This document answers these questions:

  1. Must I be born again?
  2. What does it mean to be born again?
  3. How can I be born again?
  4. When can I be born again?



Must I be born again?


John 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. (KJV)


It would be difficult to enter a kingdom that you cannot see.  So being born-again appears to be essential to receiving salvation.  Jesus settles the issue with these statements::


John 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. (KJV)


John 3:5-7 GNB  "I am telling you the truth," replied Jesus, "that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  (6)  A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit.  (7)  Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again.




What does it mean?


A Heavenly Thing


What does it mean to be born again exactly?  Jesus explains:


John 3:4-12,

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?
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.
6   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7   Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
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.
9   Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10   Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11   Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12   If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (KJV)


So there is something unnatural and consequently scientifically indescribable about the experience of being born again.  It is a supernatural or as Jesus says, a “heavenly thing”.  Is it completely esoteric though, or are there behavioral evidences that validate that such a “heavenly thing” took place?


1 Peter 1:22-23
22   Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23   Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (KJV)


1Pe 1:23 For through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, not mortal.

(Good News Translation)



By the Spirit

Verse 22 tells us that those who are born again are “obeying the truth through the Spirit-- not simply through their own self-effort.


Christ gives Himself, His Spirit, His power to those who receive Him.  This is the power by which they are born again:


John 1:12
12   But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (KJV)


That is a good thing, because certainly no person could birth himself again.  Furthermore, this deposit of the Christ’s Spirit into their hearts leads them to cry for their new Father.


Galatians 4:6

6   And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (KJV)


This desire for their Holy Father leads them to seek Him and find His spiritual leading:


Romans 8:14
14   For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (KJV)


Those who continue to choose to follow His Spirit’s leading are sons of God.  So it is the working of His Holy Spirit which brings about obedience to the Truth (1Pe 1:22).  What then is the truth?



What is Truth?

Christ tells us that the Father’s word (speaking of the Tanuch, or “Old Testament”) is truth:


John 17:17  Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth.

(Good News Translation)


He also claims that he is the truth (and therefore implicitly, the word):


John 14:6  Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.

(Good News Translation)


John tells us that Jesus always was the Word. 

John 1:1  In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2  From the very beginning the Word was with God.

John 1:3  Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.  (Good News Translation)


Finally, Christ mentions that His Spirit will lead his followers into all truth.

John 16:13  When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. (Good News Translation)



Why not self-effort alone?

Why won’t the self-effort approach work for those who are not born-again?  1Pe 1:23 above refers to the answer told by other scriptures:  That one can only be born-again of incorruptible seed—the seed of Christ.


1 Peter 1:23

23   Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (KJV)


The self is the flesh—the seed of Adam—regular human beings.  All the sons of Adam are born into sin. This is why everyone needs to be born again.


1Co 15:21  For just as death came by means of a man, in the same way the rising from death comes by means of a man.

1Co 15:22  For just as all people die because of their union with Adam, in the same way all will be raised to life because of their union with Christ.


One can only be born again through Christ.  Jesus was the second Adam.  Joseph was not his Father—His Father was God the Father.  Other than Adam and Jesus Christ, only angels can claim that they are direct creations of God:  They have no earthly father.  So the rest of us are born of corruptible seed and need to be born again through Christ in order to even see the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus clarifies that no one will even enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of the spirit:


John 3:5-7
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.
6   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7         Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (KJV)


John 3:5-7 GNB  "I am telling you the truth," replied Jesus, "that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  (6)  A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit.  (7)  Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again.


The NIV translation renders verse 6 as “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”.  This is why you cannot know Christ without being born-again of the Spirit.  Paul later explains this need in more detail:


Rom 8:5  Those who live as their human [Adamic] nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants.

Rom 8:6  To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.

Rom 8:7  And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God's law, and in fact they cannot obey it.

Rom 8:8  Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.

Rom 8:9  But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to---if, in fact, God's Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Rom 8:10  But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.

Rom 8:11  If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.

Rom 8:12  So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to.

Rom 8:13  For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.

Rom 8:14  Those who are led by God's Spirit are God's children.


Who are God’s Children?  Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children.  They were born of the Spirit and continually allow themselves to be led by this Spirit by which they were born.  They were born again and their new Father is God the Father. 



From Death to Life

If Christ wanted to merely to improve humans, he would not have died for us so that we could live in Him, and He in us.  How can you improve a dead person? 


Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)


Romans 8:11
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (NIV)


Colossians 3:

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your[1] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[2] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  (NIV)


2 Corinthians 5
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  (NIV)


Christ did not die to improve our flesh, but to give us a new life in Him-- Life by the Spirit:


Galatians 5:

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.



The Internal Changing the External

Being born of the spirit is the beginning of a relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit dwells in you where your “old self” or previous life used to dwell.


Matthew 16
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.


Eph 4:22  So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to---the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires.

Eph 4:23  Your hearts and minds must be made completely new,

Eph 4:24  and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.

Eph 4:25  No more lying, then! Each of you must tell the truth to the other believer, because we are all members together in the body of Christ.

Eph 4:26  If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.

Eph 4:27  Don't give the Devil a chance.

Eph 4:28  If you used to rob, you must stop robbing and start working, in order to earn an honest living for yourself and to be able to help the poor.

