Sunday Service Sermons
So, just how new are you?
Born anew, or: What is it to be a born-again Christian.
The term Christian is enough for me. I do not need the born again part for if you are Christian, Christ like, then you are born again and all new. So we ask, just how Christ-like are we as born-again Christians. What would Jesus do was a movement to challenge believers to think about how much like Jesus they might be. How does one move from being a human being to being a Christ-Centered, God loving, and obeying person? There is a point in our Christian journey where we can experience a break-through and move into a oneness with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is the goal of a good, God fearing pastor. To help the congregation move into this reality of life with Yahweh.
I have found it harder and harder to do sermons this way. That is preparing them and not having Sunday morning worship to bring them to you. I miss the greeting that brings us together in one accord. I miss the hymns and prayers that bring us close to God, and I miss the time together afterward to see how each other is doing in their life. At first I liked being able to present a full sermon to you. Not concerned about time restraints. Now I am missing the interaction that gives it life. Hopefully we will be together soon.
The scripture lesson for today is John 3:1-15. This is where Nicodemus comes to Jesus and inquires as to what Jesus is all about. I believe he wanted to see Jesus face to face to see if he was real and maybe a messenger from God. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born-again. A new concept for Nicodemus. My new study Bible calls this regeneration. Regeneration is Spiritual Birth. Regeneration is re-creating and transformation of the person. Through this process eternal life from God himself is imparted to the believer’s heart. And they become a child of God and a new person. It is what we see in Romans 12:1&2 where we no longer conform to the world but now are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. As we know it begins with repentance and recognition of our sinfulness. Then acknowledging that it is in and through Jesus “The Christ” that we can become what God wants us to be. Then we move from our old life to a new life of obedience to God through Christ and the Holy Spirit. We then are free from the bondage of sin and are able to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is seen in the living of righteous lives, the love for others, avoidance of sin and not living by the standards of the world. We then become people who live to please God in what we do and how we live. The ability to accomplish this is the power of God living within us. The proof of our new life is in how we live life to please God and server others. All of this is accomplished in the Spirit not the body. As Nicodemus said, one cannot reenter a mother’s womb and be born again. Jesus answered by saying, “ no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”. John 3:5&6. Then Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to the wind blowing where it pleases. You hear sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. Then the confusing line, “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” So is it saying that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and follow His lead, we will be like the wind, going where it pleases Him, and not knowing where it comes from or where it goes. How do you interpret this? To me it is saying that we will not know in advance where God will call us to go if we are being lead by His Holy Spirit. Sort of like driving down a street and it comes to you to stop at this house and visit the people there. Only after the visit does it make sense. And sometimes it remains a mystery why you were called to stop there. The Jesus movement of the 70’s and 80’s lived this out in their lives. What ever happened, good or not so good, they just said, “Praise the Lord” believing that it was the will of God at the moment. A flat tire can save you from an accident. That kind of life is a bit like the wind that blows where it will and you can see the results even when you cant see or understand the wind itself. It is hard for us to live this way for we like to know what the next moments might have in store for us. The Bible is interesting for it says to count the cost, to plan ahead but at the same time be ready to go where the Spirit takes you. I guess we can plan but be ready to go where lead when the Spirit moves you to do so.
I guess this is what I am missing in presenting sermons without the worship service. The Living God is not as active and in evidence this way. At this point my spirit began remembering the hymn “Move in Our Midst” by Kenneth Morse. Move in our midst, Thou Spirit of God, go with us down from Thy holy hill, walk with us through the storm and the clam, Spirit of God, go Thou with us still. Touch Thou our hands to lead us aright, guide us forever, show us thy way, transform our darkness into Thy light, Spirit of God, lead Thou us today. Strike from our feet the fetters that bind, lift from our lives the weight of our wrong, teach us to love with heart, soul and mind, Spirit of God, Thy love makes us strong. Kindle our hearts to burn with Thy flame, raise up Thy banners high in this hour, stir us to build new worlds in Thy name, Spirit of God, O send us Thy power. If you have ever heard Annual Conference sing this hymn you have a memory that transcends normal life. It gives me chills just recalling that sound of praise. It amazes me how God gives people the words and music to express what he has given us in Scripture so we can sing it and it can touch our soul.
A born again Christian is one who has invited Jesus “The Christ” to come into their life and make it like the life of Jesus. It takes more than a belief in Jesus. It takes more than living a “good” life. It takes more than being raised in a Godly home. It takes more than being baptized. It takes more than attending church and being considered a good member of the church. The new birth is a divine change wrought in the heart of a believer by the Holy Spirit of God. It is a complete change wrought in the innermost being of a believer by the Holy Spirit. It is a new birth and a permanent change wrought in the heart of a believer upon entering into a new relationship with God. Is it necessary? Jesus said it was absolutely essential if one would see and enter into the kingdom of God. It must come from God himself, we cannot accomplish it on our own. Until this birth is experienced, one is spiritually dead, being devoid of the spiritual life of God. God’s holy nature requires that we experience this birth from above so that we might have fellowship with God. It is in the new birth that we become partakers of the divine nature. Apart from his new birth, we do not have a nature that would enable us to love God and enjoy his fellowship. New birth introduces one into the family of God. It brings eternal life as a present possession to the believer. It brings the Holy Spirit of God into the heart of the believer. The Holy Spirit then takes up residence within the heart of the believer so that he might direct the believer in God’s great redemptive work and reproduce within that believer the character of Jesus Christ. It makes spiritual growth possible. It makes correction and chastisement of The Father possible. How can you know if you are born again? You trust Jesus and follow his lead. You have an appetite for spiritual things. You find your self hungering and thirsting for righteousness. You love God and people.
You avoid all sin. You have an ambition to please God in all of your life. How does this new birth take place? Trusting Jesus and surrendering all to him. Turn from a life of self to a life of service and obedience to God. Take Jesus as Lord of your life. Claim Jesus as your own. Confess Jesus before others and identify your self with him.
Nicodemus was a very good man, but needed new birth. The Samaritan woman, described in John 4, a very fallen woman, also needed the new life that the new birth brings. All of us are somewhere between these two extremes. And between these two extremes, all of us can come to Christ and experience the new birth God offers through His Son Jesus “The Christ” and The Holy Spirit.
It is a marvelous life with purpose and fulfillment. I guarantee it!
And more importantly, God guarantees it!!