the animal kingdom above the vegetable kingdom, which is above the mineral kingdom. But, animals don’t have a spirit like human beings do. Animals are not made in the image of God like human beings are. So, above that is the human kingdom, and we’re all members of the human kingdom. And, that’s pretty high, but there’s another kingdom above it all—and that is referred to here in John, the third chapter, as “the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Now, the question comes: How can a person move from one kingdom to the other kingdom? It’s very obvious that those in the mineral kingdom cannot—that which is in the mineral kingdom cannot—by its own efforts place itself into the vegetable kingdom. And, vegetables cannot by their own effort place themselves into the animal kingdom, and animals by their effort cannot place themselves into the human kingdom. And, humans, as we’re going to see, cannot by their efforts place themselves into the kingdom of God. But, the mineral kingdom may move into the vegetable kingdom. How? Well, those vegetables put down their roots into the ground and absorb those minerals, and those minerals actually become vegetable. And, the vegetable kingdom may move up into the animal kingdom. How? Because the animal is grazing, or browsing, or feeding—take those green things and bring those things up into the animal kingdom as they feed upon them. And, they turn those vegetables into animal matter. And then, that animal kingdom may be a part of the human kingdom. How? Because we take old Bessie and turn her in to filet mignons, and rump roast, and all of these things; and then, we serve her for Sunday dinner, and she becomes a part of the human kingdom. And, she’s absorbed, and lifted, and brought up into the human kingdom. And, correspondingly, dear friend, we can be brought up into the kingdom of God—not by our own efforts, but God Himself can reach down and bring us up into His kingdom. The Bible calls this “being born again.”

We can’t do it by our own efforts. I might illustrate, this morning, if I have time, by asking a little boy to come up here today, to stand up here and put his hands under his shoes and see if he can lift himself off the floor. Of course he couldn’t do it. Now, I can lift him, but he couldn’t lift himself off the floor, and no person by his effort can lift himself into the kingdom of God. But, he can be born into that kingdom. Literally, what Jesus said is that we must be born from above. In the Greek language, “to be born again” literally says—if you were to give an exact translation, it would literally say—that “you must be born from above.” Now, what we really need, therefore, is not a boost from beneath, but a birth from above. You understand? We can’t just simply push ourselves into the kingdom of God, but we can be born into the kingdom of God—that God will reach down and bring us into His heavenly kingdom.

And, he will say, “I’m so glad that God used the figure of a birth, because that’s something we can all understand.” Now, Jesus is talking to us about earthly things. You remember—He told Nicodemus, “If you’ve read the whole story, if I’ve told you earthly things, and you don’t understand, how shall you understand if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12). A birth is an earthly thing. We all understand the birth.

Now, there are many figures for salvation given in the Bible—and they are all good, but we don’t understand them all, necessarily. For example, being saved is like a sheep returning to the fold. Well, if you’ve never seen a sheep, you might have difficulty with that. Or, being saved is like a leper who has been healed of his leprosy. Well, if you’ve never had leprosy and never seen a leper healed, you might have difficulty with that. Or, being saved is, for example, like a resurrection. I don’t think any of you have had one or seen one. But, being saved is like a resurrection; it’s compared to that. But, there is one thing I know about everybody here: we’ve all been born—we have. Did anybody get here any other way? You were all born; we were all born. And so, there Jesus took something that was absolutely common to human beings—something that we could all understand—and He used that to teach us a great, tremendous spiritual birth. And so, I want us to learn what literally it is to be born again and why did the Lord Jesus Christ call it a “birth.”

Now, pay attention. You say, “Well, Pastor, I’m religious.” You don’t need to tell me that. It was a religious man to whom Jesus Christ was speaking. Jesus Christ was speaking to a man named Nicodemus. Remember what the Bible says: “There was a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus” (John 3:1). Now, you think about that. His earthly name, Nicodemus, means “superior.” He was a superior man. He was a Jew. That was the chosen race. He was “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). That means that he was one of the Sanhedrin. There were less than eighty people in this Jewish court, and he was one of them—“a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). And yet, Jesus said to Nicodemus that he had to be born again (John 3:7). A very, very religious man—but Jesus told him, “Except [he were] born again, he [could not] see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

So, now, whether you’re Baptist, or Methodist, or Presbyterian, or Episcopalian, or Roman, or Catholic, or Jewish, just put all that aside, and I want to ask you this question today: Do you know that you know that you know that you’ve been born again? If not, I want to remind you, that did not say it is optional, that it might be good if you were born again. He said, “[You] must be born again” (John 3:7)—“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Now, why did Jesus use the figure of a birth?

