I’m not sure that anyone really understand what being ‘born again’ or ‘born from above’ really means, or entails.
For me, I was one way, I prayed a ‘sinner’s prayer’ in a typical Evangelical church, and then I was a different way. Completely changed.
Some people never have an experience like this. I’ve heard of folks growing up in Christian homes who basically always believed, so there wasn’t a ‘conversion experience’, per se.
The Apostle Paul had an interesting experience (Gal. 1:15-16) where he reports Christ was revealed as already having been in him. I don’t pretend to understand his perspective on the whole thing, except that the mystery of salvation is indeed, something mysterious, and probably much deeper than we know.
Was I ‘saved’ when I prayed the sinner’s prayer?
Or on the Cross when we were co-crucified with Him?
Or ‘when Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world’?
I don’t know. It might be all three. Maybe there are degrees to this thing.
Whose faith was involved? Jesus’ faith? My faith?
Does my belief, or lack of belief, somehow affect the outcome?
A lot of people give pat answers to these question, without really thinking how much mystery is involved here.
Mystery is beautiful.
Mystery can be frustrating to those who insist on doctrinal surety, who demand that everything be put in neatly-organized theological boxes, with strict guidelines.
But, as has been said many, many times, God refuses to be put in a box.
God refuses to be strictly categorized.
God is way, way too mysterious for that.
And that’s OK.
We have Jesus.
We have Jesus, so we can see what God looks like, how he feels, thinks, and behaves.
We can see the character of Jesus. We can see what he did after his life on earth, through the letters of Paul.
We can see what Jesus is still doing, today, right now.
But there is so much beautiful mystery out there.
Study! Study the Scriptures. There’s always more to learn. Don’t be ignorant if you can help it. Learn, and be diligent to teach others.
But leave room for mystery.
Nobody *really* knows how all this works.
And that’s OK.