What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

The terms “born again” or “regenerated,” are fairly familiar to many people and are associated with a person’s experience of becoming a Christian.

But what do these terms really mean? Why does the Bible speak of being born again?

In this post, we’ll look at the significance and importance of being “born again.” Does it simply mean to have a new beginning? A fresh start? Is it a promise to do better? To live morally from now on? To do right instead of wrong? And what if someone is a good, upright, ethical person? Does such a person even need to be born again?

Nicodemus and the Lord Jesus

The Gospel of John tells us of Nicodemus, a moral man who held a high position in religion and society. He came to Jesus privately and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher.” Nicodemus’ words showed that he sought teachings from the Lord.

Perhaps Nicodemus expected the Lord Jesus to teach him how to improve his conduct, or to be a better Pharisee. But the Lord didn’t give him teachings. Before Nicodemus could even ask Him anything, Jesus told him,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Baffled, Nicodemus asked,

“How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (John 3:4)

The Lord explained,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

Nicodemus didn’t need better teachings. He needed to be born of the Spirit. He needed another life in addition to his human life. This is why the Lord told him to be “born anew.”

Our need for another life—the divine life of God

The Lord told Nicodemus that to see and enter into the kingdom of God, he needed to be born anew. What did the Lord mean?

In the natural world, a particular kingdom consists of a certain kind of life. For instance, the plant kingdom consists of organisms with the plant life. Just as the plant kingdom consists of the plant life and the animal kingdom consists of the animal life, so also the human kingdom consists of the human life.

The only way to participate in a particular kingdom is to possess the life of that kingdom. A rose can’t participate in the animal kingdom because it doesn’t have the animal life. And a monkey can’t participate in the human kingdom because it doesn’t have the human life. Even if the monkey is an excellent monkey, can walk on two legs, and dress and behave like a human, it still isn’t part of the human kingdom. It simply doesn’t have the human life.

Similarly, trying to look or behave like God cannot make us part of the kingdom of God. Our excellent behavior at most makes us prime examples of the human kingdom.

We can enter God’s kingdom only if we have the divine life of God. And we can have the divine life of God only by believing in Christ and being born again.

Birth is our entry

By our physical birth, we received our parents’ human life and genes and entered the human kingdom. In the same way, by our spiritual birth, we receive God’s “genes,” that is, we receive His life and nature, and we enter the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus had no moral or sinful problems outwardly. Yet the Lord indicated he lacked something crucial. Like Nicodemus, regardless of how noble, good, or upright we are in our human life, we don’t possess the divine life. We need to be born again with the divine life of God.

What happens when we’re born again?

To be born again, or regenerated, simply means to be born of God with God’s life. First Peter 1:3 says,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

The first part of the note on “regenerated” in the New Testament Recovery Version can help us understand the meaning of regeneration:

“Regeneration, like redemption and justification, is an aspect of God’s full salvation. Redemption and justification solve our problem with God and reconcile us to God; regeneration enlivens us with God’s life, bringing us into a relationship of life, an organic union, with God.”

When we are saved, or regenerated, by believing into Christ, we receive God Himself into our human spirit as life. Our human spirit is born of the divine Spirit. In this way, being born again is to receive a life other than the human life we received by our natural birth. And this other life is the divine life of God.

How can someone be born again?

Being born again is very simple; it does not require us to turn over a new leaf, but rather to repent, that is, to turn our heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to believe in all He’s done for us. We can do this by praying a genuine, honest, and simple prayer like this:

“Lord Jesus, I need You. I believe into You. I receive You right now as my life.”

If you’ve ever prayed such a prayer to the Lord, you were born again with Christ in you as your new life. You have been born into God’s kingdom!

The incorruptible seed—the living and abiding word of God

First Peter 1:23 says this about being born again:

“Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.”

Note two on this verse in the Recovery Version explains the word “seed”:

“A seed is a container of life. The word of God, as the incorruptible seed, contains God’s life. Hence, it is living and abiding. Through this word we were regenerated. It is God’s living and abiding word of life that conveys God’s life into our spirit for our regeneration.”

When we heard someone speak God’s Word to us, and we believed, we were born of the life that was conveyed to us. Praise the Lord! This should encourage us to speak the living word of God to others because when we do, His word can convey life to them for their regeneration.

What should we do after we’re born again?

