Friday, March 06, 2009

You Must Be Born Again

My copy of John Piper's new book, Finally Alive arrived in the mail yesterday. I don't always get the latest Piper book, but the concept of this one gripped me. Do I really emphasize the necessity of the new birth enough in my teaching and preaching? There is nothing more important, nothing more central to Christianity.

Then, today, I read today's Morning and Evening morning reading. Here it is:

“Ye must be born again.”

- John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are “born again,” for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it-the being “born again,” is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been “born again,” your acknowledgment will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. ‘My life is hid with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.
- C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, March 6th

This Sunday is communion Sunday at our church. I'm also preaching on Ephesians 6:10-20, the first of three "Spiritual Warfare" sermons on this text.

Perhaps God is trying to tell me something? It's time to emphasize the need to be born again very strongly and clearly this Sunday at Edson Baptist Church.

3 comments:

Dan S. said...

Amen, Terry! I just collided with the concept of the new birth as we studied 1 Peter 1:13-16 in our Men's Bible Study group this morning. It happened in the phrase, "as obedient children..." (1:14). Children are natural children. Obedient children are those that have experienced the new birth.

It's everywhere, and begs to be emphasized.

I just received Piper's book as well. Look forward to reading it.

Pastor Jim said...

Just a thought - can one be "recognized as a professing Christian" without the wind of the Spirit having blown through one's life?

stauf46 said...

Pastor Jim,

Good question. That's a big question.

The short answer is yes. We are not wise to play the Holy Spirit, but the warning passages in Scripture (Hebrews 6, 1 John, etc.) are there for a reason.

It is fair - and necessary - to warn people about the fruit of their lives when it is not in keeping with their profession, but we cannot know the true condition of their heart.

We tend to error on the side of "taking people at their word" too much in our culture, however, and there needs to be a recovery of church discipline in a more comprehensive sense.