“Father, am I “born again?”‘ “Yes, you were “born again” when you were baptized as a baby.”

1st Catholic Caller: “Hi, Father. There’s a guy at work who asked if I was “born again.” What should I tell him?” Bishop radio recording

Catholic Priest: [Slightly annoyed] “You tell that guy that you WERE born again when you were baptized as a baby.”

2nd Catholic Caller: “Hello, Father. Thanks for taking my call. My cousin asked if I was “saved.” What should I tell her?”

Catholic Priest: [Obviously agitated] “You tell her you WERE saved when you were baptized, you ARE BEING saved as you participate in the sacraments and avoid sin, and you will hopefully BE saved as you continue to take the sacraments and avoid sin and die in a state of grace. Sheesh!”

************************************************

If you listen to Catholic radio for a few days you’re bound to hear at least one of the above exchanges as I did this morning. Is the priest giving Godly advice? I’m not going to examine the subject of justification at length in this short blog but I do have a few thoughts.

Being genuinely born again is definitely NOT about being baptized as an infant OR as an adult. Priests have no magical powers and neither does the water sprinkled on someone’s head. From God’s Word we come to the realization through the Holy Spirit that we are all sinners and deserving of God’s eternal judgement. We then understand that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came down from Heaven and put on flesh and lived a perfectly sinless life. He offered Himself up on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. But He then defeated sin and death by rising from the grave. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as the Savior and Mediator and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who will accept Him.

The person who understands the Gospel is then at a crossroads as the Holy Spirit moves in their heart. Maybe it’s the first time they’ve heard the Good News. Do they continue living their life as they have – relying on themselves or even their religious activities and hoping their good outweighs their bad at the end – or do they humbly admit their need for a Savior and pray to the Lord, Jesus Christ, to save them? Some people make a decision for Christ right away. Some wait. Some never accept Him.

But when you genuinely accept Christ and are born again you know it. For some who accept Christ it’s an emotional epiphany unlike any other; kind of like being given the last seat on the last lifeboat of the Titanic but even better. Yahoo!!! For most it’s a joyous realization that they’ve crossed over from death unto life beginning a sweet relationship that lasts forever. A new Christian’s eyes are open to spiritual things for the first time but the full impact won’t hit them until they wake up in eternity. They’re now pilgrims on this earth and still struggle with the flesh but their desire is to please their Savior and Lord.

Being born again is accepting Christ, becoming a new creation in Christ, walking with Christ, being accepted into God’s family because of Christ, loving Christ, and serving Christ. It’s definitely NOT about having water sprinkled on an infant’s head (although the Lord does command all who are old enough to accept Him to be baptized as a witness for Him).

Thank you, Jesus! Catholic friends, read your New Testaments!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Cor 5:17

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1: 9-13

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3: 1-23

Advertisements

7 thoughts on ““Father, am I “born again?”‘ “Yes, you were “born again” when you were baptized as a baby.”

  1. It’s interesting that you posted John 3 as evidence that one doesn’t need baptism. John 3:5 says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” This seems like an obvious reference to baptism.

    As long as you are challenging people to read their New Testaments, here are a few other verses from the New Testament to consider.

    “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:20-21

    “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16

    “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.’” Acts 2:38-39

    “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Acts 22:16

    “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5

    “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that…we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

    “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27

    Like

    1. Evangelical answers to your question regarding John 3:5 can be found below:
      https://carm.org/baptism-and-john-35

      Answers to your other points, and more, can be found here:
      https://carm.org/baptism

      You passionately defend the Catholicism’s teaching on baptism but it’s ALSO very interesting that the church’s position on baptism has evolved and continues to evolve. At one time the church insisted that ONLY those who were baptised could possibly enter into Heaven (with the exception of unbaptized martyrs and those who intended to be baptized but were prevented from doing so). It was generally taught that unbaptized Infants who died were consigned to a section of Hell called “Limbo”. The church still insists the baptismal incantation has to be followed PRECISELY – the wording had to be exact and the use of any liquid other than plain water is prohibited – for the process to take effect.

      Once again Catholicism focused on the physical (Old Testament circumcision equals New Testament baptism) rather than the spiritual.

