“Behold children are a heritage from the Lord.” Psalm 127:3
“Just as it is appointed for man to die once…” Hebrews 9:27
“I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!” 1 Corinthians 15:31
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3
Birth. Death. Rebirth. 3 things that you have no control over.
In approximately 30 days, I will have a new grandson, and we all can hardly wait for the new birth. Children change our lives; the birth of a child is a major event and life is never the same once a child is born.
We think about Christmas and how the world changed after the birth of a baby.
Cindy and I were told that we would never have children. Test after test was run and the outcome was always the same. It became very stressful for both of us until a doctor told us to just relax and not to worry about it. God knew more than the doctors it seems, and we were blessed with two wonderful children. Eventually children give their parents another wonderful gift: Grandchildren!
Life is a series of births, deaths and rebirths, good things and bad things, challenging us to understand who we are, teaching us how to be honest; we learn how to be strong, loving and compassionate. It is never too late for rebirth.
The message we should take from the life of Christ, is the experience of being reborn.
Being Born Again
As Christians we have heard this over time that we died to our old selves and were reborn new with Christ.
In the third chapter of John, we look at a very important portion of Scripture on the new birth, being born again. Our teacher here is Jesus Christ, and for most of us who have been in the church any length of time, we are familiar with this portion of Scripture.
The story goes like this, “Now 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 have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these things that you do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3.1-3).
The message is very simple. The kingdom of God is entered only through being born again.
This is a common idea with believers, we talk about as born-again Christians; but we don’t seem to get a grip on the essence of how deep this thought goes.
The point of what Jesus is saying is simply this: being born is not something that you have anything to do with. You didn’t have anything to do with your physical birth, nor do you have anything to do with your spiritual birth.
God created you by the means of your parents, but in reality it was God who created you.
Your parents could give you a physical body, but only God could create your spirit; being born again is an act of God by which He recreates you.
God created you for one purpose to Love and Worship him, and this is not a onetime thing.
What does it mean?
It simply describes that a person receives a new birth, a new life, a new nature, a new disposition, a new character, and a new mind from God and that person makes no contribution to that to this new birth.
I want to ask you to think about something for a moment.
How many of you think that being born again or rebirth is a onetime thing and that once you accept Christ as your personal Lord and savior that the rebirth is complete?
I do not want to stomp on the idea of “Once saved, then we are always saved.”
The Bible says, in Romans 10:9-10 “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
Salvation is not gained by those who try harder.
Salvation is not gained by those who live better.
Salvation is not gained by those who become more moral, more religious, take religion to its highest level, and stay away from sin.
The Kingdom of God is not entered by anything a person does.
Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Jesus was saying that people could not be saved simply by religious practice, but by faith.
With this faith we still have a responsibility and there is a daily process.
If we were to break down the words, starting with “Again” (which is from anothen in the Greek), it means “from above,” “down from above.”
“Born” in the Greek is Gennao or “God making” or “Begotten.”
Thus, “Born Again” simply means, “God Made From Above.”
You have to be given life from above, and that’s not something that you can do spiritually any more than you can do it physically.
Do you remember that first feeling when you were truly “Born Again?” How you felt deep down in your heart when the change in your life became clear.
Some of you have heard my testimony and how it was a struggle but the end result was a feeling of peace.
Let me ask you this question, when did you last feel like this?
I am here to say that being reborn is not just a onetime thing, being reborn is a daily thing.
We are about to enter a New Year, going from 2019 to 2020. When you think about the image of the New Year we think of Father Time, and Baby New Year.
The death of an old year and the birth of a new year, this cycle of death and life, has repeated itself over and over since time began. Just as the death of each day, allows the birth of the new.
Each day we should see ourselves as reborn, with a chance to do away with the old self and to be reborn to greet the day God has given you as a new creation.
To those who know me, you know that I am a John Wayne nut. I collect John Wayne memorabilia and collectibles. I can quote lines from his movies, and in fact I got to wear the jacket John Wayne wore in the movie Rio Bravo, while I reenacted a scene from the movie Sons of Kate Elder. (I won a trivia contest to be able to do that.)
Some of you may know that John Wayne had a credo that he lived by each day.
It was not, “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” This was the movie man, the tough guy the move image.
What John Wayne, the real man, lived by can be found written on his headstone.
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life; it comes into us at midnight, very clean. When it arrives it is perfect. It puts itself in our hands. It hopes we learned something from yesterday.”
To put it simply, yesterday has died and is never coming back, tomorrow is reborn, a new day born clean and perfect.
Don’t let yesterday’s mistakes come into today.
