“You must be born again.” Rev. Billy Graham preached this message for over 40 years causing many people to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ. One of my former pastors was born again at a Billy Graham Crusade.
John 3:1-3,7 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
What does that mean? It means you repent of your sins against God and people, asking God to take over your life. Most evangelicals will say something like; “Repeat after me: Lord Jesus, I repent of all my sin and ask you to come into my heart and be Lord of my life.” It’s what happens after this that is important.
How do you know you have been born again?
1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again (born again) to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name.”
I believe the Christian community has done a disservice to God and the people they urge to become born again. There is a severe lack of follow up. I’m not saying there is no follow up in every instance. But, I’ve seen it far too often.
In 1985 I was involved in the Billy Graham Crusade when he came to the Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I signed on as a counselor and went through several weekly training sessions. My assignment was to pray with anyone who wished to be born again leading them in a prayer similar to the one above. I was to take their name, address, phone number, and denominational church affiliation to use as a follow-up. It was a great experience.
Most of those I talked to had come forward to re-dedicate their lives to Jesus. That is a noble and beautiful thing to do. I also overheard remarks like, “I thought I’d never get this close to Billy Graham. I’m thrilled to see him close up.” “He’s wonderful!” The follow up consisted of telephoning those who prayed to determine how they were doing and direct them to a church in their neighborhood. They answered my questions in two different ways; either they were embarrassed or enthusiastic.
This blog is not intended as a criticism of Rev. Graham. My opinion is that he was a man of God doing what God had called him to do.
But…too often I have heard people say the “sinners prayer,” yet they never make any lifestyle changes. New, born-again Christians should not be expected to go into full-fledged maturity, but there ought to be visible spiritual growth. If nothing changes, their born-again experience might not be genuine. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:1-4
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9,10. It does not just believe in your heart; it’s confessing with your mouth what you believe that begins to complete the process.
It’s not fire insurance!
God wants a pure, spotless bride. Rev. 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (NASB) Messiah’s bride is busy getting ready! She is not hanging out with a worldly-minded crowd. She’s busy in the harvest field, gathering those who want to come into the Kingdom of God. She is full of the joy of the Lord. Her life exhibits one of caring for the sick, the widows, and the orphans. She uses what resources she has to build up the Kingdom of God. She is not a Lone Ranger Christian. She happily and joyfully participates in weekly worship services.
Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected because He loves His Bride. We mature in Him because we love our Groom.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
The 10 Commandments
And the LORD GOD spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God you shall have no other gods before you.
You shall not make graven idols for to worship
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
Honor your father and mother
You shall not murder
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal
You shall not bear false witness
You shall not covet
If you are truly born again, you will search out those commandments. You will find them from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus loves us! He died for us, and now He lives for us.
Matthew 11:28. He says “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jane Owens © 2018