Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Does it Mean to Be Born Again?


Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, November 28, 2010

1 John 5:14-21, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.  All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.  We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.  We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
What does it mean to be ‘Born again’ or ‘Born of God’?  We’re nearing the end of our study of this marvelous portion of the Scripture, that portion we refer to as ‘First John’, the first letter penned by the apostle John, and once again, as over and over again through the course of this study, the Spirit of God uses the apostle John to confront us with this critical question, “What does it mean to be Born Again?”  Or, in the language of verse 18 of our text here, “What does it mean to be Born of God?” 

Whether we have been recently brought into God’s kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, or whether we have known and been known by Him for years, this question is worth asking.  We need to come back to it regularly. 

In order to point us in the direction of the proper answers to this question, the apostle John presents us with three, ‘We know’ statements.  Three statements of fact to help us understand what it means to be ‘Born Again’, ‘Born of God’.  Let’s read those statements once again, shall we?

1 John 5:18-20, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.  We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
What DOES it mean to be ‘Born Again,’ or ‘Born of God’?  If you and I were to be ‘Exhibits A’ and ‘B’ and ‘C’ and so forth, in a ‘court case’, paton ‘trial’, so to speak, by the people who know us, who watch us, who evaluate our claims to be God’s children, what would they be looking for as ‘evidence’ that our claims are valid?  Last Lord’s day’s service, that moving time of counting our blessings, capped off as it was by two joyful New Births, if someone from the outside had slipped in to watch and listen and take it all in, likely, sort of like the rest of us, they would have been caught up in the emotion of the moment, in the ‘experience’!  And, what a powerful and intensely meaningful experience it was, for certain!  But, listen – once they, our ‘outside observers’ had come back down to earth with the rest of us, what would they have been thinking?  What question would they have wanted to ask of those who had been baptized, and of all of us?  How about this one: “What’s the proof?”  For two of us, one week later, but for many of us, months, years, even decades later, ‘where’s the evidence’ that you or I have been ‘Born Again’, or ‘Born of God’?

Don’t get me wrong, the experience is necessary, and helpful.  The experience of repenting of one’s sins; the experience of confessing Christ before men; the experience of forsaking all others to trust Christ to save you; the experience of joining Him in Christian baptism, the experience of being buried with Him in the likeness of His death and then, raised to live in the newness of His resurrection life.  All these ‘experiences are helpful and necessary whether we participated in them last week, or 20, 40 or even 60 years ago! 

But, listen – in seeking to answer the question, “what does it mean to be ‘Born again’, or ‘Born of God’”, the apostle John, in this first letter of his, he moves us from reciting the 5-finger exercise (hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized), to the next step, finger #6, to the outcome, the evidence, the proof of the reality and validity of those first 5 steps we have taken – that step we might call ‘Living the Christian life’…

Proof #1 – The first of John’s ‘we know’ statements, contained in verse 18, what is at stake?  What’s the issue on the table, so to speak?  Mr. Outsider, coming into our midst to watch, to listen, to observe our lives, and then, compare them with our claims, what will he look for as ‘evidence’? 

Well, I’m not sure what Mr. Outsider would look for, but what the apostle John indicates that Mr. Outsider should see is a new lifestyle, a new lifestyle that is characteristic of you and me.  (1 John 5:18) 

Now, before we move on to verse 19, and then verses 20 and 21, let me ask you to explore something with me right here, for just a moment.  The evidence of the New Birth, the proof that you and I have been Born of God is first of all, a new lifestyle.  Now, what does that men?  What will a new lifestyle ‘look like’?  How will others know, how will WE know that such is the case for you and me?  Some might say that this new lifestyle will be along the lines of a change in the way we wear our hair, or a change in the car we drive, or that now we make an effort to be ‘in church’ each Lord’s Day.

But, listen – I want you to look again with me at verse 18, and take note of what this Book has to say about this ‘New lifestyle’.  “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin [literally, ‘does not keep on sinning’, ‘does not make it his habit to sin’], but he who has been born of God keeps himself [I think the idea there is that the child of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, seeks to restrain himself from sinning] and [thus] the wicked one does not touch him, is not able to get a hold on his life…” 

What does it mean to be ‘Born Again’, or ‘Born of God’?  Right off the bat, as we take in what God’s Word says about his new lifestyle, we observe, we must surely notice that God has some pretty challenging expectations of His people.  He expects them to wage war against sin as the guiding principle – against the tyrannical Ruler in their lives… He expects us - yes, us - to keep in mind what Paul said in Romans 6, that famous Baptism passage, do you remember what he said?  He said, “Shall you continue to sin so that God’s grace may about?  Certainly not!  You died to sin, you were baptized into Christ’s death, buried with Christ through baptism into death, so how can you continue to live in sin?” 

God’s expectations of His children are pretty challenging indeed!  But, listen!  So are His promises!  So are His promises!  1 John 2:1, “My little children, I write these things to you, so that you may not sin, even once.  But, but, if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One! 

Yes, God’s expectations of His children are very, very challenging.  “Whoever is born of God does not, does not keep on sinning – habitually, willfully, defiantly, rebelliously – the true child of God does not act that way.  His lifestyle is new and different, markedly different from his old lifestyle.  But, listen!  He doesn’t, you and I don’t go it alone!  1 John 5:18 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – mark them down, will you?  In our pursuit of this new habit, this new lifestyle of living as if we are dead to sin as the governing force over our lives, never forget this one fact: “The Lord is Faithful!”  And He will establish you and keep you from the evil one!”

