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Born Again – The New Man

SproutIn my last post I looked at a verse that talked about the possibility of becoming born again.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
John 1:12

To have the right, simply means that believers have the permission to become sons of God. Do you do everything that you have permission to do? Of course not.

The next verse goes on to tell exactly how this change takes place.

…children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:13

The term natural descent is talking about our flesh. This born again process is not a work that our flesh can do. Neither is it accomplished by human decision or the will of man. It’s not a process of my mind. I could decide to receive Christ and be saved – I cannot just decide to be born again and have it automatically take place.

God is Spirit. Being born again is a work of the spirit. Yes, we have permission to let it take place in us. But in order to go through with it we must yield to the Spirit. This is a work that can only take place in the spiritual realm.

That brings us full circle to the passage we looked at in the first post of this series.

…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:5-7

Paul continues on to say that we have been justified by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s our salvation. It’s the free gift to all who believe in His name. But there’s more. Having entered His saving grace there’s the hope that we might become heirs.

As I said before, Scripture is clear that not all believers will inherit anything. Some will make it to Heaven with no rewards. Their works will be burned up. In order to receive your inheritance you must put on the new man. They’re the ones who overcome the world and receive their reward.

We must come to the understanding that it’s those believers who are born again that can walk in the authority of Christ. It’s not enough to give lip service to the Word of God. It must be a part of your spiritual DNA.

John had a deep understanding of this truth, but so did Peter.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:22-23

Peter is talking to a church that had purified themselves. They allowed the life changing work of the Word to take root in them by immersing themselves in Christ. To these people Peter says, “You have been born again.” He shows us that it’s through the Word of God – the imperishable seed – the work of the rebirth is accomplished in us.

This is an important concept because it shows us what it takes to yield to the Holy Spirit. In my next post we’ll see how Jesus described it in detail to a Pharisee.

Question: How would the church of our generation look if we were all immersed in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Born Again – Letting the Scripture Speak

BibleI’ve started a new series on what being Born Again means according to the Scripture. I want to show that how the Bible describes it is very different from our current vocabulary.

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
1 John 2:29

The phrase does what is right is literally does righteousness in the Greek. John is not talking about doing good things. It’s more than that. He’s referring to living the life of righteousness as Jesus did.

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
1 John 3:9

I’ve heard self-righteous people use this verse to prove that others in the body of Christ are not even saved. Usually they only apply it to the externally evident sins that others commit, and not the internal ones that they enjoy.

The original language of this verse says that those who have been born of God do not have the power to go on sinning. This is because God’s seed remains in him. That’s the important point – God’s seed. What many like to do, is to go in and out of God’s presence. We don’t let the seed remain in us for very long before we go off on our own.

This verse is easier to understand if we realize that being born of God is the act of putting on the new man – created to be like God. We must come to the understanding that you can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet not be born again. The term born again means that your life has been changed.

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4

Are there believers who don’t overcome that are going to Heaven? Of course. The Bible clearly talks about people who are going to make it into Heaven by the skin of their teeth. (I Corinthians 3:14-15)

The problem of believers who don’t overcome the world is not that they aren’t saved. It’s that they have yet to put on the new man. We’ve missed this teaching in the modern church. As a result, we’re suffering from an epidemic of unproductive and defeated Christians.

The Apostle John understood this concept. He wrote about it in his Gospel.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
John 1:10-11

He came to the world that He made. Yet most of the world did not even recognize Him. The coming of Christ went largely unnoticed by the ancient people.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
John 1:11

Of course there were those – a small group – who did recognize who He was. But even among them, there wasn’t total acceptance. Only a small percentage of them received Christ.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
John 1:12

Now we get to the even smaller group of those who received Christ. Those who received Christ are described as those who believed in His name. That means that they were saved – they are now a part of the kingdom of God and on their way to Heaven.

This group of believers has been given something unique. Notice that they’re not automatically born again. On the contrary, they are merely given the right to become sons of God.

In my next post we’ll continue looking at this truth in more detail. Please hear my heart. I want to see the church of our generation arise to its potential in Christ Jesus.

Question: How do these verses differ from our current definition of being Born Again?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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What does it Mean to be Born Again?

ButterflyWe’ve been told throughout the New Testament that we must clothe ourselves with Christ. Anything less is a refusal of the blessings that have been obtained for us. To ignore this call is a willful decision to live outside the kingdom blessings that are only available in Christ.

But the real question is; how do we clothe ourselves with Christ? I believe this is something that the church has lost sight of over the past 2000 years. We need to get back to the basics of Christianity. We need to relearn things that were a way of life to the early church.

I need to warn you. What follows is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to teach. In many ways it goes against 100 years of church teaching. But as I study the Word of God, I’m convinced that it’s the only way to experience the abundant life that Jesus spoke about to His disciples.

We need to put on Christ – the new man. If we’ll do this, then we’ll walk and minister as Christ did. We’ll see an increase in the miraculous. We’ll also see a great harvest of souls as the world sees the church walking in the glory of God. In order for this to happen, it will require a change in our mindsets.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Titus 3:3

This verse is talking about what should be our past lifestyle. It also reveals a sad truth. Read it carefully – slowly. Do we know any Christians that are still living like some of the descriptions given? This actually describes a large segment of the church today.

This is the old man. It needs to be released and we need to take on the life of Christ. Where does this change come from?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
Titus 3:4-5

We are saved by the kindness and love of God, manifested in Christ. This is the on-going work of the Lord in us. But do we really hear what’s said in this passage? Paul explains that the change in our lifestyle is accomplished by the washing of rebirth. This is a foundational principle.

Washing is a choice, but so is the rebirth. Somewhere along the line we’ve missed this basic truth. Washing and renewal is the putting on of the new man. This is a very tough revelation for us to grasp. It was for me.

