LISTEN: What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, ‘You Must Be Born Again’? Part 2 (Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign #23 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

John 3:1-7:

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.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

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Today, I am continuing the daily Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign sermon series, which is aimed at sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with unbelievers and reminding Christians, in this important election year, to keep the main thing the main thing — and that is reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and praying for their salvation, for the problem in America is not only disobedient presidents and politicians but disobedient pastors, preachers, and parishioners who have refused to obey God’s Great Commission and who have refused to obey God’s repeated commands to “pray without ceasing” for unbelievers, believers, and political leaders. Yes, you should pray for the right candidate too win; yes, you should vote for the candidate that the Lord gives you peace about voting for. But, don’t get caught up in it like the world does. Nothing much is going to change until people get saved and get their hearts right with the Lord.

This campaign is inspired by the following three verses: 1 Corinthians 2:2 which says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Acts 5:42 which says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” And 2 Timothy 2:4 which says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

This series is not for Christians necessarily. However, I do hope you are one of those saints who still loves to hear the “Old, old story of Jesus and His love” — As the hymn says, “For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” This series is primarily for unbelievers, so they can hear and understand the Gospel and be saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell. This is message number 23.

The great theologian Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “Matthew emphasized the King, Mark presented the Servant, ministering to needy people. Luke wrote his Gospel for the Greeks and introduced them to the sympathetic Son of man. But it was given to John, the beloved disciple, to write a book for both Jews and Gentiles, presenting Jesus as the Son of God. We know that John had Gentiles in mind as well as Jews, because he often “interpreted” Jewish words or customs for his readers. His emphasis to the Jews was that Jesus not only fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, but He also fulfilled the types. Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Ladder from heaven to earth. He is the New Temple, and He gives a new birth.”

Henry Morris said, “These solemn words — ‘Ye must be born again’ — forever exclude the possibility of salvation by human merit. Man’s nature is so gripped by sin that an activity of the very Spirit of God is a necessity if he is to be associated with God’s kingdom.”

When Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again if he wants to be a part of the kingdom of God, Nicodemus is stunned and confused. The word Jesus uses for “born again” is the Greek word “anothen” which has three meanings. (1) It means to start over again or to do something a second time. (2) It means from the first or from the beginning. (3) It also means from above, that is from Heaven or from God. All three of these shades of meaning are included in Jesus’ definition of “born again.”

Jesus is, of course, talking about spiritual matters, but Nicodemus can only grasp it on a physical level. He says to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus is using an occurrence in nature to explain what happens spiritually. He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee,” — again, listen up or pay attention — “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Down through the years, theologians have come up with five different ways to interpret these words. But, there is only one way that truly fits the context of the Gospels, especially the Gospel of John. And Nicodemus would have immediately recognized what Jesus was talking about. The “water” refers to the baptism of John; the “Spirit” refers to the baptism of Jesus Christ. As you recall, John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me…shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost [the Holy Spirit], and with fire.” The water baptism of John signified repentance; the Spirit baptism brought by Christ signified regeneration or rebirth, that is making something new. The new birth consists of being renewed by the Holy Spirit and that renewal is shown by repentance in the life of the person who has been born again.

Ray Stedman said, “Do not, like the many in John’s gospel, miss the real meaning because of the symbol! The symbol behind [water] baptism is repentance, an honest admission of need. I have been preaching and teaching the Scriptures for almost fifty years, and I want to tell you that the one thing that keeps most people from being born again is that they do not want to admit their need. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them; they still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God ought to accept, and if they do more good than bad he ought to let them into glory… Repentance, an awareness that despite your best efforts you are not fulfilling God’s law, is necessary. When a man, or a woman, boy or girl, admits he or she needs help and comes to Jesus, then the Spirit does something. God does what no man can do: he imparts his own life to that individual.”

Jesus continues, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus reaffirms to Nicodemus that the new birth is entirely spiritual. Flesh and spirit exist on different planes or levels. Being born of the flesh has nothing to do with being born of the Spirit. Nothing you or I can do in the flesh will make us born again — no good works, no obedience to the law, no taking of the sacraments, no spiritual pilgrimage, no rituals, nothing. The new birth is a work of the Spirit of God alone.

Finally, Jesus adds, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” In other words, ‘Nicodemus, don’t be shocked, don’t be amazed that you must be born again.’ Being born again is absolutely necessary for any human being if they want to enter the kingdom of God.

Are you ready to be born again? Are you ready to let God do the work in your life that only He can do? If so, I am going to show you right now exactly what you have to do to be born again.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “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.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “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.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving 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.