‘What does it mean to be born again, born of God?’  1 John 5:18 – It means that you and I are in pursuit of a new lifestyle, a new habit regarding sin, a new way of living, with the help of the Holy Spirit! 

Secondly, it means that you and I have a new Source, a new sufficiency, a new leader!

Face #2 – ‘we know’ statement #2 – 1 John 5:19, “[And] we know that we are of God, and [that] the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”

Back when we all were a lot younger, we played a children’s game called, ‘Follow the Leader’, you remember, don’t you?  One of the neighborhood bunch would step up to the front of the line and say, “Follower me, do what I do…”  And immediately, everyone would fall in behind him, and do this, because he did that, and do this, because he did that…  It’s a game of imitation, you know it!  And it’s also, you may not have thought about is this way before, but the game, ‘Follow the Leader’ is also a game of expectation, a game where the followers must, they are expected to do what the leader does, or else they can’t play. 

Now, listen.  1 John 5:19 – This Book says that when you and I became God’s children, when we were born again, born of Him, for us, the ‘game’ of following the world and its leader, the Devil – STOPPED!  I mean it was over!  As far as God is concerned, the world and its leader no longer are to hold sway over our lives!  Rather, the imitation is now supposed to be turned HIS direction!  As our New Leader, when He says, ‘Jump!’, our only question should be, ‘How high?’ 

To be born again, born of God, yes, it means that you and I have a new leader.  We are of God, He holds, or is supposed to hold the ultimate sway over our lives!  And, as a child of God, it should be obvious, my behavior, and my battling against sin, should make it increasingly obvious that I have, we have a new lifestyle – in Him! 

Then, third, and finally, take a look at verse 20 and 21, and notice what they have to say about the new loyalty, the new loyalty that is to be characteristic of the child of God! To me, this is the best part of all. Read it with me, will you please.
1 John 5:20-21, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
What does it mean to be 'Born Again', or 'Born of God'?
A new lifestyle is important, remember Mr. Outsider? That's one of the 'proofs' he's looking for! And, a new leader, my, oh my, that is important as well! God is my Father, and as His child, in keeping with the imitation principle, in keeping with the old adage, 'Like Father, like son' – I am to become more and more like Him! But, then there's the question, the honest and earnest question: “How?” “How in the world is a new lifestyle of 'sinning less, and confessing it when I sin, more', how in the world is this new lifestyle, and the command to follow my new Leader something I could ever get done?”
Sound impossible? Like I said, this is the part I like best, fact #3, “we know” statement number three.
1 John 5:20-21, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
How in the world are you and I ever going to live up to these incredibly high and holy expectations God has for His children? Fact #3 – Actually, it's a whole bundle of facts that we must always, ALL WAYS, remember. Take a look, 1 John 5:20 – The Son of God has come... Praise God! 1 John 5:20 – the Son of God has given us an understanding, an insight into all of this, right here, through His Word, right here (in me) through the indwelling presence of His Spirit – why? Jesus Christ came. And, Jesus Christ has given us this understanding – why? That we may know Him who is true, not simply know about Him, but know Him, be in a life-changing relationship with Him who is true, and in His Son Jesus Christ.
Knowing God, through Christ, that's the answer to the 'How' question... 'What does it mean to be Born Again, or Born of God?' One final thought. If Mr. Outsider were to slip in here today, and follow you and me around for the next week, how would he answer this question: “Is he born again? Is she born again?” How would he?

3 comments:

ElderChild said...

"What does it mean to be born again"?

Your "citizenship is in Heaven"!

HalleluYAH!

Father Help! and HE does.......

So it is that the brethren of The Messiah are but "aliens and pilgrims while on the earth" and they have taken heed unto the exhortation too:

“Love Not The World”

”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”.......(I John 5:19)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

“If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

“Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

“The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James4:4)

"Come Out of her, MY people"!

Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” all of which fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-(

"Come out from among them and be separate"!

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one" indeed and Truth......

Truth IS, a lie never was and is not.......

Abide in Truth....... francis

Michael Gormley said...

One key Scripture reference to being "born again" or "regenerated" is John 3:5, where Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

This verse is so important that those who say baptism is just a symbol must deny that Jesus here refers to baptism. "Born again" Christians claim the "water" is the preached word of God.

But the early Christians uniformly identified this verse with baptism.

Water baptism is the way, they said, that we are born again and receive new life—a fact that is supported elsewhere in Scripture (Romans 6:3–4; Colossians 2:12–13; Titus 3:5).

No Church Father referred to John 3:5 as anything other than water baptism.

ElderChild said...

Man must first be born in the water that is the womb of a wo-man.

Born again is when one is baptized in, of and by The Holy, Set Apart, Spirit just as the "thief on the cross" was and other Faithful brethren of The Messiah.

Now the believing jew needed the baptism of repentance, a turning away from the baptism received wih Moses in the sea, as a testimony of their Faith now being in The Messiah.

So it was that Paul testified of baptism's for the believing jew.......

Quite simple, yet pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters have naught to do with simplicity because they are of "the author of confusion" and "every evil work" ;-(

Simply sad for any and all held captive by pagan catholic/christian folklore ;-(

"Come Out of her, MY people"!

Father Help! and HE does.......