You Are Born Again, For You Are Baptized; Nothing Else Is Needed

By: Steve Dawson

Text:  John 3:1-17

To Him who loves us and has washed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

Most of you already have much by your first birth. When I say your first birth, I mean to say, when you were physically born into this life: fed by your mother at her side, clothed by your parents or guardians, educated by teachers, and so forth.  By your first birth you have some of the following, if not all:  the support of a good boss, the love of faithful employees, loving family, good friends, and a good stable local government.  By your first birth you have the security of houses, apartments, cars, clothing, food, health insurance, public law enforcement, and possibly a 401k.  But when all this has had its day; when you lie in your grave, your friends, father, mother, family, boss, children, and employees cannot go with you but are powerless to help you.  When the strength of your body drains from your muscles and when the mental sharpness of you mind fades away and when you leave behind your popularity, honor, pension, clothing, and insurance plans; when you are cold and motionless inside an icy coffin six feet under—then something more is required.  That something is a new birth, a second birth.  To rephrase this with colloquial language: when you have died with the most toys, when the fat lady has sung, when you are at the end of your rope, and when you are on your last leg, the only option for you is to get out of the frying pan and into the fire… that is unless you have the new birth.  

Considering this, when we take a sober look at life and its end, death, you and I come to realize that it is necessary to look to another existence.  You and I are neither content nor comfortable to let death have the final word.  Thus, this new existence calls for a new birth, new clothing, new identity, and new nourishment that makes one fit for the kingdom of heaven.  

This is true.  It is right.  Listen up!  You must be born again!  Yes, I am speaking to you.  No, not your neighbor!  Not the person behind you.  But you!  Yes, you who are hearing this.  I tell you the truth that you will not see the kingdom of God unless you are born again—born a second time. 

As for this new rebirth though, how is it worked in us?  How does one acquire such a new birth? 

Maybe to be born again is some sort of internal work of our wills or emotions.  Maybe we need to look within the deep caverns of our hearts and conjure up spiritual energy to mystically accomplish this new task of being born again. 

Or, maybe this is some sort of physical change.  Maybe you and I need to figure out how we can bring this about through physical actions and physical works, as if it is something within our grasp. 

Dear friends, truth be told, being born again is not finding new beginnings from fountains of untapped energy within our hearts and it is not attempting to crawl back into our mother’s womb a second time to have a redo. 

Physical birth puts you in the grave.  It does not lead to the kingdom of heaven, since the kingdom of heaven is closed to all sinners born from the womb.  This means that there is no other path, no other road, no other avenue to heaven except through the Word of God, baptism, and faith.  We must be born again through these.  Our first birth is not sufficient. 

You have just heard that this new birth—this spiritual birth—is brought about by the Word of God, baptism, and faith; it is not of your own doing. To be born again is not something that you and I bring about by our thoughts, words, and deeds.   You see, your physical birth entails things such as diapers, milk, mushy vegetables, moms, and dads, which all eventually lead to the grave—to dust and ashes.  However, if you want salvation, life everlasting, and the resurrection of the body, “you need different parents, who will bring you to heaven.  This Christ does.  By [the way] of Baptism and the Word of God, He places you and your Christianity into the lap of our dear mother, the Christian Church.  This He accomplished through His suffering and death that by virtue of His death and blood we might live eternally.”[1]

You, who have ears, hear.  Your baptism into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, puts you in Jesus’ grave.  Indeed, being born again is the end of your sinful nature and the beginning of life that partakes of the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  To be born again is the death of a life that is continually mucked in sin.  To be born again is not something that you do but is done to you.  It is you being washed.  To be born again is you receiving the name of the Triune God upon your head and heart.  To be born again is you submerged under the powerful baptismal flood. 

At your baptism, the old sinful nature from you first birth was violently drowned.  Otherwise stated at your baptism the old sinful nature from your physical birth—that malicious, greedy, lethargic, proud, jealous, full of lust, narcissistic, and pathetic sinful nature—was slayed.  Yes, your baptism has teeth, it is potent.  It is the way of your new birth.  From this violent drowning massacre, your old sinful nature was killed; death happened, yet what emerges is life.  Surely, this happens because baptism works forgiveness of sins and gives eternal salvation accomplished by Jesus for you. 

As a result, each and every day you now walk this earth within this new birth.  You are baptized.  The new birth, or we can say the spiritual life, cannot be perceived by the five senses.  It is invisible.  It is found in the Word of God, baptism, and faith.  In other words, your life as a Christian “is nothing else than a daily baptism, begun once and continuing ever after.”[2]  Yes, each and every day there is a purging of whatever “pertains to the [first physical birth], so that whatever belongs to the [new baptismal birth] may come forth.”[3]  It is daily remembering not your first birth, but being returned to your baptismal birth.  It is daily the Lord bringing you back in repentance and faith to the reality of your baptisms. 

There are further implications of your new birth: being born again means that you don’t belong to yourself and your life is no longer your own.  You are not defined by your first birth. 

Because of your second baptismal birth, you have everything that you need in Christ, which means that you can rest with confidence.  You are washed of your sins by His blood; you are secure for eternity as you live day by day in this veil of tears.

Because of your new birth you do not have to be consumed about building a name for yourself, for you have the name of God upon you.  You do not have to worry about your spiritual temperature and your spiritual empires, for you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus.  You do not have to lie, cheat, and steal to obtain material goods to somehow prop yourself up.  No, you are baptized.  You are freed from looking inwards and freed from the constant burden of trying to acquire trophies and points for your own spiritual resumes. 

In your new birth you have righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus in which you wear like a robe. 

Nothing else is needed.

This means that your physical clothes and shoes and houses and homes and money and goods can be utilized by you as a simple guest who is journeying through life, until you arrive at your final destination, which is the kingdom of heaven.  In your baptismal birth, you are freed to be concerned for the well-being of your neighbor, for you are taken care of.  Otherwise stated, it is a waste of time and energy when we are shaped by our first birth, rather than our second birth.[4] 

Furthermore, “This new life, to which we have been born again in Christ, is not normal or natural, and will not feel normal or natural to us.  Normal and natural to us is our sinful flesh, which remains the enemy of God and will be a pain in the neck until the end of our lives.”[5]   Nevertheless, we are called by God and by the new birth in Christ, into the life of being God’s children and servants.  It is all gift.

Dear Baptized Saints, This new life is lived in hope, the Christian hope, which is the confidence that what we cannot see, but God has promised, is true –and so we are confident in ourselves that we have forgiveness and life and salvation, and so we rejoice, and give thanks, and we live out this new life—not according to how things feel, or how things may appear to us, but according to the reality of God's blessings, forgiveness and protection of which He speaks to us in His Word”[6] and gives us in our baptisms. 

You have been born again, for you are baptized. 

You have a new birth, for the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit has been placed upon you. 

You have been born from above. 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Work’s American Edition: Volume 22 ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1957), 291.

[2] Martin Luther, The Large Catechism: The Book of Concord (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 465.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Robin Fish. “Born Again.” (14 March 2014)

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

CLICK HERE to join in the conversation on Facebook.
CLICK HERE to follow on Twitter.