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What do Christians mean by saying they are born again?

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Christians often speak of being "born again". What does this mean? This concept comes from a conversation Jesus had with a Jewish religious teacher named Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. In verses 3-7 Jesus taught, "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again."'"

To be born again does not refer to a physical rebirth, but to a spiritual rebirth. Apart from Jesus we are spiritually dead (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13). To become spiritually alive we need to be born again.

Many New Testament passages speak of the new life a person experiences when he or she places faith in Jesus Christ. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." First Peter 1:3 adds, "According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

How can a person be born again? Jesus Himself answered this question in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Romans 10:9 explains what is involved in believing in Jesus: "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." You must believe Jesus is Lord and that He literally rose from the dead. Being born again is the result of God's grace alone through faith alone, apart from any works we could perform (Ephesians 2:8-9).

John 1:12-13 explains what happens when a person believes in Jesus: "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." When a person believes in Jesus, he or she is born again and becomes part of God's family—a child of God. He or she has a new life that includes eternity with God in heaven.

Would you like to be born again? You can place your faith in Jesus Christ right now. There is no special prayer or ritual you must do to be saved. Only Jesus can save you! However, the following prayer might be a helpful way to ask God for His free gift of salvation:

"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner who needs forgiveness. I could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. I need your salvation. I am spiritually dead apart from you and I need to be born again in you. So right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me into your family and giving me eternal life."

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Related Truth:

Spiritual death - what is it?

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What must I do to become a child of God?

How is salvation a gift from God?

Why won't being a good person get me to heaven?

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