“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” John 3:3
Born-again Christian. It’s a phrase thrown around a lot in the world today. You might hear some ask, “Are you a Christian, or a born-again Christian?” Scripture teaches that there is no such thing as a Christian who has not been born again. “Born again” and “Christian” are synonymous…two phrases that mean the same thing. Unfortunately, both have been desecrated by the world.
The Barna Group, a popular research firm, defines “born again” this way for the purposes of their research:
“Born-again Christians were defined in these surveys as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.”
Barna used this definition in one of their reports, titled, “Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce as are Non-Christians.” When the Barna Group, and other similar research firms, use the term “born again” to describe American church-goers whose lives are basically no different from the world, or who sin like the world, or who fail to sacrifice for others like the world, or who are as greedy as the rest of the world – when “born again” is used to describe these types of professing Christians, it is being grossly misused to the point that it would be unrecognizable to Jesus and the New Testament writers.
This misuse is based on people who only had to verbally express a faith in Christ. Barna takes such people at their word and in doing so concludes through their research that Christians have no more victory over sin than non-Christians. The world takes a profession of faith and labels the person “born again.” Then, seeing the worldliness of some who profess faith, the conclusion is made that being born again does not really change people. The writers of the New Testament think in the opposite direction about being born again. Scripture starts with the absolute certainty that being born again radically changes a person. Then, when faced with a professing “Christian” who is worldly, the conclusion is made that such a person has not been born again. The New Testament does not misuse the phrase “born again” by applying it to the carnality of the unchanged hearts of professing Christians.
Over the next few days, we will be looking more deeply at what happens when someone is born again. The most important question you will ever answer is, “Have you been born again?”
Father, I know there are so many who say with their lips that they believe in You, yet their heart is far from You. Your Word teaches that faith is accompanied by obedience, by good fruit borne by the Spirit inside every Christian. Father I ask that You would search my heart and convict me if I have not been truly born again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.