What Does It mean To Be Born Again?
According to a recent poll 80% of Americans say they are Christian but only 45% call themselves “Born Again Christians”. What does ‘being “Born Again” mean and how important is it? Perhaps even most important, how does a person become born again and know that they are?
Jesus told Nicodemus in the third chapter of John “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NASB). Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again personally even though Nicodemus already believed in Jesus. Nicodemus had already admitted to Jesus “We know you are a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs you do except God is with him” (John 3:2 NASB)
Jesus said that entering into the Kingdom of God requires more than a physical birth. It requires a spiritual birth as well. It is entering into a new dimension or sphere of life. A new spiritual existence. The Bible says that before we are reborn, we are “dead” spiritually (Eph. 2:2) and we have no true sensitivity to or life from God (even if we believe in God, worship God and perhaps go to church regularly).
Just as your physical birth involved an event specific enough for the date and time to be recorded on your birth certificate, so too, a spiritual birth is also a specific event that must occur. One moment, I was not yet born, then the next, I had been! My physical life is counted as starting from the moment of my physical birth and so too my spiritual life is counted by God as starting the moment His Spirit causes me to come alive spiritually by faith.
Have you been born again? Perhaps you say “I don’t really know. How can I tell?” While most of us know the exact date of our physical birth, I have met a few people who weren’t exactly sure of the exact date they were born. I have never met anyone who wasn’t sure if they were ever born. That would be impossible! In the same way, the reality of the spiritual birth is something that is so significant that a person will certainly be aware they are now spiritually alive when once they were not. The Bible says God’s Spirit bears witness to our (human) spirit that we are his child. (Rom 8:16 NASB) So, there is an inner testimony to our regeneration. In addition, we are told “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things have passed away and all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17 NASB). A brand new sphere of existence, with new spiritual appetites and new spiritual capacities!
How can you become Born Again? Just as in your first birth there were “forces acting upon you” to which you ultimately yielded in order for you to be “born”, so too, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and our need for a Savior. He might use a friend, a sermon or a book or tract or simply put a longing in your heart to be made right with God and be forgiven of your sins. The new birth occurs when you finally yield in personal dependence and faith upon God to cleanse you of all your sin and make you His child spiritually and supernaturally.
No one can make themselves a Christian. The Bible says “He (God) has caused us to be born again” (1 Peter 1:3) and “By His doing are you in Christ Jesus”. What you can and must do is agree with the work of God in your life and express your faith in Christ and desire to be born into His family. God stands ready to receive you but you must receive Him as well “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (Jn 1:12 NASB)
If you have never experienced the new birth or are just unsure, you can ask by faith to become a child of God right now. If it is your heart’s desire to be forgiven of your sins and are willing to repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior pray the following prayer out loud:
“I recognize that I am a sinner. I have broken your laws and have sinned against you in many ways. I want to be forgiven and I ask you to forgive me right now. I am truly sorry for my sins. I thank you that you sent Jesus to die in my place on the cross and on the third day you raised Him from the dead. I receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior right now. I ask you to receive me as your child and make me born again! Thank you, In Jesus Name Amen!”
If you prayed that prayer and meant it, God has begun a new work in your life. Welcome to God’s family! Jesus said the angels are rejoicing over your decision right now! While you may not feel anything emotionally, God has accepted you and as promised, has come live inside your heart eternally. Your sins are forgiven and you have been born-again by faith, not by feelings, not by works, but by pure grace through simple faith! Happy Birthday to you!
I encourage you to read John 3 three times in the next 24 hours and to let three people know you made this decision. I also encourage you to start attending a Bible teaching/believing church in your area. Start talking to God, He’s been waiting for this day for a very long time!