what does it really mean to be born again?
I am sure you are going to be finding this refreshing as you will get a clearer understanding of what it truly means to be born again.
To understand this subject of being “born again” as used among Christians today, we will have to look at the only book that talked so much about it i.e the Bible, and find out what Jesus meant when He used those terms.
Let’s take a quick look at John chapter 3 from verse 1:
[b]Joh 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
Joh 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Joh 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Joh 3:5 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.
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. [/b]
The popular belief people have when they read this part of the Scripture, is that being born again has to do with being baptised in water either as an adult or an infant.
This is mostly because in verse 5, Jesus said “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
So they assume being born again has to do with water immersion. Once a man has been dipped in water, he has access to enter the kingdom of God. That is far from what Jesus meant here and we shall see this clearly as we proceed.
The other popular belief out there is that being born again has to do with getting your acts right and “looking serious” all the time. Once you don’t wear some type of clothes, take some type of food and drinks, don’t talk too much, don’t laugh too much and talk softly, most people would conclude you are born again.
If that is what it means to be born again, then it would mean that almost all who practice Judaism, Islam and other strict religions are born again since majority of them carry themselves around with so much piety.
But being born again is far bigger than mere physical appearance and habits. If it were about wearing a long face and appearing “serious” all the time, then God wouldn’t have given to us the Spirit of Joy in the first place.
This is because “Joy” according to the Bible, is not just what you feel in your heart. It is very very expressive. It shows in your smiles, laughter, dancing, running around, twirling and so on.
When Jesus said “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” He used the Greek words “gennao anothen” translated as “born again” in English, to describe that experience.
Let’s look at those two words closely for a moment so we can get His point there.
The Greek word “Gennao” which is translated as “born” in English, actually means “to procreate,” “to father,” and also to “regenerate.”The Greeks also use the word to not only talk about conception but also the process of delivery.
The other word “Anothen” translated as “again” in English actually means “from above” or “Anew.”
If you put the words together now, it would mean that what Jesus said to Nicodemus was “except a man is procreated or fathered anew from above, he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God.”
(I guess it’s beginning to make sense. Please pay special attention from here)
This was what confused Nicodemus that made him ask if it would take a man’s mum to conceive and give birth to him again for that to happen.
Jesus then had to explain further by saying in verse 5[b] “…except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”[/b]
The major reason we don’t always get the real meaning of this verse and assume it is talking about water baptism, is because we don’t know the word “and” in that verse is not a conjunction but an explanation.
In the Greek, the word translated as “and” in our Bibles is the word “kai.”
“Kai” in Greek do not always mean “and” like the Bible translators put it in that verse. It also mean “that is,” “which is,” “even” etc. It used for explaining a statement.
To get the explanation Jesus was trying to pass across to Nicodemus in that verse 5, we would need to substitute “and” there with “which is” or “that is” since they are the same in the Greek. If we do that, the verse will look like this:
“.….except a man be born of water which is [/b]the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
(I hope you get this.)
He merely used water to describe the character of the Spirit of God there. He wasn’t talking about water baptism there at all.
That is why all through the remaining verses in that chapter, He never mentioned “water” again as regarding being born again but kept on repeating “the Spirit.”
This is not the only time He even used water to describe the activity of the Holy Spirit in the entire Bible. For instance in John 7:37-39
[b]“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
“(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Look at that. You know it would sound ridiculous today if you carry a physical cup and go around expecting Jesus to give you real water to drink because you read “if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”?
Why will it sound ridiculous? It is because the writer of that verse being John the apostle, has already helped you in verse 39 by telling you that the water Jesus was talking about in those verses was merely a reference to the Spirit of God.
So when you hear or read about being born again, do not assume that it is about being immersed in any physical water or quitting any habit. It is not just that.
To be born again simply means to be supernaturally procreated or birthed by the Spirit of God. And by the reason of that birth (not your piety or self righteousness), you have direct access to heaven.
So, a born again man is that fellow that have been supernaturally procreated by the Spirit of God. His citizenship is in heaven.
He is not aspiring to go to heaven. Heaven is where he is seated already according to Ephesians 2:5-6.
Calling him a “candidate” of heaven will be to talk down or talk less of who he really is. He is a “citizen” of heaven, not a candidate that is still aspiring and may likely not get there.
Should he live right and reflect the character of the Spirit in his conducts? YES
Can he miss it atimes? Yes he can, and that is because we still move about in this fallen world.
But can his missing to conduct himself properly cause him to be un-born again? There is no such a thing as being un-born again in the Bible. It is either a man is born again or he is not. That is what the Bible teaches.
So from John 3, we see clearly that to be born again is a supernatural thing done by the Spirit of God.
Man’s only part in that process is to believe the Gospel. Once he is born again, the Spirit of God begins to work on his inside helping him to live and do the will of God on this earth as he is supposed.
I hope this blesses you.
Glory to God!