Being "Born Again"
Being "Born Again"
Jesus said in John 3:3 and 3:5 respectively, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, the listener in this passage, misunderstood Jesus. Like Nicodemus, many others continue to misunderstand the various ways in which Jesus preached our need to be “born again” and what the implications of this are. Our understanding of this topic as Jesus taught it is important because it relates to our seeing and entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I will strive to prove that to be “born again” means a person begins a process of following Jesus in this life (present) that culminates in a resurrection unto everlasting life (future).
Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom
It’s important to understand what Jesus’ Gospel is before we understand how and why a person must be born again. Jesus’ Gospel is described in many unique ways, but it’s simply revealed in the aforementioned words of John 3, where he says that unless we’re born again, we can’t see the Kingdom of God, and in Mark 1:15, just for another example, where he says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” The purpose for being born again is to see the Kingdom of God; the means by which this is accomplished is we “repent” and “believe.”
These opening words of Jesus’ profound ministry are what he explains in other discourses in the “Gospel accounts” in a variety of ways. For the purpose of establishing basic facts, we needn’t look very hard to answer the following questions:
- What is the Gospel?
- What is the Kingdom of God?
- Generally speaking: How is a person saved?
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
- Jesus says being “born again” means you can “see the Kingdom of God.” Jesus says likewise that if you can see the Kingdom of God, you can enter it.
- being “born again” is “of water and the spirit” in contrast to “that which is flesh”
- according to v. 8, this appears to be a miraculous, and somewhat mysterious, occurrence.
- yet, despite #3, it's crucial for a disciple to understand. therefore, we can understand it.
- in John 3, the word “believe” is used by Jesus a total of four times in contrast to not believing, giving us an intended meaning behind how a person is “born of water and of the spirit.” belief and faith are crucial…
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
After the leeching crowd of unbelievers departed, Jesus explained what he meant to the disciples who chose to believe (commit themselves unto) him.
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
The answer to question #3 is understood by the words “repent and believe.” We’re to “ repent and believe” the Gospel. By doing so, we’re “born again” (which is elaborated on later).
The answer to question #2 is that the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Heaven” are the same thing despite some mainstream teaching. This is easy to prove. In Matthew 4:17, we read “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In Mark 1:15, we read “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” By cross referencing these parallel statements, we see that the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Heaven. In addition to this fact, we must understand the meaning of the phrase “at hand.” The term in Greek, as found in Strong’s, is as follows:
From G1451; to make near, that is, (reflexively) approach: - approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh.
Personally, I get the sense that it’s something presently approaching us and it’s something that we should be presently approaching. I’m reminded of what Jesus said elsewhere in Matthew 12:28. When pressed about his miracles and with what power he did them, he answered plainly: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” The meaning of the phrase “is come” is defined in Strong’s as follows:
Apparently a primary verb; to be beforehand, that is, anticipate or precede; by extension to have arrived at: - (already) attain, come, prevent.
The word “unto” from Strong’s is as follows:
A primary preposition properly meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive case], that is, over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the dative case) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.: - about (the times), above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside, X have charge of, (be-, [where-]) fore, in (a place, as much as, the time of, -to), (because) of, (up-) on (behalf of) over, (by, for) the space of, through (-out), (un-) to (-ward), with. In compounds it retains essentially the same import, at, upon, etc. (literally or figuratively).
The meaning of the words of Jesus in this exchange elaborates what “at hand” means. If Jesus cast out devils by the Spirit of God, which he certainly did, then the Kingdom of Heaven/ of God was before them—it doesn’t mean they were in it, it means they were witnessing its manifestation by his preaching and the signs he was performing…evidence that should’ve been obvious. (Jesus says as much in John 3 to Nicodemus). It’s difficult to see the Kingdom when you don’t understand what it means to be “born again” let alone in what sense the kingdom “is.” This was the problem with the Pharisees, and it’s the problem many have today, as Jesus says in Matthew 21:31 and 32.
