Neonatal consultant Erik Strandness explores what it means for Christians to be born again 

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 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?” Jesus answered: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 1-8)

When we become a Christian, we are born again but if we are born again doesn’t that also imply a pregnancy?

Pregnancy naturally begins with conception therefore when our faith is conceived, we are overshadowed by the word of God and are impregnated with an imperishable seed.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1: 22-23)


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Our faith gestates

Friends and neighbours notice we are different. We have a glow about us as our faith begins to show. Our inner spiritual stirring is slowly revealed by a baby bump of physically changed behaviour.

We experience morning sickness as we nauseatingly look back on our old life and contemplate what it will mean to be a new creation.

We periodically feel movement reminding us that something is growing inside us and every time we try to go on with business as usual we feel a kick reminding us that things are about to change.

As our faith grows, we become increasingly uncomfortable living the way we used to.

Suddenly, the contractions come and become progressively more painful. It quickly becomes apparent that our old life must breathe its last before our new life can take its first breath. Old habits die hard, and they don’t go down without a laborious fight.

The Lord knew it was going to be hard for me to change into the person he wanted me to be, because I was so used to living the total opposite. He had a lot of hell to squeeze out of me, and believe me—when the hell leaves you, sometimes it screams at God on the way out. And when the pain from your past leaves you, sometimes you have to feel it again on the way out. (Brian “Head” Welch, Save Me from Myself)

The painful death of the old is replaced by the joy of the new.

Whenever a woman is in labour she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16: 21)

As we take our first Holy Spirit breath we cry: “Abba Father.”

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8: 13-14)

We lovingly gaze at our newborn faith and see that it has the eyes, ears and mouth of our Father.

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4: 22-24)


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In our past life, we were orphans searching for a home, but now realise that our newborn faith has been delivered into the arms of Jesus. He welcomes us as children of God because he has already signed the adoption papers in his blood.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8: 22-24)

As adopted children, we are now heirs.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8: 15-17)

Our newborn faith grows rapidly as it is fed spiritual milk.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2: 2-3)


Nicodemus came to Jesus late at night heavy with faith. He experienced mourning sickness as he moved away from the faith of his fathers. He was plagued by cravings for the bread of life. And as he began to feel labour pains he went to the Great Physician for deliverance. The wind blew. Nicodemus cried out. And he was reborn.

Will we be perceptive enough to see the pregnant faith of others, provide them with prenatal spiritual care, and then be there to hold their hands when they feel the labour pains of rebirth? Will we nourish their rapidly growing faith with spiritual milk? Will we carry them out of the spiritual orphanage and introduce them to their adoptive Father so they can claim their imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance in heaven? 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3-5)

Will we now take this obstetrical knowledge and recognise those who are in a family way and help deliver one more child of God? 


Erik Strandness is a physician and Christian apologist who has practiced neonatal medicine for more than 20 years.