LIFE Studies - What was Jesus teaching in John 3:16?


IT WAS AT NIGHT and Jesus was speaking with a well respected, religious man when he said, "Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3).  What did He mean by this?  Some think that you need to be a religious person to go to heaven.  Yet Jesus told this very religious man that it was not his religion but whether or not he was born again that would decide his eternal existence.   

The question naturally arises, "What does it mean to be born again?"  Or, more pertinently, "How can I be born again?"  And that is exactly what the man asked Jesus.  "How can a man be born when he is old" (John 3:4)? 

Jesus responded with what has become one of the most quoted verses, and perhaps the most quoted saying of all time.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

 You see, Jesus was teaching him that spiritual life comes through belief in Him as God's sacrifice for sin.  Believing Jesus gives spiritual life.  If you are reading this booklet you have physical life.  However, the life that Jesus is speaking of is not physical.  It is a spiritual life that is eternal.  Belief breeds spiritual birth.  It is a spiritual birth - and that is what he meant by being born again!

So, being born-again is not joining a Christian denomination or church.  And it is definitely not having a crazy emotional outburst in a church service.  It can take place in the privacy of your home or even in the subway car.  Because being born again entails primarily a transfer - a transfer of trust and a transfer of allegiance. 

 TRANSFER OF TRUST:  "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."  Many people trust their own good deeds (religious) to be enough to make them right before God.  However, what Jesus taught this religious man was that he could not rely on his deeds but had to trust on someone else's deeds.  Jesus was the only perfect One.  You must trust Him and ask Him to transfer His goodness to your spiritual account.  And ask Him to transfer your sin to His account.  That is why he had to die on the cross.  He had to pay the penalty for all the badness that man had or will ever commit.

 TRANSFER OF ALLEGIANCE:  "God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30).  When you trust Jesus in this way you are turning to Him with all your heart.  This is the idea behind repentance.  You turn from calling the shots yourself to asking Him to call the shots for you.  You put your sin and yourself on the table and turn from it, asking Him to have His own way with those things.

 Do you understand the few words in this pamphlet?  You may be very religious; you may even go to a public worship service every week.  But have you ever transferred your eternal trust to Jesus?  If not, then you have never been born again.  We shared this pamphlet with you in hopes that you would trust in Him once and for all.  Trust in Him.  This can be your Spiritual Birthday.  Jesus is waiting for your prayer of trust.  Ask Him to transfer all His goodness to you once and for all.  And ask Him to transfer your sin upon Himself.  Ask for His forgiveness.  That transfer of faith is the New Birth.  It is awakening spiritually.