Being spiritually “born again” involves positive change; and this
change, after an initial “eye-opening” experience, is ongoing and does
require effort, as Paul tells the Philippians in 2:12:
12. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling.
~ King James Version
In Matthew 5:48, Jesus sets a high standard for His followers:
48. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is
~ New American Standard Version
The expression “born again” is found in three places in the King
James Version and also in the New King James Version of the Bible, and
in four places in the New American Standard Version.
Nicodemus, a religious leader of the Pharisees, had come to Jesus at
night to question Him about this “new” teaching. It is believed that he
came secretly at night so that the other Pharisees would not find out
about his conferring with Jesus.
In John 3:3-13, Jesus explains this necessary spiritual change of
being “born again” to Nicodemus:
3. Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you,
unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4. Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”
5. Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is
born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit.
7. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8. 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.”
9. Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10. Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel,
and do not know these things?
11. Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify
what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
12. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how
will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13. No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven,
that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
~ New King James Version