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In the Word

    by Chuck Livermore

The New Birth
Date Posted: April 28, 2009

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the 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.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." John 3:1-21 NKJV

A lot of people denigrate “born-again” Christians. Maybe, as they define the term, the criticism is valid. Many view “born-again” Christians as arrogant, self-righteous, and condescending. They criticize them for their judgmental attitudes and their claims to salvation and condemnation of everyone else. If these traits are rightly placed on people, then “born-again” Christians are not very Christian.

But as Jesus defined the term, you must be “born-again” to enter the kingdom of God. One who is born of the Spirit should display the fruit of Spirit. They will display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithful, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These characteristics are very different than those of which “born-again” Christians are accused. Are the criticisms justified? As is often the case, sometimes they are; sometimes they are not.

Whatever is the validity of what people do or say, being a “born-again” Christian is not something from which we should shrink away. Let me rephrase what Jesus said. If you aren’t “born-again”, you won’t make it into the kingdom. Are you “born-again”? Considering the alternative, let’s hope so.

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Biography Information:
Chuck Livermore's knowledge of the word is the result of a lifetime of study and reading. He is part of Galilee South Community Church, a multi-ethnic congregation in South Denver. He attended Wayland Baptist University and has participated in world evangelism through research of unreached peoples.
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