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What Does “Born Again” Mean?

While we’re discussing the concept of salvation, let’s make sure you understand a term that you may have heard somewhere along the line: being born again.

Jesus first used the phrase in a private conversation with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus. John records Jesus’ words: I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).

It is used again in 1 Peter 1:23. Speaking to followers of Jesus the apostle Peter says, For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. And the apostle John uses the term seven times in the book of 1 John.

Essentially, being born again refers to spiritual birth. It describes what happens when you commit your life to Jesus and become his follower. All of us came into this world by natural, physical birth. Being born physically makes us human beings. Being born spiritually (born again) makes us children of God, members of God’s family, part of God’s kingdom.

Nicky Gumbel, worldwide leader of the Alpha course, describes it this way: just as when a man and a woman come together in an act of love that gives birth to a physical baby, so when the Spirit of God comes together with the spirit of a man or woman in an act of love, a spiritual birth takes place. At that point you become a new person.

The Bible gives the meaning of this in these words: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17). God gives you a brand new start.