Sunday, July 1, 2012

YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN


Jesus tells us that the gates of glory are closed to us unless we are born again. Therefore we ask: Friend, are you born again? Church member, are you born again? If not, then you are lost. For Jesus says, "...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Surely no one wishes to die a sinner, or perish: then you must be born again.
But you may ask, What is being born again? First we will say what it is not. It is not baptism, for some were baptized and yet not born again. (Acts 8:18-25). It is not joining the church, for some slipped in unawares. (Galatians 2:4) It is not eating of the Lord's table, for some ate unworthily and it brought condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). It is not reform or trying to live better,"...for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13" 24). It is not praying, for Jesus says, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8).
Someone may say, "If I try to do all I can: giving to the poor, visiting the sick and be as good every day as I can, then surely I am born again." No, we cannot be what we are not: "for the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be" (Romans 8: 7). We must have a change of heart. For God by the prophets says: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
Well, then we ask, what is the new birth? Why call it a birth? How and when do we receive it? Jesus says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh..."(John 3:6). Like begets like. When a child is born, a new life comes forth, that which has never been, it compares in this respect with the natural birth..., therefore it is called a birth - a new life in Christ Jesus which is to live forever, for Jesus says: "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die..."(John 11:26). Do not we with Nicodemus cry out and ask, "how can these things be"? (John 3:9).
Again we must acknowledge the fact that Jesus expressed, "with men it is impossible but not with God." For if we come to God, lost, burdened, vile, and a sinner, carnally minded, without peace of heart, longing rest and peace, in our distress we cry with the jailor, "what must I do to be saved" Then Paul said, "believe on the Lord Jesus." Note, this man was at his wits end. His question would suggest, "I will do anything to be saved." That is a full surrender.
God who looks on the heart sees that you would not only say, "Lord, Lord," then not do what He says, but would obey and live for Him. God comes to you through the power of the Holy Ghost and creates within you a right spirit. (Psalms 51:10). Thus you are born again - a new creature in Christ Jesus by faith in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But when may I expect to be born again? God says by the Holy Ghost "...Today, if ye will hear his voice," (Hebrews 3:7). That means at any age, time or place if we hear the call, come. We may come, and be born again by the Spirit thus becoming the children of God heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:14-17).
But how long will it take, must I not grow in to the new birth? No, no, dear reader, we are born into the kingdom of God: that makes us children and heirs, and may take place the moment we surrender all and come to Jesus for mercy, and pardon.
Finally: How may I know that I am born again? Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5 teaches, "Examine your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" Therefore in proving the unregenerated, the Bible teaches they are dead in sin, lost, condemned, having an evil conscience, carnally minded, without hope, disobedient, without God in the world, children of the devil. Contrariwise, a born again Christian is a child of God, alive in Christ, saved, having no condemnation, having a good conscience, spiritually minded, filled with the Holy Ghost, and faith, with a hope of everlasting life. Their sins are blotted out and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Their hearts are filled with love and the peace, which passeth understanding, they love, desire, and have power to do the Lord's will. They cherish a hope beyond the grave, and the promise of: "...I Will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). So we ask could anyone go through such a change and not realize it? Hardly, For "the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).
Dear reader, if you do not cherish this experience and life in your soul, do not rest in ease, for you are trifling with God and your own soul.

(http://e-menno.org/ymba.htm)

12 comments:

  1. Isn’t it odd that if Baptists and evangelicals are correct that their “born again experience” is the true and ONLY means of salvation, the term “born again” is only mentioned three times in the King James Bible? If “making a decision for Christ” is the only means of salvation, why doesn’t God mention it more often in his Word? Why only THREE times? Isn’t that REALLY, REALLY odd?

    Why is it that the Apostle Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, NEVER uses this term? Why is this term never used in the Book of Acts to describe the many mentioned Christian conversions? Why is this term only used by Jesus in a late night conversation with Nicodemus, and by Peter once in just one letter to Christians in Asia Minor?

    If you attend a Baptist/evangelical worship service what will you hear? You will hear this: “You must be born again: you must make a decision for Christ. You must ask Jesus into your heart. You must pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner’s Prayer). You must be an older child or adult who has the mental capacity to make a decision to believe, to make a decision to repent, and to make a decision to ask Jesus into your heart.”

    It is very strange, however, that other than “you must be born again” none of this terminology is anywhere to be found in the Bible! Why do Baptists and evangelicals use this non-biblical terminology when discussing salvation?

    Maybe "accepting Christ into your heart" is NOT what being born again really means. Maybe…making a “decision” for Christ is NOT how God saves sinners!

