Before I contend with you on what it actually means to be born again I must first state what it is not. Being born again has nothing to do with baptism, nothing to do with morality, and nothing to do with justification by obedience to the law. It is not ceremonial and no sinner on this planet can be born again without the direct intervention from God. It is not ritual and must come from the preaching of the true gospel. Anything other than the true gospel is not a saving or redeeming gospel but a false one that does NOT in fact convert the soul.
The Bible says that all are dead in trespasses and sins. That all are dead spiritually and cannot see or hear anything regarding the things of heaven or the things of God. The Bible says that all are slaves to sin when born into this world all human beings except Christ Jesus are totally depraved and unable to do anything good on their own. All men take pleasure in sin and long to commit it, that have yet to take part in redemption. This may be a small sin it may be a huge sin but they like it and desire it.
Now this is what I believe it means to be born again.
There is a true and false Gospel. Galatians warns of this.
Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Gal 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
This is the true gospel that saves
There is a God. He is Holy. He has a law 10 commandments that you have broken. Sinner must recognize his doom and damnation and that he is under the wrath of God like Romans 2 declares, the book of John and the entire Bible.
Rom 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Once a sinner understands that sin has betrayed him and it is fatal to the soul and is hopeless then Jesus is offered as the sacrifice or substitute for the sinners sin. He turns from sin accepts the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and at that moment is born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. He first must come to the conclusion he is lost before he can be saved. He has to see the Holiness of God which God reveals to Him upon the preaching of the gospel. Jesus is God in the flesh, born of a virgin, lived a perfect and sinless life, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead in the same body. If you will turn from sin and place all of your trust in Him you will be saved. Simple gospel. However the ONLY ones that hear this and truly are changed are those that God calls from sin to Holiness.
Being born again is hearing the true gospel message and obeying it or applying it to ones life.
Now this can only be done because God chose you to salvation not based on anything you have done but because He is good and merciful. Being born again means God did love you before you were ever born and chose you to inherit eternal life. This I will show now. Not all who profess to be Christians have had God reveal His Holiness to them.
2Pe_1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2Ti_1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Eph_4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Php_3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Eph_1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
If God calls you through the preaching of the true gospel from sin to Holiness then you are in fact His Child and He will keep you until the end.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he ALSO called: and whom he called, them he ALSO justified: and whom he justified, them he ALSO glorified.
This calling has nothing to do with how you behave or what you have done in life. God Himself imparts Himself into you regenerates your soul makes you a new creation gives you Himself through what Christ Jesus has done on the cross. Destroys your desire to sin and give you the extreme desire for Holiness. Seals you with His Holy Spirit.
Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Proof you are born again is that God called you by the preaching of the gospel from sin to Holiness. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is UNDERSTANDING.
You understood God is Holy and you were not separated from Him by your own sin. You renounced sin and now serve God because He gave you the gift of repentance.
2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2Ti 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
So now we see a man is born again through preaching of the Word of God, the true Gospel of salvation. He is born again because God gave him the gift of repentance, gave him his faith, gave him the gift of salvation, and finally sealed him with the Holy Spirit.
2Co_1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Eph_1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph_4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
If you add one iota of works to the gospel it is no longer the gospel this includes but is not limited to baptism.
Once one is born again Jesus says to get baptized. However lack of baptism does not in fact forfeit the eternal life that God has given one in the first place.
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May you be 100% convinced of God’s love for me! That I have in fact escaped sin and the wrath to come. Not because of any good thing I have done, but truly because the Lord of Glory Jesus Christ called me out of sin to Holiness by some man of God somewhere who preached the truth to me and God met me where I was. He gave me my faith, He gave me repentance, and He will in fact keep me to the end.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.