Summary: Is there a difference between saying one is saved and saying one is born again?
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”’”
The term “Born Again,” has been bruited about so casually that one wonders whether it has maintained any semblance of the meaning that God intended. An American President boasted that he was “born again”; then promptly promoted legislation that denied that contention. Voters in that particular election and in elections since that first campaign in 1976 popularised the concept that there exists a voting block of “born again” voters. Every few years, magazine articles attempt to discover what it means to be “born again” and try to understand the popular buzz was about being “born again.” Groups in Canada, though less overt, attempt to promote the Faith as a political ideal to mobilise the faithful to vote in a particular way.
There seems to be confusion about what is meant by the term “born again.” Likely, this confusion arises because the terms used to speak of our relationship to God are confused. This situation has come about primarily because differing communions have emphasised different terms. What is familiar may appear odd to those removed from that particular argot. Let’s think about what the Bible says and see if we can make sense of the terms that are commonly used.
SYNONYMS FOR SALVATION — Tragically, many churches, even Evangelical churches, have ceased speaking of salvation. Or if they do speak of salvation, they speak in the abstract. It is an academic concept in the minds of too many of the professed saints of the Living God. However, in the mind of God, all of mankind can be segregated into one of two categories—saints and ain’ts. Either one is saved, or one is lost. There is no middle ground; there is no process.
There was a day when all churches agreed on the truth that mankind was lost by birth and by choice. The Psalmist said that he was “guilty of sin from birth.” Moreover, he confessed himself to be, “a sinner the moment my mother conceived me” [PSALM 51:5 NET BIBLE]. The day in which all churches held to the conviction of total depravity is far behind us now; and that is to our detriment. Tragically, many of the professed saints of the Living God imagine themselves to be good enough to satisfy God and actually believe their do not qualify as sinners. Consequently, because they no longer believe themselves to be sinners, they do not need a Saviour. Too many of the churches of this day are convinced they do not require one to set them free from sin because they are not bound by sin. Opposed to this view is the Word of God. “This is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” [JOHN 3:19].