“Born again” is an expression that reminds many of us over 60 of the tent meetings and revivalist preachers we knew during our early years. They usually showed up in the summer for special meetings and by the end of the week every last one of us knew without a doubt that to go to heaven we had to be born again. Exactly what took place in that supernatural birth was not quite clear, but that it had to happen was forever established in heaven.
You don’t hear the expression as often of late, but that doesn’t diminish its significance. In vs. 23 of chapter one, Peter speaks of the grandeur of this event. He that something as significant as being “born again” requires a “seed” that is imperishable. One doesn’t enter the realm of the supernatural by natural means. Nothing created can ascend on its own to a level that is by definition beyond it – supernatural, above that which is natural. One has to be drawn up by supernatural means. So what does Peter tell us about this imperishable “seed” that enters our created realm and gives birth to a life that will never perish? Most importantly he identifies it as the “living and enduring word of God.” New life is the result of an eternal God speaking it into existence. In the beginning, God spoke and what had never been, suddenly was (Hebrews 11:3). Now he speaks and once again his redemptive word creates the imperishable. God is in the business of producing life that will never cease. In a spiritual sense, creation has never stopped. The ongoing process continues as one by one people are “born again” into the spiritual realm in which God has always existed. He speaks through faithful proclaimers of his Word and those who hear are reborn into the everlasting domain of the Spirit.
One may be tempted to say, “That’s all so sort of ethereal; not at all what we are experiencing in life as we know it.” Right! It is not part of ordinary life. To enter God’s kingdom through the new birth is to find oneself in a totally new setting. Paul says, “Behold, old things are passed away, all things are new” (2 Corin. 5:17). The new birth results in having a new nature and that nature is one that is compatible with a God whose reality is “new” to our former limited experience. Once we enter this new realm we see all of life from a new perspective. The eyes of faith can see around the corners of materialism and watch the involvement of God in creating for himself a new order – a race of born-again believers.