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