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What does it mean to be "born again?"

One of the classic terms used in Christian communities is “born again.” People will call themselves a "born again" Christian or say you must be "born again" to be saved. They might even say that a person isn't a "real" Christian unless they are a "born again" believer. Where does this term come from and what does it mean?

Does the Bible use the term "born again"?

The first person who heard about being born again was Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which means he belonged to an influential religious sect within Judaism. The Pharisees were extremely concerned about following God's laws (as well as some 600+ additional laws, rituals, and ceremonies) in the strictest way possible.

Nicodemus was interested in Jesus’ teachings, so he went to talk to Him. It's interesting to note that Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night (v. 2). Maybe he was afraid his Pharisee buddies would reprimand him if they knew he was talking to this man who had been stirring up so much "trouble" in the region.

As they chatted, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (v. 3). The phrase Jesus used for "born again" literally means "born from above." Confused, Nicodemus replied, “How can a man be born again?! Can he go into his mother’s womb a second time?” (v. 4). Jesus gently explained that there's a difference between being "born of the flesh" and "born of the Spirit" (v. 6). Nobody can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born of the Spirit (v.5).

Why do I need to be born again?

We're all sinners (Romans 3:23), and we're all doomed to eternal separation from God because of our sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only one who can save us from our doom and restore our relationship with God. That's why we call Him our Savior, for He grants us salvation from spiritual death. Until we accept Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, we are spiritually dead. When we're born again through Jesus, we "die" to our old life of sin and become spiritually alive in Christ.

Salvation is a gift that is given—not earned by any work of our own but only thanks to God's amazing love and grace for us (Ephesians 2:8-9). When a person is "born again," they are "reborn" as a child of God, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Every person must be "born" in this way to enter Heaven and be with God for eternity.

Why is it important to spend eternity with God?

Well, the alternative is a spiritual death (also known as hell), which is a fate worse than anyone could possibly imagine (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:8). Once we have accepted Jesus, God gives us eternal life and eternal security in Christ (John 3:16-18; 1 Peter 1:3), and we can rest in the knowledge that our reward awaits us at the end of our mortal lives (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 16:27).

How can I be born again?

By having faith in the truth and miraculous grace of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 16:31). We should have to pay the penalty of death for our sin (Romans 6:23), but Jesus came to earth and sacrificed Himself on our behalf (John 3:16). When we accept that Jesus is our Savior and Lord, we are officially "born again," and God adopts us into His family as sons and daughters (John 1:12-13). Children of the Creator of the Universe! Isn’t that amazing?

If you're ready to be born again, talk to Jesus right now. Tell Him that you accept Him as your Savior from a spiritual death away from God. Thank Him for providing the grace of forgiveness for your sins. Acknowledge that you believe His death, burial, and resurrection are true and all a part of God's plan for you.

Jesus is God, and He is filled with joy when each person makes the decision to become "born again." If you've made that decision today, let us be the first to joyfully welcome you into the family of God! This is not the end. It’s actually just the beginning. You are reborn. And today, you are a new creation, just starting a new life in Christ.

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TL;DR

The phrase "born again" first appears in a conversation between a Pharisee and Jesus in John 3:1-21. Being "born again" refers to the new life we receive by accepting the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. By believing in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (John 1:12-13), we are saved from spiritual death and gain the promise of eternity with God. Anybody can be born again by trusting in the salvation of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). When we are reborn, we are considered new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and God adopts us into His family as sons and daughters (John 1:12-13).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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