The term “born again” for all the new meanings our society has given it, is a term that Jesus used in John 3. He said, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (Jn. 3:3) and “…unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”(Jn. 3:5). Jesus’ statements make clear that being “born again” is essential to entering God’s kingdom. But what does it mean?
While being “born of water” has been understood in different ways by various Christians (ie. referring to physical birth, or water baptism), being born of “the Spirit” is clearly understood as a spiritual birth. The apostle Peter wrote that this occurs “…through the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:23) When the Word of God is used by the Spirit of God to touch a person’s heart, making them God’s child, spiritual birth occurs. As physical birth means the person is alive physically, so spiritual birth means the person is alive spiritually. He is reconciled and brought into a relationship with God that was previously broken due to sin (and we are all sinners).
The question addresses both the cognitive and personal aspects of a relationship with God. The person who is born again must first believe what Jesus taught; that He came “to seek and to save what was lost” and “to give His life as a ransom for many.” We must believe these facts. However, knowing and believing the facts does not guarantee a relationship. The second aspect of a relationship with the Lord involves me personally putting my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. It involves MY repentance and believing in Him to forgive MY sins. This is the relational or pietistic aspect of genuine faith. It is not enough to simply believe certain facts about Jesus (James 2:19 says that even the demons believe there is one God). Our cognitive faith ABOUT Jesus, must become a personal faith IN Jesus.
John Wesley grew up in a Christian home, and for a number of years, preached about Christ. Yet he grew to realize that though he knew those facts, he himself was lacking in genuine faith. It wasn’t until a certain evening meeting, as he listened to someone reading Luther’s preface to Romans, he felt his heart “strangely warmed”. At that moment he said, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Being “born again” is coming by faith, into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s savior. To be in Christ, is to be a “new creation”. If you have been born again, there will be evidence of spiritual life. Are you trusting Him for your salvation? Are you in a relationship with Him? Only you and God can answer that one. But it’s the most important issue we will face in this world. On it depends our eternity. Thanks for reading and have a great day.