LISTEN: What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, ‘You Must Be Born Again’? Part 1 (Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign #22 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

John 3:1-3:

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 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.

3 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.

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D.L. Moody said, “God says everyone who would enter heaven, no matter how good they think they are, or how well educated, or zealous in good works, must be born again.”

F.B. Meyer said, “When we are born again, a new life – the life of God – is put into us by the Holy Spirit. But the old self-life, which is called in Scripture the flesh, is not taken away. The two may coexist in the same heart. “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”

In a letter to Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, the British preacher George Whitefield said, “I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world. As you have made such progress in investigating the mysteries of electricity, I now humbly urge you to give diligent heed to the mystery of the new birth. It is a most important and interesting study and, when mastered, will richly repay you for your pains.”

I don’t know if Benjamin Franklin took George Whitefield’s advice, but we are going to take his advice today and look at what it means to be born again. The story of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night is one of the most well-known stories in the New Testament. And just as Nicodemus was, many people today are confused about what it means to be born again. Thankfully, we have Jesus Christ, the author of the new birth to explain this term to us. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Nicodemus as we begin our journey through a conversation in which Jesus explains what it means to be born again.

Who was Nicodemus? John tells us that Nicodemus was “a man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews.” The Pharisees were a religious sect committed to living their lives by the strictest possible interpretation of the Mosaic law. Although many Pharisees were hypocrites, Warren Wiersbe said, “Evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. He came to Jesus by night, not because he was afraid of being seen, but most likely because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation.” This was early on in Jesus’ ministry, and the hatred of the Jewish religious leaders for Jesus had not fully developed.

Nicodemus addresses Jesus as “rabbi”, a title of honor and respect for a religious leader. He also states,”We know that thou art a teacher come from God.” The “we” Nicodemus uses indicates that there were likely other Pharisees who were interested in Jesus as well. They may have put Nicodemus up to the task of getting to the bottom of Jesus’ agenda. Either way, Nicodemus and these Pharisees realize that Jesus indeed ‘came from God.’ They know this because, in Nicodemus’ words, “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

When Jesus replies in verse 3, He does not respond to these kind, respectful, and even flattering remarks. He cuts right to the heart of why Nicodemus is there. He starts out with “Verily, Verily,” or “Truly, Truly.” These words are a call-out that let us know that what Jesus is about to say is very important. Jesus says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

As we will see in our next few messages, this statement takes Nicodemus for a loop. The reason why is because Nicodemus is trying to get into the kingdom of God. Perhaps, he thinks he has already made it. He is a trained student of the Old Testament Scriptures. He is striving to keep the law as strictly as possible. Yet, Jesus basically tells him, ‘Nicodemus, you’re doing it wrong. If you truly want to enter into the kingdom of God, you must be born again. If you’re not born again, everything that you’re doing now is all for naught.’

Jesus says the same thing to us today. Stop trying to get into Heaven your own way. It won’t work. You’re wasting your time depending on good works, keeping the law, going to church, or being charitable to the less fortunate. None of that will get you into the kingdom of God. You must be born again.

Being born again is something that can only be done through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Are you, like Nicodemus, trying to get into the kingdom of God? If so, I am going to show you right now exactly how you can do that by being born again.

First, please understand that you are a sinner and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 reads, “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.”

The phrase “For God so loved the world” means that if you are in this world, God loves you no matter what you have done.

The next phrase, “that He gave His only begotten Son” refers to Jesus Christ. He is God’s son who suffered, bled, and died on the cross for your sins and for mine, and He was buried and rose again.

Our next phrase is “that whosoever believeth in Him”. The word “whosoever” means anybody at anytime. The phrase “believeth in Him” means to trust in Him, to depend upon Him, to rely on Him, or to have faith in Him for your salvation.

Our next phrase, “should not perish”, refers to eternal punishment in a place called hell.

And, lastly, the phrase “but have everlasting life” means to live eternally in Heaven with God.

The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please e-mail me at and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.