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary,
      Thank you for responding. I want to start by agreeing with you on some points. By the way, I got this article from a Mennonite tract I read and thought it was very thought provoking.
      First of all, I would say I'm somewhere in between God's Sovereignty and human choice in salvation. I would lean more towards God sovereignty in our salvation. I was saved because God had drawn me in by His Spirit from the Catholic church and open my eyes to the Gospel of grace apart from works. I know that salvation must be a total work of God by His Spirit. Otherwise, we could boast that we chose Him, but He chose us before the foundation of the world! Praise God!
      I also use caution when saying "we must make a decision for Christ." It makes it look like salvation is completely dependent upon the sinner, which I disagree.
      Having said all that, I think it doesn't matter how 'many' times born-again or other terms are in the Bible. The important point is that it's IN God's inspired Word. Every word is Inspired and is God's.
      Jesus made it very clear that a person can't see the kingdom of Heaven unless he is born-again: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”(John 3:3) The term born-again literally means being born from above. The key is in the following verses: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
      No one can tell when exactly our dead spirit is regenerated by the Holy Spirit just as the wind works. But the important point Jesus is making is that you must be born of the Spirit to be saved! Any work done on our behalf: our decision, water baptism, etc does bring saving value. It is God alone! It's beyond our comprehension how it works. But God does tell us we must trust in Christ alone to be saved: "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise;" (Eph.1:13)
      There is different elements of salvation: election, calling, regeneration (born-again), sanctification, glorification. But God is the one making these things happen, we have a responsibility to trust in Him and repent our sins! He sees our heart and saves us!
      Born-again is a very biblical term.

      Delete
    2. Correction: Our decision, water baptism, etc. does NOT bring saving value. Being baptized in water doesn't save you....it is by Jesus' work on the cross alone and his work in our personal salvation that saves us.

      Delete
  2. I agree that we are saved by Christ alone, received in faith alone, but are you saying that God sometimes saves people where the person cannot look back and say "THEN is when God saved me"? They just figure it out sometime later. Doesn't Scripture indicate that salvation is a one time event?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes salvation is a one time event. I've heard testimonies where people can identify exactly when they got saved...like myself (May 2005). But other's can't remember exactly when but they know God saved them because they have a new nature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't it be better to know for sure WHEN God saved you? Calvinism on this issue seems so ambiguous.

      We Lutherans believe that salvation ALWAYS happens by the power of God's Word (faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God). We believe that God decides/chooses us, not the other way around. But unlike Calvinists, we believe every Christian can know for sure when they were saved. There is only ONE means of salvation: the Word, but there are several "when"s of salvation:

      Situation one: a man or woman is sitting in church and hears the Gospel preached. (This person was predestined to believe, to be a child of God, before the world existed.) God uses the Word to quicken this person's soul, God simultaneously gives the gift of faith, belief and repentance, and this person believes and repents. He/she is saved immediately. If they died a second later they would go to heaven.

      Situation 2: Christian parents bring their infant to the waters of Holy Baptism. By the power of God's Word spoken over the child, God grants the free gift of salvation, the "whole package": faith, belief, and repentance, just as he did for the adult above. The infant is saved.

      In both situations the gift of faith must be nourished. In the case of the child, by the parents instructing him in the faith. By the adult, attending church, praying and reading the Bible. Faith that is not nourished will die. Works do not save us, but a life of on-going willful sin and rejection of Christ may result in that person waking up in hell!

      Delete
  4. I am not interested in arguing with you, brother, but I am interested in preaching the Gospel to sinners and correct doctrine to errant Christian brothers and sisters. I will leave you with one last comment:

    We are in agreement that salvation is a free gift from God, received in faith by the sinner, creating belief and repentance. What I am asking you to consider is the PURPOSE of Christian baptism. Is the purpose of baptism really only as an act of obedience/public profession of faith? If so, why doesn't the Bible, in clear language, state as such?

    Why is the term "born again" used only three times in the KJV Bible but the word "baptism" or one of it's variants (to baptize) is used over 100 times in the NT? Why are there so many passages of Scripture that if read in their simple, plain, literal interpretation state that God forgives/washes away sins in baptism? Did God really have that much difficulty explaining the exact purpose of baptism? Did God allow every translator of the Bible into every language on earth to mistranslate Acts 2: 38 and other baptism passages? If baptism is simply the after-thought that most evangelicals make it out to be, why did Jesus, his disciples, the Apostles Paul and Peter make such a big deal about it?

    Is baptism really a work of man as Baptists and evangelicals claim...or is baptism a work of God?

    Lastly, there is no historical evidence found anywhere on planet earth, including areas never under the control of the Catholic Church or the Roman Empire, in which ANY Christian in the first approximately 800 years of Christianity believed that baptism is simply and only an act of OUR obedience/OUR public profession of faith. All evidence from this time period points to early Christians, from the very disciples of the Apostles such as Polycarp onward, believed that baptism means much, much more.

