Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:1-15 niv

There used to be a day in evangelical circles, especially Baptist and Pentecostal circles, where the phrase “born again” was bounced around constantly. Maybe it’s the region of the country I’m living in…but I don’t hear that phrase like I did when I was a kid. I know most tv and radio preachers I hear rarely proclaim that people must be “born again”. Maybe that phrase just isn’t sexy anymore? Perhaps it comes off too hayseed, backwoods or fundamental.

Last week Ann Coulter got into all kinds of trouble, first for saying that Jews must be "perfected" and second for not taking it back! While saying they must be "perfected" does sound creepy and just weird...she was right. What she was trying to say was that Jews must be "born again". And that is exactly right. Jews must become true Christians by being born again. Of course it is not just Jews who need this...everybody needs "perfected" or "born again".

It really doesn’t matter how offensive the term is…Christ said that one “must” be born again or “born from above”. Notice He said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” and “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

No one means no one…remember...words mean things.

And what does He mean by “of water”? I think His next phrase sums it up “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”. It seems that the “of water” statement is referring to physical birth and “of…the Spirit” is of course referring to the born again experience.

Have you been born again?

Do you believe and teach that one must be born again? Or do you believe there “might be” hope for people who where never born again? After reading all these Scriptures would you still say, "I don't know"?

Nicodemus asked Jesus, “how can this be?” I have a pastor friend, one who reminds me of Joel Osteen a whole bunch, who does not know how to tell someone how to “get saved”. What a shame. Jesus gently rebukes Nicodemus and then explains “the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Friends…if you have not been born again you will not see the kingdom of God. If your husband or wife or child is not born again they will not see the kingdom of God. If the heathen are not born again they will not see the kingdom of God.

How can Christ be so misunderstood by contemporary preachers? To suggest that the grace of God can be, or could be, applied without conversion, without regeneration…without being born again…is absolute and damnable heresy! To be honest with you, such a suggestion outrages me and I have little tolerance for it. I will not associate with any such teacher and no church I pastor will associate with another church that teaches such a thing or such a possibility. Mark my words. My tent is real big and I associate with far more Christians than just Baptists for crying out loud…Southside financially supports an Assemblies of God missionary family in Asia every month, in addition to tithing into SBC missions (local and CP). I’m no isolationist and nor will be any church I plant. But the gospel message is where I draw the line and if you don’t believe or if you are not sure one must be born again then you are a heretic and a false prophet!

The Scriptures are more than clear…Jesus in John 3 was abundantly clear…if you are not born again you will not see the kingdom of God. Period. End of story. Now, “go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere…”

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:22-28 niv

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:11-13 niv

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:16-18 niv

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 niv

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 niv


Anonymous said...

Ron has been very busy. My daughter is getting married on Sat the 20th, and we are leaving for Florida on the 26th. (Permanent move). I have shifted my studies from the early church, to the early manuscripts, and how they were transmitted, taken care of etc. There is so much info on this that I may be awhile. (like til Jesus returns or I die) whichever comes first. It is very interesting though. I want to study this well before I do any type of blogging on it. However, what God has revealed to me thus far is very interesting.

irreverend fox said...

hey Ron!

congrats on the wedding! you must be so proud!

your studies are well worth your time...it's all connected and we have been passed down a message that is life changing...learning how that has happened in history is so enriching!

onward Christian soldier!

Tim said...

I always get frustrated when I read or look at polling numbers that try to separate out "Christians" and "Born again Christians." If you're not born again you're not a Christian, bottom line.


Let me be the next one to offer congratulations on your daughter's upcoming marriage. I'm sure you have mixed feelings, as I'm sure I will in about 50 years when my daughter gets to that stage of life (lol). I pray you will have an uneventful and smooth transition with the upcoming move.