John chapter three is one of the most referenced segments of Scripture in all of the Bible. Of course it contains the familiar verse, John 3:16, but there is much more in that chapter than just that one verse. At the beginning of the chapter we are introduced to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to our Lord with statements of belief. “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” (John 3:2). This opened the door for some serious discussion on salvation!
Jesus took the opportunity that was presented. “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” (John 3:3). Jesus spoke of a rebirth that all accountable men everywhere must go through, if they want to be saved. That begs the question then, what does it mean to be “born again”? It readily becomes apparent that Nicodemus was not sure. His deduction was that Jesus meant a physical rebirth. He pondered how a grown man could be placed back inside of his mother. “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” (John 3:4)? It was immediately after these thoughts that Jesus explained that the rebirth of discussion is spiritual and not physical. Let us now examine some verses of the Bible that indicate how one is “born again.”
First of all, to be “born again,” one must go to the Scriptures to deduce the process. We should never rely on the thoughts, ideas and opinions of men when it comes to all things spiritual (Isa. 55:8-9). Peter wrote, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). The only way today that a spiritual rebirth can take place is if a person obeys God’s Word [today, that would be the New Testament, see Col. 2:14].
So, what does the New Testament command that is to be done for this change to occur? First, a person cannot be “born again” without belief in Jesus as the Son of God. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). The only way to develop this faith is to “hear”/study the Bible (Rom. 10:17). Next, one must also repent of his past sins if he wants to be “born again”. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30). Then, if the rebirth is to take place, a man must also confess his faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). Finally, for the process to be completed, a man must be baptized for the remission of his sins. “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” (John 3:5; Acts 2:38).
Paul described the process of being “born again” to the church at Rome. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). That “newness of life” is equivalent to a spiritual rebirth/“born again.” It is amazing that so many have tried to say that Jesus meant that being “born of water” is equivalent to the natural process of a mother’s “water breaking.” When you put John 3:5 and Romans 6:3-4 together, it is easy to see that being “born of water” is the process of being baptized.
We need to be reminded that once we sin, we deserve to die (Rom. 6:23). We do not even deserve to continue living. Truly, what a blessing it is then to have a second chance at life. Have we been “born again?” Let us remember the encouraging words that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Corey Barnette