Some time ago I spoke with Ibrahim, a former Muslim, and he said, “I have put my trust in Jesus as Savior, and I feel like a new man.” Ibrahim’s spiritual conversion reflects the following passage from 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
I recall another former Muslim, Abdul Azziz, when he received Communion for the first time in our church in Amman, Jordan. He was overtaken with the sacredness of the moment, and I asked him if I could help him in any way. I carefully served him the elements and “walked him through the experience.” Afterwards he said, “It was almost as if I was a new person. I did not feel like the old Abdul Azziz; it was like I was born again.” I gently reminded him that he was, in fact, not the old Abdul Azziz—but a new man in Christ Jesus.
In John 3 you can read about a very religious man, Nicodemus, who was careful to observe the rituals of his religion. In fact, he is described as “a ruler of the Jews.” Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that being religious was not enough; he needed a spiritual rebirth. Jesus said to him, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
Why should Nicodemus not be surprised at Jesus’ reference to the new birth? For those who wanted to embrace the religion of Nicodemus, the convert was required to experience the new man ceremony. A priest poured water over the convert’s head and declared, “You are now a new man.” Thus, Nicodemus would have had first-hand knowledge of such a ceremony.
Greek mythology also spoke of a new birth ritual, which required the blood of a bull to be sprinkled on the head of a new convert followed by the pronouncement, “You are now a new man.”
It is most likely then that a learned religious scholar like Nicodemus had heard the term new birth, or something very similar. Jesus went so far as to explain to him “...that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Still Nicodemus was puzzled and replied, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?”
Jesus did not simply suggest to Nicodemus that he needed to be born again; neither did He offer it as an option to be considered. Rather in the strongest terms possible, Jesus said to him, “You must be born again (born from above).”
Have you experienced a spiritual rebirth? If you want to understand more about how to be born from above, read John 3 and ponder the closing words of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus:
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (vs. 12-15.)
Note that Jesus made the profoundest truth of all available to any and everyone. It is: “Whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (vs.15) Have you “believed in him?”
The clearest evidence of the new birth is that we recognize the true nature of Jesus Christ, and our lives produce the kind of fruit that proves we have become a new creation.
My friends, Ibrahim and Abdul Azziz, realized that “religion” was not enough. They put their trust in Jesus as Savior and became “new men.” Have you become a new man? If not, the invitation is wide open: Right now and wherever you are, simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.