I. A Birth Involves a Conception

Well, in the first place, a birth implies a conception. That is, there are things that come together in order to cause a birth. You were conceived in your mother’s womb when that sperm from your father and that egg from your mother came together. There was a conception, and because of that conception, a life began. There were two elements that came together that caused a birth. Now, the same thing is true in the new birth: there are two elements that come together. You read about them in John chapter 3 and verse 5. When Jesus said that which—“except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). And so, there are the two elements. Over here is water, and over here is the Spirit and God saying that “You must be born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5).

Now, what does it mean to be born of water? Some people have the mistaken idea that when Jesus said in John chapter 3, verse 5, that you must be born of water (John 3:5) that Jesus was talking about baptism—not at all, not at all. I’ll tell you why. First of all, baptism is not a picture of a birth but of a death. The Bible says, “Buried with him in baptism … ye are risen … raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). And, if Jesus talked about that, He’d be mixing a metaphor. And secondly, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Aren’t you a master in Israel, and you don’t know these things?” (John 3:10). That is, “You’ve had all this Old Testament study, and you ought to know this.” Well, baptism is not an Old Testament thing. There’s no reason that Nicodemus should have known about baptism. That’s a New Testament truth. Yet Jesus scolded him for not understanding what He was talking about. Besides that, dear friend, baptism is a work, and we are not saved by works. The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). And, don’t you ever let anybody tell you that you are born again by being baptized. It is sheer folly to believe that. The Bible says in Romans chapter 10: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). And, if you make baptism necessary for salvation, let me tell you what you do: you take that “whosoever” out of the Bible.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s just imagine that today there’s a man who is flying in his jet airplane over the Sahara Desert. And, his airplane malfunctions, and it flames out. And, he knows it’s going down. And, he pushed the eject button, and the canopy comes open. And, he is catapulted out, and he pulls the ripcord. And, he drifts to the desert floor, and he’s there on the burning, broiling desert floor. Nobody knows he’s there. For hundreds of miles he has no water, no canteen. He knows, before long, he’s going to dehydrate and die. There’s not a drop of water anywhere. He remembers what his mother taught him about the Lord Jesus Christ. He remembers the preaching of his pastor who taught the grace of God—how a man could be saved by Christ, who died on the cross to pay for his sins. He’s convicted of his sin. He says, “O God, what a fool I’ve been! I’ve lived for self and self alone. And now, God, you’ve brought me to this place. God, at least I thank you that you’ve given me enough time to think it all through. I believe I’m going to die here, but I don’t want to die without knowing you. Now Jesus, you died for me on the cross. You said that, if I would believe on you, that you would save me. You taught, ‘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’ (John 3:16). And God, right now, with all of my heart, as much as in it is, I repent of sin. I open my heart. I receive you, Jesus, now, as my Lord and Savior.” And, let’s say that he was not just saying that; he was praying that and meaning that. He was literarily trusting Christ to save him. He really meant it. Would he be saved? Of course. For the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

If I make baptism necessary for salvation, that man can’t be saved. Number one: There’s no water there to baptize him with. Number two: There’s no preacher there to baptize him. Number three: He wouldn’t be of a certain denomination. Huh? But, dear friend, the moment you make baptism necessary for salvation, you take the “whosoever” out of the Bible, and you have to read it this way: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, and is fortunate enough to be near water, and is fortunate to have a minister, and is fortunate enough to have somebody to baptize him, can be saved.” And, at that moment, you’re going to eliminate a lot of people, dear friend. I’m everlastingly glad that we’re saved by the grace of God. And, anytime, any moment, and any place anybody says “yes” to Christ and means it, then he steps from death to life. He’s been born again. No, Jesus is not talking about baptism here.

