How can someone be born again?

Written on: May 31, 2023

Article by: Roy Davison

Jesus told Nicodemus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Nicodemus asked: “How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4). He did not understand that Jesus was referring to a spiritual rebirth.

Jesus continued: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Being born of water and the Spirit refers to baptism.

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By saying “most assuredly,” Jesus emphasizes that the rebirth is absolutely essential for salvation. Yet, many religious people do not understand what the rebirth is. They do not understand how one can be born again. Even many who call themselves, “born-again Christians,” do not understand, or do not accept, what the Scriptures say about the rebirth.

Through Biblical baptism, we are born again spiritually, we are born of water and the Spirit. We rise from baptism to walk in newness of life! Paul writes: “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Sadly, even many who claim to be “born-again Christians,” reject what the Bible says! They deny that spiritual rebirth occurs at baptism. They think they can be born again simply by believing in Jesus and saying a prayer. But that is not what the Bible teaches!

Baptism is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit!

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

Baptism is not a meritorious work, but a gift of God’s grace. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are regenerated and are renewed, when we are baptized into Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are renewed by the Holy Spirit when we are baptized into the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Christ “is head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). This one body into which we are baptized, is the church of Christ. If you have not been baptized by one Spirit into the church of Christ, the body of Christ, you have not been born again.

Baptism must be based on faith and repentance. Jesus promised: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Peter commanded: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Yet, many people reject regeneration at baptism. They have never entered the kingdom by being born of water and the Spirit. They depend on some superficial or substitute form of baptism, different from the baptism we read about in the Bible. How can a form of baptism be valid if it differs from the baptism that Jesus commanded?

We will discuss two examples.

If your alleged baptism occurred when you were a baby, you have not been born of water and the Spirit. You are still outside the kingdom.

How do I know?

Someone who has been so-called baptized as an infant has not been born again because he was not baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. “In the name of” means “by the authority of,” and God has given no one the authority to sprinkle a baby and call it baptism.

Baptism must be based on faith. You were just an infant! You did not even know what was happening! You knew nothing about Christ! No repentance was involved because, as an infant, you had committed no sins.

How sad that so many people depend on infant baptism! It is an empty, worthless ritual based on the traditions of men, rather than on the word of God. Jesus’ warned: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Another example: If your alleged baptism was an immersion viewed as being separate from the rebirth, you have not been born of water and the Spirit.

How do I know? Because you were not baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “In the name of” means “by the authority of,” and nothing in the Scriptures authorizes a baptism in water separate from the rebirth. If your denomination practices a “water baptism” separate from “spiritual baptism,” you have not been born again. Ephesians 4:5 says there is “one baptism,” and Jesus defines that one baptism as a rebirth, a birth by water and Spirit.

Denominations that immerse merely “as an outward sign” do not baptize “for the remission of sins” as commanded by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter in Acts 2:38. Therefore they do not baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because their form of baptism has not been authorized by God!

If you thought your immersion in water happened at a different time from your spiritual rebirth, then you were not born of water and the Spirit in the one baptism commanded by Christ. It was just an empty, worthless ritual based on the commandments of men, rather than the word of God. The words of Jesus apply: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

What have we learned?

Jesus said: “You must be born again” to enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:7).

How can one be born anew? How can one be born of water and the Spirit? By being baptized, not according to the doctrines of men, but according to the teaching of Christ and His apostles. “Therefore,” Paul says, “we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Herselt, Belgium