“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3: 3, 5)
John Wesley preached so often on the text “You must be born again” that people asked him, “Mr. Wesley, why do you preach so often that we must be born again?” His answer was always the same: “Because you must be born again!” In the two quotes from Jesus above it is almost as if someone has asked Jesus why we must be born again.
Jesus gives us two answers to our question. Without being born again we cannot see the Kingdom of God and we cannot enter the Kingdom of God without being born again. The Kingdom of God is therefore the end to which the new birth is the means.
People have misinterpreted and misapplied these two answers of Jesus. They replace the concept of the Kingdom of God with the concept of heaven. They would answer our question by telling us we cannot see heaven or enter heaven unless we are born again.
Jesus was not talking about heaven after we die. The Kingdom of God is the concept that God is a King and He wants to make us His subjects. To see that concept and enter into that relationship with God whereby He truly is our King and we are His subjects we must be born again.
Have you ever seen that truth? Have you entered into a relationship with God where He truly is your King? If you have not seen that truth or entered into that kind of relationship with God then you simply must be born again!
Isn’t it odd that if Baptists and evangelicals are correct that their “born again experience” is the true and ONLY means of salvation, the term “born again” is only mentioned three times in the King James Bible? If “making a decision for Christ” is the only means of salvation, why doesn’t God mention it more often in his Word? Why only THREE times? Isn’t that REALLY, REALLY odd?
Why is it that the Apostle Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, NEVER uses this term? Why is this term never used in the Book of Acts to describe the many mentioned Christian conversions? Why is this term only used by Jesus in a late night conversation with Nicodemus, and by Peter once in just one letter to Christians in Asia Minor?
If you attend a Baptist/evangelical worship service what will you hear? You will hear this: “You must be born again: you must make a decision for Christ. You must ask Jesus into your heart. You must pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner’s Prayer). You must be an older child or adult who has the mental capacity to make a decision to believe, to make a decision to repent, and to make a decision to ask Jesus into your heart.”
It is very strange, however, that other than “you must be born again” none of this terminology is anywhere to be found in the Bible! Why do Baptists and evangelicals use this non-biblical terminology when discussing salvation?
Maybe “accepting Christ into your heart” is NOT what being born again really means. Maybe…making a “decision” for Christ is NOT how God saves sinners!
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
Five questions that Baptists and Evangelicals should ask themselves
1. Does the Bible state that a sinner is capable of choosing righteousness/choosing God?
The Bible states that the sinner must believe and repent, but are these actions initiated and performed by man of his own intellectual abilities, or are faith, belief, and repentance a part of the entire “package” of salvation? Are faith, belief, and repentance part of the “free gift”? Does God give you faith, belief and repentance at the moment he “quickens” you, or does he require you to make a decision that you want them first, and only then does he give them to you?
2. Is there any passage of Scripture that describes salvation in the Baptist/evangelical terms of: “Accept Christ into your heart”, “Make a decision for Christ”, “Pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner’s Prayer)”. Is it possible that being “born again” is something that God does at a time of his choosing, and not something that man decides to do at a time of his choosing? Is man an active participant in his salvation in that he cooperates with God in a decision to believe, or is man a passive participant in his salvation; God does ALL the work?
3. Is the Bible a static collection of words or do the Words of God have real power, real supernatural power? How does the Bible describe the Word? Is it the meaning of the Word that has power or do the words themselves have supernatural power to “quicken” the souls of sinners, creating faith, belief and repentance?
4. Does preaching the Word save everyone who hears it or only the “predestined”, the “elect”, the “called”, the “appointed” will believe when they hear the Word?
5. WHEN does the Bible, if read in its simple, plain, literal rendering, say that sins are forgiven and washed away?
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals