‘You Must Be Born Again’: Billy Graham Sermon (Transcript)

Full text of Billy Graham’s sermon titled ‘Born Again’ which was preached in Liverpool, England in the year 1984.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Billy Graham – Evangelist

I want to turn tonight to the second chapter of John’s Gospel, beginning with the 23rd verse. The second chapter of John’s Gospel beginning with the 23rd verse.

John 2:23-25: “Now, when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name when they saw the miracles that He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”

Now, when you hear about Christ and all the great things that He did, you may believe in Him. But Jesus knows your heart. And when He sees your heart, He will not commit Himself to you.

Now, the question I want to ask is, has Christ committed Himself to you because your heart has been cleansed of sin?

Then it goes on into the next chapter.

John 3:1-3: “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night and said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest except God be with him.” Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, in America a few years ago, we had a president who announced that he was a born again Christian. And so that word became identified in some ways in our country with politics.

And then we had advertisements that advertised born again automobiles, motor cars. Then we had cities that sprung up, and they said, born again cities. And then they had writings come along that said Born-Again Books.

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And that brought confusion. But this literally, in its original language, means ‘born from above’. It’s born anew. It’s a new beginning.


Or like the Psalmist, have you ever said, ‘create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me?’

Have you ever thought to yourself, I’d like to start it all over again?

Now, Nicodemus, who came to Jesus had been in that crowd that Jesus would not commit Himself to them. He knew their hearts, and He knew that they had never been born again. And Nicodemus was one of them, and he was a great religious leader. And he came to Jesus at night, and he wanted to ask some spiritual questions.

Now, he was not only a great religious leader, but he did many things that you and I don’t do in his religion. And he wanted to have some more thought before committing himself.

Now, many of you have thought a long time about religion and Christianity, but you’re not sure that you’ve been born again.

A famous scientist came to see me some time ago, and he said, ‘Mr. Graham,’ he said, ‘My home is a wreck. I’m a secret alcoholic. I’ve come to you for help. If I don’t find help, I’m going to commit suicide. I’ve had it. The pressures are too great in my life.’

It was a desperate cry of a man that needed God. He needed to be born again.

We live in the mountains in the southern part of the United States of North Carolina. George Hamilton lives a short distance from us. And there was a mountain man near our home who got lost in the mountains. And he knew those mountains very well, but he was lost. And he stumbled onto a mountain cabin.

An old man gave him some advice and said, ‘When you find yourself lost in the mountains, never go down. Always go up. At the top of the ridge, you can get your bearings and find your way again.’

Now, we can become lost in the mountain of life, and we have two choices. Either go down and get caught in depression, emptiness, confusion, turn to drugs or alcohol or whatever, or we can keep heading up.

We are going one way or the other. Now, searching is important, searching for purpose and meaning in your life, for psychological and philosophical questions. But it does no good, unless you search in the right place.

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And the right place is to search in the Bible, the Word of God, and come to Jesus.

I heard about a ten year old boy that was writing a thesis. And he went to his grandmother and he was writing on birth. And he said, ‘Grandmother, how were you born?’

And she said, ‘A stork brought me.’

He went to his mother and he said, ‘Mother, how were you born?’

She said, ‘A stork brought me.’

Then he said, ‘Well, how was I born?’

She said, ‘A stork brought you.’

And he started his thesis this way: ‘There hasn’t been a natural birth in our family in three generations.’

Now, the Scripture says we are to be born again. AND HOW DO YOU BECOME BORN AGAIN? What does that mean?

Nicodemus must have been stunned, if Jesus had said it to Zacchaeus, the crooked tax collector or the woman at the well who had had five husbands, and the man she was living with was not a husband. Or the thief on the cross that was certainly guilty, or the woman that was taken in an immorality, but to say it to her religious leader.

Nicodemus was a ruler. He was rich, he was religious, but he was searching for reality. Now, he fasted two days a week. He spent 2 hours daily in prayer. He gave 10% of all of his income to the temple. He was a professor of theology. He worked hard at religion.

But Jesus said to him, ‘Nicodemus, that’s not enough. You must be born again if you’re to even see the kingdom of God.’

NOW, WHY DID JESUS SAY THIS? Why did He say, you must be born again? Because He knew what was in the hearts of people.

What causes lying, cheating, hate, prejudice, greed, injustice, selfishness, cruelty, jealousy, perversion, ultimately war? What causes it?

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Jesus said, ‘Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart and they defile a man’.

Now, psychologists and sociologists and historians realize that something’s wrong with the human race. What is it? What’s wrong?

The Bible tells us. The Bible says the thing that is wrong is that we have a disease. It affects the whole human race all over the world. And the disease is called sin.

Notice I said sin, singular. And from the singular which is the disease, comes all of the sins of jealousy and hate and lust and greed and all the rest, which ends up in war. War in a community, war in a family, war in your own heart, war in the world.


This sin came from the fact that God created you in His image. You have a body, but living down inside your body is your spirit, your soul. And that’s the part of you that can have fellowship with God and did have fellowship with God.

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