What Does “Born Again” Mean?

What does born again mean?: You’ve probably heard the term “born again Christian.” This reference is important, but it’s often abused, to the point of having no meaning.

It’s only two words and only appears in the Bible twice. Often evangelical Christians use it like a breastplate of righteousness. Sadly, some use this as a kind of covering. Suggesting that claiming to be a “born again” Christian will deceive someone into believing a lie. Neither group seems to understand what it actually means.

First time “born again” referenced

The first time we read about “born again” is in the Gospel of John. Jesus is talking to the pharisee Nicodemus and who He was. A learned man, highly respected and a man of great social stature, Nicodemus struggled to understand Jesus

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again .”

How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:1-21)

Peter is the second and final reference

We see “born again” one more time in a letter from Peter.

For you have been born again , not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23-24)

Being “born again” refers to a spiritual awakening. Without the relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, people are spiritually dead. They might be good people and well thought of, but there is something missing.

So many people rely on their own strength and determination. They try to be good citizens and they appear to be upright citizens. They don’t break the law. They give to charities. Parents love their children. They may even be a pastor of a church.

So what’s missing? They lack a spiritual connection to God, made possible only by a personal relationship with Jesus.

Being born again is a spiritual birth

Born again is a spiritual birth. A point in time when a person sees the truth and accepts the grace of God. A person exchanges his/her sins for God’s forgiveness through Jesus. They agree with God that they need a savior.

Being born again means simply that a person confesses that they are a sinner and have turned away from God. They know they can’t save themselves. Also, they know that Jesus died for the their sins. They just pray to ask Jesus to come into their hearts and be their Lord.

It isn’t about man being acceptable to God. It’s about what God did to make man acceptable to Him.