What does it mean to be “born again”?

In John 3 Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” This statement confused Nicodemus and lead him to ask how it was possible for an adult to experience another birth. Jesus’ words continue to cause confusion today. At times people are offended when told of the need to be born again. Yet, Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Jesus cleared up Nicodemus’ confusion by explaining that being born again is having a spiritual birth. Just like each person must have a physical birth to have physical life, so every person must have a spiritual birth to live spiritually. Jesus says the spiritual birth is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8) in which He imparts spiritual life to thsoe who are “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) The giving of spiritual life is entirely the work of God the Spirit. No person gives themselves spiritual life. No minister, church, family or organization gives spiritual life to a person. Only the Spirit gives spiritual life. (John 3:6)

Spiritual life is only received through faith. The most famous verse of the Bible, John 3:16, is Jesus’ instruction Nicodemus about how to be born again. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The verses before John 3:16 say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” (John 3:14-15) A couple verses later Jesus said, “He who believe in Him is not condemned.” (John 3:18) The only way for a person to be born again is to believe Jesus is God the Son who died on the cross to take away sin and give life. A person is born again when she places her faith in Jesus to give her spiritual life.

Being born again is necessary because all are spiritually dead. No one naturally has a relationship with God and the life of fellowship with Him. Instead, all people are “alienated from the life of God.” (Ephesians 4:17) When Adam and Eve sinned they were immediately separated from God. They died spiritually. Just as one who is physically dead cannot give physical life to himself or another, so one who is dead spiritually cannot produce life. Adam and Eve had no means to make themselves alive spiritually. All their offspring were spiritually dead. “In Adam all die.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Being born again is the reception of spiritual life from the Holy Spirit through belief in Jesus as God and Savior. None are born again by their religious works, charitable deeds or moral goodness. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5) When a person believes Jesus and trusts Him to give him eternal life, then God the Spirit resuscitates the one who was spiritually dead and gives him spiritual life. The one who by faith receives Jesus is born again.


Did the Pope move the Sabbath to Sunday?

Certain Christians observe a Saturday Sabbath. Some, but certainly not all, who do this also believe church leaders illegitimately determined to move the Sabbath to Sunday. Those blamed for this include the Pope and the Catholic church. The facts of Scripture and history do not support these claims.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week as established by God (Genesis 2:3) and commanded for the Israelites. (Exodus 20:8-10) Christian’s meeting together on Sunday to worship God traces back to the very first day of the church’s existence. On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people believed the gospel, were baptized and added to the church. The first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus is the day the church began. (Acts 2:48) Pentecost is always a Sunday. The Day of Pentecost the final day of the Feast of Weeks, which is a period of seven weeks that begins with the Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week and on the Feast of Firstfruits. Seven weeks later the nation of Israel celebrated Pentecost. On the Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection the Holy Spirit filled 120 disciples, the apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem, three thousand people were saved and the New Testament church began. Since that Sunday the church has met together on the first day of the week.

The New Testament tells of a regular church gathering on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 speaks of the first day of the week as the day when Christians met together to celebrate communion. In First Corinthians 16:2 the apostle Paul spoke of the first day of the week as the day when the church came together. The New Testament shows that the church has met on Sunday since its beginning.

This claim is supported by the writings of the early church pastor Ignatius. Ignatius died around 110 AD, which makes his writings some of the earliest Christian writings outside the Bible. Ignatius said of Jewish converts to Christianity that they, “No longer observe the Sabbath, but live in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up against by Him and by His death.” The reference to the Lord’s day as the day on which our life has sprung up refers to the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Jewish converts stopped observing the Sabbath to meet together on Sunday. From the earliest days the church has met on Sunday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus.

The decision for the church to gather on Sunday was not the decision of any person, apostle, prophet, pope or church leader, but the result of God’s work to start His church on Sunday. Christians meet together on Sunday because on that day the Savior rose from the dead and on that day Jesus first filled His people with His Holy Spirit.

Are Christians Fascists?

A Christian organization aired two commercials during Super Bowl 57. In response, at least one politician described the sponsors of those ads as fascists. Is there any truth to that claim? Are conservative Christians fascists? The following is not intended to be a defense or critique of He Gets Us or its advertising. Instead, this is a direct response to claims being leveled against He Gets Us with the intent to defame all morally conservative Christians.

No, Christianity is not fascist. To start with the obvious, Christianity predates fascism by 1900 years. To equate fascism with Christianity is to ignore nearly two millennia of Christian teachings which have nothing whatsoever to do with fascist ideas. Christianity and fascism do not share any important philosophical ideals. Fascism is clearly defined and well understood by students of history. A short description of fascism is that it is a militant nationalism which is often connected with racism and tyranny. A fuller explanation of the tenets of fascism can be found in any reputable encyclopedia.