Let me state it as plainly as I can. The laying down of our sin, renewing our mind, and the subsequent putting on of the new man is the essence of being born again. This term, born again, has become so watered down that it’s barely recognizable in our generation. The fact is, putting on the new man is being born again.

Let that sink in for a while. We’ve been taught that the initial act of receiving Christ – praying the sinner’s prayer – is being born again. As I’ve studied Scripture, the Holy Spirit has impressed me that this is not the case. Being born again is something that we must attain to.

Please understand what I’m saying. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and yet not be born again in the Biblical sense. I believe that our modern terminology is at odds with what Scripture teaches.

I’m not going to try to change hundreds of years of Christian vocabulary; but when we read the Scripture, we need to understand what it’s saying. I pray that you won’t shut me off at this point, but read this series with an open heart. In my next post, I’ll bring you through the Scriptures that show this to be true.

Question: How do you define the phrase Born Again?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Your Wedding Clothes

DinnerIn my last post I talked about being immersed into Christ as the putting on of the new man. The church would look totally different if this were the case in most believers.

In reality, the world doesn’t need to look for Christ in us. What they truly long for is to see us in Christ. Christ in you is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). But if you’re immersed in Christ, then the world can see His glory.

Jesus told a parable about a banquet. To understand it thoroughly you need to read both the way He set it up and His summary at the end. The reason for this is that many of the Lord’s parables sound similar, but have different purposes.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”
Matthew 22:1-2

This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. It centers on how the blessings of the kingdom are bestowed upon those who would enter into it. The riches of God’s kingdom include blessings, provision, healing, fulfillment, and much more.

In the parable, we see the king inviting all of his friends. They agreed to come when they originally heard about the plans. When the day of the wedding arrived, however, they changed their minds and refused to show up. I believe that this refers to the nation of Israel who refused to acknowledge Christ as Messiah.

The king became angry over this and made a decision to fill up his banquet hall by any means necessary. He sent his servants out into the streets and highways to get anyone they could to come in and enjoy the feast. In short order the wedding hall was full of guests. Then something very strange occurs.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.”
Matthew 22:11-12

From our perspective this sounds strange. Why even ask this question? Isn’t it obvious? “I had no notice. I came in right off the street.”

That’s not the case. The customs of the day dictated that the person throwing the party was to provide the clothes for the guests. This man was given his party clothes the moment he agreed to come to the wedding. That’s why he was speechless. There was no reason for him to not be dressed appropriately.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Matthew 22:13

We need to understand the application. In many of Jesus’ parables, people get “thrown out” of places. Sometimes it’s to jail other times it’s into a fiery furnace, or in this case, outer darkness.

I don’t believe that this is referring to someone who is unsaved. He’s not thrown into hell, but merely the dark world outside the kingdom. I base this on the closing statement that Jesus makes to summarize what He’s trying to get across.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

The issue is not saved versus unsaved, as would be the case if the man was thrown into the fire. Instead, it’s called versus chosen. I think this is an accurate picture of the church today. Many believers are walking around in spiritual darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth, because they refuse to put on the clothes that the King has provided.

Question: How does walking in the new man bring a life of blessing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Our New Clothes

ClothesIn my last post I started talking about the new man that God created us to be. We saw that it’s something that we must choose to do. But it’s a path that few believers seem to want to take.

I think it’s because of the ramifications of the action.

It’s a total transformation of our lifestyle. It will radically change what we do and how we look to the world. Paul puts it this way…

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:14

The new man is Christ, Himself. He’s the One we’re to put on. It’s His nature and character that will be seen manifesting in us. This means that we want Christ to be the only thing that the world sees in us.

Therein lies the problem. Is this true of the church in general? Is it what the average church member wants?

It doesn’t seem to be the case in practice. A look at how the church lives out its faith today proves my point that putting on Christ doesn’t just happen because we receive Christ as our Savior. There’s more to it.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27

If you’ve placed your faith in Christ Jesus, then you’re part of the family of God. In this series of posts, I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. If you’ve trusted Christ then you’re saved and going to Heaven. That’s beyond question.

What I am talking about, is the outward manifestation of that salvation. I want the world to see Christ in us. In the book of Acts we’re told that the Jewish religious leaders took note that the Apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). They saw the same lifestyle and ministry that Jesus had when He walked the earth.

Look closely at what Paul says in the above verse. He starts with the group of all believers, those with faith in Christ. Then he moves on to a smaller group. He talks about those who were baptized into Christ. This group, according to Paul as inspired by the Holy Spirit, has clothed themselves with Christ.

We already know from previous verses that this doesn’t happen by accident. So we have to ask ourselves; what’s this baptism that Paul is referring to in this passage? The Bible talks about many baptisms. We can’t just assume that we know which is meant in this verse.

All of the people who I’ve heard preaching on this verse say that it refers to water baptism. Now that the Holy Spirit has had me study it deeper, I no longer see it that way. Whenever water baptism is mentioned, it says that the believer is baptized into the name of Christ. That’s a baptism into the family.

A baptism into Christ, Himself is a different thing. This baptism literally clothes you with Christ. The original Greek text of this verse reads, “For all of you who were immersed in Christ have sunk into Christ as into a garment.

When I was young, there was an iced tea commercial on TV. A man came home from a long tiring day at work. His wife hands him a nice tall glass of iced tea. As he tips his head back to drink it, the camera pulls away for a wider shot. As he continues to drink, he falls straight backward into a swimming pool.

That’s the kind of thing that Paul is talking about here. We must let everything else go and fall backward (by faith) into Christ. We need to be immersed in Christ. This is what the modern church needs to attain to.

Question: How would the church look if we were truly immersed in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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