According to George Barna, a national survey group, up to 43% of the total U.S. population consider themselves born again, yet of these individuals, 91% do not have a Biblical worldview. Claiming the new birth involves submitting to the authority of God, yet rejecting a Biblical worldview is denying the authority of God—something is definitely wrong with this picture.
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)
(For the purpose of this study, being born again means having “made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and believing “that when they die they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.”)
If you identify yourself as a born-again, you might like to see how many of the following questions you can honestly answer “yes” to:
1) I believe the Bible is the moral standard
2) I believe absolute moral truths exist and are conveyed through the Bible
3) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator who still rules the universe
4) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life
5) Satan is a real, living entity
6) Salvation is a free gift, not something we earn
7) Every Christian has a personal responsibility to evangelize
8) The Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches.
If you were able to answer “yes” to each of these questions, you are among the 9% of born again Christians who hold a Biblical worldview.
Further statistics are even more discouraging. The divorce rate among self-identified born again individuals is about the same as for the population as a whole (33% compared to 34%), with 90% of the divorces occurring after they “accept Christ.” Only 6% of born again adults tithe; 25% live together with a member of the opposite sex without benefit of marriage (compared to 33% in the general population). Seven times as much time is spent viewing television than reading the Bible, praying, or worshipping. Is this the behavior of people made alive in Christ, or is it that of those still dead in trespasses and sins?
So what is “being made alive in Christ?” How do you get it, and what is the evidence that you do have it? Whether you call it the new birth, being born again, or converting, being made alive in Christ is becoming a Christian, and it is something God desires for everyone, yet the results of this survey indicates that it is probably one of the most misunderstood terms in the United States today.
First of all, the new birth is not something we earn; God gives it to us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Furthermore, it is something God wants for everyone—because “…[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)—but unfortunately not everyone will be saved, because some want no part of God and of the holy living He requires of His people. Jesus Himself explained:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes [not that He exists, but a belief that results in submission to His authority over me] in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:16-20)
Being born again, coming to a saving faith, by definition requires rejecting a sinful lifestyle. It is not possible to “accept Christ” and refuse to reject sin, because accepting Christ is not simply accepting Him as your Savior; it is believing in the truth of the Bible and in light of that submitting to the Lordship of Christ—to His right to call the shots in all areas of your life. You can’t get the “get out of hell” card without loving Christ because Christ is a package deal. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21a) Keeping Christ’s commandments is evidence of our truly loving and accepting Him, and of belonging to Him.
Living a life of obedience to God is of such importance that Jesus specifically warned us of the consequences of not doing so. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) There is no “get out of hell” card for those who continue practicing sin!
In case this is still not clear, I John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him [know Christ, are His followers, etc.], and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
I John 3:6-10 tells us, “Whoever abides [stays] in Him does not sin [habitually, as a way of life].Whoever sins [habitually] has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins[habitually] is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested [shown to us, revealed], that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin [habitually], for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin [habitually], because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest [revealed, obvious, known]. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” While these words may sound harsh, they are straightforward and clear, and they are truth. Whoever sins habitually does not know Jesus.
Lastly, we need to remember that there are masses of people who will choose not to follow Christ. Jesus warns us, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that lead to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) These are Jesus’ own words! The way is difficult. There are few who find it. This is not an easy faith!
On the bright side of things, according to the same survey, people with a Biblical worldview act differently than the rest of the “born agains,” exhibiting clearly more Christ-like behavior. This should not surprise us because knowing the Word of God changes people, and you first need to know God before you can commit your life to Him. Romans 10:14 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” First we need to hear and understand the God’s Word; then we can believe on Him! And while this is not to say that a person must become a Bible scholar before he can be born again, he must be exposed, whether through the spoken or written word, to certain essential truths of Scripture which cause Him to understand the basics of the Christian faith!
Please impress upon our spiritual leaders the essential necessity of faithfully and thoroughly preaching the Word; please impress upon us the utmost necessity of daily study of Scripture! In Jesus’ name. Amen.