What Does It Mean To Be "Born Again?"
                                   By: Jerry S. Maneker                           

“…Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” “…You must be born from
above.” (John 3:3, 7)

To be “born from above,” is translated in the King James Version of the Bible, “born again.” What does it entail to be
born again? Jesus further clarifies His statement to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, when He says, “…Very truly, I tell you, no
one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (John 3:5)

Just as there are two basic dimensions of life, the material and the spiritual, there are two dimensions within each and
every one of us. The first one is “natural,” that with which we’re born: our bodies, minds, traits, genes, and qualities. The
second one is that void within each of us that only by its infilling of God’s Holy Spirit enables one to be “born again.” In
more global terms, just as Jesus said, “…Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things
that are God’s….” (Mark 12:17), within each of us there is the same dichotomy, the latter part of which must be filled by
the Holy Spirit for one to be “born again” and, hence, enter the kingdom of God.

Our consciousness must be changed in order to be born again! Indeed, that born again experience defines and makes
possible that change in our consciousness! That change in consciousness, the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
is the result of God’s “prevenient grace,” His taking the initiative to enable us to have a desire for Him, and it can’t be
manufactured or willed by us. The “natural man” doesn’t have a desire for God! One’s desire for God comes from God
Himself! And that desire transcends national and cultural boundaries!

The desire for God, just like the fruit or manifestations of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), enable the
person to, “Put to death…whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed….anger,
wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language….” (Colossians 3:5,8). And that desire for God and ability to put to death
oneself and his or her selfish desires (Galatians 2:20) is only made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The
“natural man” is incapable of manifesting and accomplishing such feats as a pattern of his or her life!

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He made possible our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to indwell those who trust Him; that
indwelling, in part, entails our having “the mind of Christ.” As Paul wrote, “’For who has known the mind of the Lord so as
to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. (1Corinthians 2:16) We have the mind of Christ because the Holy Spirit
indwells us!

We can’t manufacture the mind of Christ by a sheer act of will! Our hearts are incapable of such a feat as seen
throughout all of Scripture, and pointedly told through the prophet Jeremiah, when he wrote, “The heart is devious
above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Actually, I prefer the King James translation
which phrases this verse as follows, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Deceitful, perverse, wicked hearts are incapable of manufacturing the mind of Christ, and are, therefore, incapable of
being born again by human effort. It is only when the Holy Spirit enters us, God’s baptism of us, that we are born again
and then, and only then, can we be capable of clothing ourselves with Christ. Therefore, Paul can confidently say, “As
many of you who as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27) That clothing comes
from the outside in; not the inside out! It comes from God; not from any “higher consciousness” we may or may not

Paul further affirms this contention when he instructs the saints in Rome to “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ….” (Romans
13:14) Similarly, he wrote, “…clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true
righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) And in Colossians he wrote that disciples of Christ “…have stripped off
the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge
according to the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10) Although addressed to the children of Israel, probably also
what Paul later refers to as “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), God’s remnant, God says, “I will give them one heart,
and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel
11:19. See also Ezekiel 36:26)

It is only when God first acts and has the Holy Spirit indwell us that we have our consciousness transformed by Him, and
we are then enabled to appropriate, or clothe ourselves, or put on, the consciousness of the Holy Spirit. The
consciousness of the Holy Spirit indwelling us is “Christ consciousness,” and that consciousness is solely the result of
Jesus’ ascension into heaven, thereby enabling the Holy Spirit to indwell those whom God chose from the foundation of
the world. (Ephesians 1:4)

Therefore, I disagree with the contention advanced by some theologians who believe that Jesus was not one person
with two natures, but was a human imbued with "Christ consciousness," someone any of us can hope to be. Christ
consciousness can’t arise out of the human condition, with our frailties, inadequacies, and basic sin-natures! Even the
avowed atheist, Sigmund Freud, asserted that humans are basically aggressive pleasure seekers! (See, most
particularly, his book, Civilization and its Discontents.)

Christ consciousness is incapable of manifesting itself from the inside out! Such manifestations as comfort with God,
sensitivity and compassion toward others, and hunger for justice for the oppressed and marginalized in society, are
traits that can’t be manufactured! Christ consciousness can only be obtained by the work of God which is first initiated
by God Himself, and then we are called upon to appropriate and cultivate that consciousness by “putting it on.” What is
called “Christ consciousness,” therefore, can’t be feigned or man-made or emerge from any human being as a pattern
in his or her life who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, indwelling him or her!