I have spoken to people from time to time about their salvation and their daily journey. Often I get the answer I was born again 30, 40 or 50 years ago, so I guess I am covered until I get to heaven. They may very well be correct, only Jesus know the answer to that.
If we look at the scripture we started with in 1 Corinthians 15:31 it says “I die daily.”
Paul expresses a similar thought in Romans 8:36 when he wrote, “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’”
In Romans, as in 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul references the constant persecution that he and his companions endured daily.
Like Paul, each of us who claim to be Born Again might face persecution, if we were doing the will of the Father which is in heaven, as it says in Matthew 7.
This is Jesus’ command to those who want to follow Him: “If anyone would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Paul was totally sold out to God, and we can be as well.
Sin, the flesh, and this world will continually fight for your attention and demand your participation.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
What he is saying is take care of your sin today because once tomorrow comes it cannot be reclaimed. This gives Satan a foothold and while you may be able to ask for forgiveness tomorrow, yesterday can never be reclaimed.
When we die daily, we consider ourselves unable to respond to those temptations. A dead man has no personal agendas or rights. He is not tempted to sin because he is dead to everything around him.
Think of it this way, you have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.
Now if you die at the end of each day, then you must be reborn the next. You will note I did not say resurrected from the dead – you are not Jesus.
Resurrected means never to die again, but you are reborn each day a new creation.
You may be telling yourself, Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus’ Daughter, and a few others were all resurrected.
My answer to this is no they were not.
Lazarus was dead for four days, and he and the others were restored to life as a prominent miracle of Jesus.
Not resurrected but restored. All of these people died again.
Many people have been restored to life by miracles of Jesus, some by means of doctors or first responders.
I, myself, through my training and the miracles of God, have assisted in restoring people back to life, who by all definition were dead.
Each of these restored people will someday die again, but because of Jesus will someday as with all of us, be resurrected and have eternal life.
Unlike people, we cannot worry about yesterday, nor can we restore or resurrect it. Yesterday can never come back.
Just as each day, month and year dies, each is gone; they can never be relived or restored.
With each new day you must commit yourself to rebirth.
Commit to your spouse, children and family to be completely honest and loving, to openly allow friends and people into your life.
Commit to giving the lost reason for hope, and to assist them on their journey, as you strive to lead others to the Kingdom.
With each new day to show others the light of Jesus in you as you did the day you were first Born Again.
Gandhi once said, “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
To be born again, or to experience the new birth, is a phrase, we hear mostly in evangelism or in big revivals when we are out seeking the lost.
The term “born-again Christian” is an often misunderstood.
Being born again is not a one and done like our physical birth.
Because God gave us free will, we have a choice to accept, or not, his guidance and direction, so this free will often leads us to sin.
It is because of this free will that our soul needs to be reborn, too be made pure and righteous the way God created us to be.
Does it not stand to reason that if you sin daily, as we all do, that each night we must die to the sin of the day before, and that each day we must be reborn?
New birth is not performed or achieved by religious ceremony or traditional rite, it makes no difference if you are old or young, rich or poor, and male or female, to be born again is a personal choice, open for everyone to receive.
As we grow older the journey becomes harder to walk.
Wear on old bones, muscles, joints of the body, make the journey more difficult for the older person than for the young, and in some case the Church Body.
Maybe you have said, “I am tired and old I will let the younger people do the work; it is my time to rest.” To be reborn daily, means our journey now has the determination and the excitement, of the new reborn spirit.
We cannot change our yesterday(s), and our tomorrow is not yet written.
The sins you committed today, if not corrected today are done.
You cannot go back and undo a yesterday; you cannot make yesterday’s sin go away.
Most, if not all of us, have regrets for uncorrected sins of our yesterdays.
By dying to yesterday’s sin and being reborn and asking Jesus to forgive us the sins we failed to correct, only then can we start a new day.
As we look at the New Year 2020 ahead of us, many are already making plans to fix or right wrongs of 2019 – a New Year, a fresh start.
The New Year resolutions are the goals we make for ourselves but never achieve.
“This year I will be healthier, thinner, a better person;” “I will read God’s Word;” “I will go to church;” “I will be a better husband, wife, son, daughter or friend;” “I will actually pray for those I said I would pray for.”
All of these goals are not worth the paper they are written on and are just wasted words if we try to do them on our own.
Like saying you will pray for someone and then never doing it. Empty words used to settle our own mind.
We need to focus on the fact that each day is a fresh start and a new beginning.
A chance to be reborn in Jesus and have him daily set his goals in us, goals that through him can be achieved.
Just as John Wayne believed, we have to incorporate the thought of the fresh start into each day.
We can never reclaim our yesterday, but can most certainly claim and hold on to our new today.