What is water a symbol of, when the Bible says in John 3, verse 5, we’re “born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5)? He’s talking about the Word of God. Water, in the Bible, is a symbol for the Word of God. In Isaiah, God says, “Is not my word as the rain cometh down from heaven?” (Isaiah 55:10). Again, the Bible speaks of “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). And, the Bible speaks of “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). And again, Peter says that “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). He’s saying that the Word of God is like a sperm; it is like incorruptible seed. And, that’s the idea of the seed—not a seed like a plant seed, but a sperm. Now, when the Spirit of God and the Word of God come together in the bosom of a human being, there’s something that happens: there is an impregnation; there is a germination; there is a conception that results. That’s the reason always, in every service, there must be two things present—and oh, let’s see that they’re always present at Bellevue Baptist Church: number one, the preaching of the Word of God; and number two, the presence of the dear Holy Spirit of God. Amen.

But, you remember when Mary, who was to be the mother of the Lord Jesus, had that miracle that was formed in her? Remember those elements that were there? The angel of the Lord spoke to her. That was the Word of God. And, Mary said, “How shall this be …?” (Luke 1:34). And, the angel said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). That’s the Spirit of God, but there was one more thing that was necessary. Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And, when you get the Word of God, the work of the Spirit, and the will of man—a new birth. When you would say, “Today, when you hear the Word of God”; and when God says, “I want Christ to be formed in you. I want a miracle to take place in you”; and there is the Word of God, and there’s the work of the Spirit that makes that word real to you; and you say, “Be it done unto me according to thy word,” a miracle as great as the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the new birth—just as miraculous—will take place in you. You’ll be born again.

II. A Birth Involves a Creation

Now, let me say something else: Jesus used the figure of a birth because not only does it speak of a conception, but a birth also speaks of an impartation of life. How do little babies get here? Parents don’t manufacture babies; they have babies. But, what the parents do is impart to that baby life. The life is first in the parents, and the life comes from the parents to the child. You see, life is a miraculous thing, a supernatural thing. It is given of God, and God is the custodian of life. The Bible says, “In him was life” (John 1:4). Now, even the birth of a baby in the natural realm is a miraculous thing. There must be this impartation of life, and so it is in the spiritual world: when we are saved, God gives us life.

Jesus Christ said in John chapter 10 verse 10: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). There are a lot of folks who are listening to me today—some watching by television, some listening by radio, and some in this place. And, you have existence, but you don’t have life. Jesus was speaking to people who were already existing, and He said that “I [have] come that [you] might have life” (John 10:10). Now, you receive physical life from your physical birth, but you will receive spiritual life from your spiritual birth. When you are born again, you become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Gospel of John is the gospel of life. And, as a matter of fact, the word life is used at least thirty-six times in the Gospel of John. You see, by a birth there is an impartation of life.

III. A Birth Involves a Character

Now, watch it: a conception—that conception brings life. And, what does that life bring? That life brings a new nature. Whose life is it? It is the life of the parents. Therefore, whose nature will it be? It’ll be the nature of the parents. And, when you’re born again, the Bible teaches that you become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). You are going to be like your Father. You are a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Now, what happens—listen: Christians are not just nice people; they’re new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are born again, and they share the nature of God. Now, if that nature doesn’t dwell in you, if that nature doesn’t live in you, you’ve never been born again. We are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God sends His Holy Spirit into us, and we’re born of God. And, the Bible says that His seed, His sperm, remains in us. Oh, if we could only understand this! So many people sit on church pews on Sunday morning—they’ve never become a partaker of the divine nature; they’ve gone through ritual; they have their name of the church roll, but they’ve never been born again.

What are the signs of the divine nature? If God is in you, how can you know? What is the nature of God?

A. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Be Holy

Well, I’ll tell you one thing about the nature of God: the nature of God is the nature of holiness—holiness. He says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). That is, like Father, like Son. “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Now, that word holy—does that scare you? All that means is a love for righteousness and a hatred for sin. Do you have that? I do, in my heart and in my own life. There are people who are members of churches who are nothing but baptized pagans living double lives. They have no hatred of sin. All they want is a fire escape so they’ll not go hell. But, I want to tell you, my dear friend, that if you are saved, if you are born again, there is going to be in your heart and in your life a hatred for sin. Now, I don’t mean you are going to be sinless and perfect—you’re not. And, nobody is sinless and perfect, but there is going to be an inner desire for holiness.

B. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love the Lord

I’ll tell you another mark of divine nature: you’re going to love the Lord Jesus Christ—you are. What—what—is the nature of God? The nature of God is that He loves His Son. God spoke from the Glory, and He said of the Lord Jesus Christ, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). Now, if you are a partaker of the divine nature, you are going to have a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. It might sound corny, but you are looking at a man who loves Jesus. I love Jesus. I’m not ashamed to tell you I love the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s real to me—real to me. When I look at a person and I want to know, “Is that person saved?”, I don’t say, “Well, how much of the Bible does he know?” or, “How many times does he go to church?” or, “How much money does he give?” I want to say, “Does that man love the Savior? Does he love Jesus? Has he become a partaker of the divine nature?”

C. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love Lost Souls

I’ll tell you something else about him: if he has the divine nature of God, he’s going to love what God loves, and that is Jesus. And, if he loves Jesus, he’s going to love what Jesus loves, and that’s lost souls. He’s going to love lost souls. He’s going to want people saved. From the moment—the very moment—that I found Christ as my Savior, to this moment, there is in my heart a yearning, burning desire to see people come to Jesus Christ. I want people to have what I have. I want people to know what I know. I believe that Jesus Christ is the answer to this world’s problem. How on earth can a man say that he’s a child of God, how on earth can anyone say that he’s born again, how can a man say that he is a partaker of the divine nature if he doesn’t want to see other people saved and back it up with his life? Do you have a passion, a concern, and a desire that people know Christ as their personal Savior and Lord?

D. If You Have the Divine Nature, You Will Love the Bible

Oh, my friend, listen—I’ll tell you something else: when you’re a partaker of the divine nature, you’re going to love the Bible, the Word of God. The Bible says in the book of Peter, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). There are some people who never read this Bible, never care for this Bible. They don’t understand the Bible; they don’t love the Bible. Listen, listen, listen: if you love the Lord, you’re going to love His Word, if you’re a partaker of the divine nature. It is the Spirit of truth, and this Bible is truth. And, you’re going to love the Word of God. As a newborn baby cries after milk. you’re going to cry after the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2).

Some of you have no desire for the Word of God. You don’t desire the Word of God. It’s distasteful to you. You’d rather read a newspaper. You’d rather watch a television program. You’d never crack it open; perhaps under a guilt trip sometimes you do it, and, like, you know, a dose a day keeps the devil away. But, you never have a real desire for the Word of God. There’s no hunger for God’s Word. I wonder if you’re saved. You see, look, a birth means a conception. A conception means a life, and a life means a nature. You have become a partaker of the divine nature. You are born again. And, like Father, like son: the things that are true about the Father are going to be true about you.

IV. A Birth Involves a Commencement

Now, let me say something else about this thing called a “new birth”: it’s a brand new start. Now, when a baby is born, he’s all tomorrows. That baby is no yesterday, but he is all tomorrow. One thing you’ll not see when a baby is born down here at the maternity wards—you’ll not see a sheriff there ready to arrest that little baby for some crime he’s done. Uh huh. You know, as far as the law is concerned, you look in the face, and that innocence personifies that little child—nothing against that child. That child is born in here with no yesterdays; he is all tomorrows. And, so it is when you get saved. The Bible says, “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). The Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). The Bible says, “Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isaiah 38:17). The Bible says that God—“their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Isn’t that wonderful? Glory to God! Hallelujah!

I don’t care what you’ve done. Friend, if a prostitute was to come down this aisle today … And doubtless, as many people as are listening this morning, there’ll be some prostitute listening this morning. And, God loves them very much. If a prostitute were to come down this aisle this morning and give her heart to Jesus, at that moment, not only would she be saved; she would become an arch virgin in the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t care what you’ve done; I don’t care how deep your sin is; I don’t care if you’re a murderer; I don’t care if you’re a sodomite—it makes no difference. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Every stain, every blot, every blur, every blemish that ever came across the soul—whiter than snow, the Lord Jesus makes it. It is gone, my friend. He’s like a brand new babe. He’s all tomorrows; he’s no yesterdays. Hallelujah! That’s wonderful.

