<![CDATA[<br /><br />Elina Publishing - Blogs]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:35:25 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Meaning and Use of the Term "Born Again"]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:47:58 GMThttp://elinapub.com/2/post/2016/02/meaning-and-use-of-the-term-born-again.html At one time, the phrase “born again” had become quite a cliché in evangelical circles. You could hear people proclaim, “I am born again.” They would even ask others, “Are you born again?” I know that a lot of people used to cringe when such a question was put right in their faces. Befuddlement and embarrassment could be seen on the faces of those confronted with such a question. Lately, however, it seems that self-proclamations of being born again, and accosting other people with questions about being born again, have seen a dramatic decline.

Any spiritual concept that becomes a mere catchphrase is subject to misinterpretation and misuse. Catchphrases sometimes become so commonplace that people stop giving any serious thought to them. And, I think, that was also true with the phrase “born again.” Actually, I am glad that self-righteous proclamations as well as confronting others are not common anymore.

In this article, I will explain why both self-proclamations and confrontations about the question of being born again are inappropriate. I will also attempt to explain the meaning of the phrase, because there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be born again. At a fundamental level, I have discussed this subject on page 62 of my new book, Way of the Real Faith: A Choice, a Journey, a Destiny.

The terms, “born again,” “born anew,” or “born from above,” all carry the same meaning. But, first, it should be emphasized that these phrases are sacred. They should not be used carelessly. Second, the concept has a very personal application. In other words, it’s a matter that needs to be taken up only between God and you. Hence, it is not right to ask someone if they are born again.

There is another type of decline in the use of the term “born again,” which is unfortunate. I am referring to the almost nonexistent preaching and teaching about what it means to be born again, and how a person can be born again. Yet, the term is still very much relevant today. 

The apostle John is the one who has used this term most frequently. He relates how Jesus challenged a very religious man, Nicodemus, when he visited Jesus one night. Nicodemus came to seek answers to some deep spiritual questions when he approached Jesus by saying, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God … ” (John 3:2, NKJV*). Nicodemus was a very learned man, and was a teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures. Today, his status would be equivalent to that of a professor of theology in a seminary. I think Nicodemus was quite convinced that Jesus was the Messiah; otherwise, he would have felt no need to come to Him with spiritual questions. Jesus could discern Nicodemus’ state of mind, so He “answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).

Jesus first told Nicodemus the importance of being born again. It is absolutely essential for entry into the kingdom of God. In other words, there is simply no other way for a man or a woman to enter the kingdom of God. Hence, the subject of being born again is a serious one, and it requires close attention.

Subsequently, Jesus explained what it meant to be born again. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). All of us came into this world having been born of the flesh, from our parents. But, a second, spiritual birth, takes place when a person is born of the Holy Spirit of God. This is the second birth. The “new birth” is an individual thing. It cannot be obtained from another person. Also, it cannot be obtained by being religious, by doing some good deeds, or by visiting some “holy” place. If it could be obtained through religion, Jesus would not have said to Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:7). Nicodemus already was one of the most religious people of his time.

The new birth comes from the Spirit of God. That’s why the apostle John also used the term “born of God” (see John 1:13; and 1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 5:4, and 5:18). In His response to Nicodemus, Jesus implied that not everyone will be born again, when He used the phrase “unless one is born again” in John 3:3.

Copyright ©2016 D. A. Singh

  * All Scripture citations are taken from the New King James Version.