Wow, that question sure illicits some emotions, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that statement comes with a ton of baggage that was attached to it in the twentieth century by certain denominations who wielded the question like a hammer! In those denominations, all one had to do was attend one revival, repent, get baptized and one was “born again”. It didn’t matter what you did after that moment, you got saved and saved you will be! I think the people who ran around clubbing people over the head with being “born again” have done harm to the Gospel.
I don’t remember being taught anything about being born-again growing up. I remember a friend asking me in my 20s if I was “born again” and it felt very awkward.
I have heard preachers teach that we aren’t born again now in the Sabbath and Holy Day congregations. They say that we will be born again at the resurrection and use the following verse as the explanation for this:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jon 3:3 NASB)
As we read on, Nicodemus and Jesus’ banter shows that the Protestant view of being “born again” looks right:
Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:4-6 NASB)
In verse 5, Jesus says one must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom. Being resurrected would mean to be born out of the earth, which is not water or Spirit. It’s dirt. Being resurrected is not being born at all. Yes, the people at the resurrection are Spirit-beings, but to be born again means to live anew and learn about God from a new beginning. The Saints at the first resurrection are resurrected to glory and to judge angels! Being born of water and the Spirit is in line with being baptized and then receiving the Holy Spirit in this lifetime. We come up from immersion as babies in the LORD and start a new life! Being born-again is how we become brothers and sisters in Christ – the family of God!
But there is no need to even explain or go on doctrinal journeys to show that one is born-again in this lifetime. The scriptures show us the truth:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NASB
Peter refers to himself and his contemporaries as having been born again.
or you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1: 23
And here Peter refers to the intended audience of his letter as having been born again. None of these people had suffered the first death yet. They had not been resurrected. They were born again of water and the Spirit through their Baptism in Jesus Christ and the laying on of hands. The first century Christians considered themselves “born-again”!
So, if the first Christians considered themselves born-again, shouldn’t we as well? Have we shed the old man? Is the old man dying? Are we putting on the new man? Does any of that make sense? Consider:
if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Eph 4: 20-24
I recommend reading the entire chapters of Ephesians and 1 Peter 1 referenced here because it shows a great contrast between our old selves and our new selves. Brothers and sisters, we have been born again. We have been changed. We are following the Spirit. Paul’s following verses in Ephesians 4 are given with authority, they are commands, and they dictate how a Christian needs to live. Let the old man die, live as God teaches us through Torah, the prophets, and the New Testament, and be led by the Spirit.