Heaven, earth and any leftovers - Unearthing the Truth

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Are you born again?

Unearthing the Truth
Published by in Bible teaching · 4 May 2020
Tags: born_again
Ordained in 1842, the Rev. William Haslam was troubled by members of his church who kept talking about their conversion to Christ. Jesus Christ seemed to be so real to them and they were so happy that he felt he must be missing something. Eventually he consulted another vicar who explained his need to be born again. They prayed together about this, but nothing seemed to happen.
The following Sunday Rev. Haslam felt too upset to preach properly, so he decided to say just a few words on the text, "What think ye of Christ?" - a question that Jesus once put to some unbelieving Pharisees. (Matthew 22:42). Here is what happened, in his own words:
As I went on to explain the passage, I saw that the Pharisees and scribes did not know that Christ was the Son of God, or that He was come to save them. They were looking for a king, the son of David, to reign over them as they were. Something was telling me all the time, “You are no better than the Pharisees yourself - you do not believe that He is the Son of God, and that He is come to save you, any more than they did.” I do not remember all I said, but I felt a wonderful light and joy coming into my soul, and I was beginning to see what the Pharisees did not.
Whether it was something in my words, or my manner, or my look, I know not; but all of a sudden a local preacher, who happened to be in the congregation, stood up, and putting up his arms, shouted out in a Cornish manner, “The parson is converted! The parson is converted! Hallelujah!” and in another moment his voice was lost in the shouts and praises of three or four hundred of the congregation. Instead of rebuking this extraordinary brawling, as I should have done in a former time, I joined in the outburst of praise."
That Sunday in the 1850s the Rev. William Haslam was born again. Clearly he had not been born again just because he was an Anglican vicar. You may attend church services regularly or even have a position of leadership in a church, but that doesn't mean you have been born again. Even trying to live in accordance with all God's commandments isn't enough. That's what a devout Pharisee named Nicodemus was doing, but Jesus told him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you are born anew, you cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) Unless we are born again we have no hope of entering the kingdom of God, and therefore no hope of inheriting eternal life in it. In fact when William Haslam preached again that same evening, he declared, "If I had died last week I should have been lost for ever."
So where do you stand? Have you truly been born again? How can you be sure? Saint Paul told his church members, 'Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to the faith. Test yourselves.' (2 Corinthians 13.5) So why don't we do that now? Here's now...

Here's a list of 30 characteristics of someone who has been born again. How do you match up?

