What Does it Mean to be “Born Again?”

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Image credit: “woman praising” by Kevin Carden

You may hear someone talk about being “born again,” or “redeemed” or “saved” and wonder what it means. To some, it is just another “religious” word and doesn’t really seem to have any significant value. While others speak of a specific moment in time and rejoice when they were “born again.”

So what does the Bible say about a person being “born again?”

John 3:1-21 records a discussion that the Lord Jesus had with a certain Pharisee named Nicodemus. He told Nicodemus that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Lord Jesus went into further detail, as Nicodemus didn’t understand, to say “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

In other words, it is a literal birth (not just a figure of speech) that must happen to a person before they can enter heaven. If a person is not born again, we have the Lord Jesus’ clear, direct promise that he will not see the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 18:3 the Lord Jesus says the same thing, in another way (which He often did) when he said “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

So how is a person born again?

First, we must understand that It is not something that we produce. It is not the result of “inviting Jesus into your heart” or water baptism, or a public profession. God Himself does it once we have truly taken Him at His Word and trusted alone in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is by Grace through faith that we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8). And as a result of the Grace that God bestows on all who have faith, they are born again…that instant. Faith is believing that we are condemned sinners and then trusting that Christ paid it all for us.

Being born into the kingdom of God happens when God Himself touches us and makes us whole (Matthew 8:3, 8:15, 9:29-30, 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13, 7:14-5, 22:51). However, when we repent of our sin (turn away from it, regret it) and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, in our hearts (not just our head), we will be saved. We have His promise on it (John 6:37, Matthew 7:7-8).

The popular songs “He Touched Me” and “Amazing Grace” explain the experience well. Things are different after a man is born again. There is a reality to it. He knows it and from that day forward he has a new heart, with new desires and an indescribable inner peace as the Holy Spirit Himself comes to abide in his heart from then on (see page 12 of this free PDF to read my personal experience). Once you are born again you should then receive water baptism, publicly proclaiming your death to self and your rebirth in Christ.

When you are born again, you are literally adopted into God’s family. The Holy Spirit comes into your heart and you now belong to God. You have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23) and you are now His willing bond servant. You were a descendant of Adam and condemned to eternal death because of your sin. You are now a child of God through Christ (the Last Adam – 1 Corinthians 15:44-49), adopted into the family by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

If you aren’t sure whether you are really saved, or you are convinced that you are not, all that He requires is for you to agree with Him (which always results in repentance of sin … turning away from it… regretting it) and completely trusting in Him, as the Only One capable of paying it all for you!

If you are truly convicted of your sin and you know you are lost because of that sin, you can trust that the Blood He shed on that cross is fully sufficient to cover all of your sin, past, present and future. He IS enough. That is Grace!

When you experience this grace, you will turn from sin all the more since it was your sin that put Him on that cross! But your repentance will be produced out of your love for Him, not in an attempt to justify yourself, which isn’t possible.

And although you will be as repentant as ever, you will have a peace inside knowing that is it not by your obedience that you will be judged. It is by His obedience that you will be judged!

Luke 19:10 – For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Matthew 7:7,8 – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

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