What is Being Born of the Spirit of God?

Jun P. Espina         14 min read

Updated on October 2nd, 2022

What is it to be Born of the Spirit of God or Born Again?

The key to Christ’s teaching on how to be saved from sin and live forever is summed up in two words, which are “born again” (or second birth). The other biblical words and phrases related to obtaining eternal life are: salvation or being saved, being born of God, and being born of the Spirit of God. Our heavenly Father used a variety of words to describe His promised eternal life. Just like the various terms God used in describing a person who is qualified for immortality, our Creator also used a few words or phrases in explaining His method of being born again and inheriting life beyond the grave. These terms or phrases, for example, are:

  • Not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
  • Call on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:12-13).
  • Confession with our mouth Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10).
  • If we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).
  • We believe that Jesus died and rose again (1 Thess. 4:14).
  • Not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (1 Pet. 3:9).
  • Believe… that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
  • Come to Me (Matt. 11:28).
  • Believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31).
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).
  • Believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31).
  • Faith comes from hearing (Rom. 10:17).
  • Whoever believes in Him shall not perish (John 3:16).
[Note: We don’t cover all the terms and phrases used by God for sinful man to live forever. The bottom line is faith in Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. We use the word “personal” since group salvation is not biblical teaching.]

A Non-Born-Again Person Can Not Enter Heaven Even If He is a Pastor, a Priest, or a Nicodemus-upright Guy, According to Christ

We need to be born again today so that we can live forever with God in heaven when our time comes. Born again is a life event also known biblically as being born of God. A born-again person is a child of God. When Nicodemus raised this issue, our Lord Jesus said,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

The second birth is the work of the Holy Spirit. Hence, it is a spiritual birth into God’s family.

Some say we are all children of God. However, Christ stated that unless we are born again, we are the children of His adversary, the devil. (See John 8:44.) The apostle Paul clarified this newness of life: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (1 Cor. 5:17) The second birth is a life that is completely changed by God’s Spirit’s possession of the soul.

The Person Who is Born of the Spirit of God Has a Perceptible Born-Again Experience

Christ said: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). It means the born-again experience is perceptible as a cool breeze touching your face when the wind blows.

Our Lord pressed home the urgency of experiencing rebirth by the Spirit to have eternal life. He said,

Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7)

Christ used the word “must” since a non-born-again life is a tragedy into an endless life in the flames of hell.

How to be Born of the Spirit?

born spirit god

How is one born of the Spirit of God? The apostle Paul said, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

In short, we will be born again not “on the basis of deeds” or our good works, but on the Father’s pouring upon us richly the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior after we have believed.

A Person Who is Born of the Spirit Has Experienced a Saving Faith in Christ Jesus

Let me reiterate that faith in Christ is needed to be born of the Spirit of God. For example, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31)

The jailer’s family would be saved if they would also believe.

Christ’s Conversation Regarding Being Born of the Spirit

The scriptural subject concerning being born of God or born of the Spirit is covered in Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus, aside from other biblical passages. Our Lord said:

“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 3:5-7)

Some say being born of water is “water baptism,” and being born of the Spirit is “Spirit baptism.” This interpretation is NOT biblical. Why? Because Christ Himself said that being “born of water” means being born of the flesh, and “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Born of the Spirit is not the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The word “baptize” means to cover. Water baptism, therefore, means to cover or dip into the water. In other words, Spirit baptism is the experience of a born-again Christian, like a preacher, for example, who is covered or filled with the Holy Spirit for service.

Then Christ poured upon His disciples, who were already born of God, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the “baptism,” or outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 1:8, therefore, was to cover or anoint Christ’s disciples for soul-winning power. It was given for service, in contrast to the ecstasy people used to describe it. Luke wrote:

“[B]ut you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Born of the Spirit Means Salvation, Whereas Water Baptism is a Christian Duty After Being Saved or Born of God

Our second point is that baptism saves no one. The apostle Paul said, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 1:17) Baptism cannot save anyone because water cannot cleanse or “forgive” our sins. It cannot produce the second birth or the born-of-the-Spirit experience, since being born of the Spirit is about a soul saved by faith in Christ. The second birth relates to God’s forgiveness and acceptance of our souls into the heavenly family. It is just like an infant’s birth to be a part of God’s home.

During our first birth, we bear the earthy image of our parents. In our second birth, we will bear the image of the “man from heaven” [Jesus]. Note 1 Cor. 15:47-49:

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Genuine Repentance Happens Together with Saving Faith in Christ Jesus

Repentance is a change of heart and mind toward Christ, God, sin, and the Scriptures. I saw people cry during preaching, but never experienced a 360-degree change of attitude from unbelief to faith in everything Christ-related.