Anyone who is familiar with history will know Christians are not fascists. Certainly some Christians have followed fascist regimes. The German Lutheran Church in the 19030’s and early 1940’s is one clear example of Christians and churches who promoted fascist principles. However, the German Lutheran Church during the time of Hitler is noteworthy because it is a clear example of the abandoment of Christian principles for political convenience. When the Lutheran Church in Germany began to uphold fascist ideals, it ceased to be Christian.

The upholding of conservative Christian morals is not fascism, Christian Nationalism or an attempt to turn America into a theocracy. Biblical Christianity is not racist, hateful or militaristic. All those things can be found among professing Christians and Christian groups, but not one is an integral part of Christianity. Racism and hatred of others are plainly contrary to what the New Testament teaches is basic Christian behavior. Any thoughtful reading of the New Testament will show that Christianity is utterly contrary to the ideals of fascism.

Christianity declares all people are created in the image of God (James 3:9) and all people share the same parents (Genesis 3:20). Consequently, racism is repugnant to those who practice the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Jesus commanded Christians to show love to all people, including their enemies, to bless those who curse them and to pray for those who persecute them. (Matthew 5:44) Such a loving response to different and difficult people is not compatible with fascism. This response of Christian love also applies to those who would call Christians fascists. Christians are to love the very politicians who would slander and malign them.

Christianity teaches submission to all governing authorities, but denies that any government is the ultimate and final authority. All who are in power have been given that authority by God. (Romans 13:1) Every government and world leader stands beneath God. The Christian should always ready to “obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Civil disobedience must always be done with respect to the King, President, Governor or Fuhrer, but such respect in no way weakens the believers commitment to obey God no matter how earthly powers may threaten or demand total obedience. Fascism cannot co-exist with a commitment of ultimate allegiance to God alone.

Christianity is not fascist, but denies key tenets of fascism. To declare any Christian group fascist because it opposes homosexuality and abortion is ridiculous. Such a statement shows a willful misunderstanding of history and a deceitful attempt to inflame the emotions of others. This is not new. Equating Christians with fascists has been a popular response to Christians speaking about issues of abortion, homosexuality or transgenderism or to Christians expressing their desire for more Christians in state and federal leadership. Christians must answers these false claims with lives and testimonies that show the love of Christ while faithfully opposing that which the Bible declares to be evil.

Do I have to be baptized?

Baptism is a subject of much controversy in Christianity. Christians have left churches over the issue. Sprinkling, pouring and immersing are forms of baptism practiced by churches. Despite the many different beliefs about baptism, most churches teach that baptism is a necessity for everyone in their church. Does the Bible command every one to be baptized?

The Bible does not contain the words, “Thou shalt be baptized.” Despite the absence of this straightforward statement, the Bible clearly teaches that every Christian must be baptized. All Christians need to be baptized because it is the new believer’s public profession of faith. Jesus instructed the disciples to go into all the world making disciples and baptizing them. (Matthew 28:19) The instruction to baptize is a clear command. The necessary inference from the command to baptize is that all believers must submit to being baptized.

The disciples understood the Great Commission to be a command for all believers to be baptized The book of Acts records repeated testimonies of new converts being baptized. On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people were saved and baptized. The household of Cornelius was baptized when they believed the gospel. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized when he believed Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of sinners. Saul of Tarsus was baptized after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The households of Lydia and the Philippian jailer were baptized when they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism of every believer is the pattern established in the book of Acts.

Though baptism is commanded for all Christians, baptism is not necessary for salvation. No one is saved by baptism, and no one loses their salvation if they refuse baptism. Though baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is necessary for the Christian. The person who refuses to be baptized is living in disobedience to God. The refusal to take the first step of obedience will hinder the Christian’s walk with God and growth in Christ.

What about people who have strong reasons for not getting baptized. What about those who are scared of getting in water? What about those who are too old to get into a baptistery, river or swimming pool? What about the physically handicapped? Baptism is a command of Scripture. Christians have no more justification to refuse to be baptized than they do to refuse to pray. However, sometimes legitimate reasons exist why a person cannot be baptized. Those saved on their death bed, much like the thief on the cross, may have not have time and opportunity to be baptized. Health problems or handicaps may render some Christians incapable of being baptized. However, every effort should be taken to make it possible for a person to be baptized.

Those who are afraid of water or afraid of standing in front a crowd may have a harder time in obeying the command to be baptized, but their personal difficulties do not exempt them from baptism. A shy person is exempted from the requirement to share the gospel, and a hydrophobe is not exempted from the necessity of baptism. In such a situation a friend may need to come into the water with them or steps be taken to get the person in and out of the water as quickly as possible. Though being baptized may be a great personal struggle for some, fears should not prevent a person from obeying the command to be baptized.

Every one who has trusted Jesus as Savior should be baptized. It is commanded by Jesus and is the first step of a life of obedience to God.