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Ask A PastorOctober 21, 2015

By Pastor Scott Osenbaugh,

The Healing Place (Nashville Assembly of God)

“Born again.” Want to start an interesting discussion? Ask nominal church going folk if they are “born again.” They may tell you they are members of XYZ Church or that they may not be a saint but they are as good as the next guy. It’s sad, but many who identify with a church really have no idea about being born again, and why it is so important.

Being born again has nothing to do with church membership, Sunday school attendance, or big tithe checks in the offering plate. Being born again, in short, isn’t about anything to do with one’s own sense of accomplishment in religious things. When Jesus explained the truth of “born again” in John 3, He was referring to something that only God can make happen. Jesus’ words, “You must be born again”, refer to being genuinely saved, the complete surrender of one’s life to Jesus Christ. The Greek words translated “born again” mean “born from above”, a spiritual birth that is divine in its origin and is never merited, earned or deserved. The apostle Paul expanded understanding the term in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he wrote, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

Being born again is not some philosophical determination to be a better person. No one on their own can ever be a better person; without Christ, no one is anything other than a lost sinner deserving of nothing but hell. And just going through the ritual motions and ceremonies is not being born again. Salvation, which is what “born again” entails, is an act of being spiritually washed in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, Him taking the full control of your life, and living every day for Him and not for yourself.

I suspect there are a lot of church going people who think that their participation in church life, no matter how minimal or inconsistent, is all they need to go to heaven when life comes to an end. The puzzling part of this is — if such people really don’t want to be with Jesus and serve Him in this life, why do they think they are going to heaven to be with Jesus and serve Him for all eternity? Being born again is a radical, life-altering experience where your life goes from your sinful control to Christ’s perfect and holy control, of your life becoming energized to serve the Lord with all your life.

Anyone can be born again; that’s the promise of God’s Word. Everyone needs to be born again, but not all people will be. Only those who discover through the Bible what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ will know what it is to be born again. They will know it is not on their acts of righteousness but because of His great mercy.

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