Who Are Born Again?
DO ALL good people go to heaven? Many think so, but Jesus Christ did not agree. Speaking to the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, who came to him secretly at night, Jesus said: “No man has ascended into heaven.”—John 3:13.
Yet, Jesus indicated to Nicodemus that the time would come when some people would have an opportunity to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Of these Jesus said: “Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel because I told you, You people must be born again.” But Nicodemus wondered how anyone could be born again.—John 3:1-9.
Perhaps you also wonder what Jesus meant. Could his words apply to the sudden conversion experiences claimed by many who feel that they have been filled with God’s holy spirit?
Emotions and the Mind
Some say that in determining whether a person has been born again, what counts is feeling the power of the spirit. Yet, our heart and mind can mislead us, especially if influenced by strong emotion.—Jeremiah 17:9.
William Sargant a researcher into the effects of emotion on the mind, cites the need “to be on our guard against beliefs acquired in states of emotional arousal when our brains may be betraying us.” According to Sargant, one example is the effect of revivalist preaching and threats of hellfire punishment. Who would not want to be born again to go to heaven if the only alternative were suffering eternal torment? Sargant says that under such emotional stress, “reason is dethroned, the normal brain computer is temporarily put out of action, and new ideas and beliefs are uncritically accepted.”—The Mind Possessed.
So, then, how can one tell if a belief on the matter of being born again has been “uncritically accepted”? The course of true wisdom is to be guided by everything that God’s holy spirit caused Bible writers to record. Christians are encouraged to worship God ‘with their power of reason’ and need to make sure that what they believe is true.—Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Being born again opens up one of the most momentous privileges ever extended to humans. It is linked with a truly remarkable development in the outworking of God’s purpose. While all of this is true, questions such as these arise: Who are born again? How does this take place? What prospects are set before such individuals? And will they alone be saved?
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Nicodemus wondered how anyone could be born again