I was looking last night in my study, or maybe early this morning, at a passage over there in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 9. Look at it—look at it: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” Now, listen to me folks. Those of you who are living in sin and double lives, listen to this. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators”—that’s people who are living sexual … lives of sexual impurity; that is, living sexually active before marriage—“nor idolaters”—that is, people who love, fear, or serve anything more than God—“nor adulterers”—that is, people who are unfaithful to their marriage vows—“nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind”—that is, people who are sexually perverted, sodomites—“Nor thieves, nor covetous”—and it’s very interesting that he put “covetous,” which is an all-American sin right in this other list, isn’t it?—“nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). Now, you see, we, today, have made mockery of the grace of God, and there are some people who are living these kinds of lives who have the idea they are going to heaven. Friend, you could be baptized so many times the tadpoles know your Social Security number. But, if you’re living this way, you better check up to see if you haven’t been deceived. Paul says, “Don’t be deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

“Well,” you say, “then who can be saved?” Well, look, if you will, in the next verse. What a blessing it is: “And such were some of you”—verse 11. Not are, but were some of you—“but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Hallelujah! Not are, but were. Those things are now in the grave of God’s forgetfulness. God has forgiven. God has cleansed. God has made you whole, and God has made you fewer. That’s what we call a “new birth,” and that’s the reason Jesus called it a “new birth.”

V. A Birth Involves a Completion

Now, I want to say something else about a baby. When that baby is born—are you paying attention?—when a baby is born—listen to me now—a baby is complete, but a baby is not mature. He is complete but not mature. That is, you get all you’re going to get when you get born. You don’t go back and have more equipment added later on. I mean, that’s it. You might have something artificially put on you, but I’m just telling you, folks, as far as the real you, you get it all when you’re born. Now, this is true about salvation: you get everything when you’re born. You spend the rest of your life discovering and developing what you got when you were born.

Have you ever watched a little baby, for example, discover its hands? I’ve done that. A little baby, at first, doesn’t even know it has hands. After a while, its little eyes begin to focus, and it begins to suck and play with its fingers. Then, you put those little toys up there over their crib, and the little baby touches those things and maybe grasps your hands a little bit. And then, after a while, it learns to hold the toys. Then, after a while, those little fingers begin to learn how to tie shoes and brush their teeth. And, how they fumble trying to tie their shoes! But, after a while, they learn. Then, they learn to hold a pencil. Before long, they can type. And, after a while, they’re playing a violin, then doing surgery—the same fingers, those little fingers … that day. He got those fingers when he was born, but he had to discover and had to develop those things. Now, that’s true many of you, dear friend. You need to understand that, when you get saved, God gives it to you all, but you may stumble and you may fall. There’s a lot you need to learn. You are complete, but you are not mature. You’ve got to “grow in [the] grace, and … knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

You know the reason that some folks don’t get saved? They’re trying to grow up and then get born. That’s right. They say, “Well, I’m just too weak.” Well, of course you are. You’ve got to get born so you can begin to “grow in [the] grace, and … knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). But, you get it all when you’re born. You know, there’s a heresy around—there’s a heresy around—that you get saved, and then, after you get saved, after a while, then you receive the Holy Spirit. Now friend, not only is that wrong; that’s heresy. And, as sure as I say this, somebody’s going to write me and try to straighten me out, but you just save yourself twenty cents or whatever it costs. Now listen, the Bible says, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). When you get saved, you receive the Lord Jesus Christ. And, the Bible says, “In Him we are complete” (Colossians 2:10). “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And, when you received the Lord Jesus Christ and when you were born again, friend, you got it all. You were not mature, but you’re complete. And, you’re going to spend the rest of your life discovering and developing what you got when you got saved.

People say, “Do you believe in the second blessing?” I’ll tell you what the second blessing is: the second blessing is discovering what you got in the first one, and the third blessing is discovering you didn’t discover it all in the second one. Amen. And, you just keep on discovering that it’s all in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is all, and all is in Him. And, when you receive Christ … When you say, “Jesus,” you’ve said it all. You’ve received the Lord Jesus Christ. And, He comes into you through His Spirit. And, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ”—the Bible says in Romans 8—“he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).

