John 3-4, Psalm 104
A few years ago, when I entered an exam room, a longtime patient of mine was crying. When I asked, she explained how she couldn't get over the death of her mother. I shared with her, and told her my testimony of how after my mother's death, and a woman praying over me upon finding my mother dead, that this sad event transformed my life for good. With that, she asked me, if I was one of them. Not understanding what them meant, she said, one of those born-agains. I answered, yes. Her next question, was she wanted to know my thoughts on homosexuality(I knew that both her and her partner, also a longtime patient of mine were gay). I explained that my thoughts were immaterial , because God clearly said that homosexuality was a sin. I also explained how we are all sinners, the only difference being those who have repented and those who choose not to. Three months later, she requested for her records and left my practice. When I reflect, nothing I said was hateful, being born again I lovingly stated God's Word. Would I do it again, absolutely. Whom do we fear, God or man? ( Matthew 10:28). In Mark 8:38, Jesus says, if we are ashamed of Him and His words, The Son of Man will also be ashamed of us, when He comes in the glory of His Father. We can't determine anyone's response, but we can plant seeds.
As above, to many unbelievers the term born again has become a negative or derogatory term. But who came up with it? Jesus. When the Pharisee and teacher, Nicodemus approached Jesus, Jesus says in John 3:3, "...Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." He goes on to explain in verse 5-8, what He means by being born again, or born of the Spirit, as opposed to being born of the flesh. Jesus doesn't give being born again as one of many alternatives as to how to be filled with the Spirit and one day enter heaven, it is the only way, it is exclusive. Putting it the other way, if one is not born again, they can't understand the things of God, and they can't enter the kingdom of God. There is no such thing as a born again church, only born again believers who attend a particular church. This is an individual decision as described in John 1:12-13, " But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, 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." In chapter 3, we read the most popular verse in Scripture in verse 16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Many say, good I believe. But this is not just intellectually believing. In James 2:19, we read, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble!" No, to believe requires one to move that belief the 18 inches from our heads into our hearts. Our belief must be a complete trust and dependence on Him. It requires a surrender to our own will and a leaning on His. Jesus seeks regeneration, not reformation.
So what do people cling on to that prevents them from wholeheartedly accepting Jesus' free offer of salvation and becoming born again? Many trust in the religion or denomination that they were born into, or a specific religious rite such as infant baptism, or a particular priest or pastor, or their good works, or their politics or nation, or their intellect, or the world. All of these alternatives can do nothing for your salvation. When we share with others, rather than picking apart doctrinal differences, as Jesus exemplifies in John 4, in His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, engage the person and offer them the Truth of Jesus. If doctrine is raised as an issue answer it not in our strength but relying completely on God's Word. There are born again believers across many different Christian denominations. The important thing is help others see there need for repentance, offer them the gift of salvation through Jesus, turn them onto the Bible so that they can begin to know Him, and tell them how God is the Lord and most important part of your life. May we never forget Jesus words in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Unless one is born again, they are on the wrong road, the wide road. May this push us all to share Jesus to a desperate world.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: