Wednesday, April 30, 2008'cause way too many haven't the foggiest...
If you're an American, or if you've been anywhere near an Evangelical church, then you've heard the term: 'born-again Christian'. The label is all over the place now. Presidents George W. Bush and President Jimmy Carter both claim to be born-again Christians, and a whole socio-political movement made-up of so-called 'born-again Christians' is currently (and has been for a number of decades now) lobbying conservative political parties throughout the Western world for a Faith-friendly society. So everyone's heard of it, but, what is it?
It was missionary Paul Washer, in one of his sermons who said, (and I'm paraphrasing here): "One of the saddest things that has ever happened to North American society is that the term 'born-again Christian' has come to mean nothing." I couldn't agree more. 'Born-again' is being used today as cheaply as the word 'Christian'. In the unbelieving world, 'born-again' is used to describe a group of people who, at some point, have made some spiritual profession in an Evangelical ministry. This is pretty sad. What is sadder still though, is how most evangelicals today define the Second Birth.
Consider this website, picked somewhat randomly (I had a lot to choose from), which attempts to explain how one becomes a 'born-again Christian'. I believe the material on this page sums up rather well how most evangelicals' view of the Second Birth. In summary, this is how the Second Birth breaks down:
-Being 'born-again' is synonymous with being 'saved'.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must realize/admit that he/she is a sinner on his/her way to Hell.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must recognize and believe that Jesus died and shed His blood for his/her sins; that is, Jesus died as a substitute for him/her.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must put all this together and confess his/her sins, and call out to God in prayer for His mercy and grace.
Once these clear, easy steps are fulfilled, the soul is born-again. Everything the website mentions afterward are for "spiritual growth", that is, prayer, reading God's Word, witnessing for Christ and baptism. So, if one wants to be 'born-again', it's three simple steps. That's it, that's all!
If you're okay with all this, YOU'RE REALLY MESSED UP! If this shocks you... good! Consider this your wake-up call. Please understand, this isn't nit-picking some little detail, there is something FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with the position presented on the 'Lifegate' website. If you can't spot it, then I assure you, your understanding of the Second Birth is flawed to say the very least, and you really, really need to read Part II of this series of posts (which will be posted soon).
Now please, before hitting the "Comment" link, relax. Tons of Christians have, are and will be saved never really understanding the dynamic of the Second Birth. So while I may very well be saying that you don't understand the Second Birth, I am NOT necessarily saying that I do not believe you are saved. So take it easy, be Bereans and seek the Scriptures which deal with the Second Birth, meditate on these passages and perhaps you will see where this series is going.
Hint... hint... spend much time in the first eight verses of John 3, the first ten verses of Ephesians 2, and add a bit of James 1:16-18 while you're at it! Happy reading!