Most everyone acquainted with biblical teaching understand that one must be “born again” in order to be saved. However, there is much difference in understanding of what that new birth consists. Let us examine what the text says…
We understand the figure of a birth, being born into something. The change that occurs when a person is saved from sin is so radical that it can be compared to being born again. A birth requires a conception and emergence from the mother’s womb. In the spiritual figure of a new birth, one is conceived by the gospel seed (1 Cor. 4:15 f; 1 Pet. 1:23). The preaching of the gospel causes the conception that results in the new birth.
Born of Water
There is only one thing associated with salvation that involves water and that is baptism. Water baptism (born of water) is a essential for entrance in the kingdom of heaven (Acts 8:35-39).
That water baptism is essential to salvation is confirmed by the following texts: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).
Anyone who has not been immersed in water for the remission of their sins has not been born again.
Born of the Spirit
Water baptism without the accompanying “born of Spirit” is inadequate for salvation. What does being “born of the Spirit” mean? Various explanations have been given. Some interpret this to mean Holy Spirit baptism, speaking in tongues, or some other miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
We can find help in understanding this statement by looking at other verses that mention the Holy Spirit and water baptism: “And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). ” For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit:” (Titus 3:5). “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26)
These verses help us to see what the work of the Holy Spirit is in conversion that might be compared to being born again. The Holy Spirit who was sent to the apostles did the work of convicting men of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 16:8). That occurs through the preaching of the Holy Spirit revealed word of God. When one hears the gospel preached, he is convicted of his sins (Acts 2:37 f; 1 Cor. 14:24). The Holy Spirit revealed gospel proclaims the conditions of one’s salvation belief in Christ (Mark 16:16 f; John 8:24 cf; 14:6), repentance of one’s sins (Acts 2:38 cf; 17:30), confession of one’s faith (Mt. 10:32 f; Acts 8:37), and water baptism (Mark 16:16 ff; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). When one believes the message revealed by the Holy Spirit, genuinely repents of his sins and determines to be obedient to the Lord, and is baptized in water, he has been born of the Spirit.
One may be baptized in order to date a person, to please his parents, or because some of his friends were baptized. However, if one did not experience the change that is described above in which he ceases to live to please himself in the service of Satan and resolves to live for Christ, he just got wet.
Becoming Part of the kingdom of God
The kingdom of God on this earth is the church (Mt. 16:18). Because the church is an eternal kingdom that shall be delivered up to the Father at the Lord’s second coming (1 Cor. 15:24), this kingdom is but a prelude to heaven itself (2 Pet. 1:11). Therefore, the new birth is essential to become a member of the church (1 Cor. 12:13) and to enter heaven itself.
Conclusion: Denominations need to realize that they have not been born again because they were not baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. Perhaps some of us need to reconsider whether or not we were born of the Spirit when we were baptized or just went through some ritual for some reason or the other (2 Cor 13:5). Whatever the case might be, if you have not been born again, you need to be if you desire to be a citizen in the kingdom of King Jesus. Have you been born again?