The answer to question #1 is similar to question #2. The answer is that “the Gospel” was and is that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” which we already learned about (to reiterate, it’s the fact that all the prophecies concerning Messiah and his message were manifesting in the world through the preaching and miracle working of Jesus who is the Messiah. To be absolutely clear, people were entering the kingdom by means of John’s preaching, too).
Interestingly, Jesus summarizes the proofs of the manifestation of the Kingdom for John the Baptist’s sake when John sent his disciples to inquire if, indeed, his cousin was the Messiah heralding the same Kingdom he’d been heralding. In Luke 7:22,23, Jesus said,
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
This, like the declaration of the angelic host in Luke 2:14, is a neat summary of what the Gospel (Good News) is. God was at work in Jesus to bring about salvation, deliverance, and life.
Before we get to our study of John 3:3 and 3:5, let’s define two important terms from Mark 1:15. The word “repent” in Greek is defined as follows from Strong’s:
From G3326 and G3539; to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): - repent.
Whoever hears Jesus’ words must repent or reconsider their traditions, their doctrines, their way of life entirely. He calls you to reconsider family relations, the interpretation of Moses and the other prophets.
The word “believe” in Greek is defined as follows from Strong’s:
From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): - believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.
We see Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines the word pistis, as “conviction of the truth of anything, belief” and “fidelity, faithfulness.”
In other words, the one repenting and believing the Gospel of the Kingdom is the one who has “counted the cost” (considered and reconsidered) and who “commits unto” or “entrusts” themselves unto Jesus’s words. They not only believe (are convicted of) Jesus’ words, but they “believe” (are faithful) to it. In light of this, we have a kernel of understanding of what it means to be “born again.” The Pharisees and those who were committed to their teachings didn’t grasp this.
Ye must be “born again”
Now that we’ve established what the Gospel and Kingdom are and how a person “enters” or “sees” it, we can begin to unpack more of these concepts as they’re found in the famous chapter. In John 3, we find this famous exchange that's been the focus of many evangelists in their preaching for centuries. Here, I underline special clauses for our own focus.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
There are a number of things I think we should remind ourselves of:
Unfortunately, Nicodemus at the time took this literally, as did other disciples, like in John 6 for example (more on John 6 soon) thinking, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb?” The true meaning, however, is only correctly discerned when we listen to Jesus alone. So, what does Jesus mean? I want to focus on the phrases “of water and of the spirit,” and “that which is flesh is flesh.” Once we understand what Jesus is saying by these interesting phrases, we can understand the other sayings and bring everything together.
The meaning of “born of water”
Some will teach that being “born of water” is reference to the “ordinance of water baptism,” and some take it to mean it’s our “first birth” into the world—so, they say, it follows that our “spiritual brith” is referred to as being “born again.” Dutiful “faith alone” people say that it’s a matter of uttering what they call a “Sinner’s Prayer” (“faith only”); Some with discernment teach “Repent of your sins” in addition to faith. In many cases, the repentance and faith needs to be evident before the water immersion. Some insist it’s the sovereign power of God apart from any free will or ordinance whatsoever (Calvinist). Some of these stances are truer than others, and some are travesties of lazy interpretation or deeply rooted tradition. But the axe is laid to the root of the trees when we listen to God’s prophets, especially The Final Prophet we understand is Jesus.
Like Nicodemus, who took the birth symbol literally, so, too, do many other disciples take the reference to “water” literally. If we see how Jesus defines these terms, especially “water,” we’ll learn what he actually is referring to. To understand Jesus’ words in John 3, we need to source other sayings of him that help us understand a more full picture. Here are some references from the fourth Gospel to help us understand a meaning of “water” as Jesus used it:
To the woman at the well (John 4), drawing literal water, Jesus said, But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Let’s now ask, “What was the water that Jesus promised to give?” The answer is ascertained by understanding what Jesus refers to when he says this in John 7:38,
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
A good question is where in the Scripture does it say, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water?” The woman at the well might’ve recalled an important prophecy as it relates to Messiah. The place is in Deuteronomy 18.
