When the Light Comes On
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:3-5 NKJV
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:14-17 NKJV
Spiritually speaking, there are four categories of people: the unsaved, the religious, the saved, and the saved that have been born-again. Jesus seemed to have made this distinction in His discourse with Nicodemus when He referenced Moses and the children of Israel: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life (Numbers 21:5-9; John 3:14-15). It is important to note that every Israelite who had been bitten by a fiery serpent lived if they looked upon the brass serpent on the pole that Moses erected. In the same way every unsaved person who believes in Jesus Christ is promised everlasting life—not necessarily a spiritual conversion, nor a rebirth in this present life. So, this truth begs the question: is salvation enough?
When the Light comes on, you’ll see that there a difference between salvation and the new birth. Romans 10:9-10 teaches that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. The operative elements for salvation are belief in and confession of Jesus Christ as Savior. But on the other hand, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be “in Christ” isn’t just a promise of everlasting life but it is also a reflection of position of one’s present life. Jesus promised that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The salvation promise is like a “fire insurance policy” at death but the new birth—being a regenerated procreation in Christ—is an empowerment for living life more abundantly (John 10:10). The new birth isn’t preparation to die, but rather preparation to live! (John 3:12).
Salvation by its very definition is a deliverance from the penalty of eternal death and ruination. The Greek word in the New Testament for salvation is sozo which means deliverance, healing, safety, preservation, and wholeness. But contrasted with the new birth, according to Jesus, being born-again is regeneration. In this experience of regeneration ones see the Kingdom of God and enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). To be born-again is to be spiritually procreated, conceived and regenerated of the Father who is the only One who can bring forth and impart new life. Salvation is a wonderful promise against death, hell, and eternal damnation but it will never be enough for the truly hungry.
Salvation is progressive but the new birth springs forth as you grow in grace of God’s Word. For example, salvation can be worked out—not worked for—with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12; Ephesians 2:8). Apostle Paul prayed for the Galatians Christians that Christ be progressively formed in them (Galatians 4:19). But on the other hand, the new birth is like seeing the light come on in a dark room even though you already feel safe and secure. This experience transcends a belief in Christ’s death on the cross only. So, when the Light comes on in your life, you’ll see that God offers so much more for the truly hungry.