There should be no confusion concerning this event in the life of a Christian because the Bible is quite clear about this phenomenon. Unfortunately, far too many people who call themselves "Christians" just won't take the time to read and understand the word of God. And it certainly does not take a "rocket scientist" or a Ph.D. in Philosophy or Theology to read, study, and meditate upon the wonderful "instructions" for life as outlined in this great book.
While studying and growing in the faith, it is advisable to be surrounded by persons of a like mind who can help in discussing matters pertaining to faith. The leader of this group, most often called the "Pastor," should be well grounded in the Word of God because his authority comes directly from the Word. Then, two things must be remembered as "givens." Number one, the Bible is the inspired word of God written over the centuries by His appointed writers. I have heard it said that "the Bible is only a book written by men." Well, that is a little like saying that the T. S. Elliot books were written by his typewriter! The typewriter was just the "instrument" for the author's work, much as the prophets and apostles were the "instruments" of God's authorship.
Secondly, like it or not, the Bible is the final arbiter of all questions pertaining to faith and it is inerrant! There actually is a third thing to remember. The Bible does not change! Although many try to change it to accommodate their sinful lifestyles.
God does not change either, regardless of how some church members insist that God has to move with the modern times. He does not! And he tells us so! As a matter of fact, he is quite forceful about this subject in Malachi 3:6 where he flatly states, "I am the Lord, your God and I do not change." He reaffirms this same premise in the new testament (for all of you "not under the law anymore" type Christians) in Hebrews 13:8 and it is again quite explicit, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." That certainly indicates to me that He is not going to change!
And, just in case you did not know, Jesus is God! (And, so is the Holy Spirit!) Jesus also is the "WORD," Clearly and without any discussion, John starts his Gospel in verse one with, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word wasGOD." In other words, Jesus, the Word, was there in the beginning, Jesus, the Word was with God, and Jesus, the Word was (and IS) God! Then, just to clarify it even more, John says in verse three, "All things were made through Him (Jesus), and without Him nothing was made that was made."
Now that is pretty clear, isn't it? So, when members of one of the many psuedo-Christian cults appear on your doorstep, just ask him or her if they know that God and Jesus are one. If they do not, then they are definitely not Christian! Be extremely careful though as they may even try to use some of the same terminology as used in the Christian Church. However, the meaning will usually be quite different from what we know and understand! Jesus is not "a God" as one cult describes Him and he most certainly is not the "spirit brother of Lucifer" as another doorstep cult would have you believe. What blasphemy!
Jesus is "very God of very God!" But, always remember, these cults are so very deceptive. Usually they will counter with something like ”but how can Jesus be God if, as in Colossians , the Bible clearly states that He (Jesus) is the "firstborn of all creation?" Then they try to trick you by saying something like; "Jesus obviously was created (implying by someone else) as he was the 'first born' according to that verse. Doesn't that mean that someone had to create Him? And only Jehovah God (or Elohim depending upon which cult) can do that, right?"
Well folks, there are just two real important things wrong with that argument. You should see their faces when I discuss the following with them! First of all, lets take the word "Firstborn." The word for "firstborn" in the Greek is "protoktistos" and it does not mean "first physically born" at all. The word means "highest ranking" or pre-eminence over all, the highest of kings. And of course Jesus is just that. To prove this, go to to Jeremiah 31:9 where it says "and Ephraim is My first-born." The exact same Greek word for first born (as translated from the Hebrew) is used in this verse as is used in Colossians in referring to Jesus. God here in Jeremiah is talking about Ephraim as His "first-born" even though Ephraim's brother Manasseh was actually "physically" born first! So, firstborn in this context and the actual Greek word from which all of the modern Bible translations have evolved has nothing to do with any type of physical birth. The Greek word for the "physical" birth is "prototokos" and such a word does not appear in any of the manuscripts pertaining to these quoted verses of scripture.
If these "doorstep" cultists would just read all of the Bible instead of their "selected" passages to try to prove their points, they would know better! Had they just continued on in Colossians to the very next verse (verse 16) it most emphatically states, "For by Him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." As I said before, you do not need a college degree to understand that Jesus is also the creator and is God!
The question I used to get asked so many times when I re-dedicated my life to Christ was, "What is this born again business?" Actually, being born again is just a commitment to accept Jesus as Lord of your life. It is quite simple, really. You actually "kill off" your old self and rise as a new person committed to the teachings of Christ.
It was Jesus himself who used the term "Born Again" as documented in John 3:3.
Starting at John 3:1 it says, "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, aruler of the Jews. (3:2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher (who has) come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (3:3) Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus was taken a little aback at this and asked Jesus, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" In verse 5 Jesus answers, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'you must be born again'."