Just as with our physical birth, once we’ve been born again by the divine life, we can’t be unborn. We needn’t worry or be afraid that we’ll lose the divine life we received at our regeneration. We simply need to move forward by growing in that life day by day.

At birth, a baby’s primary needs are to breathe and eat. A newborn doesn’t need teachings or textbooks; it needs air and nourishment. These aspects of life cause the child to grow spontaneously, without any striving or effort. The baby simply breathes, eats, and grows.

It’s the same with our spiritual birth. After being born again, we need to nourish this new life in our spirit for it to grow. We can breathe by praying, drink by calling on the Lord’s name, and be nourished by spending time in the Word and starting our day with the Lord. When we take care of our spiritual breathing, drinking, and eating, the divine life within us will grow, and we will more and more express God in the everyday details of our lives.

We love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts and experiences related to the post (blog commenting guidelines).

18 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

    1. Yes it is, Danielle. It’s even more amazing to realize that such a birth brings in a life that has the potential for growth. We simply need to care for the growth of this life.

    2. Charles, the verses recorded in Romans 10:8-13 may be a help. When I pray to the Lord with His Word and remind Him of what it says, I am often encouraged by a sense of affirmation within. He cannot lie.

    3. Charles, since regeneration is a matter of life, it’s not really dependent on acceptance. It’s not like a company where someone decides that an applicant is acceptable. Rather, like a life-kingdom (animal kingdom, plant kingdom), once we’re born of that life, we are spontaneously included in that kingdom. In our case, since we have been born of God’s life, the divine life, we are thus part of his kingdom, regardless of His acceptance (and for sure, God’s heart is ever full of acceptance) or how we regard it.

  1. That explained it perfectly. I have been born again about a year ago now, and its amazing how i am changing. I love the born again me. I feel the lord like never before. And things that i used to like that wasnt so godly now have no appeal to me. Its just amazing.

  2. Nadra,you said you want more of God. In order to get more of Him you have to invest some time and effort in getting to know Him better and experiencing His presence. Getting to know him better and having more of him will take some intentional action on your part. Often we say we want more of God but we are not willing to commit time in being alone with him; reading the Word, praying and fasting. God will always show up in those times because God honors our efforts and genuineness. You also said you want to hear him speak to you again. This tells me that there was a time when you heard from God. Nadra, go back and recount the times when you heard God spoke to you and remember what you were doing and recount what was your spiritual posture at those times. I am not saying that you have to repeat the exact formula when He spoke to you prior; however, I am saying that it requires a certain commitment to God and communication with Him to let Him know God, I have not heard from you in a while and I would love it if you would speak to me again. Remember though, that you have to get alone away from the hustle and bustle of life and be still. Do not be uncomfortable with the silence because God might have been speaking to you all along but because of all the noise of activities, worries and cares you could not hear him. So I encourage you to get alone with Him and even if you don’t hear anything for the first couple of days I guarantee you His presence will be with you and He will speak eventually. My experience is that sometimes God waits before He speaks in order to see how committed are we to being alone with Him and just simply enjoy His presence. God bless you sweetheart. I pray God will answer and fill that void and satisfy that hunger you have for him. Blessings

  3. It is so wonderful that as we humbly acknowledge God our Father by believing in His only begotten Son and receiving His Holy Spirit we begin a lifelong relationship w/The Triune God. As we experience many failures to reach others w/This Good News, God our Father is teaching us to cultivate our “knowing” of His Voice, His Leading and His ways. It is really like learning another language but the beauty is our soul gets a “make over” even a wonderful exchange as we give up our natural thoughts and agendas and seek His Divine Life. I love brother Watchman Nee’s book “SIT WALK AND STAND”. Only God’s Life yields fruit for His Kingdom. We can get off track easily but we just have an open door in our spirit and we exercise our will to come to God as little children to have our minds renewed. I’m so thankful that even the internet can be redeemed for Our Heavenly Father’s good purposes. As the internet is used for the commercial world and the fallen human world so the Best brought to you by The Holy Spirit and The Word of God can feed those who seek Him. Can you imagine how our brethren from all the past centuries would so marvel at what is available for those seekers who want to Know Him and be found in Him in this present age. I pray we give Him ample Praise and may He be Glorified in His Body The Church. (As He most surely will be as He planned)

  4. Thank you for this great approach to explain the concept of the new life. This I called the ABC of Christian life. Very simple and easy to understand . God bless you

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