John 3 is the first mention of the term “BORN AGAIN” in the Bible when JESUS told Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. The traditional understanding of the promise of SALVATION was that being rooted in “the SEED of Abraham” referred to physical lineage from Abraham.
In the Bible, to be “BORN AGAIN” is associated with terms including new birth, resurrection, new life, new creation, renewing of the mind, dying to sin, translation from darkness to light and living to righteousness.
As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said, “’I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:3-7).
We believe in this discourse with Nicodemus established the Christian doctrine that all human beings – whether Jew or Gentile – must be “BORN AGAIN” of the spiritual seed of CHRIST. This is how the Bible sees the condition of being “born again” as a very important spiritual teaching taught not only by JESUS CHRIST but also by the other Apostles.
Others believe that “being born again” means just to have a personal relationship with God by accepting JESUS as their personal savior. We believe, that accepting CHRIST as a savior is a must, and having relationship with God is also a must for salvation, but it is not the whole concept of salvation. Being “born again” doesn’t mean we are already saved, it is only a part of the process of salvation.
In John 3: 5, it says “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.” Being “BORN AGAIN” means we have to be BAPTIZED or undergo the process of BAPTISM as taught by John the baptist and JESUS. This is what JESUS told Nicodemus about being born of water and spirit.
When JESUS come to John for baptism, John at first forbade Him but He insist, because “IT IS A MUST FOR EVERYONE.” So JESUS was baptized, setting an example for everyone.
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3: 15)
Basically, being “BORN AGAIN” as we have discussed, means “BEING BAPTIZED” as JESUS did. This is to fulfill all righteousness and this is the reason why HE instructed all the Apostles to preach the Gospel and baptized everyone who believes.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16: 15-16)
This verse shows how it was further taught and reinforced by Apostle Peter in his letter.
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Jesus Christ used the “birth” analogy in tracing spiritual newness of life to a divine beginning.
As man transgressed against GOD, the need for spiritual rebirth is needed. This is why JESUS taught the concept of being “born again.” And a man must be born again to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What is the reason? The Bible said nothing unclean will ever enter heaven. To be “born again” means to live purely and clean according to the will of God.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:27 NIV)
The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes.
2Co 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.
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3: 5)
John 1: 12 -13 indicates that “BORN AGAIN” also carries the idea “TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD” through trust in the name of JESUS CHRIST.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1: 12-13 NIV)
The question comes, “Why does a person need to be born again?” It was already answered above, there is a need to be born again because it is a requirement in entering heaven. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says,
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” (NKJV).
To the Romans in Romans 3:23, the Apostle wrote,
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So, a person needs to be born again in order to have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God.
But what is the process of being “born again?” We have said that being “born again” means to be “baptized,” therefore we must know also the concept of Baptism. Why do we need baptism?
Baptism in the Bible is a way of washing away the sins of man. The water symbolizes the baptism.
And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3: 21)
Baptism is like death, we bury the old wicked ways of ourselves so that we may have a new life to live.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6: 4 NIV)
The water used in the baptism is the symbol of a cleaning agent that will wash away our sins, because baptism buries our old self, cleanses our spiritual being through repentance.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
What does a person needs to do if he wants to be born again?
First we need the WORDS OF GOD….
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1: 23 NIV)
Since the birth is spiritual, God has chosen that we would be born of His words. The birth would be imperishable, which means its for eternal. The first birth has an ending but the second birth is for everlasting. The words of God is the only thing in this life that has no end. All things shall perish but His words will remain.
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.(James 1:18)
JESUS said BAPTIZED who will believe or will have faith in the WORDS of GOD. Noticed that before baptism or being “born again” a person must have “FAITH” and that faith must come from listening to the words of God. Why words of God? Because cleaning is done through the word.
To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (Ephesians 5:26)
And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3: 15-17)
Indeed, the words of God will correct us and train us towards righteousness.
The words of GOD will give us the spiritual renewal of life that we need to be righteous in the eyes of God and without it, we can not do anything to have this so called new life.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6: 63)
So, the first requirement for being “BORN AGAIN” is the “WORDS of GOD.” The second will be “FAITH,” which will come from listening from the words of God.
Baptism and life transformation should be done in the church, which is the house of God. All Christians were baptized under the church, which Christ had built. We can’t just have relationship with God, we need to be committed to the church. This is how the new life will begin… a new life with the church.
Act 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Here is another verse that mention how the disciples were called Christians. Noticed that they were called Christians in Antioch, but the more noticeable here is that all of them have assembled themselves with the church. There is an assembly, a congregation, or they have grouped themselves while teaching other people the words of God.
Act 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
We see from the above verse that all of them who receive baptism were added to the church. The church is the house of the living God, and those who received baptism will be a member of that household. And that all members have the chance to be part of God’s grace.
1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Those who say they are TRUE BORN AGAIN just accepted CHRIST as their savior and have that special relationship. We do not condemn such belief, we too accepted Him as our savior and we also have this special relationship. We are TRUE BORN AGAIN because we imitate the Christians in the Bible, who accepted Christ, who have relationship with God, who listened to His words, who have had faith on those words and became a member of His church. We did not put up another church, we became members of the church of God just like the Thessalonians did.
For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, (1 Thessalonians 2: 14)