It has been noted recently that many churches no longer preach one having to be ‘born-again’. They have either changed the wording or just stopped teaching it entirely!
Some have asked why this is? I think one of the reasons much of the church has stopped using the term ‘born-again’ or teaching on the subject for that matter, is because of the negative connotation that had accompanied it for so many years. I remember back in 1991 (before I had was born again and saved), there was a young woman I worked with who was a ‘born again’ Christian. Now I had grown up Lutheran and knew nothing about the Pentecostal or charismatic movement. The Lutheran liturgy taught nothing about a Christian having to be born again, nor was there any real spiritual emphasis even taught for that matter. It was what I would call spiritually ‘dead’-just a religion so to speak (man doing specific things in order to please some higher power). Well needless to say I thought this woman I worked with was a ‘nut job’ because of the things she would say. She didn’t cuss, drink or chew or go with those who do! She lived a very wholesome life. We would constantly berate her and tease her about her faith but at the same time, she always exuded a continuous joy and I personally respected her because she lived what she preached. A couple years later when I personally became received salvation by being ‘born again’, I remember this young woman and how she lived.
In John 3:3, Jesus specifically states ‘no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Again a few verses down, “Again I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of both water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but spirit gives birth to spirit.”. The book of 1 Peter also states this in the 1st chapter multiple times in both verses 3 and 23, along with other references throughout the New Testament writings.
It’s not enough for one just to attend church services and supposedly believe in Jesus, yet all the while never being changed on the inside. It’s not our actions that make us a Christian. Nor is it our actions that make us a sinner. Now many may balk at that statement but it’s true. It’s not our actions but rather our inner nature. We are born with a sin nature. We sin because we are sinners, not the other way around (that we are sinners because we sin). It’s our entire nature that needs to be changed from the inside out. This is why no amount of good works can save a person. They are still inherently sinners and sinful in their hearts. We all are which is why we needed a savior in the first place. The born again experience is the essence of the Christian life! We are born into this world as a sinner. But we are reborn into God’s kingdom as righteous! It’s like one being born in a specific country to be recognized as a citizen in that very country. As an American, I am not considered a citizen in say, France. Nor would a French person be considered an citizen in America, unless they work on attaining citizenship here. It’s the same in the spiritual. When we surrender to Jesus, confessing our sinfulness and accepting His gracious gift of salvation purchased on the cross for us, we renounce citizenship in this world and take up a new citizenship, that of Heaven. We are literally given a new nature inside of us! Glory to God! This is a supernatural experience!! God is not a dead god nor is Christianity supposed to be a dead religion but rather a vibrant, spirit-filled experience in which we become new creatures in Him! Jesus has made us ‘new creations’ and the old nature is to be gone! This is exactly what the apostle Paul states in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians in chapter 5:17!
For years many people have associated the words ‘born again’ as being part of some type of cult. Unfortunately because of this, I believe many churches have moved away or abandoned this terminology even though it is directly from the Word of God. Then there is the ‘seeker sensitive’ movement that has also contributed to that abandonment of this term by watering it down or as mentioned previously, doing away with altogether. God forbid we offend anyone (that is another blog entirely). In both cases, it’s wrong because only by being born again, or born anew, will one receive the righteousness that Christ attained for us, be made new in their inner man and gain not only entrance into heaven but power and victory in this present life!
We as the church must never stop proclaiming the truths of God’s Word!! Praise God we have been given the keys to the kingdom of Heaven! Let us continue to boldly share the gospel with others and always tell them that God wants to give them a fresh start! Tell them they can be born again, given a new inner man! That they must be born again to be a follower of Jesus Christ! Lord may your kingdom come quickly and be established here on Earth as it is in Heaven!!!