What It Means to be Born Again

Understanding the New Birth Experience by Rodney Howard Browne

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.

John 3:16


Building Your Life on a Firm Foundation


I believe that there needs to be a greater

understanding of the basic truths of the Bible in the Church

today. When foundational truths are burned in our spirit,

there’s no devil in hell, no false doctrine, no deceiver that

can come and sway us away from the purpose, the plan,

and the will of God for our lives.


One of the reasons why people backslide and grow

cold in their Christian experience is because the basic truths

have never been branded inside them. Everywhere we go,

we find people coming to recommit their lives to God.

Belonging to a church does not make you a child of

God just as working in an automobile factory does not

make you an automobile. I don’t care who the person is. I

don’t care how long they’ve been in the church. I don’t

care if they were the founding members of that church.


Just because they belong to a church

 does not make them a Christian.


In the United States, people are under a

misconception. They think that America is a Christian

nation. And they think because they’re not a Jew or a

Muslim, they’re a Christian.


I’ve got news for them. Unless you are born again

of the Spirit of God, you’re not a Christian. And the

problem about that is you’re going to split hell wide open.

That’s a bold statement, but it must be said. We must

challenge others concerning the new birth.


The Lord said to me once, Don’t take for granted

that a person is born again even if they wear a bid badge

saying, “Smile, if you love Jesus,” and have a big bumper

sticker on their car and carry a Bible big enough to choke a

donkey and they walk around quoting scripture. Don’t ever

take for granted that they’re born again.


I asked the Lord, “Why are there hundreds of

people coming to the altar at our services? The churches

are filled with thousands of people, but some are the

biggest kooks in the business.” The Lord said to me, Many

of them are not even born again. They’ve never had a new

birth experience. They’ve never come to the foot of the

cross. They’ve stood in the line and said, “Jesus, I confess

You as my Lord and Savior.” But, they’ve never had a

change of heart.


The new birth is not external. Salvation is not mental.

Salvation is of the heart, and when a man comes with

the heart and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior,

he’s born again. He’s changed. He becomes a new creature

in Christ Jesus. That’s the exciting thing about the new birth.


The scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if

any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are

passed away; behold, all things become new.” Not he

thinks he is, not maybe he is, but he is a new creature. That

literally means a new species of being that has never

existed before. When you’re born again, old things are

passed away.


Don’t tell me you’re born again and you still live

like you did before you were born again. I will not believe

you. I don’t care if you go to the First Church of Whatever.


I don’t care if your father’s the deacon. I don’t care if

you’re the head elder. I don’t care if you’re on so many

boards that you’re bored. When you are born again, you

are changed. You become new.


People who think they can be born again and live

just the way they always did are fooling themselves. Their

hearts are not right with God, but they have camouflaged it

so well they don’t realize it. They have never come to the

place of repentance.


In fact, there are some people today who think God

Himself a deal because He got them. They think God owed

them salvation.


God didn’t owe us anything. The whole crux of

Christianity is God reached down to a lost and dying world.

He came down to restore man back to what Adam lost in

the Garden of Eden. God came through Jesus Christ to

restore mankind back to their rightful place. But God

didn’t have to do it.


He could have let us all go to hell. But because of

His love extended toward us while we were yet sinners, the

Bible says Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He knew who

we were.


Many are coming to church and merely praying a

mental prayer. But saying the right words does not cause

the new birth to take place. Something must happen inside.

There must be a time where you know you crossed the line.


The Bible says we know we have crossed from

death unto life because we love the brethren (First John

3:14). We know. Not we think so, not we hope so, not

maybe so. We know that we passed from death unto life

because we love the brethren. There’s a dividing live we

cross over.


You were once lost and now you are found. You

were once blind and now you see. You were once in

darkness and now you’re in the light. He took us and

translated us out of the kingdom of darkness and brought us

into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). You

were once in the family of the wicked one; now you’re in

the family of God. There’s a whole transition. It’s like

leaving one country and going to another.


It’s important to recognize this because thousands

merely mentally assent and say, “Yes, I accept Jesus Chris

as my Lord and Savior.” But they go out the door and

continue to live the life of a sinner. It grieves the Spirit of



This is the reason why so many backslide today.

They have never had a true new birth experience. We’ve

made it so easy to become born again. Come and join the



Today being born again is a fashionable thing. Are

you born again? “I’m born again but I tell you what, I’m

going to sue that guy for everything he’s got. I’m born

again, but I’m going to kill that guy.” The Bible says if

you can’t even love your brother whom you can see, how

can you love God who you cannot see (First John 4:20)?


Today in many churches with five to ten thousand

members, there could be as many as 40 percent who are not

born again. They may have come for five or ten years to

those churches, but there has been no change in their lives.

They continue the same old life. They continue to speak

the same language. They work the same crooked deals.

