John 3:3 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
What exactly qualifies someone to go to heaven. The universalist says that God loves everyone and because “love wins” everyone will be there. The Hindu thinks that we are reincarnated again and again until we attain to some kind of enlightened consciousness. Then there are the various Christian beliefs that are centered on a good works mentality, if you are moral enough then maybe… Most recently there is the sort of evangelical easy believism. All you have to do is pray this prayer and you are good. None of these ideas really sit well with me, especially in light of what Jesus said, “you must be born again”. This was a radical, spiritual renovation that was actually God working in us. This born again experience changes the very nature in our lives. Here is how Dane Ortlund explains it.
“Becoming a Christian is not essentially the making of a decision or the praying of a prayer or the dedication of one’s life or the believing of a doctrine. It is not less than such things. But in essence the beginning of the Christian life is a sovereignly granted explosion of new life, a change so radical, carrying with it such a break with the past, that it is nothing less than a second birth. In the new birth we are, for the first time, alive to beauty. This is unsettling to us, even frightening, because it rests solely in the hands of God. Yet it is refreshingly liberating too, because it affirms what our hearts know: true and lasting transformation cannot come from any humanly wrought strategies or efforts. We can’t change ourselves.”
The foundation of the Great Awakening that flowed out of the Protestant Reformation and was closely associated with the birthing of our country was this born again experience. This is the message than George Whitfield popularized and Jonathan Edwards firmly embraced. It is controversial because the natural man considers it as exclusive. It takes matters out of the hands of man and puts them in the hands of God. We have problems that we can’t fix but can only be fixed by the grace of God. This is the message this generation is waiting to here, you must be born again.