Yes, you have to be born again in order to be saved. Unless you are saved, you are not Christian, regardless of which denomination you belong to or whatever you happen to call yourself.
What is being born again? The Bible tells us that there was a member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God.” What he was really saying us, “Teach me how I can find God.” Jesus cut through the discussion and said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus did not understand that and asked, what is this “born again”? Do you want me to go back into my mother’s womb and be born all over again? Jesus responded by saying, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Then Jesus referred to the wind. He said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit…. Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things” (John 3:1-18)?
Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he had to be born from above, by the Spirit of God, and by water, which I presume is the water of baptism (although there are others who think it may be the bursting of the waters at initial birth, or the Word as referred to in Ephesians 5:26: “the washing of water by the word”). There is a transformation by the Spirit of God of our lives that is tantamount to a second birth.
God said through the prophet Jeremiah that He was going to write His laws on the hearts of His people (see Jeremiah 31:33). This is one result of being born again. Suddenly the law of God is no longer something on tablets of stone, but is something written upon the heart. One is motivated from within as the Spirit of God begins to lead in obedience to the righteousness of God.
First, God says, “You are righteous by faith,” then He gives you the Holy Spirit so you can live righteously. Once you have been born again, you live the righteous demands of the law by the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the process of regeneration that turns a sinner into a saint, fit for God’s kingdom: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
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