In my about me page, www.thechristianadvocate.org/about me, I mentioned that I am a born again Christian. But what does it mean to be born again? In this article I will explain exactly what it means to be a born again Christian.
What Does it Mean to be Born Again?
To fully understand what this means, as with all things, we must turn to the Word of God. The phase “born again” is mentioned in the Scriptures three times. John 3:3, John 3:7, 1 Peter 1:23.
The first, involved a conversation between a Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus and Jesus. It reads in John 3:1-11:
3: 1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 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.
3 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.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. KJV
In verse 4, Nicodemus asked: “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” This was a natural common sense question. If an individual is already born and existing, how can he or she be born again? Jesus’ answer was in verses 5-6: “ 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.
Being born again is a spiritual re-birth as opposed to a fleshly or natural birth. When we become born again, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit enters our being (Eph 1:13). It is a time when we are revived spiritually and are no longer led by our fleshly (worldly) desires. There is a distinction between the fleshly birth and the spiritual one. Therefore a change takes place in our lives.
Jesus made this distinction clear in verse 6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Therefore there is a distinct difference. We are all born (natural birth) into sin with a sinful nature and led by that nature. Spiritual re-birth results in regeneration (a change in the sinful nature), transformation (a radical change in inner character, condition, or nature), consecration (separated unto God). Being a Born-again Christian means that you are changed on the inside–not controlled from the outside.
Jesus also made it clear that spiritual birth is a perquisite to enter into the kingdom of God in verses 3, 5 and 7: (3) 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. (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. (7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. There are no exceptions to this in the Scriptures.
This was in direct contrast to what Nicodemus was taught to believe. Nicodemus came up under Old Testament laws and tradition; the teachings that being Jewish and doing good works would allow him into heaven. He was also a teacher who taught the same.
Nicodemus was a wealthy, educated and powerful man-well respected by his people and a descendant of the patriarch Abraham. Yet Jesus said to him, “…You must be born again.“ Imagine thinking that you are guaranteed an entrance into heaven and being told this contrasting truth.
Even presently, people believe doing good deeds provides an entrance to God’s kingdom. There are many folks today who have the mistaken idea that they are good enough to go to heaven because they attend church, give their tithes and offerings, and may have even been baptized. However, they have never truly been born again. Some even defend themselves by reckoning that God will surely accept them because they’ve tried to live a good life and haven’t committed any crimes. But the fact of the matter is they aren’t good enough simply because everyone is born a sinner and needs to be born again spiritually. Works alone won’t cut it. This is further confirmed in Scripture, Titus 3:5-6: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Therefore we are not saved by our righteous acts but by God’s mercy and the regeneration of the Spirit through the born again experience.
Jesus is the only one who can make us fit for heaven with a new birth. As it states in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten so, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (17) For God sent not his Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. KJV
What Happens after we are Born Again?
There is a change in our behavior – Being born again changes us forever, but it doesn’t mean that we will be perfect. Our old sinful nature is still present in us and one will sin from time to time (hopefully accidentally). But as we confess and repent of our sins, Jesus’ blood continually cleanses us. We are now called to a life of holiness, obedience, surrender, and love for God. There must be clear, external evidence that proves there’s been an inner transformation.
There’s a change in our relationship with God – Until Jesus becomes our Savior, we are enemies of God. We enter this world on a path headed for condemnation. Although we may be quick to deny that we are against Him, there is no neutral ground. We have either been reconciled to God through His Son, or we are at odds with Him. As the Scripture reads in Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.“
When we are bon again, the separation and enmity between God and us has been removed. We then become a part of His kingdom and members of His family. Our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
There is a change in our way of thinking – As the Holy Spirit works in us, sealing us as God’s children and transforming our hearts, we live as Disciples of Christ. He gives us wisdom, reveals truth, and guides us throughout our lives. We become less self-centered and more Christ-centered for we are no longer led by the flesh, but by the Spirit.
There is resulting peace
Living life in Christ is a peaceful existence. It is a peace that the world cannot yield. It is a peace that worldly people cannot experience or understand. As Jesus said in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This verse speaks in effect, of the salvation that Christ’s redemptive work will achieve for those who follow Him—total well-being and inner rest of spirit, in fellowship with God. True peace is His gift. It doesn’t mean that we will live a perfect life. There will always be trials and tribulations. However they won’t affect us as they otherwise would. There is no reason to be “troubled” or “afraid” because we know who’s ultimately in control.
Another encouraging Scripture reads in Phil 4:7: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This is not merely a psychological state of mind, but an inner tranquility based on peace with God—the peaceful state of those whose sins are forgiven. It is the tranquility that comes when one commits all of their cares to God in prayer and worries about them no more. “Passeth all understanding” This represents the full dimensions of God’s love and care which are beyond human comprehension. Even when the world is crumbling around us, we can remain in peace. Something the worldly folks simply can’t comprehend.
There is a change in our eternal destination – Scripture reads in John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Belief and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior guarantees our acceptance in God’s kingdom saving us from eternal damnation into eternal life.
This is what it means to be a Christian: A born again Christian. Not merely a professing one.
Being a born again Christian means that you are changed on the inside–not controlled from the outside. It means that your heart has been changed by the presence of God. It does not mean that you are required to go to church, required to pay tithes, required to be good, required to do anything in order to stay a Christian. People do these things and still aren’t Christian. It means you desire to do these things because you’ve been changed.
Our desire grows (aka spiritual growth) as we read and absorb the Word of God.
How to become born again
We become born again by accepting Jesus as our Lord and savior. It begins with this simple but sincere prayer: Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I am in need of a savior; I repent of my sins seeking forgiveness and I ask that you come into my heart as my Lord and Savior. It’s that easy!
After that prayer, it is imperative to get into the Word of God through a Bible based church. One that preachers and teaches it! This provides fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to work in us. Study often: a good place to start is in the book of John. If you need a good Bible commentary that explains every written Scripture in a concise and clear way, I recommend the Believer’s Bible Commentary. It is available at Amazon by clicking this link. [paid link] Amazon has available a huge range of Bibles to chose from as well.
Please feel free to leave any Biblically based question on this topic or any other Bible topic below. I also welcome suggestions for future Biblical articles.