I am complete in Jesus Christ. When I strip away all of the religion and formality and the church, I still have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even when my body perishes, my soul will still be united with Him and I will be safe in His actual presence. When I am absent from my body, I will be present with the Lord.
When I was born into this world on October 24, 1958, much of my makeup was established without my efforts: my physical features, my nationality, my native language, my family, my basic temperament, my place in history. All were established, not because of my will, but because of my parentage. I could have been abandoned, rejected, or disowned, but the DNA doesn't lie. I have parents and was born.
A similar thing happened when I was born a second time on April 6, 1984, shortly after 1:00 pm on a Friday afternoon in a parking lot at Monroe Community College. I simply believed the gospel and received Jesus Christ by faith and was born again. Not like a noun, a “born again Christian”—we don't refer to someone as a “born person”—but a verb: I was born that day. Spiritual life began. A son of God was born that day at that moment. The seed of God was placed into my soul the moment I received Him by faith.
When you think about birth, you really have to think of the essence and not the external things. When I see a stranger, I know that essentially a man and woman had relations, a sperm and egg were united and eventually grew into a baby in a womb. Some time later there was a birth and now there is this person that I see. How and where the parents came together, their social and financial status, the circumstances of the birth, don't change the fact that there was a physical birth. I was born feet-first and, while I am sure that was of interest to my mother, it is really only incidental to the fact that I was born.
We can say the same about a spiritual birth. We can talk about religion, rituals, denominations, times and places, hypocrites in the church, etc., but these are all external matters. The essential question is, has there been a birth? If there hasn't been a birth, there is no life.
Remember that it was Jesus Himself that said that a man must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God. He wasn't talking to a murderer or street bum or politician; Nicodemus was a righteous, religious man that was openly sympathetic to His cause. Jesus told him, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” In other words, a physical birth gives you physical life and a spiritual birth gives you spiritual life.
The important questions in life are binary and have yes-or-no answers. Are you alive? Did you graduate high school? Do you have a driver’s license? Are you married? All of these things are marked by dates and some down to the time of the day. Your death certificate will have a date on it. It is really quite simple then—do you have spiritual life? When were you born spiritually? Do you have a spiritual birthday like you have a physical birthday? Have you received the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ by faith?
If your mind immediately runs to your religion, your good works, your baptism, your hypocritical Christian cousin, etc., you are missing the point. You are being distracted by external matters that sidestep the essential question: do you have spiritual life? Are you saved? Where will you go when you die?
Jesus said that there will be religious people that do good works and even miracles in His name but in the end would be told, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Why? Because they never had a spiritual birth. They were physically alive, but spiritually dead.
You may bristle at how simple this all sounds, but really, why make things more complicated than they need to be? What is the benefit of that? God made it simple enough that even a child can understand it. It is you making it complicated, not God. Is it your pride or reputation or love of sin that makes you reject the simplicity of salvation? Is it your desire to do things your own way? I strongly urge you to reconsider your position.
If Jesus told a man that was a child of Abraham, fasted twice a week, gave away 20% of his income, kept the feast days, and provided animal sacrifices for his sins that he had to be born again, what chance do you have doing things your own way? You can gamble with your eternal soul, but I wasn’t going to gamble with mine.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:11–13, emphasis added).
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