QUESTION: What does it mean to be “born-again”?
ANSWER: It’s interesting the term “born-again” does not appear in the Old Testament and yet the context of John 3 shows Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand what he was talking about.
This in turn tells us the experience of being “born-again” is seen in the Old Testament…but must be under a different description. This conclusion is supported by Christ’s imperative “you MUST be born-again”.
Christ also said “seeing the Kingdom” and even entering it, is dependent on having this spiritual experience.
We also know by the Scriptures the Old Testament Prophets indeed “saw” the Kingdom and wrote of it, as they were guided by the Spirit.
Again, we find in John 3 an example from Scripture (Numbers 21) of this being “born-again” experience recorded for our edification.
There in the wilderness the Israelites had provoked the Lord to anger for their stubborn refusal to trust Him, even after He had freed them from slavery and miraculously supplied all their needs.
So He sent poisonous serpents among them to kill them.
Moses, impelled by their cries for help, called on the Lord, who instructed him to erect a bronze serpent on a pole.
Whoever among the dying simply looked to the serpent, was saved (healed).
In the context of John 3, Christ was identified as the serpent (He who knew no sin became sin for us) who would also be lifted up on a cross.
Any dying sinner can look to Christ and be saved forever instantly!
The bronze serpent incident is simply another way of describing the spiritual birth…being born-again by faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Notice this Spiritual change is centered in Christ alone, lest some hijack the truth for their own advantage..