It’s evident that this prophecy made by YHWH is of Messiah. Messiah is said to be a prophet with words that God himself commands him to speak. He said that whoever doesn’t believe and obey these words will be judged severely. But what of the connection to “water” gushing forth out one’s belly? If we remember, it was Moses who struck the rock and caused water to gush out. When we put these pieces together, we understand that if Jesus is a prophet like Moses—but greater in power and authority—then the water he provides (his word) doesn’t perish. His words quench our thirst! Indeed, we are “born of water” never to die again. I think this is sufficient to prove that Jesus’ intent was to underscore the importance of his teachings. After all, Nicodemus prefaced his conversation with the following insight: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Jesus isn’t just another teacher, he’s The Teacher. If he’s The Teacher, then listen to him—his words are like water to quench our thirst and to cleanse us of our filth.
The meaning of “and of the spirit”
Now that we understand the “water” isn’t literal but that it represents believing (being convinced of and committing unto) Jesus’ words, we can now explore the meaning of “and of the spirit” as it relates to the “new birth.” To do this, we’re going to leave John 3 for a moment and join a crowd of people who, like Nicodemus, were unfortunately too literal with the meanings of Jesus’ words, thus missing the truth of what he was saying. In John 6, Jesus says,
Like before, Jesus is promising something to these people if they “labour” for it. He uses “meat” (food) as a metaphor. What’s interesting is that he elaborates more on the metaphor as a means to sift their thoughts and intentions. He’s already discerned the crowd was there, not for the preaching, but for the material provision of food (v. 26). The metaphor unfolds in the next passage, verses 32-40, KJV:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
In keeping with Jesus’ theme, he asserts he’s the one sent by the Father. All who don’t come to him in faith will not experience a resurrection unto life, but all who do will experience a resurrection unto life. He does this by comparing himself to “bread” from heaven. Here, we see an element of food that’s produced in the metaphor that equates him to God’s heavenly provision. Unlike the manna, “this bread” never perishes. The metaphor unfolds, and the consternation and confusion of the crowd increases (verses 48-51, 53-57, KJV):
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
Once more, in astounding consistency, we see very similar language used in John 3 (“except ye [condition(s)]…”) and we see reference to “resurrection” and “life” given from the Father through the son. In this passage, the metaphor isn’t birth, it’s eating food. He equates his “flesh” and “blood” to the food and drink that gives eternal life. Like the manna Moses gave, it’s “from heaven.” Unlike the manna Moses gave, it never perishes. The trouble is that the Jews took this literally, thereby misunderstanding the significance of the obvious metaphor, something many today in churches everywhere still do.
It’s astoundingly clear and true in the Gospels that Jesus was a real human being born of woman who was given the words to speak from heaven; in these same Gospels, though, we see that Jesus’ meaning was that his words are the manna, or bread, from heaven, not his literal flesh and blood. He was anointed as The Messiah, The Prophet, and The Savior “from Heaven” who was commanded to preach the word of God (meaning his authority was given from the Father in heaven). They didn’t believe him, his message, or his mission. Therefore, they weren’t being born again. Those who aren’t being “born again” are “of the flesh” because they aren’t following in the spirit (words) of the Father and, by extension, the son.
