Written on August 17, 2022 | by Jun P. Espina | 12 min read
I attended a church where the sermon centered on born-again Christianity. The preacher started with the premise that some thought they were Christians, but they erred because they had not experienced the second birth. We need to explore Christianity’s born-again teaching since it is the core of the genuine Christian faith. Without this experience, also known as regeneration, we cannot live in heaven forever. This doctrine matters if we desire to live where Christ lives. Let us examine the born-again experience in three points, namely:
- What is it?
- Why is it?
- How is it?
- 1. What is Born-Again Experience?
- A. Criticisms of this Christian Teaching
- B . A Change of Heart Towards Christ and the Holy Scriptures
- C. Most People Choose to Mock the Born-Again Teaching
- D. Not All Experiences Are Biblical
- E. What is NOT Born-Again Christianity?
- F. What is Born-Again Christianity?
- G. Blessed Are They Who Did Not See, and Yet Believed
- 2. Why Do We Need to be Born Again?
- A. What Will Happen to Those Billions of People Who Are Not Born Again?
- B. Religious But Not Born Again
- 3. How to be Born Again?
1. What is Born-Again Experience?
I found on Facebook zillions of sarcasm about the born-again experience. Someone said it was demonic. He cited the extra-biblical Pentecostal experience where the congregants fell to the floor and did crazy things. But it is not the born-again experience we are examining here.
Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Christ taught us the extraordinary benefit if we encounter the second birth phenomenon, which is our worthiness to see the kingdom of God.
Our Lord used the word enter in verse 5 of the same chapter (“enter into the kingdom of God”) and have eternal life in verse 15.
In essence, a born-again person is saved from the wrath of God because of sin. Thus, he is eligible and suited to enter God’s kingdom and live in heaven forever after his death.
A. Criticisms of this Christian Teaching
The prevalent objection against the biblical born-again doctrine is its verifiability. How do we validate the second birth experience? The quickest infallible test for the integrity and trustworthiness of this teaching is the belief that Christ Himself gave this instruction.
Hence, before you can effectively dismiss this teaching, you must first demolish Christ’s credibility.
The lives of the born-again characters in the Holy Bible, the faith of the church fathers, and the sacrifices of the outstanding teachers of the Christian faith prove that rebirth in Christ is true in this realm.
What about the average Christian on the street who has been converted? Did he experience newness of perspective and dwell on Christian values in life?
What are the identifying marks of born-again Christians?
B . A Change of Heart Towards Christ and the Holy Scriptures
A genuine born-again Christian has a spiritual viewpoint and conviction about Christ and the Bible. When Thomas got converted, he viewed Christ as his Lord and God. (cf. John 20:28)
The rapper, Kendrick Lamar, performed on stage “wearing a diamond-encrusted crown of thorns.” He wore Christ’s crown of thorns to mock our Lord. Without a doubt, he supported abortion since he said in his song, “They judge you, they judge Christ. Godspeed for women’s rights!” It is blasphemous. Our Christ is the Giver of life and not pro-abortionist like Lamar. Satan roared in Hollywood, just like Netflix’s depiction of Christ in a movie as gay.
What inflames non-Christians the most is the biblical association of the second birth with possessing eternal life. They find this truth offensive. Again, Christ taught it. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
C. Most People Choose to Mock the Born-Again Teaching
Thomas Aquinas once said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” The unbelievers have all the means to experience the second birth. We have Bible-preaching Christian churches in the free world. Christians put to use the Internet and social media to help spread the Gospel. What about the parachurch movements? They are everywhere. But WITHOUT FAITH, NO EXPLANATION IS POSSIBLE.
You need to change your heart toward Christ and the Bible to get hold of the mystery of the born-again experience. Most people choose to mock the born-again teaching rather than investigate it further because it necessitates repentance and genuine faith in our Lord Jesus and the Holy Scriptures.
In the age of the Internet, it is tragic not to possess a second birth. These days, this biblical truth is as common as sand on the beach.
The spin-off of a non-born-again life is an eternity in hell, which is the lake of fire. But the unbelievers don’t care. They viewed life like a novel’s plot twist. They are in for a surprise, whether good or bad. But God said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12, KJV)
D. Not All Experiences Are Biblical
The common misconception, as with the Pentecostal phenomenon, is that a born-again person contributes to the church regularly and the Holy Spirit also possesses him, so he can not control himself inside the church. He would cry, shout, crawl, dance, and do unbiblical things. If the most extreme Pentecostal practices were biblical, they would fall under Matthew 7, which is a rebuke to them.
