A good Christian friend asked me the following questions, and perhaps you have asked the same questions. I have changed my friend's name to Terry.
"To be born again do you need to be baptized? What about children/babies being baptized? Is baptism necessary to be raptured? Why did Christ ask John to baptize Him? What is the fate of the stillborn or aborted babies?"
Although your words may be a little different, you seem to be asking the same basic question, as did Nicodemus in the following scriptures.
(4) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
I personally believe that these verses are among the most important words we humans will ever read, and they must be a burning fire in our hearts, otherwise we follow the folly of fools. If we do not understand the importance of what the Lord is saying, then we stand as did Nicodemus, lost and without knowledge. We must also understand that Nicodemus was a learned Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, and he had studied the scriptures most of his life. Yet Nicodemus could not understand what Jesus was trying to tell him, because he had not experienced it himself. But once we have experienced it, we know forever it's wonderful glory.
In your note you asked, "To be born again, do you need to be baptized?" I believe the words in John 3:4-7 tells us there is no other way. In fact being born again is the baptism to which Jesus is referring. Many of us, like Nicodemus, do not understand the baptism to which Jesus speaks. When I think back upon all of the questions I used to have about the water baptism, I thank the Father for giving us the two thieves on the cross with Christ that day, as they show us how we are to be baptized. One of the thieves on the cross mocked Jesus saying "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us", but what he was really seeking was his own preservation, and all of his actions were directed at saving his own skin. He indeed was a hypocrite, and he did not truly believe Jesus was the Christ, nor was eternal life a reality to his lost soul, his present life was all that was important. But the other thief answering rebuking the first saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation, we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." This thief knew without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ, and he said from the depths of his soul, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Jesus answered immediately, "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." In that moment Christ's words were the water, which baptized and cleansed that retched sinner's soul forever. It is the true belief within our souls, which opens the floodgates holding back the loving baptismal waters of Christ, which wash our sins away forever.
This sinful man on the cross with Jesus that day was not baptized with the water we drink to prevent the human body from thirsting to death, but he was baptized with the water called Christ. When Jesus told Nicodemus " Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God", He was telling Nicodemus that we must accept the Father's great sacrifice of His only begotten Son Jesus, if our sins are to be washed away, and if we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Once we see Jesus, for who He really is, and we truly accept Him as our only salvation, just as the worthless thief did on the cross, then in that very moment the Father will fill our souls with His Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit to fill our soul, and to walk with us daily, we would surely thirst to death. Without the Holy Spirit, our hearts are filled with doubt and darkness which cannot otherwise be driven away. The thief knew that Jesus was the Christ, and without Him, there was much more at stake that day than human flesh, it was his soul that needed saving, not his human body. When we know without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, then Jesus will wash our sins away as well, in the baptismal waters of His love.
Another scripture, which I think, may help us to understand the water Jesus was referring to in His conversation with Nicodemus is;
(11) The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (12) Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? (13) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
We may have been baptized in the water of Jacob's well, but it has no lasting effect on our salvation, only that which can wash the heart clean has everlasting power. Our established religions have placed a great deal on the power of baptism by water, as John the Baptist, baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. But I believe Jesus did this to show the world that He did not come to change the law, but to fulfill the law, as the Spirit of the Father ascended upon Him that very same day saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Even John said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire". We follow Christ's example today in being baptized with the water of Jacob's well of repentance, to show the non-believers that we too have changed, that we too are born again through the sacrifice and love of Christ, but are we, or did we just get wet? If our hearts have not truly changed, then nothing has changed. Is baptism something to cleanse the human body, or is it something to cleanse the human soul? The thief on the cross with Christ that day was not worried about the cleanliness of his human body, it was his eternal soul that was dirty and in danger. If it requires water from this earth to wash away our sins, then the repentance of that thief on the cross was too late. But this was not the case, as Christ opened the gate to heaven for that lowly thief that day, and Christ alone will open that same gate to all who seek Him with a pure and loving heart. Nothing else is required.
Without baptism of the soul we will in no way enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, "Yea must be born again", and if these words still seem unrealistic to us as they did to Nicodemus, then we need to fall on our knees as an unworthy thief, and ask Jesus to remember us there in His Father's kingdom. As for small children being baptized, being born again of the spirit is not something someone else can do for us, we must choose ourselves who we will serve. However, Jesus said, "suffer not the little children to come unto me". We call God our Father, because that is exactly who He is. He alone has created us, He lone knows our every thought, and He has already proven how much He loves us by risking the soul of His only begotten Son so that we might have eternal life. This same Father would not reject a small and innocent child, He knows the heart of a child which has not had time to be contaminated with the lust and lies of this world. The greatest evil is to have heard, and yet knowingly reject the Father's offer of salvation. A small child cannot understand what is at stake, and will not suffer for the mistakes of others.
We must realize that the spiritual baptism is the only door way that leads to our Fathers house, but we each must open that door ourselves, we each must die to our old lives, and become a new creature, one transformed to live in heaven forever. When we say "Father", to whom are we speaking? The answer to this question, will tell us if we have been born again, or not, and there are no "I'm not sure" in the lives of the born-again.
I hope my words have helped, but they are only words of a worthless sinner, and each of us must accept or reject them as the Lord leads us. After all, this baptism is a personal thing, not a ritual or show.