A baby is complete but not mature. So, when you get saved, that doesn’t mean that you’re perfect. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need to grow. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to stumble. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to be like the rest of these saints automatically. You will not. You will be complete. You are a member of the family. But, you’re going to have to grow.

VI. A Birth Involves a Certainty

Now, let me say something else about a birth: a birth is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Now, nobody is born twice physically, right? Anybody here that’s been more than twice—more than once—physically? Of course not. That’s what—that’s what—confused Nicodemus. Jesus said that he had to be born again (John 3:7). Nicodemus said, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4). Jesus said, “Nicodemus, you’re getting confused. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh’ (John 3:6). That’s finished. Now, you’ve got to have another birth; you have to be born of the Spirit.” But, how many people can be born of the flesh twice? Physically, none, of course. That’s finished. That which is born—it’s born (John 3:6). And, that’s done; that’s finished—not another physical birth. “Now, Nicodemus, you need another birth—a spiritual birth—but both births are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Now, there are some people who believe that you can get saved, and then be lost again, and then be saved again. No—no. Listen, friend: when you are born, you can’t be unborn. You say, “Well, yeah, but what if you die?” My body might die, but I’m going to go on, friend. I’ll be somewhere in heaven or hell for all eternity. And, by the way, I’ll be in heaven, okay? For all eternity—for all eternity. And, when there came into this world an Adrian Rogers, I could no more cease to exist than God Himself could cease to exist. I am made in the image of God, and I will go on, endless, timeless, dateless, measureless. That which was born the first time of the flesh will exist forever. And, I want to tell you, that which was born of the Spirit will exist forever. And, once I am born of the Spirit, then I cannot be unborn. I will live and exist forever in that spiritual form.

Now, if you don’t believe what I’m saying to you, I want to give you a challenge. You take this challenge before you write me and tell me that I’m wrong. You find in the Bible anywhere where anybody was saved twice. All right, I’m throwing you a challenge. You won’t find it—you won’t find it—any more than you could go out into this city and find a human being that has been physically born twice. You can’t find it. You see, a birth is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, this business of getting saved and lost, and saved and lost, and saved and lost—the Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches, dear friends, that when we are born, we are born from above by the Spirit of God. And, God keeps—God keeps.

“Oh,” you say, “does that mean you’ve got a license to sin?” “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth … But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:6–8). That’s what God says in the book of Hebrews. Some of you … name on a church roll somewhere—you’re living in sin, and you’re counting on eternal security. Don’t count on it, bud; you’re going to hell. I’m not preaching a sinning religion. If there’s unconfessed sin in your heart right now, one of two things are true about you: either you’re saved and God’s going to carry you to the woodshed, or you’re lost and you’re going to hell. The doctrine of eternal security is not a license to sin. “Whom the Lord [loves] he [chastens], and [scourges] every son whom he [receives]” (Hebrews 12:6). But, there are some of you who don’t receive chastening. You just live in sin, and you don’t receive chastening. And, that’s because you haven’t been born again. God said, “If you were mine, I would have settled that long ago.”

One last thing, and I’ll be finished, dear friend: a birth implies a certainly. You ought to know it if you’ve been born. Now, sometimes you might ask somebody, “Hey, are you born again?” Do you know what they’ll say? Something like this: “Well, I sure hope so. I think I am. Maybe I am. I’m doing the best I can.” Well, now, let’s put that over in the physical realm. Suppose I would ask you, “Have you ever been born physically?”You would say, “Well I hope so. I think so. I’m doing the best I can.” Wouldn’t that be a ridiculous answer? Now, you see, dear friends, a spiritual birth ought to be as real as a physical birth. Will Rogers went to get a passport, and they said, “Well, we will need a birth certificate.” He said, “What for?” They said, “Well, for proof of your birth.” He said, “Well, I’m here, ain’t I? That ought to be good enough.”

Conclusion

Friend, listen: if you’ve been born again, the Bible says, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself” (1 John 5:10). And, God’s Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, that you’ve been born into the family of God, and that you’re a partaker of the divine nature. And, if you’re not absolutely certain that you’ve been born again, remember that Jesus said, “[You] must be born again” (John 3:7)—“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of [heaven]” (John 3:3).

 Rogers, A. (2017). The Nature of a New Birth. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Jn 3:16). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

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