It is quite obvious that Jesus is not talking about physical but spiritual re-birth which is the personal commitment made directly to the Lord. It is not mystical, it is not magical, it is simply recognizing that we can not do anything about changing ourselves without His help. But, it is also very clear that Jesus is expecting the person to have a degree of "spiritual maturity" in that confession of sins and the acceptance of His redeeming grace. I have a little difficulty with the idea that "Born Again" begins at infant baptism. Some Pastors of the denomination in which I was raised do believe that at the instant of baptism, a person is "Born Again." It actually occurs when you take that first step towards Jesus and ask him to come into your heart.
Nicodemus was one of the highest ranking members of the Pharisees. He was most certainly a very godly man plus was well educated in the scriptures and the Law. It seems to me that a baby hardly is able to perceive any of the ramifications associated with accepting the full measure of God's grace and forgiveness. That certainly does not mean that infants should not be baptized, however. It is most likely at "confirmation" of that baptism when the child is truly old enough to have a "spiritually mature" understanding of what it means, will he or she be "Born Again." Parents can stand up for their children all they desire, but accepting Christ as a personal Saviour can only be done by the person involved and only when he or she is truly ready for this experience.
Remember that nowhere in the Word does it say that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Baptism is merely an outward sign to express one's commitment to Christ. Being baptized is important because the person makes it clear for all to note that he or she now is in a full relationship with God. The operative "R" word for Christians is "Relationship" and not "Religion." Many people are very religious about many things that have little to do with where their soul will spend eternity.
Being "Born Again" starts with the recognition of our own failings and sinful nature. Then we ask His forgiveness and ask Him to come into our heart to live with us and help give our lives direction. As in the words of the great hymn, we tell Him that we want to "Walk with Him and to Talk With Him and to have Him call us His own." It is so simple to do but the results are nothing short of miraculous!
Does this mean that we won't have anymore problems? Of course not! Our walk through faith is a never ending journey while we are still here on this earth. To top it off, usually after the recommitment of your life to Christ, everything seems to go haywire at first. You are trying to change and leave your old "habits" behind but you will go through many trials during this process. Just knowing He is there every step of the way and that He cares and loves you will get you through all of these many trials. He has also promised that he will never leave you nor forsake you. Now, how many of your earthly friends would be that faithful to you?
At first, most of my friends just thought that I was "going through a phase." But as time ran on, it became apparent that many things about me were changing. I did not need nor want to stay after club dates to drink. I did not even enjoy drinking any longer. (Now that I think about it, I am not really so sure that I ever did enjoy drinking!) My speech patterns were changing (although I still need work here) and my other desires were also evolving. There was no "legal" mandate or feelings of condemnation requiring me to change. It is just something that I, or anyone who goes through the experience, just wants to do. No more guilt or shame, just glorious forgiveness!
Am I now perfect? Ha! Far from it! (Just ask Tanya!) But my life is ever changing and each day I hope to grow in the faith just a little bit more with His help. I finally realized that I could not do it alone--and neither can you! Besides, when help is so close by (right in your own prayer closet!) why not seek out that help?
A fellow musician who is probably the greatest musical arranger and orchestra conductor of all time, (both Christian and secular music) Ralph Carmichael, wrote a beautiful song entitled, "The Saviour Is Waiting." I really wished I could have known Mr. Carmichael better, although we did have some mutual friends in the business. He has been a real inspiration to me in my musical travels the past several years. His arrangements are so filled with the love of Christ that his music can and literally does draw many people to Christ. Below are the lyrics to the song mentioned above. Read the words as they are so poignant and so revealing as to God's love and His desire to be there for us, if we will first just seek Him.
"The Saviour Is Waiting" Written by Ralph Carmichael (c) 1958 Sacred Songs, Waco, Texas
First stanza To hear this song in The Saviour is waiting to enter your heart, MIDI form, press Why don't you let Him come in? The little Bear There's nothing in this world to keep you apart. What is your answer to Him? And sing along!
Verse: Time after time He has waited before, And now he is waiting again.
To see if you're willing to open the door: Oh, how He wants to come in.
Second stanza: If you'll take one step toward the Saviour, my friend, You'll find His arms open wide.
Receive Him and all of your darkness will end, Within your heart He'll abide.
verse (see above)
How magnificent are these words! He is waiting for you. Let Him come in! To hear the melody for this song, visit the Christian MIDI Page and tag the file name.
"The Saviour Is Waiting" is Copyright by Sacred Songs, Waco, Texas (1958 & 1966) All scripture quotations taken from the NKJV.
In His Majesty's Service,
Lari/Tan Recording Studios Division of Larrie Dee Entertainment Escondido, CA
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