In John 3:3 (NKJV) “Jesus answered (Nicodemus), ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’.” So, what does it mean to be “born again”?
First let us say what it is not. It is not a physical rebirth. It is not being a religious Christian who regularly attends Church and gives to the Church. It is not one who does penance, or gives money to have sins forgiven. It is not one who has been baptized in water. Unless you are born again, the most religious Christian will end up in hell.
Now let us see what it is! First, you must believe that Jesus died (shed his blood) as full payment for your sin; and you must believe that He rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven (where He came from)to sit on heaven’s throne. But, just acknowledging the truth of that is not enough alone; even Satan believes Jesus did those things, yet he will be condemned to hell. If you truly believe it, then you must repent of your sins (in godly sorrow) to the Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus. Ask Jesus to come into your heart (spirit) and become your Lord. At this point, you are saved by your faith, repentance, and invitation. Note: you repent directly to God, not to any human (priest, minister, preacher – they cannot forgive you – only God can).
After this, (and you are now “saved” from sin and hell) you should be baptized in water. John, and all Jesus’ disciples baptized them in a body of water (immersion). No wherein the bible was any believer ever “sprinkled” with water; that is not a scriptural means of baptism.
Understand that baptism does nothing to save you. It is your public demonstration of your new- found-faith. It symbolically identifies you with the death of Jesus (as you go under the water) and the resurrection of Jesus (as you come back out of the water). The Holy Spirit is active in the “salvation” or “born again” experience. He renews your own human spirit to make it “alive in Christ,” imparting the spirit of Christ to you. This makes you a “new creation” in Christ, a complete renewal of your inner being. The old “man” is dead and gone. You have been made “a new man” in Christ. Now you are “fit for heaven,” as being “clothed” in the righteousness of Christ.
References: Acts 2:38; John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17