Pastor Keith Williams,
High Prairie Bethel Baptist Church.
I came across this article that I wanted to share. It puts being born again, a term we use all too often, in its proper place. I have added and taken away from the original article to keep within my allowed word limit.
When Jimmy Carter was elected president of the United States, he described himself as a “born-again Christian.”
Then Charles Colson, former hatchetman in the Nixon White House, wrote a best-selling book by the title Born Again, in which he chronicled his own conversion experience to Christianity.
Since these two famous personalities popularized the phrase “born again,” it has become part of the currency of modern speech. To describe someone as a born-again Christian is [technically speaking] to be guilty of redundancy. There is no such thing as a non born-again Christian. It’s like asking for a glass of wet water.
An unregenerate [non born-again] Christian is a contradiction in terms. It was Jesus who first said that spiritual rebirth was an absolute necessity for entering the kingdom of God. He declared to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3 New King James Version]
The word unless in Jesus’ teaching signals a universally necessary condition for seeing and entering the kingdom of God. Rebirth then is a sine qua non of Christianity. Without rebirth there is no possible manner of entrance into Gods kingdom.
Rebirth is usually called “regeneration” in Biblical theology. It refers to a new generating, a new genesis, a new beginning. It is more than “turning over a new leaf”; it marks the beginning of a new life in a radically renewed person.
Peter speaks of those who “have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” [1 Peter 1:23 New King James Version]
Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who are spiritually dead. The Spirit recreates the human heart quickening it from spiritual death unto spiritual life. The regenerate person is a new creation. Where formerly he had no disposition, inclination, or desire for the things of God, now he is disposed and inclined toward God. In regeneration God plants a desire for Himself in the human heart that otherwise would not be there.
Regeneration is not to be confused with the full experience of conversion. Just as birth is our initiation, our first entrance into life outside the womb, so our spiritual rebirth is the starting point of our spiritual life. It occurs by God’s divine initiative and is an act that is sovereign, immediate, and instantaneous.
Our awareness of our conversion may be gradual. Yet rebirth itself is instantaneous. No one can be partially reborn any more than a woman can be partially pregnant. Regeneration is not the fruit or result of faith. Rather, regeneration precedes faith as the necessary condition for faith.
We do not decide to be or choose to be regenerated. God chooses to regenerate us before we will ever choose to embrace Him. To be sure, after we have been regenerated by the sovereign grace of God we do choose, act, cooperate, and believe in Christ. God does not have faith for us. It is our own faith by which we are justified. What God does is quicken us to spiritual life, rescuing us from darkness, bondage, and spiritual death. [end of article]
This article really puts rebirth in its proper place.
If we have trouble with this, read John 6:44 where Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”