The meaning of “that which is flesh is flesh”
The reality of our need for a new birth from hearing and following Jesus and his words is contrasted to “that which is flesh,” which I take to be a reference to their (Jesus’ opponents) insistence that their entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven was based on their relationship to Abraham and supposed keeping of the “law of Moses.” For those of us who aren’t Jews, this concept may refer to our insistence that we don’t need Jesus or his sayings for truth and life. Either way, a rejection of the words of Jesus as our essential means of salvation proves we aren’t being “born again.” We get this sense several times throughout the fourth Gospel as Jesus went about preaching. Here is one striking passage where Jesus is seen disputing with fellow Jews on the value of correct relationships. I’ll draw out the pertinent verses in order so we can see how the point(s) unfold:
In John 8:15 he says, Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
In John 8:31 and 32 he says, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
In John 8:37 he says, I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
Jesus said these people judge “after the flesh,” meaning their interrogations revolved around who he was in relationship to Abraham and, in other places, to David; they’re also concerned with who he was in relation to the Father and to them (in other words, they’re asking “Why should we listen to you?”). In short, they stood in defiance to his claim that he was who he claimed to be, which is the Messiah. We continue with this lengthy discourse, John 8:24,25
If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
It’s remarkably clear that Jesus rejected their claim of lineage to Abraham. We see that the people making such claims in the Gospels reveal that YHWH isn’t their truest, ultimate Father, which is a requirement for discipleship and entrance into the Kingdom. We saw that such people are in danger in accordance with the Deuteronomy 18 prophecy. The simple reality is that they didn’t believe him, meaning they “abode not in the truth.” Abraham “saw the day of Messiah” when God gave him the promise, and Abraham believed it and lived the rest of his days in earnest expectation of his arrival, no doubt refining his life as best he could in anticipation. It should go without saying that this true faith necessitates and results in a quality change in life (Jesus says so verses 31 and 32 as well as many other places in the Gospels, and in accordance with the definition of the terms of “repentance” and “believe”). This isn’t what many of those people did; it’s not what many think today. In fact, we saw in John 6 that many disciples went away because they didn’t understand Jesus’ words; in John 8:59, they took up stones to kill him. A claim to mere blood relation to Abraham didn’t profit them; their lack of faith and resulting lawless works proved they were bastard children of Satan “born of fornication,” thus underscoring Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “That which is flesh is flesh,” thus further illustrating the importance of having to be born again. Thus, they’re not born of water or of the spirit—they didn’t have the words of Jesus abiding in them. By rejecting Jesus, they weren’t being born again. The same is true for anyone today.
How “born again” is both a “present” and future resurrection
To understand this point, let’s read John 5:24 and 25 again and unpack the pertinent phrases clauses:
This verse gives us a lesson on two aspects of the “new birth.”
Jesus said the “hour now is, when the dead the shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” In other words, many had repented at the preaching of the word which means, technically, many prior to the first, special resurrection we see in John 7 had “passed from death unto life.” This is what Jesus had been saying. In a very technical sense, a person who repents at the words of Jesus and who strives to obey them (belief), “is resurrected.” The difficulty is a reliance on signs rather than the word itself, as Jesus himself says a different ways.
An interesting way to understand both the present and future aspect of the “new birth” is to read John 5, which we’ve already started doing. First, note what Jesus says in 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
I suggest that “quickeneth” (which means “to make alive”) is both a resurrection from a grave site and also coming to life at the preaching of Jesus’ word.
Not much further down in the passage, we see in verses 26 and 27,
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
It’s important to understand that Jesus didn’t have that power in himself, it had to be granted to him. This is the sense in which “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” which is what John means when he says “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” All the plans of God (the logos of God) had finally come to fruition when Jesus was conceived and birthed into the world. To understand Jesus' sense in verses 26 and 27, we read toward the end in verse 40,
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
It's evident that in John 5, we’re learning more of what Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus about. If we don’t follow Jesus and his word, we can’t have life—we aren’t born again…we’re dead. Do we need more proof? Continuing in the chapter, looking at verses 24 and 25 yet again,
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Note carefully a distinction in time. He said, “the hour is coming” and “now is.” This we understand from the previous verse where he explained that everyone who hears his words and believes the one who sent him (the Father, for they are the words of the Father who sent him) “has passed from death unto life,” precisely the concept behind the new birth in John chapter 3 and 4 and 6 and 7 and 8 as we already demonstrated.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
This is a “present reality” for those who repent and believe and begin following. This is proven by the phrase “is passed.”
