Welcome to CoCo’s Chitchat! I’m so glad you’re able to join us as we finish our post series on the gospel.
Here are the links to the other three if you would like to read them first (which I would suggest doing for clarity’s sake):
Today is Part 4: How and Why.
Without further ado, let’s bring it all home.
How does this work?
As I started to mention in the last article, I want to take the time to explain what it means to be “born again,” because the concept didn’t really click in my mind until recently.
If you’ve read the previous articles, you might remember that death is essentially “a separation,” so to be spiritually “dead” means to be separated from God. Our sinful selves cannot be in the presence of God because He is holy and righteous. Death–or separation–is the penalty that must be paid.
However, because Jesus was willing to die on the cross, He paid our debt for us. He bridged the huge chasm between us and God, cleanses us of our sins by His blood, and now we can be “reconciled to God,” as the Apostle Paul says.
But we have to accept that free gift before the exchange happens. If we continue to live in our sin, we are responsible for that sin and we will be required to give an account for it on Judgment Day. The only way we will ever be able to reach God’s holy, perfect standard is if we are covered by the blood of Jesus. But if we do accept Him as Lord and Savior, then we owe nothing at all. He already paid our debts.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 5:8
Do you know what happens when we accept that gift? We are passed from death to life. We are given new life, or in other words, a rebirth.
Now, if you’re like Nicodemus in John 3, you might be wondering how you could be “born again.” How is it you re-enter your mother’s womb to be born a second time?
But, of course, that isn’t what Jesus is asking us to do. He’s talking about a spiritual rebirth–one that comes entirely from the Holy Spirit.
How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.John 3:4-8
I feel like this is a foriegn concept to many people because it’s one of those things you have to experience for yourself before you truly get it. Someone who is in the flesh and has not had their eyes opened to the things of the Spirit cannot understand.
However, it isn’t a hopeless catch-22 situation. God will open our eyes if we ask Him to. He gave us His Word (the Bible) for a reason. He won’t leave us in the dark if we don’t want to be left there.
Once we are born again, then, we are a “new creation.” We are no longer servants of our flesh, but servants of Christ.
From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!2 Corinthians 5:16-17
Because we still live in this world, we still have to deal with the effects of sin. Temptation is still an issue, and we aren’t exempt from sinning. The difference is that we are no longer slaves of sin. We are not children of the devil, but children of God.
I would highly recommend reading John chapter 3, the entire book of Romans, as well as James. Those are so helpful in understanding all of this!
Why does any of this matter?
I hope and pray I’ve made it clear throughout the whole series why this matters, but in case I haven’t, here’s why: Jesus loves you, but you aren’t destined for Heaven unless you “confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9).
The “Jesus is Lord” part is critical. Because simply believing He died isn’t what saves you… did you know that the demons believe in God? They do. They know He is real, and He died, and He has plans to come back for His church some day. But the reason they aren’t saved is because they reject the authority of God over their lives. They have not humbly come to Him and said, “Lord, please save me” and surrendered their lives to Him.
That is where works come into play. We have to live as if the gospel is true. Works do not save us, but they demonstrate that we are saved. We will follow the commands of our master: either God or the world. But we cannot serve both. We cannot actively participate in sin if we wish to be saved.
No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.Matthew 6:24
This matters, because we have a choice to make. Do we live by our flesh? Or do we submit to God and live by the Spirit?
If you’re thinking that living by the Spirit is hard, you’re not wrong. There is still a war between flesh and spirit, and war is costly. War is difficult. War requires sacrifice. That’s why the Bible says that few find the path of life.
Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.Matthew 7:14
But for those who do find it, and are faithful to follow it, they find a great treasure at the end of the road. Not some mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but something infinitely better: everlasting life in the presence of God.
And not only that, but we get help in this life as well. God’s promises are for right now. We are given the Holy Spirit as a guide and comforter, Jesus Christ as a friend and peace beyond understanding, God as a Father and refuge, and the Bible as a delight and stronghold. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
We get to know God.
In the end, that is what He wants! He already knows us, because He created us and is omniscient, but He wants us to know Him. Christianity isn’t so much of a religion–what church do you go to, what denomination, do you tithe or not tithe–but it’s a lifestyle. It should consume us from the inside out because that is how God works.
Man starts on the outside: clean up your life, get your act together, be a good person, then perhaps God will accept you. But God’s kingdom is backwards, upside down, and inside out.
God says ‘let Me come into your heart, and I will make you clean. Stop striving, and let Me help you.’ There are absolutely no prerequisites.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Sure, we do pay a price for following Jesus. The world hated Jesus so it will hate us as well. But the hardships we suffer are not worth comparing–not even close–to the glory that will be revealed to us.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.Romans 8:18
Here’s a powerful quote I once heard:
This life is the only hell believers will ever know. But for those who die in their sins, this is their only heaven.Ray Comfort
I mean, can you imagine this is as good as it gets??? How depressing. But for a believer, we know that our hope rests in Heaven. Come what may on this earth, but nothing can touch our inheritance in Christ.
I’m sure there is so much more I would love to cover, but it seems it will have to wait for another article another day. I hope you have enjoyed this series–whether you have learned something new, or simply grown in confidence in your faith–and I want you to know that I am praying for every one of my readers. If you have a specific request, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply use the form on the “contact” page. I would love to hear from you. And, of course, the comments are open.
Next week we have a guest post, then a book review, then a months-long special surprise! If you’re on my mailing list, you already know what it is, but I hope you’re just as excited as I am! I pray you’ll be blessed by it.
Talk to you soon!
In Christ now and always,