OPIN­ION

Born again

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

In my last col­umn we be­gan look­ing at one of the most ba­sic mis­con­cep­tions that many have re­gard­ing Chris­tian­ity, namely, what it ac­tu­ally means to be a Chris­tian.

In pur­suit of a Bib­li­cal an­swer to this ques­tion we looked at John 1:12-13, “But as many as re­ceived him, to them he gave the right to be­come chil­dren of God, even to those who be­lieve in his name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (NASB).

Per­haps there is no pas­sage clearer than the one cited above when it comes to defin­ing what a Chris­tian is or what a Chris­tian is not. One is not born a Chris­tian ac­cord­ing to that text and in a re­lated con­cept, please note that verse 12 speaks of “the right to be­come chil­dren of God.”

Now if it is a right based upon be­lief as this pas­sage states, then we must re­al­ize that the com­mon be­lief that all hu­man kind are chil­dren of God is in fact an er­ror. If all hu­mans are al­ready chil­dren of God by virtue of birth, then the right spo­ken of in this pas­sage is mean­ing­less — why would a child of God be given the right to be­come a child of God? If we are al­ready his chil­dren, then the ob­ser­va­tion by John at this point is mean­ing­less.

Sens­ing the con­fu­sion, God an­swers the ques­tion through the pen of the Apos­tle with verse 13, ex­plain­ing that the Chris­tian life does not be­gin by nat­u­ral birth (not of blood), it does not be­gin by per­sonal ef­fort (not by the will of the flesh), nor does it be­gin by af­fil­i­a­tion with a cer­tain church or de­nom­i­na­tion (nor of the will of man).

A per­son be­comes a Chris­tian one way and one way only: he or she is “born of God.”

What does that phrase, “born of God” mean? The com­mon way this con­cept is ex­pressed is by the term “born again.” I once heard a per­son from a cer­tain de­nom­i­na­tion mak­ing dis­parag­ing re­marks about an­other by stat­ing, “Well you know (that per­son) is a born again Chris­tian.”

I have news for you, there is no Chris­tian any­where who is not a born again be­liever. That is what our text says. And Je­sus speak­ing on the sub­ject of what it takes to be­come a child of God said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, un­less one is born again he can­not see the king­dom of God.” (John 3:3, NASB).

Please note that Je­sus’ state­ment from John 3 is clear: only those who are born again will see the king­dom of God.

En­trance into heaven is not based upon one dy­ing; that is a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion many hold. En­trance into heaven is based upon be­ing born again, that is what Je­sus af­firms in John 3:3 and he says it as a uni­ver­sal exclusive. John 1:12 tells us how we can be born again, “But as many as re­ceived Him, to them He gave the right to be­come chil­dren of God, even to those who be­lieve in His name,” ( NASB).

John Wesley, the founder of Method­ism, was fond of preach­ing “You must be born again!” One man, tak­ing of­fense at Mr. Wesley’s harp­ing on this sub­ject, com­plained to him, “Why are you al­ways preach­ing, You must be born again, You must be born again?” Wesley just smiled and said, “Be­cause you must be born again!” If we miss this sim­ple truth, we’ve missed the en­tirety of the Gospel mes­sage and the essence of what it means to be a Chris­tian. Have you been born again?

John Pear­rell

Colum­nist

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