They commit the same sins.


I’m not talking about people who have a moment of

weakness or get tripped up by the devil. I’m talking about

people who habitually sin. The Bible says whoever is born

of God doesn’t sin, meaning that they don’t practice it as a

way of life (First John 3:9). When you practice sin as a

way of life, how can you be born again?


If you sin and you know you’ve done wrong,

immediately you can feel it in your heart. I look at some

people and say, “If they’re born again, how do they sleep at

night?” I couldn’t sleep at night if I were doing the things

they are doing.


It’s frightening to think that there could be as many

as 40 percent, and in some churches as high as 80 percent,

who are not born again. They dress up in a suit on Sunday,

carry a Bible big enough to choke a donkey, go to church,

sing hymns and put in an offering, yet they’re not born

again. Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).


And the worst thing is to think that because you

grew up in a Christian family and your father was a

preacher and you’ve gone to church all of your life, you’re

automatically born again. There are some young people

who grew up in the church but they’ve never had a new

birth experience.


I was born again at the age of 5. I went to the altar

and made a commitment, but I had several experiences

between the time I was 5 and the time I was 18 years old.

At that time, I had an encounter with God so that I knew

without a shadow of a doubt I was born again.


I remember one night having a dream. I don’t talk

about this much, but it is (refreshed) in my memory every

now and then. I was about 13 years of age and I remember

I had a dream in which I saw Jesus.


We used to have little tracts with a picture of

millions of people going over a cliff and falling into the

flames of hell. There was a road going up on the side and

the cross. This left an impression on me. I’d always

picture myself going up that road.


The Bible says, “Broad is the way, that leadeth to

destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which

leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:13, 14). There are 260

million people in the United States and they estimate –

these are figures put out by religious orga nizations – that 60

million are born again. That means that 200 million people

in the United States do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and

Savior. This country – the United States of America – is

one of the greatest overlooked mission fields on the face of

God’s green earth.


I remember as a child looking at that tract. In my

dream, I was standing right there and I saw the millions of

people going over into the flames. I remember crying – I

don’t know how long it was. It seemed like two and half

hours. But I woke up and my pillow was soaking wet.


Jesus was standing right there. I can’t remember

what He looked like, but I knew it was Jesus because I was

talking with Him. I said, “O Jesus, what can we do? There

are millions of people going to a lost eternity,” I heard Him

say, “You must tell them. You must tell them. You must

tell them.”


I woke up and the next day when I went outside,

everything was new. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

I began to witness then even more to the kids at my school.

I began to tell them about the Lord Jesus and about His



It was from this experience that I knew it wasn’t

just something that my father had, or my mother had, or my

uncle had. I knew it was something I had. The new birth

was real to me. Jesus was real to me and I wanted Him to

become real to other people. When God gives you that,

something will arise on the inside of you that will cause

you to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.


There’s something that will cause you to leave

everything you have – to forsake houses and lands, to leave

a job, and turn your back on everything else when you

know about the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That something, that truth burned deep into your heart, will

cause you to go through blizzards, earthquakes, famines,

and wars to obey the call of God. You’ll not quit until you

see what God has called you to do.


If things don’t go right in the ministry of some

people, they quit. They say, “I’m quitting. I’m leaving the



I’m so glad when Jesus hung on the cross He didn’t

say, “I’m quitting.” I’m so glad in the Garden of


Gethsemane He didn’t say, “That’s it, Father. Enough is

enough.” The Bible says He could have called 10,000

angels to rescue Him away, but I’m so glad He didn’t. He

looked down through the eons of time and He saw you and

me. He said, “I will pay the price. I will buy them back. I

will shed My blood for their redemption.”


The scripture 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He hath

made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might

be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus became

sin for you and me because we were sinners. He became

sin for you and me because we were sinners. He became

sin that you and I could be born again into the family of



Someone asked me, “Brother Rodney, what must I

do to come to God? Must I change my life first and then

come to Him?” No! You come as you are. God wants you

as you are. God specializes in taking us “as is.”


Have you ever seen cars advertised “as is”? God

said, “Give me that sinner there, ‘as is,’ and watch what I

will do.” He’ll take a prostitute, a drug addict, a

homosexual, a down-and-out criminal who is full of sin and

He will transform that person in a moment, in the twinkling

of an eye. He will change them and He will put their feet

on higher ground. He will wash them in the blood of Jesus.

He will cleanse them and they’ll be like a brand new little

baby that has just been born.


That’s what the new birth is. God wants to restore

back to the Church the joy of their salvation. Some

Christians have forgotten why they were saved. They’ve

forgotten that they were saved. If you looked at some

Christians, you couldn’t even tell they were born again.

“Well I’m saved, Brother Rodney.” Saved from what?

God wants to restore you. I pray that you get a fresh

revelation of the new birth.