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can we be “born again?”
been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible (seed that
does not die), through the word of God which lives and abides forever.
Lord told a very good man by the name of Nicodemus that he needed to be
born again. He then says that we all MUST be born again to be part of
His kingdom (John 3: 3, 7). This "born again" business
confused Nicodemus and it confuses us when we first hear the Lord speak
about it. Nicodemus thought he had to enter the second time into his
mother's womb to be born again (John 3:4). Even as a Christian, I had
trouble sorting out the truth of this concept. I am going to share with
you some of my thoughts on the subject.
people who are not familiar with their Bibles and who cannot remember
being being born again have told me that we who preach the Gospel make
too much of the new birth. However, we cannot make too much of the new
birth. In addition to John chapter 3, the new birth is explained in John
1:13. John also mentions it several times in his letters. Peter writes
about it in 1 Peter 1:23. James uses the concept in James 1:18.
Apparently, this was a concept with which the new testament writers were
familiar. The new birth is an absolute necessity if we are going to be
in heaven when we leave this world behind.
only must we be born again but we must also be saved (Acts 4:12).
Salvation and the new birth are both deliverances and are referring to
the same thing but from different points of view. We must be saved since
Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory
of God." The glory of God refers to God's beauty and standard of
perfection. The new birth and salvation both refer to that time in our
lives when by simple faith, we trusted in the truth that Christ died for
our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). The new birth is deliverance for a new
life in Christ and is all about a new relationship with the Lord built
on trust. Salvation is deliverance from the penalty that we deserve
because of our sins and is all about God's love, justice and mercy for
those who trust the Lord. Those who are born again are saved for a home
in heaven and are saved from eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.
people that I talk to believe that they have been born again because
they "believe in God". However, they usually think that they
have always believed in God and so they do not know when they were born
again. They think it may have been when they were baptized or confirmed
. However, the new birth is not brought about by something we do or by
something that is done for us by others according to John 1:13. Others
tell me that the new birth happened to them in such a way that they
didn't realize that it had happened to them. However, I am convinced
that if we are born again, we will remember the events that gave us this
new life and the peace that came with believing in Christ. We may have
always believed that there is a God, but the Bible says that we need a
time in our lives when we trust in the work of Christ at the cross and
are born again.
1:11-13 states that this new life is obtained when we receive Christ.
This passage also says that we receive Christ by believing or trusting
in His name or authority. Peter states that that the Word of God is the
seed that produces this new life. When the Lord explains the new birth
to Nicodemus, He says that this birth is a spiritual birth. We all had a
natural birth and now we all need a spiritual birth. In verse 5 where
the Lord says we must be born of water and of the Spirit, the Lord is
contrasting the natural and the spiritual birth. A baby's natural birth
involves the water of the womb while the new birth is a work of the
Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convince us that
we need to be saved and that Christ died to save us.
new birth occurs the moment we can honestly say that we know that Christ
died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That faith will not be
based on something we have done or said, it will be based on what Christ
has done and said. When a person has trusted Christ, they will be able
to go to the Word of God to assure themselves that what they believe is
in fact the very Truth of God. We believe people by believing the words
that they say and the promises that they make. We believe in the Lord
the same way.
Lord says, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN." Since He says it, it must be
important. We should not assume that this happened sometime when we
weren't paying attention. A birth is a joyous occasion when it happens
naturally and we mark those dates on the calendar. We may not be able to
remember the exact date when we were born again, but we should remember
finding out that we were sinners on our way to a lost eternity. We
should also be able to remember the joy that came when we found out that
Christ died to save us.
Christ gives us a new life, a new Friend, and a new eternal destiny. It
gives us peace with God. I know I am born again by the word of God which
lives and abides forever. I hope that all of you who read this
meditation know that as well.
for the week of September 7, 2008
that can be depended on
17:17, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Lord didn't make His promises with his fingers crossed behind his back.
We used to do that as kids so that our promises didn't really count as
promises. The Lord keeps His promises and tells the truth, whole truth
and nothing but the truth. When Pilate asked gWhat is truth? (John
18:38)h, he had the truth right in front of him. Jesus had said to his
disciples in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.h Of
course, Pilate didn't believe that.
people think that truth changes. Truth doesn't change but what we think
is true often changes. The law of gravity will never change. Things that
go up must come down. They will never go the other way until the rapture
of the church. Black and white will always be black and white as long as
the sun rises in the east and the sun will always rise in the east until
this world is destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10).
often tell us that what we believe is gtrue for youh. That makes it
sound like truth is relative and that humans have the final say as to
what truth is. Unfortunately, that not only isn't true, it isn't even
good reasoning. If the Bible says that the Lake of Fire exists, either
it is true or it is not. My believing it is true will not cause it to
exist and my not believing it is true will not keep it from existing.
The truth does not change over time or from one individual to another.
can know that there is a God through Creation. But the only way we can
really know God is when He talks to us and tells us about himself. He
did that verbally through prophets and he has done that through the
writing down of the prophetic message for us in the Bible today.
