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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Born Again - True Or False

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Born Again? True Or False? - By Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


In many places, the words 'born again' have become trivial and domesticated; so much a part of society they have lost all meaning. 'Born again' has become a religious tag for, 'I'm OK, not too much wrong with me', or 'I go to a Spirit-filled, born again church', or 'I was born again when the preacher called us up to the altar' or 'I like the music and simple lifestyle of the born agains'. And there are other ways the words are used. Against this muddling backdrop, I aim to offer a biblical view. I hope you find this relevant to your own life.
  • Famous conversation
One evening a top religious scholar visited the Teacher from Galilee. Nicodemus, for that was the scholar's name, had some burning questions on his mind. Just how could the living God apparently be so active in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and yet Jesus be so unqualified and outside the orthodoxy of Judaism and the highly respected party of the Pharisees, over which Nicodemus presided as their top teacher. Check out this vital conversation yourself by reading John chapter 3 in the New Testament.
  • Big dilemma
Nicodemus was in a dilemma - was God bypassing the Pharisees and choosing instead to work through a peasant carpenter, from Nazareth of all places? - How dare he do such a thing! So Nicodemus wants to check Jesus out. But he soon discovers that Jesus' words are probing his own heart and mind. In effect, Jesus says to Nicodemus, 'You are trying to fit me inside your own little scheme, but this may come as a shocking surprise - you are not bringing in the royal reign of God - no, this is already present in me, and if you really want to enter the kingdom of God, you Nicodemus, must be born again - you must start life all over again!' (My loose paraphrase: see New Testament, John 3:2).
Then, in answer to Nicodemus' further questions, which betray how his thinking is merely on a physical level, Jesus makes clear that this new birth is by the Spirit of God. It is not self-induced as if we all had the natural capacity to initiate it, but comes by the wholly undeserved, inner renewing activity of God's Spirit on the individual person.
  • Life for the spiritually dead
To be born again raises a person out of spiritual death by the reception of a new life from God. To be born again is the gracious renewing work, by God's Spirit, of our mind, will and conscience, in all those whom God calls to himself; it is the beginning of life knowing God, in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, with the glorious goal of his transforming power making us more like Christ.
The new birth brings spiritual union with Christ, reconciliation with God, adoption into the family of God, and also the believer's new standing of justification, in which the righteousness of Christ is put to the account of each child of God. All of these wonderful blessings are secured by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and are received freely by faith through the gospel of Christ. The apostle Peter also shares how God uses his word, 'since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God' (1 Peter 1:23).
  • If you're not - you must!
If you only have the popular ideas about being born again, you may well need to ask God to enable you to turn from sin and unbelief and trust in the Saviour. None - not one who truly desires to come to Christ will he ever turn away - rather he welcomes all (see John 6:37). But we must earnestly seek him as we see all our religious excitement or church-going may not have been real fellowship with God at all. So, if you have never been born again, today is the day of salvation.
We are not saved by our great faith, but by our great God and Saviour, who is 'able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to God through him' (Hebrews 7:25).
  • Search me Oh God
Many genuine Christians do not see encouraging marks of progress in their lives. This may lead to doubts that they may not be genuinely born again. So, how do we tell the difference between true and false experiences that we might have hoped were the new birth? A person born of God dislikes sin and has a genuine love, however weak, for God's word, for the Lord Jesus and the vital truth of his blood shed for sins once for all, and they are also concerned for other believers. This is the comfort of assurance, however weak and faltering.
Perhaps you have a little appetite for God's word, a small desire to please the Lord and grow in Christ-likeness, perhaps there is little prayer in your life. If that is your case, make every effort to grow. Feed on God's word. Seek fellowship and sound teaching. Turn away from sin that would drag us all down. Seek God's face every day of your short life and the Lord will confirm you heart's desire: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous (sinful and wicked) way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!' (Psalm 139:23-24).
As you do that, more and more of the light of God will shine in your heart, and you will learn the way of Christ that God gives to those who have been born again. But seek him, delight in him, praise him for his glorious grace that would reach even a sinner like you and me and then share the good news of God's grace with someone else!

Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D. has authored several books and many articles that offer answers for many of life's big questions - 'Is biblical Christianity finished, or does it still speak to the 21st century?' Take a look at this ebook, 'I saw Him die - viewing Jesus' death TODAY' Use this link: http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 And the following link for my 'Darwins' Puzzle - unravelling the riddle of reason' http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ZE34GG  Use my books and articles to help you find faith in Christ, or to strengthen your faith. Find the titles - and buy TODAY - Thank you! Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D.  Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7189413

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