The first European convert, named Lydia, submitted to water baptism after Paul’s preaching. Then she offered the apostle and his fellow missionaries her home. What about the Philippian Jailer? The Bible says he washed the wounds of Paul and Silas, then he got baptized. (See Acts 16:15, 33 & 34.)

Many Bible passages record the depth of true faith and repentance, but Nicodemus’ experience appears to be more significant because he set the stage for Christ to impart His most profound doctrine on how to be born again (or born of the Spirit of God). As proof of Nicodemus’s repentant heart, he helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus. (See John 19:39.)

What About Judas’ Remorse?

However, Judas’ remorse after betraying Christ could not be genuine repentance. The reason is that scriptural repentance is not mere remorse or being sorrowful for your sins. In Judas’ case, he said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4a) Like faith, repentance has an object [not mere ‘innocent blood’], which is Christ. During the early stages of Christ’s preaching, He said, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Christ Himself is the gospel. (See 1 Cor. 15:1-4.)

The apostle Paul clarified it when he said: “[S]olemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21) Repentance is a “show not tell” experience since Paul wrote, “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” (Acts 26:20b)

Born of the Spirit is Not Synonymous with Self-Righteousness or Generous Charitable Giving

Nicodemus, a Pharisee who questioned Christ about the way to eternal life, was a “ruler of Jews” who knew God’s laws. The Sanhedrin, of which Nicodemus was a member, was equal to the Supreme Court. He was a “doctor of laws,” so to speak. In describing himself as a former Pharisee, the apostle Paul wrote:

I am “a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Phil. 3:5-6)

Nicodemus was “blameless,” but he could not enter God’s kingdom because he was not born again or born of the Spirit.

In Matthew 19, a rich young ruler asked Christ what he lacked to get eternal life since he had obeyed all the Commandments already. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'” (Matt. 19:21)

Self-Righteousness Can Not Produce Perfection in Life

Self-righteousness, therefore, cannot save a person since the Law of the Lord is perfect—and no one is perfect. (cf. Ps. 19:17)

Second, the Father in heaven gave His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. We cannot enter heaven by letting people or the government crucify us on account of our sins because God requires a sinless and spotless offering for the remission of sins. (See John 14:6.) The Bible says that only Christ was sinless because He is the Son of God—meaning, He was perfect and had not inherited or committed sins! (See 1 Pet. 2:22, 2 Cor. 5:21, Luke 1:35, 1 John 3:5.)

Third, our self-righteousness is unclean in the eyes of God. The Prophet Isaiah wrote: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Is. 64:6) Since we are sinners and lack holiness and perfection, God does not accept our good works in heaven. He demands a spotless offering, and only Christ has satisfied that demand.

A person who is born of the Spirit, therefore, relies upon Jesus for his eternal life and assurance by sincere faith in our Lord’s finished work on the cross at Calvary.

The apostle John wrote: “You know that He [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

The Second Birth Happens at the Moment of Sincere Faith in Christ

“He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Nicodemus asked our Lord.

Christ replied, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)

Our second birth will take place right at the moment of genuine faith in Christ. Then God’s Spirit will possess our entire being after we put our trust in Christ and His words. Without the Spirit’s indwelling, no new life in Christ is possible. Christ gave this teaching in John 14:23 (and verses 16-17): He said,

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:23, 16-17)

Love for Jesus as God the Son Follows Faith, as Experienced by Thomas, the Apostle

Do you want to be born again or born of the Spirit? If so, love Jesus and keep His word.

Someone wrote, “Papa Jesus,” on Facebook. This so-called faith does not save a soul.

The apostle Paul wrote: “However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Genuine faith in Christ happens after accepting and trusting the message of the gospel, which is Christ’s death, resurrection, and His Second Coming, according to the Scriptures.

Nicodemus was a Hell-bound Righteous and Blameless Man Until His Second Birth

Nicodemus, therefore, was righteous and blameless according to the Law. But Christ said he could not inherit eternal life if he had not been born again.

Let us raise the question anew: “How to be born again?” Our biblical answer (which we stated above) remains. Faith in Christ’s blood that was shed on the cross at Calvary for the forgiveness of sins. (Read John 3:16, John 6:53-57, Heb. 9:12-14, Heb. 13:11-12, Eph. 1:7, Rom. 3:25, Rom. 5:9, Rev. 7:14, Matt. 26:27-28, 1 Pet. 1:1-2, Col. 1:19-20.)

Salvation is About Christ’s Righteousness and Birth by the Holy Spirit

Salvation from hell is not about your righteousness, charity, and love for your neighbors (although they are laudable virtues!) but repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul made this doctrine unmistakable:

“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (Gal. 2:16, NLT)

Note that repentance is the new convert’s attitude of turning his back on sin and turning toward God as he believed and trusted the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ—that He died to save us from God’s wrath and hell.