That’s probably one of the reasons why the Apostle Paul chides those who engage in “will worship.” (Colossians 2:23,
KJV) He makes it clear that by manufacturing in the strength of one’s flesh what is viewed as culturally appropriate
expressions of a Godly life, apart from its initiation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is fruitless. He wrote, “If with Christ
you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit
to regulations? ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use;
they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-
imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.”
(Colossians 2:20-23)

It is self-indulgence, living for oneself, that are traits that partake of the human condition that Scripture shows to be
sinful and corrupt; they can only be addressed and transcended by the Holy Spirit, and by Him alone! Pierre Teilhard de
Chardin somewhat hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "Christ has conquered death, not only by suppressing its evil
effects, but by reversing its sting. By virtue of Christ's rising again, nothing any longer kills inevitably but everything is
capable of becoming the blessed touch of the divine hands, the blessed influence of the will of God upon our lives."
(The Divine Milieu, pp. 82-83)

Actually, everything is possibly “capable of becoming the blessed touch” but, for God’s inscrutable reasons, only some
are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and it is only those people, those born again, born from above, born of the Spirit, who are
“capable of becoming the blessed touch of the divine hands.” That is why Godly people will continue to fight against the
evil of injustices in this world until the coming of God’s Kingdom! Jesus makes it very clear that there is no heaven on
earth. He says, “My kingdom is not from this world….” (John 18:36)

This capacity of becoming “the blessed touch,” “the blessed influence,” is only made possible by God! Yet, the born
again experience initiated by God is what makes possible our being God’s vehicles of that “touch,” that “influence,” that
brings a measure of that grace, that balm, that healing that are the manifestations of those who have truly been “born

There is no “Christ consciousness” apart from Jesus! Does that mean that only Christians are “born again?” No! But
Christ consciousness doesn’t emerge from what’s been called our “higher self,” from knowledge of the Bible, or from any
quality or artifact made by mere human beings!

As shown above, Scripture makes it crystal clear that mere human beings are incapable of manifesting the equivalent of
a “Christ consciousness!” Only Jesus had a Christ consciousness; only He is the only Christ to be found in history!
There is no “born again” experience that yields a Christ consciousness apart from Him and, through His ascension into
heaven, the consequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in those who are thereby willing and able to commit their lives to

There are Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and others who can and do have a Christ consciousness; who can be, and are, born
again; who can have and do have the Holy Spirit indwelling them as they seek God with all their heart, mind, soul, and
strength. God, knowing the human heart, can and does indwell them and enables them to be agents of His grace and
will in this world to help usher in His kingdom. Mere cultural differences are no boundaries or impediments to an
omnipotent, omniscient God Who alone knows the human heart and heart’s desire. And, it is that desire or love for God
that only comes from God Himself! (1John 4:19 KJV)

Christians have been given the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18) to tell the good news of Jesus’
coming and freeing us from the yokes of bondage of this world and enabling our reconciliation with God through the
forgiveness of sins. However, if someone hasn’t heard the Gospel, or hasn’t had the Gospel credibly presented to him
or her, or whose culture and/or traditions make it impossible for that person to have or use the vocabulary that we would
typically associate with becoming or being a “Christian,” that person has not necessarily been rejected by God. He or
she may well be as much a disciple of Christ as any Christian!

Yes, Jesus and His finished work on the Cross makes possible our reconciliation with God! However, He and His
Sacrifice encompass everybody, regardless of culture, and regardless of where we are in our spiritual lives. As the
Apostle Paul wrote, “… God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The efficacy of Jesus and His work on the Cross was accomplished two thousand years ago; the Great Commission
alerts all people of that fact! That good news is wonderful to have as one lives his or her life here on earth! If Jesus died
for us while we were still in our sins, it can be seen that He certainly died for all of those who call upon Him as they best
understand Him and His name.

None of us can confidently say that only Christians are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit! The Spirit of Christ can, and
undoubtedly does, indwell anyone who seeks a relationship with God as he or she understands Him; that understanding
is frequently circumscribed by one’s traditions, experiences, and culture.

Mere intellectual assent to the Lordship of Christ is irrelevant to the born again experience! What is relevant is having “a
heart of flesh,” made possible by God and God alone, Who beckons all people, regardless of “religion,” or no religion, to
open their hearts to Him as they “understand” Him. And, after all, who understands God? But God understands us! He
knows who are His own! He knows who are the fertile soil (Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:3-20) where His seed can grow and
produce much fruit; Jesus indwells the heart containing the fertile soil whether or not its possessor recognizes Him by
name or not.

A Hindu, a Muslim, or any person of any “religion” or, in fact, non-religion, can have that fertile soil, that heart for God,
and God will indwell that person and enable him or her to be “born again.” That person may call God by a different
name than do Christians, but God knows who are His and who are willing to be yielded to Him so that He can use them
as His vessels, His vehicles, to accomplish what He wants to accomplish in this world. Such a person, indwelt by the Holy
Spirit, without necessarily recognizing that indwelling or even knowing or using the name of Jesus, is “born again.” God
doesn’t expect to be called by any particular name. He knows those who call on Him, regardless of the name they use!

A small example may suffice to illustrate what I mean: My wife’s name is Eileen and my name is Jerry. Since we’ve been
married, and it’s been over 42 years, I can’t remember a time when we talked with each other alone that we used those
names. We have special names for each other that no one else knows. However, when we use those names the other
immediately knows that he or she is being called. Those are special names that mean a great deal to us, and which we
immediately recognize, but would be unintelligible and meaningless to anyone else.

If mere human beings like my wife and me can understand a name we are called that is not our given name, don’t you
think God can understand when He is called by a different name? Does a person have to say, “Jesus?” Doesn’t Jesus
know when He is being called by the name that His loved one has chosen to use?

When one sincerely seeks and prays to God, whatever name one uses for God, he or she is praying to Jesus Himself,
the only Christ to be found in history. And that person, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, has thereby become,
and shown him or herself to be, “born again!”      

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