In another place in the fourth Gospel, He gives the present reality that’s experienced in the life of a true disciple, which is also the root of hope for the future reality:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
If we’re consistent with the data we’ve examined so far, then the words “repent” and “believe” and “abide” indicate, by their plain meaning, that it’s only the ones who are found following Jesus in the end who are the only recipients of everlasting life at the future resurrection because they walked in The Way of Life before the resurrection, thus always possessing it. It’s these who believed the “Good news of the Kingdom.” The opposite, we see, is true: if you don’t walk in The Way of Life, then you don’t posses life and will not possess life. One has a “new birth” and the other “remains dead.” One only needs to read the parable of the Prodigal Son to understand the truth of this claim. In truth, it’s just as Jesus told John: “The dead are raised.” Let’s continue back in John 5 how so we don’t lose our progression of thought.
With the “present resurrection” hope understood in relationship with the “future resurrection” hope, we can better understand how he carefully elaborates the distinction from this seeming “present resurrection” (by the words “and now is”) from the resurrection from the grave by the words “for the time is coming”. John 5:28 and 29:
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Very quickly, to make a point, we see that Jesus teaches one resurrection at the end of time. Both the just and unjust are raised for judgment and reward at the same time. Only the born again ones (the ones who did good) have a resurrection unto eternal life; only the dead ones (the ones who did evil) have a resurrection unto eternal death.
Why a metaphor of “new birth”?
By hearing the words of life (“the spirit”) given by God through Jesus the prophet-savior, it’s as though a disciple (follower) of the word (spirit) is “born again” or “resurrected” because the normal condition of any adult in this world is a “dead” state. When a person is “born again,” it means they've humbled themselves as little children and are therefore preparing for the Kingdom of God as they can see that it’s “at hand” or “before” them, as Jesus said:
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
The idea is that our child-like humility at the hearing of the words of Jesus converts us from dead people to newly-born people. It’s at this point a person is “converted” or “born again,” as it were. We see how this statement is nearly identical to that in John 3 where Jesus says, “Except ye be born again, ye cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
We’ve learned that this means upon hearing (in our modern day, from “reading” and “meditating upon”) the words of Jesus and repenting and believing (committing yourself unto) him, you’ve, in a sense, been “resurrected” from the dead. You have become his “disciple.” And it’s a disciple who has been “freed indeed.” It’s also a disciple of Jesus’ words who’s been “sanctified” by the word of truth. As Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The ones following Jesus now will enjoy a resurrection of eternal life then.
We also learn from Matthew 18:3-6 that the living are “little children” or the sheep in the little flock. In other words, it’s as though a grown adult was made to be like a child again, given a fresh start. It’s these disciples who bring the words of Jesus to others in an effort to make more disciples, or children, of the Father. Those who “offend” them—like the Pharisees and other opposers did with Jesus—will suffer irreparable judgment for their ultimate rejection of the Father and Son and other children of God who’d been sent with the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The data from these passages show that to be “born again” means a person begins a process of following Jesus in this life by “repenting” (reconsidering what they know and what they do) and “believing” (committing themselves unto Jesus and his teachings). We see that this process is, in a sense, a present-day “resurrection hope” that culminates in the resurrection unto everlasting life (future). Those who don’t repent of their sins and commit themselves to following Jesus don’t have a “resurrection” in this life or in the judgment—they remain dead. Jesus said in John 8:51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.” The opposite is true: If we don’t keep Jesus’ words, we will never see life.
The time is fulfilled. Repent and believe the Gospel, for the Kingdom of Heaven/ of God is at hand!
 John 3:-3-8, KJV
 Deuteronomy 18:18,19, KJV
 John 6:62,63, KJV
 John 8:39-47, KJV
 Matthew 23:9-12
 John 10:27, 28, KJV
 Luke 11:11-32
 Matthew 18:3-6, KJV
 John 17:17, KJV