Are You Born Again?

By: 
The Rev. Deacon Deborah Rucki Drake

March 12 2017

 

While he is in Jerusalem for the Passover Jesus performs remarkable signs, or miracles. As a result, many people put faith in him. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish high court called the Sanhedrin, is very impressed. Wanting to learn more, he visits Jesus after dark, probably because he fears that his reputation with the other Jewish leaders will be damaged if he is seen.

Nicodemus was starting to look at the ways of Jesus and his followers and he wanted to know more but Nicodemus is still hiding his curiosity and he comes in the darkness of night so no one can see him approaching Jesus and his followers.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that we must be born again of the Spirit, yes we have very visible evidence that we are born of the flesh but our Spirits must be awakened; they must be born into the Kingdom of God.  

We may hold on to many things to justify our lives, our jobs, our titles, our money, our family name, our possessions, but it is only our faith that counts.   In the scripture from Romans we hear Abraham had many things but it was only his faith that made his life.  Abraham did not receive the promise about his descendants because of some law or entitlement that this was due his descendants but through his faith in God.

God sent Jesus into the world to show us the way to live in closeness to God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus tells Nicodemus: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal  life.” (John 3:16)

 

 In Jerusalem some six months after beginning his ministry, Jesus makes clear that he is the way to salvation for humankind.

Nicodemus was Jerusalem's most outstanding Bible teacher and a member of the Jewish Ruling Council. Only the High Priest gained more recognition in the capital city than Nicodemus. Yet, despite all his learning and privileges, he did not know God. He knew about God, but he did not know God. And as we listen to Jesus engage this man in conversation the void in his soul quickly becomes apparent.

Do we know about God or do we know God?  Wow, that is some question. 

Spiritual matters are not grasped or integrated into us because of superior intelligence, -

All the incentive we need to believe that this is indeed so comes from what is perhaps the best known verse in the Bible, one which is found in the course of this conversation: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Unless God is revealed to us through personal experience, we can never really know God. Most of us know about God, but that is quite different from knowing God. We learn about God through the various organizations of the church, the Sunday school, the youth activities, the worship services. Many people stop in their quest for God at this point. It is one thing to be introduced to a person, but quite another thing to know the person personally.

What is Christianity? Some say it is a philosophy, others say it is an ethical stance, while still others claim it is actually an experience. None of these things really gets to the heart of the matter, however. Each is something a Christian has, but not one of them serves as a definition of what a Christian is.

Christianity has at its core a transaction between a person and God. A person who becomes a Christian moves from knowing about God distantly to knowing about God directly and intimately. Christianity is knowing God.

The experience of God in our lives is difficult to define to pin down. We just know God is present and feel that presence as a force for good in our lives. It is a mystery which Jesus likens to the wind. No one knows where the wind comes from nor where it is going to. We feel it and experience its effect on our lives but we cannot see it or touch it.

For faith in Jesus to germinate we must choose to go to Jesus, we must choose to get to know him and we must choose to allow him into our hearts and lives.

 

What Nicodemus came to understand on that night when he secretly visited Jesus was that a whole new life was possible, one which brought him up close and personal with the God who created him, redeemed him and would empower and encourage him in a life that would last for all eternity.

Nicodemus, like so many of his generation—like so many of us—had the advantage of knowing the ways of God and the promises of God. But becoming a disciple of Jesus is not about what you know. It is not like a coffee hour discussion about God. Rather it is meeting God. It is the Spirit if God finding a home in you.

Nicodemus is much like me, perhaps like you. As we wonder about Nicodemus, it is equally important that we wonder about us. Jesus’ message for us is really something new. Is there a place for something new in us? “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. Jesus  came to help, to put the world right again.”

 

 When you look at someone, how can you tell whether he or she is good or bad?

In the same way, you can’t really tell if a person is a Christian just by looking at his or her appearance. Can people tell by looking at you that you have the Holy Spirit in your heart? If they watch you for several days, what would they be able to learn about you? How are your actions and attitudes different from those of a person who isn’t a Christian?  Here are some test questions to tell if you are born again.

There is No Habitual Sinning

A person who has been born again, or renewed, does not habitually commit sin. He/she no longer sins with their heart and will and whole inclination. 

You believe in Jesus Christ

A person who is born again believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon their soul, that Jesus is the divine person appointed by God for this very purpose.

You Practice Righteousness

The person who is born again, is a holy person. They endeavor to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God considers evil. The person wishes to continually look to Christ as their example as well as their Saviour and to prove oneself to be Christ's friend by doing whatever Christ commands

You love Other Christians

A person who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like God in heaven, they love all people with a great general love, but  has a special love for those who share their faith in Christ.  They are never so much at home as when they are in their company.

You Overcome the World

 

A person who is born again does not use the world's opinion as their  standard of right and wrong. They do  not mind going against the world's ways, ideas and customs. What people think or say no longer concerns them.

You Keep Yourself Pure

A person who is born again is careful of their own soul. They try not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. They are careful about the company they keep. They know that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health

Are you born again?

 

 

 

 

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