The phrase “born again” is one of the most popular phrases used by present-day Christians. However, many people who use this term to identify themselves have trouble explaining what it means which raises the important question. What does it really mean to be born again?
To be “born again” literally means “born from above”. When you are born again, you experience a spiritual transformation, a total change of heart. To be born again is to be saved. To understand the meaning of the term, you need to first read John 3:1-21. In this passage, Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the ruling body of the Jews. During this exchange, Nicodemus came to Jesus with a number of questions.
Nicodemus says “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus uses an illustration Nicodemus can easily understand, one of a newborn baby entering its life to represent beginning new life with God. “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3). Nicodemus is confused at first by Jesus’ response, when he uses the term 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!’”(John 3:4). Jesus provides clarity: ‘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: 5-7). You can see through this passage that Nicodemus is searching for answers, but what he really needs is a change of his heart. The same applies to us. When we identify as born again we have experienced new birth in Christ and through this process ultimately become children of God.
To be born again is to accept the plan of salvation that Jesus offered at Calvary. If you desire to be born again, it’s imperative that you understand the resurrection of Christ which points to our salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 talks about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Through Jesus death, burial and resurrection we are saved. This is also the means of our own salvation. When we accept Christ in our personal lives, we are essentially burying our old lives, and experiencing a spiritual rebirth.
So why is it important that we are born again, you ask? The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins". We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, meaning as sinners, we are spiritually dead. If you are not born again and not sought forgiveness from God, you can’t truly have a relationship with God. But when you are born again, you receive spiritual life through Christ and experience a major life shift.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you need to be born again. When we acknowledge the need of a Savior and accept Jesus Christ as that Savior, we can be saved.Take these three steps toward salvation: (1)Repent –turn around to go in a new direction. (2) Believe –believe that Jesus not only shed His blood and died for us, but that He rose from the dead, and is still alive and active today. (3) Confess: Embrace Jesus as Your Lord and Savior, and live a life that models this. When we are born again, we recognize God as our father, and truly become His children. Allow Christ to take your life in a new direction today.