What Is A Born-Again Christian?
A recent national survey found that about fifty percent of the American population claimed to be "born-again Christians." What is meant by the term "born-again Christian," and what is the understanding of those people who call themselves "born-again Christians?"
What Is a Christian?
The term "Christian" comes from the Greek word "christianos," which means Christ-man, or an adherent of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, this word was first used as a nickname (Acts 11:26), a term of reproach, because the believers must have given others a feeling that they were absolute for Christ. The apostle Peter used it later to remind the believers to stand firm for Christ and not be ashamed (1 Peter 4:16). Thus, a Christian is a person who is totally full of Christ, occupied by Christ, living for Christ, living out Christ to express Christ, and even living Christ. By this definition, most people who call themselves Christians actually are not. They might have believed and received Christ, yet they are not living as adherents of Christ.
Who Is Christ?
The name "Christ" (translated from the Hebrew word for Messiah) means the anointed One (Acts 10:38), (Luke 4:18). Christ was anointed with a special commission. In Genesis, God had created man in His image (Genesis 1:26) to contain Him as life and to be one with Him. However, instead of taking God as life, man took in Satan and was defiled, corrupted, and condemned to die eternally (Romans 5:12), (Jeremiah 17:9), (Romans 6:23). The Old Testament progressively reveals that, because He loved the man (John 3:16), (Romans 5:8) whom He created, God wanted to redeem man from the righteous judgment due to sin, save man from the corruption of Satan in his nature (Hebrews 2:14-15), be man's life (John 10:10), (Colossians 3:4), and build man up as His living house, His dwelling place in spirit (Ephesians 2:22), so that God and man could be one forever. Christ was anointed to accomplish this commission. A Christian is part of Christ (1 Corinthains 12:12), His continuation and increase. A Christian is someone who has been anointed together with Him (2 Corinthians 1:21) to fulfill His commission in union with Him. Together, all Christians corporately are the enlarged Christ.
Who Is Jesus?
The Bible tells us that, in fulfilling this commission, Christ became a man named Jesus approximately two thousand years ago. "Jesus" means Jehovah our Savior, our salvation (Matthew 1:21). "Jehovah" is the ever-existing God (Exodus 3:14). Jehovah is the name God used before He became a man (Exodus 6:3). After He became a man, He used the name Jesus. To us, Jehovah is the God of heaven sitting on the throne (Jonah 1:9), whereas Jesus is Jehovah becoming a man to be our Savior, not only to die for us on the cross, to save us from our sins and from eternal perdition, but also to save us as our life (Romans 5:10), inside from the corruption of Satan (Romans 8:2), saving us into Himself as our salvation and our dwelling place. The Christ into whom Christians believe and to whom they are joined as one (1 Corinthains 6:17) is this crucified, resurrected, and exalted God-man, Jesus.
What Did Jesus Do for Us?
Christ Jesus lived a genuine and perfect human life to express God. He went to the cross to die for man because He was the only man throughout history qualified to be a substitute (Hebrews 4:15). The righteous One died for the unrighteous ones (1 Peter 3:18). He also crushed Satan to free man from his power of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). He resurrected on the third day (1 Corinthains 15:4) to become a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthains 15:45), (John 20:22), (John 7:39). He prepared Himself and made Himself available to man as life. He removed the sin that man should not have had. He redeemed man and prepared him as a cleansed vessel. Now He wants to give man the life he needs. All man has to do is to receive His salvation and take Him as life.
First Birth versus Second Birth
From our physical birth by our human parents, we have a dying physical body; a corrupted psychological organ (the soul), consisting of the mind, emotion, and will; and a spirit that is dead (Ephesians 2:1) and incapable of contacting God. By receiving Christ as our Savior, we are born of God. The Spirit of God comes into our human spirit to regenerate it, enliven it, with the life of God. This is to be born again (John 3:5-6). First we are born of our parents, then we are born of God (John 1:12-13). The first birth gives us the opportunity to have the second birth. The first birth produces us as a dirty vessel; the second birth cleanses us and fills us with the divine, eternal, and reigning life of God (Romans 5:17). The first birth destines us to die; the second birth results in life eternal. In the first birth we are cursed, but in the second we are blessed (Ephesians 1:3),not with material riches but with God. A born-again Christian, therefore, is a person who has made his beginning, receiving Christ as his new life in his spirit (Ephesians 3:16), (Romans 6:4), (2 Corinthains 5:17). Every genuine Christian is a born-again Christian, and once a person has been born again he can never lose this divine life within him (John 10:28). As he continues by living as a Christ-man, his thoughts, his speech, and his deeds become those which are out from Christ, in Christ, for Christ, and expressing Christ.
How to be Born Again
If you sense the oldness and deadness, the emptiness and vanity, the confusion and frustration, and the tragic destiny of the first life, you need Jesus (Ephesians 4:17). Only He can enliven you by bringing the life of God into you to give you a new birth, a new life. Only thus can you be born again to be a Christian, a Christ-man, an adherent of Jesus Christ, full of life, joy, peace, rest, purpose, and fulfillment in God (Galatians 5:22-23).
Say to Him boldly, “Lord Jesus, I need You as my Savior. Save me from eternal death. Give me God's life. I want to be born again of God. Make me a Christian.” Then you will receive the life of God to make you a born-again Christian.
*All quoted verses taken from "The New Testament Recovery Version Online" at http://online.recoveryversion.org, Copyright © 1997-2012 by Living Stream Ministry.