E. What is NOT Born-Again Christianity?
Some think they are born-again Christians since they are baptized and active in all church activities. These fake Christians need to see their Christianity in a new light since even some preachers do not have the born-again experience.
We have a quick guide to figure out if your preachers are not born again, even without investigating their vices and the dark side of their private lives. Just listen to their sermons. For Christ said, “[F]or out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34, KJV)
Joyce Meyer, for example, said she is not a sinner. 1 It is contrary to what the Bible teaches. (See 1 John 1:8.) What about Joel Osteen? His teaching centers on God’s blessings (as a prosperity preacher) based on your positive mental attitude. Or, God will bless you if you are positive-minded. He said: “‘You must conceive it in your heart before you can receive it. In other words, you must make increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those things to pass’ (from Your Best Life Now, chapter 1)” 2 This teaching is heretical because the Bible says that,
If your obsession is to become wealthy, for example, and you believe God would bless your obsession, your belief system is unchristian. Why? Because God will not respond to your prayers based on your intellect but your faith! We don’t have a Scripture to support Osteenism.
F. What is Born-Again Christianity?
I find this question troubling because it is the standard object of ridicule on social media. I wrote a book titled Born Again Christ’s Version, out of my enthusiasm to help clear the fog around the subject.
My answer to the question, “What is born-again Christianity?” revolves around the experience of Disciple Thomas, who was not a born-again Christian despite his association with our Lord Jesus for at least three years. He was a Bible student in Christ’s Seminary, so to speak, under Christ’s personal tutelage. Yet, he had not encountered the blessedness of the second birth.
The root of his non-born-again Christianity was his unbelief of Christ’s teaching concerning His death and resurrection.
After seeing the risen Jesus, he saw Christ through a different lens already. For he said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Before his conversion experience, he would not call Jesus his Lord and God.
G. Blessed Are They Who Did Not See, and Yet Believed
I experienced the same thing. Before my born-again experience, I did not see Christ as my Lord and God. Then, I heard about Him through the preaching of His word, and I gave my heart, mind, and soul to Jesus. I did not touch Christ’s pierced hands, as did Thomas, but I trusted in His Gospel. My conversion falls under Christ’s reply to Thomas’s profession of faith. “Because you have seen Me,” our Lord replied, “have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
I did not see Jesus, and yet I believed in Him.
2. Why Do We Need to be Born Again?
Why do we need to be born again? Because it is CHRIST’S INSTRUCTION on how to live forever in heaven and help administer His kingdom on earth.
According to one preacher, God allowed us to experience the second birth because of love. His supporting verse is John 3:16, and we cannot challenge that assertion. However, God has a much deeper purpose aside from His love toward us, and that is to have “a people for His name”—His family in heaven.
Why does God need billions of born-again Christians on His side? The short answer is to fulfill the prophecy that we would help administer Christ’s kingdom on earth as priests and kings, where Christ would be the King of kings and Lord of lords. I covered this topic extensively in my article titled Earthly People After the Millennium—Ruled by the Believers, of which the first paragraph reads:
A. What Will Happen to Those Billions of People Who Are Not Born Again?
Christ’s requirement for experiencing the second birth underscores the biblical imperative for all of us to obey His command and live forever. Our Lord said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Our failure to take on our rebirth could mean one thing, our non-involvement with God’s grand plan for humanity and the universe.
We hear people curse God and make fun of our Christian beliefs. We cannot stop their ultimate descent to the fires of hell as they reject our Christian message. In the U.S., I noticed how demonic, cruel, and sodomite most of their intelligent people have become after centuries of concrete Christianity. But God cannot deal with them unless they repent and trust Christ’s blood on the cross for their salvation and second birth.
B. Religious But Not Born Again
Many so-called Christians are religious, but not born of God. In the short term, all they need to do is pray and ask for divine wisdom. I heard from my father about those religious leaders who wore long white robes and who said memorized prayers on street corners. It sparked my inquisitive mind at a young age. As a history instructor, I learned how the friars abused the Indios, my indigenous great-grandparents, and it clashed with my beliefs about the Catholic Church.
I was a Christian (a.k.a. Catholic in my first 26 years of life), but my truth-seeking nature had led me to the Holy Bible and faith in Christ, my Savior, who died for my sins.
My friend said, “I was born Catholic and have to die Catholic.”
“No problem,” I replied. People always want a type of religion they can control, like paying the priest to transfer the soul from purgatory to heaven. It is not biblical, but it is how humanity has handled religion since the beginning of time. When the Truth came, who is our Lord Jesus, the people killed Him. When His brilliant followers preached Him, they murdered them, too.
