I sometimes wonder if we Christians don’t use the term “born again” a little too offhandedly. It is one thing to say one is “born again” but quite another to be “born again”.
The term “born again” applies to individuals who have made a personal commitment to Christ that remains important in their life and who believe they will go to Heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
In response to Nicodemus Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3) To clarify for Nicodemus what the term “born again” means Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 5) Putting those two verses together we get a definition of “born again”. It is being born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. Being born of water and the Spirit is something Nicodemus should have understood from scripture because he was a teacher of Israel (John 3: 10) The Old Testament teaches the use of water to take a man from being unclean (as in defiled) to becoming clean (as in undefiled) to be presented to God. (Numbers 19: 17-19, Ezekiel 36: 24-25) It also describes God placing his Spirit in the people of Israel (Ezekiel 36: 26-27) so that they will walk in His statutes.
Thus “born again” is having gone from a defiled state of sin to one of being undefiled, not because of works, but as a result of Jesus washing those sins away. Then one tries all the time to walk in obedience to God through the indwelling of His Spirit.
The Apostle Paul described this “born again” experience as “ if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come”. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
These descriptions describe being “born again” as becoming a brand new person totally opposite to what one was before. It is one who is “all in” regarding a relationship with God through Christ.
One would expect them to meet the criteria for a Biblical worldview. But a significant number do not.
A study from the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI), conducted by Barna, reported that 30% of Americans meet the criteria as “born again”. The ACFI study went further to show that only 30% of those qualifying as “born again” actually meet the criteria of a Biblical world view even though 79% of them think they do. As examples, 24% do not believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, 30% do not believe the Bible is accurate in its life teachings, only 46% read the Bible at least once weekly, 67% believe having a faith is more important than what faith a person accepts, half agree Jesus sinned because he was human, about 60% believe good works can gain heaven, less that 40% share their faith at least once monthly and most troubling less than half believe the Bible contains absolute moral truths.
It seems that there is a significant disconnect here between the “born again” believers who do not meet the Biblical worldview criteria and what it means to be truly “born again”. The Biblical worldview criteria are really reasons for one to make the commitment to Christ by confessing their sins and accepting Him who made it possible to go to heaven after one dies. My view is that those “born agains” who do not meet the Biblical worldview criteria are “born again” in their own minds.