1. You have been baptised (immersed in water) as a public declaration of your repentance from sin and your desire to begin a new life with Jesus Christ as your Lord. Jesus said to that same Nicodemus, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) "He who believes and is baptized (immersed) will be saved." (Mark 16:16)  'We were buried therefore with [Christ Jesus] by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.' (Romans 6:4)
2. You understand the Bible now in a way that you never could before you were born again.
3. You have turned away from the trash of the world - bad films, bad books, bad tv, bad language, bad jokes and gossip.
4. You get upset when you hear blaspheming. It deeply offends you, and you are not afraid to say so.
5. You have massively changed. You rarely sin compared to previously. When you do it really upsets you and you are quick to tell God you are sorry and to ask him to help you to do better.
6. People who knew you before you were born again will see a massive change in your behaviour, attitude and personality.
7. You want to do God's will more than anything else - more than your own will or that of other people.
8. You love reading the Bible, because it helps you to know your heavenly Father better and how he wants you to live.
9. You love worshipping God, and not only on Sundays but every day.
10. You pray much more than before. You look forward to regular times of prayer, talking to God and trying to hear what he says to you.
11. You thank God continually for all kinds of things, aware that he has created you and everything you have.
12. You think a lot about God and want to talk about him to your Christian friends. (Malachi 3:16)
13. You have a genuine concern for those who are not yet saved and you want to tell them how important it is to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.
14. You have become more bold about sharing your faith.
15. Some of your friends have changed.
16. You may have been ridiculed, persecuted or even attacked for your faith, even by your family, and particularly by fake Christians who see you as a threat as you are living truly God's will.
17. You eagerly await and anticipate Jesus’s return.
18. You can tell the difference between true teachers of God's word and fake teachers who are motivated more by the desire for popularity or control or outward success.
19. You cannot stand false teachings, half truths, or liberalised Christianity that has sold out to the world.
20. You judge unbelievers in order to save them, not to condemn them.
21. You rarely sin compared to formally. You are 'dead to sin', not 'dead in sin'.
22. You are waging a permanent war on sin in your own life, and you feel great remorse and sadness when you do fall into sin.
23. You are quick to say sorry to God: you accept his forgiveness, change direction immediately and move on fast: you do not dwell on your failure but trust God to help you do do better.
24. You are quick to say sorry to anyone to whom you have been behaved selfishly.
25. You are quick to forgive others who sin against you. You do not bare grudges or harbour hatred in your heart.
26. You try to follow Jesus every day. You pick up your cross, you do not count the cost, you take joy in whatever price you are paying, you know this is so small compared to what Jesus paid for you.
27. You demonstrate true spiritual fruit even when you are under duress - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
28. You bear spiritual fruit in the lives of others. Other people come to faith through you and themselves go on to bring others to Christ. (Matthew 13.8)
29. You know in your heart that without Jesus you could never meet the requirements for life in his kingdom.
30. You that know God loves you far more than you love him or ever could.

This list is of great value for a believer to use as a means of self-examination to see if and where he is falling short of 'mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ' (Ephesians 4.13). It may also be useful to reassure someone who for some reason has doubts about his own salvation, to know whether in reality he or she is walking with the Lord. But I do not believe we should use this list to judge whether another person has been born again or will be saved. Here are my reasons for this.

1. In the Bible the most obvious necessity for new birth is baptism in water. "Unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." "Baptism... now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through [faith in] the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3.21) "Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name." (Acts 22.16) Baptism is clearly associated with new birth, one might even say it is essential. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved". (Mark 16.16) Yet many past saints such as John Wesley, the martyred bishop Hugh Latimer and many today who have been brought up in the Anglican Church have never been baptized in the biblical sense of the baptizoe, which means 'immerse'. If you judged whether they had been born again according to this criteriont you would have to conclude that they hadn't, and I don't believe that is true. It depends on what people have been taught and know. "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4.17) But if you know that you should be baptized in the biblical sense of the word and refuse to do so then I would question whether you have truly been born again. For baptism is God's appointed way for us to demonstrate our obedience to Jesus as Lord.

2. Judging others. The Bible tells us not to judge a brother's standing with Christ, because that is a judgement that belongs to the Lord alone. Romans 14:3,4 says: 'Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.' James 4:12: 'There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbour?' We should not judge where someone stands in relation to the Lord, for the Lord judges our hearts as well as our outward actions.
However that does not mean that we should turn a blind eye when we see a Christian brother or sister committing sin, hiding from confrontation with the excuse that we should not judge one another. Paul tells us that we should not judge those who are outside the church, which is God's job, but we should - at least as church leaders - judge those who are inside the church, in the sense of naming sinful behaviour and calling a brother or sister living in sin either to amend their life or leave the church. (1 Corinthians 6.12,13) Anyone who is happily engaging in behaviour that the Bible clearly defines as sin is in mortal danger, and out of love we should do whatever we can to rescue them. James 5.19 says, 'Whoever (not just a church leader) brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.'

So again I am saying that you should not use this list to assess whether someone has or has not been born again, because only the Lord knows where someone stands in his sight - it may be as a babe in Christ who is still learning how to behave, or a mature Christian, or someone who not in Christ at all. Nevertheless, the list is very useful for each of us to assess our own growth in Christ, and to see whether we are falling short of where we should be and where we need to improve.

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