We know deep down that it isn’t about religion, but about faith in a person, our Lord Jesus. Religion is merely a relationship to a ritual or ceremony, a system, or an idol. Catholicism, for example, is the Catholics’ thick relationship with the church, her sacraments, and Mary-worship. Authentic Christianity, however, is a relationship with our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Hence, Bible and Christ-centered Christianity is just as far from Catholicism as east and west in terms of doctrine.
To prove our point, John once wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Yes, only Christ can give us ETERNAL LIFE. The priest cannot, just as the Catholic church cannot, save us. Catholicism is purely a religious conviction, but not a relationship with Christ, who promised us eternal life, and an eternity in heaven.
Christ does not mention purgatory in the entire New Testament. That is why the Catholic version of Christianity is not the born-again Christianity we are covering here. Although most Catholics are religious, they are not born again according to the Scriptures.
The born-again Christian who was once a Catholic, as in my case, will never embrace Catholicism again as Christ’s Spirit in him will profoundly resist idolatry and Mariolatry.
3. How to be Born Again?
When Christ taught you could not enter God’s kingdom unless you were born again, He meant you could not live forever in heaven if you did not experience rebirth in this realm.
I saw people’s sad faces during a funeral. The bereaved relatives of the deceased would show a deep sigh of hopelessness at seeing their loved one depart for the unknown world. This natural reaction to the reality and power of death has been preserved in volumes of film and literary fiction. We are like that, hopeless. Life was given, but death swallowed it up when it had already gained a wealth of happy memories and experiences.
So, Christ condescended and reconciled us to our Father God, the Creator of life, through the shedding of His own blood at Calvary. Then He said, “Do you want to live forever? I know the secret: you must be born again.”
This is the story of our salvation from the wrath of God because of our sin. We need to be born again. But the question is how, and the answer is uncomplicated. Just allow the Spirit of Christ to live in your soul by faith.
“I did it a long time ago. I believe in Jesus,” you may claim.
Well, Judas kissed Jesus before his journey toward hell. The faith that saves is bound to faith in the word of Christ. Paul said, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) For example, most gays declare faith in Christ but reject the authority of the Bible that condemns homosexuality.
A. How to Let Christ’s Spirit Live in Our Soul?
The quick answer is to trust and have faith in Christ according to the Holy Scriptures. The apostle John said, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
Have you accepted our Lord Jesus by faith? Have you repented of your sins and indifference toward Christ and invited Him to live in your soul? What about your faith in Christ’s shed blood at Calvary because of your sins?
In my experience, I acknowledged our Lord Jesus as the Giver of the Holy Spirit—who is also His Spirit because He is God—upon my soul. Wrote the apostle John, “And when He [Jesus] had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” (John 20:22)
Note that the Spirit of the risen Christ is also the Holy Spirit. Hence, He breathed the Holy Spirit on His disciples.
A born-again Christian, therefore, is a follower of Christ who is “born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) How does one become Spirit-born? The following Scripture is Christ’s answer that confirms our premise that being born again and being born of the Spirit are the same. Observe John 3:
B. A Born-Again Christian is Sealed with the Holy Spirit
Our point circles back to the link or oneness between the experience of the born-again phenomenon and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Born again means born of the Spirit or born of God. The other truth from our Lord’s exposition is that the second birth is experiential and discernable, just like you hear the blows of the wind.
Note John 15:26: “When the Helper [Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send [Jesus is the Sender] to you [to your soul and body as the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16)] from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”
Another aspect of the born-again experience is that a Christian who has been born of God will bear witness to Christ and show his faith in Him in both his inner and outer walk in this world.
Is it possible to walk with God like the Apostles and the church teachers since Christ? Yes. Because of the leadership and counsel of the Holy Spirit in your mind, heart, and soul.
C. Some Questions
A. What if you have been baptized by a Christian minister but still worshipped idols and lived the wicked ways of unchristian Christianity?
Well, sad to say, you are not born again since you don’t have the Spirit of Christ upon your soul. The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) This verse requires no elaboration.
My second point is that BAPTISM SAVES NO ONE. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” (1 Cor. 1:17)
B. What if you experienced the Holy Spirit, became prayerful and active with the church, and then returned to your old ways?
My answer is that if you are born again, you will recover from your backslidden state. (See 1 John 2:19) But if you are not sealed with the Holy Spirit, you are a fake Christian and cannot recover from your continuous descent into the fires of hell until you repent and believe and trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
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