2 Corinthians 4:4
Satan, who is the god of this age, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to Spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again’.”
What comes to your mind when you hear the term, “born again?”
This phrase has been used many times in many different occasions—that it has lost its true meaning.
Is it a religious experience?
Are you considered one once you have joined a religious group claiming to be born-again?
When I was in high school, I ‘hated’ those who did not belong to the faith I was born to and I was raised in. I bore a special abhorrence against a female classmate who claimed to be born-again. What was it in her that I found repulsive?
She seemed to be at peace and joyful always. She exuded something I longed to have but I didn’t. I found her at that time—to be a fake. (Owwws… is she that good to be true? Doesn’t she get mad at all? Why isn’t she unperturbed even if we openly express our dislike toward her?)
I could not understand how she’d still manage to smile (albeit sweetly so) and be so poised even when things didn’t seem to be in her favor. (She was a transferee, too just like me and was oftentimes a topic of interest among the cliques in the class.) I initially wanted to befriend her, but when I later found out she claimed to be a born-again Christian, I got turned off. I did not want to be “contaminated” with her beliefs, whatever they were.
From a self-imposed distance, I watched her with restrained interest in her demeanors. Come on, Sugar (not her real name), get real. Wala bang masamang tinapay sayo? (Ain’t no stale bread in you?) Despite the academic and social challenges we had to face in a new environment, she seemed to be as cool as a cucumber.
Me? I was already a nervous wreck trying to prove my worth. Seeing her going through the motions in peace, quiet and joy, made my blood boil even more. When I lost to her in an inter-school oratorical contest, intense emotions against her shot through the ceiling. Behind her back, I would mock her in the presence of my friends—hmmmmp… born-against, born-against…
Years later, after I came to know the Lord (in a dramatic fashion), I would come to understand my attitude towards this classmate of mine. During the time I was in a state of rebellion against the most High, Sugar was a stench of “death” to me.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “Our lives area Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?”
I was clearly under the grip of 2 Cor 4:4 and held captive by the god of this world. While I tried to be faithful in observing the traditions of my faith, I was nonetheless blind to the truth of God’s Word.
It was only when I came to know Christ that the veil was lifted and I was able to realize how foolish I was in the way I acted towards “born-again” believers. As I began to delve deeper into God’s Word which is the TRUTH (and nothing else), layers upon layers of unbelief, deception, cynicism, and pride that have all shaped my distorted worldview, slowly began to crumble. I also felt like scales began to peel off my eyes – enabling me to see things from a different light.
In one of my Bible readings, I came across the following passage which almost knocked me off my feet for being oh, so true.
“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”- 2 Cor 3:16-17
It was only after going through a raging spiritual battle and meeting the risen Christ that I learned what being “born-again” meant. Not only have I fully come to terms of its meaning, I have also been convinced that every single person in this world must go through this second birth for him to enter the Kingdom of God. After all, the Lord wouldn’t have said it clearly in John 3:3 if it weren’t the case.
So, going back to our initial question… What does it really mean to be “born-again?”
One of the ways to define something is to first understand what it is not. It is NOT
• A membership in a certain religious group
• A one-time, big time, emotional or magical experience
• Intellectual knowledge on Biblical teachings
• Man-initiated (this is big, right? It simply means you can’t be born again purely by personal effort.)
A true born-again believer must have undergone the four stages of the Christian normal birth. Absence of any one of these stages may be considered an aberration, or an abnormality. Just remember the acronym, RBBR. Each item deserves an extensive post (and my hubs has written his piece on this, which I will definitely post in this blog), but for brevity’s sake, let me share the verses concerning these stages of the Christian birth.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike–the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
B- Belief in the Lord Jesus
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”
B-Baptism in water
1 Peter 3:21
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ
R-Receiving of the Holy Spirit
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Hey, friend, what kind of Christian birth did you have? Was it normal or abnormal? Except for the baptism in water which is a one-time experience, the rest are continuing concerns, until we are called home or when the Lord returns.
Is there an area you need to go through to complete the normal Christian birth? Until you have RBBR, yours is an abnormal birth.
Great news is, “he who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.”
But you must do your part, too.
Repent. Believe in the Lord Jesus. Be baptized in water. Receive the Holy Spirit (RBBR).