Summary: This message is a continuation of the last message in my Stronghold Beliefs series where I talked about our understanding of what it means to be born again. In this series I will address some of the questions pertaining to being born again that I was unabled to get to in that message.
Born Again Christian Part 1
The ninth message in the Christian Stronghold Belief Series was the message titled “What It Means To Be Born Again.” The focus of that message was twofold: (1) to gain a better understanding of what it means to be born again, and (2) to understand why we must believe and know that we are in order to make it actionable in our lives. As I shared in that message, we only “act” on things that we truly believe. If we know and truly understand what it means to be born again, and we believe that we are, we would act on those beliefs and it will be evident in how we live. In that message I could not cover everything that I desired to share with you so I am doing this short series to answer some of the questions that I could not get to in that message. While this series will not be a repeat of that message, I will review, very briefly, some of the key points from that message.
Before we go into the heart of this message, I want to share with you something that Jesus said that was recorded in the seventh chapter of the book of Matthew. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and in Your name have cast out demons? And in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity.” Before I say anything else I want to make it clear that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one. Not everyone who claims to be “born again” is actually born again. And please understand that this applies to those who might be doing “great” things in Christ’s name. This is important because the world will tell you if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is a duck. That may be so for ducks, but that is not so with being a born again Christian. Just because we act like a born again Christian does not make us one. Only God knows who has truly given their hearts to Him. We make our best guess about someone being saved based on how they “act,” but God knows for sure. I want all of us to keep this in mind because this series on being born again is about a heart change, which is accompanied by genuine actions motivated by and grounded in a true love and submission to God. While we will cover what born again looks like through actions, I want to make it clear now that there are many people who “act” saved but are not saved. So we too must also look for the heart change, which will become clearer as we get into the series. So let’s start with a quick refresher.
Before Jesus put the words “born” and “again” together in John 3, the term “born again” had not been used anywhere else in the Bible. As we discussed in my previous message, the term “born again” means “to be born from above,” or “to be born of the Spirit of God.” It means the sin nature we received from “father Adam,” and every person on planet earth is his descendant, is replaced with a sinless nature when God becomes our Father. We’re not going to read the entire passage in John 3:1-7, but I do want to call out verses 3 and 7 which contain the term “born again.” “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.…Do not be amazed that I said you, you must be born again.’” Jesus makes it clear that no one will enter heaven, will “see the kingdom of God,” unless he or she is born again. In He Still Moves Mountains, Max Lucado says “The meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus was a collision between opposing views on salvation. Nicodemus thought the person did the work; Jesus says God does the work.…All the world religions can be placed in one or two camps: legalism or grace.” (Page 128) Jesus says spirituality doesn’t come from church attendance or good deeds, but from heaven itself. So, what would motivate God to offer such a gift? New Light, Jesus tells Nicodemus something that he could never imagine. He tells him in verse 16 “For God so loved …” Jesus made it very clear: whatever this new birth was, it couldn’t be earned, but it could be received!