    I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to the Truth of the Gospel and re-read the Bible without your denominational biases.

    God bless!
    Gary
    http://www.LutherWasNotBornAgain.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's important to know when God saved you, but you will know when God begins to do a work in your heart and changes you within. Even though you may not know the exact time or date we can be confident of this: "that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (Phil. 1:6)
      I will consider the purpose of Christian baptism. I have always, like you say, considered it to be a command to be submersed under water to give public profession of the inward change by Christ. It's saying I identify myself with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection and I'm a true child of God! Remember the apostle Paul who said: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." (1 Cor. 1:17)
      I'm not downplaying the importance of baptism...but the purpose of it is not to save us by the physical act. The spiritual baptism done by the Holy Spirit at the moment of regeneration/conversion is what saves. This can not be see with the eyes, so we do the outward water baptism to show people Christ has already done this in us. God bless brother!!!

      Delete
  5. Can you really trust your English Bible to be God’s true Word?

    Have you ever had an evangelical or Reformed Christian say this to you:

    “THAT passage of the Bible, in the original Greek, does NOT mean what the simple, plain reading of the passage seems to say in English.”

    It happens to me all the time in my conversations with Baptists, evangelicals, and fundamentalists on my blog. They state: “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of sins” was mistranslated. “This is my body…this is my blood” is a metaphorical expression, “Baptism does now save us” is figurative speech for what happens to us spiritually when we ask Christ into our hearts.

    What they are basically saying is that unless you speak ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek…you can’t read and really understand the Bible without the help of an educated Churchman!

    This morning I came across an excellent article on this subject, written by Jordan Cooper, a Lutheran pastor. I am going to give the link to his article below. I have copied a couple of his statements here:

    “So here is a question that we all need to ask ourselves when doing this (refusing to accept the simple, plain, English translation of a passage of Scripture): If a verse seems to disprove your theological beliefs, and you translate it in some way that doesn’t fit with any of the dozens of major English translations of the Bible, and that unique translation just happens to fit your own theological biases, could it be that it is in fact you who are in the wrong? Could you be reading your own preconceived theological convictions back into the text?”

    "I know it can be frustrating when you are constantly told that Scripture can’t be understood unless you learn (an ancient) language or read ancient documents that you don’t have either the time or the energy to study. Honestly, if you have a few good English translations at your side, and you take the time to compare them to one another, you have all the tools you need to understand the meaning of the Bible."

    Link to Pastor Cooper’s original article:

    http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-wrong-use-of-biblical-languages.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've lost track of the number of times that a Baptist or evangelical has told me that Acts 2:38 was mistranslated; that the "for" in that passage of God's Holy Word should be removed and replaced with "because of".

    It doesn't matter to them that every English translation of the Bible translates this word in Acts 2:38 as "for" or "into" and never "because of", because these Christians know in their hearts that God would never, ever say that baptism has anything to do with the forgiveness of sins.

    Below is an excellent article by Lutheran pastor, Matt Richards on this subject:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=32616&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BJS+%28The+Brothers+of+John+the+Steadfast%29

    ReplyDelete
  7. BORN OF WATER JOHN 3:5

    There are some who deny water baptism is essential to the forgiveness of sins, by debating the clear meaning of "born of water" found in John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.


    The primary debating point is that born of water refers to natural child birth. Was Jesus telling Nicodemus that one of requirements to enter the kingdom of God, was that he had to exist? That makes no sense. It is obvious if you were never born you could not enter the kingdom of God.


    To suggest that "water" in (John 3:5) means embryonic fluid, is at best an unreasonable conclusion.


    Jesus said you have to born again to enter the kingdom of God. Being born of flesh the first time is not being born again. Again never means the first time!


    When the apostles were preaching the gospel, did they say, in order to enter the kingdom of God, you have to physically exist; that is, you must have been born of embryonic fluid (water)? No they did not.


    Jesus said "unless one is born of water he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) Jesus said "has been baptized shall be saved."(Mark 16:16)


    THERE IS A WATER AND SPIRIT CONNECTION IN SALVATION.


    Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,(The AND cannot be ignored)


    WATER BAPTISM: washing of regeneration.
    SPIRIT: renewing by the Holy Spirit.
    NOTE: It is God our Savior that saves us.(Titus 3:4)


    Acts 2:38 ....be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


    WATER BAPTISM: for forgiveness of sins.
    SPIRIT: receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


    BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND SPIRIT!


    The only way to not understand that Jesus meant water baptism in John 3:5, is by using extra-Biblical sources.


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check out the symbolism of water in the ceremonial washings in the OT. Nicodemus would have understood this as a Jew. That is what water is referring to here in John 3:5.

      Delete