1 Peter 1:3 Identity: Born Again

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Born Again

The term ‘Born Again’ was popularized in the 70’s.  To discern whether someone really was a Christian, people would ask whether a person was born again.  By that, they meant had they accepted Jesus into their lives and experienced a complete life change.  In other words, were they living a new life?  There were some problems with that view, for example, the emphasis on having people accept Christ rather than have Christ accept someone, but all in all the emphasis was a healthy one.  Chuck Colson’s 1976 book, Born Again told the story of how he was transformed from a Whitehouse crook to a devout follower of Jesus.  I think his life transformation communicates accurately what it means to be born again.

In recent times, though, I have asked people who use the term to explain what it means and some of them have had difficulty.  It is a term that has possibly been overused with the assumption that everyone knows its meaning.  We need to rediscover a life that transcends existence without Jesus. We need to adopt a perspective that is entirely fresh.  Peter emphasizes that being born again is focused on hope.  The hope of the Bible is that other-world perspective that is mindful of the fact that heaven exists and awaits those who are chosen by God.  Not everyone has reason for that hope.  Many people who believe in heaven are not destined to go there.  The heaven they believe in is a five-star resort in the sky that is essentially more hedonistic and self-serving than their life on earth has been.  Such a heaven does not exist and hope in it is misguided.  Heaven is living in the presence of God and continuously putting him above all other interests.  It is where we will truly serve our neighbour above ourselves because our selves will be free from the limitations of sin.  Someone whose hope is in their uninhibited future relationship with God seeks to make that relationship the focus of their lives in this evil and corrupt world.  They are born into a new reality which transcends the mundane daily routines that make the essence of life for so many.  The person who is born again sees foreshadowing beauty and eternal love from God permeating experience in ever-increasing ways.

As Jesus was raised into a new life, by his resurrection a new life is born in us which is realised as we see earth from heaven’s perspective.

Prayer

I believe that I am born again, but I do not realise the full implications of what that means.  Let me know what it is to be alive to heaven more and more and dead to that which is thoroughly worldly and corrupt.

Questions

  1. How does Jesus use the term ‘Born Again’ in John 3?
  2. How is Peter’s use similar but more developed?
  3. How would people experience this new birth?
  4. When were you born again?
  5. How do you experience new birth?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to 1 Peter 1:3 Identity: Born Again

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    I believe that I truly experienced new birth when I was 18 years old. I ran out a guy’s house with tears running down my face… realizing that following Christ meant much more than what I was living. Radical obedience to the greatest treasure in the Universe was required. My heart cannot be divided, yet that was all I ever known. Yes, I grew up in a Christian home, I loved youth group, and reading my Bible. Yes, I even got baptized at 14 years old and was “more moral” than many of my high school friends. But it did not matter.
    New birth requires that all of you is transformed. Your old self dies and your new self is alive and blossoming. Perfection isn’t attained, but it doesn’t change the fact that everything about you is radically different. Not by your own doing, but because of His great transforming power. Still, God purifies your desires to be intentional about growing intimately with Him.
    After that close call at the guy’s house, God began to change me. He sent me to Hawaii for two months, where I encountered Him like never before. I was hungry and thirsty for His Word and His presence. I spent hours in prayer, worship, I read the whole new Testament, and my desire was for Him alone. My words and actions became increasingly more purified. I was never the same after that. I became a new creation in Christ.

  2. Bronwyn says:

    This past Friday, while participating in outreach on the streets, I met a woman named Dana. I asked her about her spiritual beliefs and she told me that her dad was a pastor and that she was “born again” at age fourteen. I hadn’t even used that term yet; she brought it up. As we proceeded to talk, I perceived that she wasn’t tracking with me and that she wasn’t born again, even though she claimed to be. My friend Lydia and I, walked away from the conversation uneasy, and sadness crept up and swallowed my heart because I think she is deceived.

    Back home in Canada I remember talking to a woman named Marilyn about the gospel. She clarified that she wasn’t a “born again Christian,” though she did call herself a Christian. Like a number of others, she wanted to have the comfort of being heard by God in prayer and escape Hell, yet not seriously commit herself to Christ. She still wanted to hold onto sin, but “morality and a little religion would do me and my kids some good, right?” I think she saw the love, joy and peace my mom and I have in Christ, and wanted that, but without repentance.

    I think it’s important to ask people to clarify what they mean by the terms they use. “When you say, ‘born again’ what do you mean?” I could have asked Dana. In Marilyn’s case, even though she recognized that to be a “born again Christian meant you lived differently and were devoted to your faith, I think she might’ve thought a born again Christian just worked harder than the rest. So though she had a partially correct understanding, she still didn’t have the full truth on the term.

    I love the term “born again” because it’s such a big deal. This past weekend I found out my sister is pregnant for the first time. I was sooo happy for her! New life that previously was not will come into existence! When I became a Christian I started life anew, a fresh- born above into God’s family and favor. Born into Christ..

  3. Jesus use the term in a more physical way but yet spiritual. Being born again seems more of our doing. One who has the spirit is born again and only can get the Spirit from God. Peter use is similar in that it is only from God that you can be born again. But we are not just born again but born again to a real living hope that was not their before. This born again comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We then experience this new birth through Jesus Christ death, burial, and specifically His resurrection. The resurrection shows us new life and Christ conquered death making him the only was we can experience this born again.
    I was born again when I was in grade eight, when I fully understood the gospel for the first time. I saw my life change drastically in my sports. Sports was the main focus in my life. I was crazy when it came to sports. Being born again came by the teaching of the Word. I experience new birth through my wife, family, and my teachers. But ultimately through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  4. kevin w. says:

    Jesus uses it more generally as coming alive in one’s spirit. Peter develops this further by tying it to the resurrection (which had not happened when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus). Implicit in this is the death as well. So new life is at the death of old life. We die to ourselves and are born into new and glorious life through the Spirit of God. This happens when we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and submit to His authority, then coming into the fellowship with God we were made for. A new life is obviously a different life. So to be born again dictates a change in life. This happened for me initially when I was around 5. While some may say this seems to early, or I could not have understood it well enough, I disagree. I distinctly remember the night, the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I wrestled with whether I would put my faith in Jesus and ask Him to forgive my sins. I remember where my parents were standing, how the room was arranged, and the feeling of joy replacing the fear in my heart. I was the little boy whose first thought about someone I saw on TV or had just met, “Do you think he is a Christian?”

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