      But you need to get with your own church’s program. These days the Catholic church teaches everyone will go to Heaven – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and even atheists – if they follow their consciences and “seek the true God given the light they have received.” The Catholic church continues to prescribe baptism as the sacrament that washes away “original sin” and brings the initiate into the “body of christ” but also says baptism is NOT necessary for the salvation of non-Christians.

      So which is it? Is baptism required for salvation or not?

      Praise the Lord for salvation by the grace of God through simple faith in Jesus Christ alone!

      Like

      1. sdcharg,

        I did not “passionately defend the Catholicism’s teaching on baptism.” I said nothing about Catholicism in my comment but simply posted about what the Bible says about baptism; and the Bible says baptism washes away sin, saves us, and regenerates us. Therefore the Bible disagrees with you that the water has no “magical powers”, if you wish to satirically use the word “magical” for anything divine. In that sense salvation and miracles are also “magical.”

        Believing baptism saves does not automatically translate into Catholicism, unless to believe the Bible means to believe in Catholicism.

        By the way, since you brought up the view that baptism is the circumcision of the New Covenant, you might find it interesting that Francis Schaeffer, one of the greatest intellects within American Evangelicalism, also believed baptism was the new circumcision and that Christians should therefore baptize infants. He held the Evangelical view of sola scriptura and still came to that conclusion.

        http://www.fivesolas.com/fs_bapt.htm

        God bless.

        Like

      2. Thanks for clarifying your views. I obviously disagree with you that the Bible teaches baptismal regeneration. Scripture must interpret Scripture. Billions of people have been baptized who never genuinely accepted Christ. What did baptism do for them? Did the mechanics of pouring water over someone while saying a formula redeem anyone? Ridiculous! Baptismal regenerationists are putting the cart (baptism) before the proverbial horse (faith in Christ).
        See https://carm.org/baptism

        Calvinists are enamored with their “covenant theology” where Old Testament circumcision equates to New Testament baptism. Luther and Calvin were too close to the Romanist error to make a clean break with it. But I don’t get too roiled about it because my Reformed brothers insist on salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. Schaeffer certainly DID NOT believe “the Bible says baptism washes away sin, saves us, and regenerates us.”

        Like

      3. Schaeffer certainly DID NOT believe “the Bible says baptism washes away sin, saves us, and regenerates us.”

        Yes. I know he did not say this. My point with that link was to show that even American Evangelicals with a sola fide/sola scriptura theology still conclude that baptism of infants is Biblical and right.

        Like

  2. sdcharg,

    You said, “at one time the church insisted that ONLY those who were baptised could possibly enter into Heaven”. Do you happen to have a reference for that (specifically from Church teaching)?

    You also said, “These days the Catholic church teaches everyone will go to Heaven”. Do you happen to have a specific reference to that (from Church teaching)? A Catechism paragraph would be fine.

    You also said, “It was generally taught that unbaptized Infants who died were consigned to a section of Hell called ‘Limbo’.” Generally taught? What is the significance exactly to a discussion of Catholic beliefs of something that “was generally taught?” Taught by whom? Was it ever actual Church teaching?

    You said, “The church still insists the baptismal incantation has to be followed PRECISELY”. Are you calling Jesus’ instruction for baptism in Matthew 28:19 an “incantation”? Because those words said by Jesus are the ones that must be followed precisely because they were instructed by Jesus.

    You asked “So which is is it? Is baptism required for salvation or not?”

    For people like you and me who can clearly understand (from Scripture if nothing else) the need for baptism, it would be disobedience to not be baptized (and disobedience is bad). But for those who can’t or don’t understand, then we hope for their salvation anyway, because we know God is merciful. But ideally we need to help them understand the Gospel, believe, and be baptized. For people who accept the faith, there’s no reason why their young ones should be excluded from the Body of Christ. In Scripture, we have record of entire households/families being baptized:

    Acts 16:15 “she was baptized, with her household”

    Acts 16:33 “he was baptized at once, with all his family”

    1 Cor. 1:16 “I did baptize also the household of Steph’anas”

    -Ben

    Like

  3. “Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.”
    The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248.
    Imprimatur – Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

    We can go round and round. Unfortunately, many Jews read about physical circumcision in the Old Testament and made that the THING rather than the essential “circumcision of the heart” (Deuteronomy 30:6). In the same way the Catholic church latched onto Scripture which mentioned baptism and made physical baptism the THING rather than genuine conversion and spiritual baptism in Christ.

    Such a shame.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s