Salvation by Faith That is Wrapped Up in Genuine Repentance

When Nicodemus asked our Lord Jesus how to have a life after death, Christ said:

“[W]hoever believes will in Him [Christ] have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:15b-17)

The devil’s faith saves no one. James wrote: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) Repentance is not part of this satanic faith.

Our Second Birth Happens Through God’s Spirit’s Possession of Our Body and Soul

Your sincere faith in Christ Jesus, as Lord and personal Savior, is exceedingly powerful. For it causes—from the fuel of God’s love and grace—the Holy Spirit to take control over your body and soul. We call it salvation or the born-again experience.

Some More Scriptures on How to be Born of the Spirit of God

The apostle Paul wrote: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 8:9)

Thus, faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and personal Savior causes the Holy Spirit to dwell in our body. As God’s Spirit lives in our body at the moment of faith in Christ, that very moment marks our second birth. Without the Spirit’s indwelling, no new life in Christ is possible.

The apostle John also wrote: “But as many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

How Do We Explain the Role of God’s Grace in Our Faith-Driven Salvation?

Let us answer the question we raised above with another question: Did you ask Christ to die on the cross to pay for the penalty of your own sins?

You did not.

That is the meaning of GRACE. It is God’s undeserved or unmerited favor toward man. That is why Christ said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God gave His Son, Jesus, out of love for our souls. That is grace. For our soul’s salvation from God’s wrath and hell on account of our sins, our heavenly Father gave Jesus to pay for our sins by His own blood on the cross. But He required us to believe and trust in Christ. Our Lord said, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The apostle Paul wrote the gist of this scriptural teaching: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

This passage is pretty self-explanatory.

Do You Want to be Born Again and Live with the Angels of God Forever?

The question we asked above may upset atheists who hate the words “God” and “forever.” My curiosity about Bible skeptics and atheists has led me to follow on social media those preaching the so-called “Book of Enoch” (which is not Enoch’s) and those trying to understand the origin of man and civilizations without allusion to God as our Creator. The result is mind-blowing.

These intelligent but deceived souls on Facebook believed that man was created by ETs—and by the Anunnaki gods, the giants of old—who looked so ugly and who could not even show themselves up without our people seeing them as nothing but evil spirits and demons in humanoid forms.

How can a so-called god create a man who is more good-looking than he, the creator?

That is why the born-again experience will not befall a person who rejects Christ as Lord and Savior and denies the Holy Scriptures as the very Word of God.

What Type of Faith Makes You Born Again?

I hear people say they have been in the church as members for a decade already, but they don’t know their Bible. Worse, they cannot persuade their children of the hope, peace, and joy that comes with being born again.

If they gave their testimony in the church during prayer meetings, it was all about them. And when they spoke of God, they were like blind men describing colors to use Spurgeon’s allegory.

When Nicodemus asked our Lord the way to experience the second birth, Christ said,

“Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

In effect, our Lord said, “Nicodemus, your religion cannot make you born again, because it is all about Me. “[Y]ou do not accept [My] testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”

Fake Gospel Can Not Make You Born of the Spirit

The Second Birth is Christ’s cloaking you with His Spirit. John 7 states:

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”‘ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39)

Some so-called “Christian” denominations, whom we refer to as cults, moralize their church, founder, contributions, and doctrines without preaching the gospel of Christ’s virgin birth, death, resurrection, and Second Coming—for our salvation from hell. They just invented their own “gospel,” just like a company selling meat products with no cow’s meat inside every package.

For example, one preacher said obedience to the Ten Commandments could save us. When asked about why Jesus died on the cross, he replied, “I don’t know.”

A Man Who is Born of the Spirit Understands Christ’s Gospel

You cannot be born of the Spirit of God without the knowledge and understanding of Christ’s Gospel. Our Lord said, if you understand the plan of salvation through the Gospel, your heart is like the good soil that is producing a more fruitful, born-again life. Note Matthew 13:23:

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”


St. Thomas Aquinas said: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” This quote says a great deal about faith in Christ and the associated born-again experience. Being born in the Spirit of God is equivalent to a practical experience that only those born of God can prove. We cannot fully explain the born-again experience to those who are strangers to Christ, our Lord.

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About Jun P. Espina

A former educator, Jun P. Espina is a family man, author, blogger, painter, Bible believer, preacher, a lover of books—passionate about many things. He believes life is good when fed constantly with the biblical truth that is wiser than what most people think. Find him on Facebook,Twitter,or at www.junespina.com.

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