Eph 4:29  Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.

Eph 4:30  And do not make God's Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God's mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.

Eph 4:31  Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.

Eph 4:32  Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.


Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.


It is only after one is born-again and has allowed Christ to transform their mind that they are able to even begin to discern what God’s will for their new life is.  So an unregenerate person who is trying to obey God from afar will never hear God’s voice telling them Gods specific will for them.


Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


So we obey the truth “by the Spirit”.  Jesus said in Mark 3:35, “Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."  Those who are born-again into Christ’s family follow the bible (obey the truth) AND the Spirit’s call to specific good works prepared in advance for them to do (Mat 7:21-23).  


Ephesians 5:15-17 (KJV)

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.



Out of this world

Being born again into the family of God can be offensive to one’s natural family, or social world.  Born-again Christians will face persecution of some kind.  History shows us this fact as well.


(2Ti 3:12 GNB)  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted;


Christ’s warned his followers to “buck up” or get out:


Mat 10:28-39 GNB  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.  (29)  For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent.  (30)  As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted.  (31)  So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!  (32)  "Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven.  (33)  But those who reject me publicly, I will reject before my Father in heaven.  (34)  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  (35)  I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law;  (36)  your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.  (37)  "Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples.  (38)  Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples.  (39)  Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.


Narrow Road

Naturally, not many will be interested in continually following the Jesus Christ of the Bible. 


Mat 7:13-14 GNB  "Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it.  (14)  But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.


Even of those who are interested in following—even to the point of allowing God’s Spirit to work through them-- many still do not know Him personally. 


Mat 7:21-23 GNB  "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.  (22)  When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!'  (23)  Then I will say to them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!'


Jesus said that His “sheep listen to his voice” in John 10:3 (NIV), and again in verse 27:  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” 



Knowing God

How important is this issue to Jesus?  He equates this intimate knowledge or “personal relationship” with God with eternal life:


Knowing God Personally = Eternal life


John 17:1-3  (NIV)

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they may know [personally] you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.


Out of the world

Most people do not know Christ in such a way that they are true “sons of God” who “obey the truth through the spirit” (1Pe 1:22) and do his will (Mat 7:21).  The world in general does not understand those who do.  Their lifestyle seems weird and their preaching seems offensive to most.


1 John 3
1   Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (KJV)


John 17:6  "I have made you known to those you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me. They have obeyed your word,

John 17:7  and now they know that everything you gave me comes from you.

John 17:8  I gave them the message that you gave me, and they received it; they know that it is true that I came from you, and they believe that you sent me.

John 17:9  "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those you gave me, for they belong to you.

John 17:10  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine; and my glory is shown through them.

John 17:11  And now I am coming to you; I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. Holy Father! Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as you and I are one.

John 17:12  While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me. I protected them, and not one of them was lost, except the man who was bound to be lost---so that the scripture might come true.

John 17:13  And now I am coming to you, and I say these things in the world so that they might have my joy in their hearts in all its fullness.

John 17:14  I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

John 17:15  I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One.

John 17:16  Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world.

John 17:17  Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth.

John 17:18  I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world.

John 17:19  And for their sake I dedicate myself to you, in order that they, too, may be truly dedicated to you.

John 17:20  "I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message.


Philippians 2:15 (KJV)

15     That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;


1Jo 3:1-10 GNB  See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children---and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God.  (2)  My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.  (3)  Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.  (4)  Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God's law, because sin is a breaking of the law.  (5)  You know that Christ appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him.  (6)  So everyone who lives in union with Christ does not continue to sin; but whoever continues to sin has never seen him or known him.  (7)  Let no one deceive you, my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.  (8)  Whoever continues to sin belongs to the Devil, because the Devil has sinned from the very beginning. The Son of God appeared for this very reason, to destroy what the Devil had done.  (9)  Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God's very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin.  (10)  Here is the clear difference between God's children and the Devil's children: those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God's children.




How do I become born again?

Count the Cost

Luke 14:25-35

25         Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:

26         "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple.

27         And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28         "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

29         For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,

30         saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

31         "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32         If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

33         In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

34         "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?

35         It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  (NIV)


Jesus recommends that you count the cost of a disciplined, life-long commitment to pursue and obey the Jesus Christ of the Bible.  This is a commitment that God responds to by giving you sensitivity to the voice of His Holy Spirit.


Act 3:19-20 GNB  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do,  (20)  times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you.


I John 5:3-4  (NIV)

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.


John 1:12-13  (KJV)

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


Jesus said in John 14:15-16, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth.”


This way, you can begin following Him accurately even though you have not read the whole Bible yet (assuming that you are working on it in good faith).  Before the New Testament was written, Jesus said:


John 16:12 (NIV)

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.


Be Baptized


This passage as well as many others show the importance of being water baptized as a disciple of Christ. 


Gal 3:26-29

26         You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,

27         for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

28         There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29         If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (NIV)


The seed of Abraham (the father of the faith) mentioned in verse 29 sure beats the seed of Adam. What a wonderful opportunity it is to be born again!





When can I become born again?



Skarsaune, Oskar.  (2002).  In the Shadow of the Temple:  Jewish Influences on Early Christianity.  InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 60515.



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