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Man had been spiritually dead, so it is important for him to be born anew to be free from the bondage of sin, death, sickness and the devil. You can actually be free from retribution and the thought of it. That was why Jesus used the word MUST. Without this there is no escape route.
So, to be born again means to be born of the Spirit, period. The new birth is an encounter with the spirit of man.  The change happened in our spirit. The most striking point Jesus made in the scripture was the importance of being born again. He said it is a must to be born again.
John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, you MUST be born again.  
Now, the point in this write up is from the verse five of this same chapter.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God
I have heard people presenting this verse of the scriptures as the two elements of salvation to be water (Baptism) and Spirit. Yes, but the truth is, there are no two elements to salvation. The Greek Kai for the word ‘and’ as used here is to join the born of water and the spirit can be rendered as even. Even In English, it is not every time the word and is used as a conjunction. At times, it is used to stress repetition or continuity that is to emphasize a point. For example I am getting better and better. The word and used here only emphasizes how better I am getting. The word and as used in John 3:5 is to emphasize and explain the extent of the new birth. A better rendition will have it as unless a man is born of water which is the Spirit.
You will see that the subsequent verses only mentioned being born of the Spirit. For instance
John 3:8 The wind blows where it list, and thou hears the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
It didn’t say, so is everyone born of water and spirit. Even if it had said that, it was to emphasize the Spiritual birth. I totally disagree with some of the bible commentaries on this verse that to born of water here meant baptism of water. How? The proof of this thought has no root. To be Baptism means to be immersed, why born means to procreate or regenerate.
In fact, I love the way Paul puts it in Titus
Titus 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION, AND RENEWING OF THE HOLY GHOST;
Except a man is born of water and (even, indeed, which is) the Spirit. The new birth is entirely spiritual.
Well another thought is that the water here can be compared with what Paul referred to as the Word in Ephesians. Truth!
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of WATER BY THE WORD,
Well agreed, because the Spirit and the Word are one. Very inseparable but all the same the verse only emphasizes being born of the Spirit, which  also is being born of the Word. In fact see what Jesus said in the later verses of the book of John.
John 7:38-39  He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Do you get that? Jesus was explaining that he had figuratively used waters as the spirit.
The Wuest’s NT version reads John 3:5 as:
Most assuredly, I am saying to you, unless a person is born out of water as a source, even out of the Spirit as a source, he is not able to enter the kingdom of God.
Salvation or the new birth is solely by grace through faith. The question is who is He that is born again?
1 John 5:1 Everyone who BELIEVES that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
The action word here is BELIEVE. Believe what? Believe Jesus as the Christ who died and rose again.
It is not two requirements. No! It is believe and you are saved.
Roman 10:9 That if thou shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall BELIEVE in your heart that God hath raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
So in conclusion the verse here was not speaking of the requirements to be born again but requirement to be part of God’s kingdom. To believe is the requirement to be born again(Born of the spirit) which is the requirement to be part of the kingdom of God. When you are born again, you are in the kingdom. Stay fresh!