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Born Again-Just What Do You Mean?



Sermon by Joe Camerata



Summary

Born Again-What does this mean and why is it so widely misunderstood? With the coming of Pentecost, on May 19th, representing the giving of the Holy Spirit, let us grasp a deeper understanding of this important topic.


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Greetings brethren and guests! It is always a delight being here. Unfortunately, we all too often hear bad new reports. But we thank God for our peace and safety here.

The driver’s license story: Around the time I was getting my driver’s license in the Army; I nearly ran a 2½ ton truck over a cliff. In another incident I had to drive a jeep from Frankfurt toward the Luxembourg border. When it was time to gas up the jeep I nearly crashed into the gas pump. In another incident I was responsible for burning up the brakes on a ¾ ton truck. The moral of the story is - just I got a driver’s license did NOT automatically make me a “good” driver. Keep this story in mind. It will apply to the message.

Meanwhile, consider what anciently a man of God Job asked in Job:14:14-15 (NKJV) If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. 15 You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.

First, what is Job asking? He wonders what is beyond this life and he alludes to a resurrection. Perhaps he knew and already understood that there really is something beyond this life!

Now we come to a time more recently: A man at work came up to me years ago and asked, “Are you born again?”

In pondering his question, I thought about my conversion more than 25 years prior and how following repentance and baptism I made a commitment to follow Christ as my King and Savior. Then there was a “laying on of hands” and the giving of the Holy Spirit.

The acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice covered my sins. Then my life took on a dramatic change!

To many the concept of being born again means to “give your heart to the Lord and be saved”. Some may be tear-driven to walk up an aisle and others may privately commit to acceptance of Christ as Savior. Is that all there is?

Some preachers on radio or TV may say there is nothing more for you to do. They insist you do not have to keep a list of rules, yet others will speak in generalities concerning not sinning. But then they never truly define what sin is! Some insist that only a few will be granted salvation. While recently a friend and former Church member insisted on “universal salvation”.

Just what does all this mean to us, to you and to me? Are you locked into being saved and can you do no wrong? Or can you lose out?

The title of my split sermon is “Born Again-Just What Do You Mean?”

Body:

1. Nicodemus Knew What it Meant:

Introduce story of Nicodemus: Anciently, he knew what a physical birth meant, just as people today but they miss something very important!

Let’s turn to John:3:1-7, 9 (NKJV) 1There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Something more than a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart.) 4 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?” (Again) 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Hat Pin Test: A long time someone suggested poking yourself with a hatpin. If it hurts obviously you are not yet spirit.

Despite what Christ said, still Nicodemus did not quite grasp it all. We see where he asked in verse 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

Then Christ explained more in depth. Even today many do not fully grasps the concept.

Let’s turn to: The Apostle Peter had this to say in 1 Peter:1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, Currently we are all corruptible seed.

2. Usage of the Greek word “Gennao”

Let us briefly explore the words translated for Gennao” in the NT.

The Greek word “Gennao” (G1080) appears 88 times in the NT: appears as “Begat” appears 42 times; “Born” 39 times, and begotten 17 times

Pertaining to “Gennao” and born again, let me read part of a quote from the UCG website:
“ We believe that one should not take the position that this word can only refer to conception. Gennao is a much broader term and refers to the whole process of conception and birth. …"Salvation is a two-step process—beginning with conversion (which is both a one-time event and an ongoing process) and ending with entrance into the Kingdom. The analogy of conception for conversion and birth for entrance into the Kingdom is certainly valid for explaining the process of salvation. We are not 'saved now' nor are we 'born again' as the concepts are explained in the evangelical world.
Continuing in reference to “born again" we read, “…it is true that as Christians we must be transformed once we repent of our sins, accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and become baptized (Romans:12:2). This is truly a new life as well. …”

3. After We Accept Christ, Then What?

In trying to discuss the Biblical understanding of this, what happens after we accept Christ - then what? Once a person is supposedly born again is the Lord always with us? Can you reject God as you please turning love of God on and off? Does repentance need to be ongoing? Isn’t it truly a lifelong process?

How many times have we heard preachers say Christ did it all and there is nothing you have to do except to “accept Jesus”.

Let’s turn to Hebrews:10:26-27 (NKJV) For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. So much for universal salvation and being told you can do anything you want!

Furthermore, continuing we, read on in Hebrews:10:28-30 28Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”(from Deut 32:35) says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” (from Deut 32:26)

Turn to where Paul declared even after he had been converted quite some time: Romans:7:23-25 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin (Recognizing we all still struggle with sin.) which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (It is a fight none-the-less!) 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Paul further toward the end of his life says to Timothy in 2 Timothy:4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (No cheap grace here.) 8Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, (Return of Christ & Resurrection of the saints) and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

4. What is it then: Born or Begotten?

What is it then are we born or begotten? Romans:8:16-17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, (HEIRS indicate a future inheritance! Yet FUTURE!) if indeed we suffer with Him,(warned it would NOT be easy-thus- we need the COMFORTER-impossible w/o Christ.) that we may also be glorified together.

Now we are Begotten what we will be is not yet grasped in the fullness: 1 John:3:2-4 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Yet, people, also, do get this confused: 1 John:5:1-5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (Then how can people they no long need to do anything?) 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes (Belief is more than a touchy feeling and just casually doing one’s own thing.) that Jesus is the Son of God?

Important & Elaborate: 1 John:3:9-10 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His (Christ) seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.10In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

Remember this, Job looked to this change and Nicodemus in a time did not quite comprehend this:

Turn to 1 Corinthians:15:42-45 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in in-corruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

Let me interject here: For some of you who are here and reading the Bible Reading Program, today’s reading has to do with 2 Samuel 16-18.

This might help one to understand the topic at hand: Shimei was hateful and vengeful toward King David. Despite it David granted Shimei mercy. Despite this the deep seated anger gnawed at Shimei as he obviously continued to plot behind the scenes. David ended up warning Solomon of Shimei’s unrelenting animosity and plotting. In parallel some people may never get it right with God.

This is something Solomon reiterated at the end of his life-and unfortunately so many today reject most of the Scriptures from the 1st Century. Ecclesiastes:12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

If they would remember this they would not be so easily be led astray!

Conclusion

As I draw this to a conclusion, remember earlier about my driver’s license in the military? Well, in my case just having a driver's license did not mean I was a driver let alone a good driver. Likewise, just calling oneself a Christian or born again does not make it so.

The coworker who originally asked me that question, “Are you born again?” Will same day have an opportunity to understand the full depth and meaning as explained in Scripture.

One's conversion can never be taken lightly!

Let me read this in Hebrews:2:2-4 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Again from Isaiah:66:2(NKJV) For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.

As we approach Pentecost, consider the significance and token of the Holy Spirit you have been given at baptism, or will seek following baptism learn to grasp the full significance of accepting the sacrifice and the keeping of the commandments and obedience to God.