Communicating truth to us is so important that in John 1 the Lord is
presented as the Word. He not only is the messenger with a message, He
is the message itself. He conveys the Truth to us.
is what sets the Christian apart or sanctifies them. Since words are
powerful motivators, those who trust in the Lord reverence His Word. We
study it, memorize it and try to understand it. We try to let the Bible
guide the way we live. Christians don't always understand the Truth, but
we will defend it and we will always trust it. The truth of Scripture is
what convinces us that there is a heaven and a hell. It assures us that
Christ died for us and it is because we are confident in the promises of
the Scriptures that w e can say that we know we have eternal life (1
Christian would never pick and choose what they want to believe in the
Bible. We know that the old testament illustrates new testament Truth so
we don't feel the need to offer animal sacrifices or to keep the Feasts
of the old testament. But we believe that those ceremonies were given by
God to Israel and that they teach us Spiritual Truth today.
know people who claim to be saved or born again, and when I ask them
what promise of Scripture gives them a sense of peace on that issue,
they haven't even thought about it. They couldn't have trusted in the
promises of God because they don't know what they are. People are saved
only if they gbelieve on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31)h and we
believe on Him when we trust Him and His promises.
attitude toward the Word of God is what sanctifies or sets a true
disciple of Christ apart from the rest of the world. The truth will make
for the week of September 14, 2008
my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
I want to quit. Life would be so much easier if I had never set out to
serve the Lord after I was saved back on that late November afternoon in
remember what it was like to be lost and to know that I was not saved
and I remember the wonder that came with finding out that "God said
I was saved." From that time on I wanted to know what pleased Him
and to tell others that Christ had died for them as well. There was just
one problem. I was told that everything would change the moment I was
saved and that I would have no more desire to sin. However, I found out
that I still did have a desire to sin. And then I began reading my Bible
and found out that I had been misled. Christians shouldn't sin, but
Christians do sin. Some get drunk at the Lord's table. Some sin so badly
that sometimes they have to be socially ostracized, sometimes they have
to be silenced, and sometimes they have to be rebuked. I found out that
the new testament letters were written to sinning Christians so that
they would quit sinning (1 John 2:1). Somehow finding out that I was not
alone gave me a sense of peace and made me realize that while sin was
wrong, the Lord had ways to deal with it and keep using me. And the
wonder of the Lord loving me and dying for me and then using a saved
imperfect sinner in His work has reminded me that I shouldn't quit.
I got saved, I thought all Christians had a desire to know and to do
God's will. One of my greatest discouragements has been to realize that
because of my convictions I am going to live a lonely live if I continue
to try to practice what I believe. One of the things I believe is that
every man women and child born into this world can be saved. The blood
of Christ has sufficient value and power to satisfy God on everyone's
behalf. But I also believe that there are few that are truly saved (Luke
13:23-28). But because the Gospel changes our destinies for eternity, I
do worry about those who have made professions of faith without actually
getting their eye off of themselves and on to the Lord. I can't quit
preaching that we must "repent and believe" and that what we
do with that message will seal our destinies for eternity.
I am involved in a Scriptural project for the Lord, it seems that all
the forces of evil are unleashed against me and my family and those with
whom I work. Recently, we handed out free cookies and free Gospel
literature at a local fair. While we were stuffing the packets with
Gospel literature, we found out that I had made a mistake on the web
site address and phone number used on a contact card. We had printed
1800 of them and had 800 in the packets when we saw the mistake. There
were other issues and difficulties but finally we got to our booth to
find out that we were put across from a display by a ski club that
included a life-size demon. It almost seemed like Satan was taunting us.
I just wanted to quit. Encouragement came from an unexpected source. A
man who was working a booth next to ours approached us one evening and
told us how much he appreciated what we were doing. He commended us for
not being pushy. Hearing him say that was like hearing the voice of the
Lord saying, "Your labor is not in vain or futile."
sometimes I want to quit, but I haven't because I can't. But I still
need to be reminded from time to time that "our labor in the Lord
is not in vain." If you are doing a work for the Lord, I am sure
that you need to reminded as well.
for the week of September 21, 2008
always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
suppose there have been times in history when the world has seemed as
out of control as it does today. However for those of us who can only
see things from the perspective of the last sixty to eighty years, we
have never known a time when things have gone wrong like they have this
summer. On Memorial day weekend a terrible tornado went through
Parkersburg, Iowa, and continued East for at least sixty miles wrecking
havoc and destruction. Parkersburg looked like a war zone and it all
happened within a very few minutes. A few weeks later, we started to
have the worst floods we have ever seen in the area. People compared the
devastation to the destruction in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina
destroyed that area. Then the current hurricane season started and Ike
recently destroyed Galveston, Texas. In addition, we are now facing the
biggest financial crisis since the great depression. The war in Iraq has
become a military nightmare. Iran is gearing up to be a nuclear power.
Russia is now becoming aggressive again. If natural disasters don't
destroy us, then Wall Street greed might. And if that doesn't do us all
in, war will.
those who don't believe in God and don't believe in divine intervention,
the present situation must seem hopeless. Many people do not want to
bring children into the world as we now know it. Politics can't bring us
a solution. It is fairly obvious that neither Republicans or Democrats
are going to be able find the necessary resources to fix the financial
crisis without bankrupting our country. Neither Republicans or Democrats
are going to be able to get Iran and Iraq to live together in peace with
each other or with Israel. The kinds of problems that we have today will
require divine intervention if they are going to be solved, and if there
is no divine intervention available, then there is no hope.
of us who believe in God do not know how all these events are going to
play out but we are reminded that God knew all about the year 2008 in an
eternity past. He isn't sitting on His throne wringing His hands because
there is no solution. He is the solution. But we need to "pray
without ceasing". We are told to pray for our leaders by Paul in 1
Timothy 2:1-2. I am a person who would rather do something about a
problem than pray about it. I confess my fault on this issue. It is not
that I don't pray, it is just that I have more confidence in my ability
to do something about a problem than I do in the ability of prayer to do
something about a problem.
without ceasing probably doesn't mean that we pray every moment of every
day but it does mean that we should keep on praying even when it seems
that praying is not helping. If we really prayed instead of just saying
prayers we would be rejoicing and giving thanks instead of wringing our
hands and staying awake nights because we can't sleep. I am convinced of
without ceasing. This is a simple but novel approach to all of our
problems. Let's do it.
for the week of September 28, 2008