Many of us probably have faced this question in the field ministry when we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you were like me you probably denied being born again. Now that we realize that the Society hasn’t been correct on many things, what does the bible teach on who is born again? Are only a few born again? What does being born again mean?
A re-birth or being born again is mentioned several time in the Greek Scriptures. Notice what the most well-known mention of being born again says. John 3:3-8 “In answer Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again (or born anew, born from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4Nic·o·de´mus said to him: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered: “Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel because I told you, YOU people must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone that has been born from the spirit.”
Here Jesus contrasts being born from the flesh and being born in the spirit. Jesus lets us know that to enter into the kingdom of God it is a necessity to be born again. Is this only for an elite Christian group of 144000?
In a recent article we considered the question Are All Christians Sons of God? The answer we arrived at was yes, all Christians are indeed sons of God. Now let’s read John 1:12,13 – “However, as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name; 13 and they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God.”
As this text indicates those who receive Jesus and believe in his name are sons or children of God. They were not born this way, as sons of God. They became His sons and daughters when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and began a discipleship. Thus they are born again or re-born as God’s children. This rebirth would not be the result of “fleshly will” or carnal desire as is the case with our physical birth as humans. It is by water (perhaps baptism) and the action of God’s holy spirit. So we are not automatically born as God’s sons. But all who become God’s sons become such by being re-born.
The apostle John talks about this re-birth as God’s sons on a number of occasions in his first letter. 1 John 2:29-3:1 “If YOU know that he is righteous, YOU gain the knowledge that everyone who practices righteousness has been born from him. 1 See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”
Here it says that “everyone who practices righteousness has been born (re-born, born again, born from above) from him.” Therefore all who experience this re-birth as sons of God practice righteousness.
1 John 3:9,10 – “9 Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin, because His [reproductive] seed remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God. 10 The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother.”
Again we see that those who have been born again as sons of God do not practice sin. They remain imperfect so they do sin but do not continue unrepentantly in sin. They also love their brother.
1 John 4:7 – “Beloved ones, let us continue loving one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born from God and gains the knowledge of God.”
Those born from God (born again) love one another. Love would be a dominating quality of one who has been re-born.
1 John 5:1,4 – “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God…4 because everything that has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.
Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ and conquers the world with their faith is born again.
1 John 5:18 – “We know that every [person] that has been born from God does not practice sin, but the One born from God watches him, and the wicked one does not fasten his hold on him.”
Those who are born again are watched over by Jesus. This reminds us of the text in John 10:28 where Jesus says of his sheep “no one will snatch them out of my hand”.
1 Peter 1:3, 23-25 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,…23 For YOU have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible [reproductive] seed, through the word of [the] living and enduring God. 24 For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like a blossom of grass; the grass becomes withered, and the flower falls off, 25 but the saying of Jehovah endures forever.” Well, this is the “saying,” this which has been declared to YOU as good news.”
Those who have a new birth or in other words are born again have hope because of the resurrection of Jesus. They received this hope through the message of the good news or gospel. When we put faith in the good news that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected, God’s spirit become the dominant force in our lives. It produces changes in us. The fruitage of God’s spirit is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22,23)
Summing up let’s ask the following questions:
Have you by means of your study of God’s word accepted Jesus as the Christ?
Do you practice righteousness?
Do you avoid practicing sin?
Is love a dominant quality in your life?
Are you determined to conquer by your faith all that this world has to throw at you?
Does God’s son, Jesus, watch over you?
If you answered yes to these questions, then by the bible’s definition you are born again.