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What Is The Difference Between "Conversion," A "New Heart" and "Being Born Again"?

Quick Answer

The terms are similar, and speak of the new experience that comes when a believer fully surrenders to God and receives by faith the new "supernatural" life promised in Scripture (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

Bible Answer

John 3:3-8 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Ezekiel 36:25-27 "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

1 Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

Inspired Answer

Does Being Born Again Represent Conversion?

"A conversion, represented by a new birth, must take place. Then the men who have worked according to their supposed wisdom, will become as little children, seeking the Lord as did the children of Israel on the day of atonement, confessing their sins, and purifying themselves from every moral defilement. When they come to the Lord, with a sense of their own weakness, the Lord will hear them, and will answer, “Here am I.” [Isaiah 58:9.] The Holy Spirit will strip them of their self-righteousness, Pharisaism, and hardness of heart, and will give them a heart of flesh, made soft and tender by its indwelling presence. Self will die, and the life of Christ will be revealed in their lives. The life they now live, they will live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved them, and gave Himself for them." {Lt5-1897.21}

"No one can enter the city of God who has not a knowledge of genuine conversion. In true conversion the soul is born again. A new spirit takes possession of the temple of the soul. A new life begins. Christ is revealed in the character. The spirit of a new life works within. Faith passes into knowledge, and the word of God is understood. The branch becomes a living part of the Vine." {RH July 30, 1901, Art. A, par. 11}

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?

"I have been shown that many have confused ideas in regard to conversion. They have often heard the words repeated from the pulpit, “Ye must be born again.” “You must have a new heart.” These expressions have perplexed them. They could not comprehend the plan of salvation. {Ms55-1910.1} Many have stumbled to ruin because of the erroneous doctrines taught by some ministers concerning the change that takes place at conversion. Some have lived in sadness for years, waiting for some marked evidence that they were accepted by God. They have separated themselves in a large measure from the world and find pleasure in associating with the people of God; yet they dare not profess Christ, because they fear it would be presumption to say that they are children of God. They are waiting for that peculiar change that they have been led to believe is connected with conversion. {Ms55-1910.2} After a time, some of these do receive evidence of their acceptance with God and are then led to identify themselves with His people. And they date their conversion from this time. But I have been shown that they were adopted into the family of God before that time. God accepted them when they became weary of sin and, having lost their desire for worldly pleasure, resolved to seek God earnestly. But failing to understand the simplicity of the plan of salvation, they lost many privileges and blessings which they might have claimed, had they only believed when they first turned to God that He had accepted them. {Ms55-1910.3} Others fall into a more dangerous error. They are governed by impulse. Their sympathies are stirred, and they regard this flight of feeling as an evidence that they are accepted by God and are converted. But the principles of their life are not changed. The evidences of a genuine work of grace on the heart are to be found not in feeling, but in the life. “By their fruits,” Christ declared, “ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] {Ms55-1910.4}
Many precious souls, desiring earnestly to be Christians, are yet stumbling in darkness, waiting for their feelings to be powerfully exercised. They look for a special change to take place in their feelings. They expect some irresistible force, over which they have no control, to overpower them. They overlook the fact that the believer in Christ is to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. {Ms55-1910.5} The convicted sinner has something to do besides repent; he must act his part in order to be accepted by God. He must believe that God accepts his repentance, according to His promise. “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God, must believe that He is; and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” [Hebrews 11:6.] {Ms55-1910.6}

How Does A Person Become Born Again?

"In true conversion the soul is born again. A new spirit takes possession of the soul temple, and a new life commences. Christ takes possession, and is revealed in the character. Christ is sought unto, submitted to, and the spirit of a new life works within. His faith passes into knowledge, and there is an understanding of the Word. A partnership is entered into uniting man with God and God with man. The branch grows into real, living oneness with the vine. A church composed of such members as this has life in itself. The believers can help one another. They will be living stones in the building, all united in receiving light and emitting light." {Lt134-1899.13}

What Is The New Heart?

"Many who speak to others of the need of a new heart do not themselves know what is meant by these words. The youth especially stumble over this phrase, “a new heart.” They do not know what it means. They look for a special change to take place in their feelings. This they term conversion. Over this error thousands have stumbled to ruin, not understanding the expression, “Ye must be born again.” {YI September 26, 1901, par. 2}
Satan leads people to think that because they have felt a rapture of feeling, they are converted. But their experience does not change. Their actions are the same as before. Their lives show no good fruit. They pray often and long, and are constantly referring to the feelings they had at such and such a time. But they do not live the new life. They are deceived. Their experience goes no deeper than feeling. They build upon the sand, and when adverse winds come, their house is swept away. {YI September 26, 1901, par. 3}
Many poor souls are groping in darkness, looking for the feelings which others say they have had in their experience. They overlook the fact that the believer in Christ must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. The convicted sinner has something to do. He must repent and show true faith. {YI September 26, 1901, par. 4}
When Jesus speaks of the new heart, he means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a change of heart is to withdraw the affections from the world, and fasten them upon Christ. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. What is the sign of a new heart?—A changed life. There is a daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride. {YI September 26, 1901, par. 5}