Rebirth comes from God
The Rev. Paul Gray, senior pastor, Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt.:
Fortunately, the Bible is extremely clear in recording Jesus and his disciples' actual words on this subject. If we believe Jesus is who he said he is (which he proved by his resurrection), then it logically follows that we believe his teaching.
Jesus answered this very question to one of the leading religious leaders of his time. He told Nicodemus (John 3:3-6) "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God."
The truth is, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water (physical birth when the mother's water breaks) and the spirit (spiritual birth when people believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.) Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven.
The apostle John further explains this: "To all who believe Jesus and accept him, he gives the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan -- this rebirth comes from God." (John 1:12-13)
The apostle Peter then clarifies how our physical birth will ultimately end in death, but our spiritual birth continues in heaven: "For you have been born again. Your new life did not come from your earthly parents because the life they gave you will end in death. But this new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God." (1 Peter 1:23)
I do believe Jesus and take him at his word. My spending eternity with God -- as opposed to without him -- is totally predicated on my belief in him and acceptance of his free gift of salvation, which enables me to begin my spiritual life.
- Send e-mail to the Rev. Paul Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org
Born-again people have sins forgiven
The Rev. Bill Hurlbutt, senior pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
The answer to that question can be found in only one place: that being the word of God, the Bible.
The answer is found in John 3:1-21. Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (a ruler of the Jews) had come to Jesus at night.
As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, he said " ... Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. You must be born again ..." (John 3:3-7).
The phrase "born again" literally means "born from above." Nicodemus had a real need. He needed spiritual life, a new birth. This new birth is an act of God whereby he imparts eternal life to the person who believes. The Gospel of John 1:12-13 indicates that "born again" also carries the idea "to become children of God" through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.
But why does a person need to be born again? The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins ..." To the Romans in Romans 3:23, the apostle wrote, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
So, a person needs to be born again in order to have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God, or as Jesus put it: "You must be born again" to enter God's Kingdom.
-- Send e-mail to the Rev. Bill Hurlbutt at email@example.com.