Words of Hope

#2250 – 05-23-04 “The Trials of a Christian” Series, #1 of 8 Message Notes (See Page 5)

Born Again
by the Rev. David Bast 1 Peter 1:1-12
#1 in series: “The Trials of a Christian” (1 and 2 Peter) Today David Bast begins a new series “the Trials of a Christian” based on the first and second letters of Peter written by the aged disciple of Jesus to Christians scattered throughout the ancient world. Peter urges them as well as believers today to face whatever trials confront them with the courage and faithfulness of devoted followers of the Lord.

The most fundamental Christian experience of all is summed up in the expression, “being born again.” What does that mean, and why do Christians talk that way? The apostle Peter explains.

Chuck Colson, the former White House “hatchet man” turned Christian
evangelist and social reformer, titled his best-selling autobiography, simply, “Born Again.” In his case that well-worn phrase accurately described an almost incredible life change. Colson fell from the pinnacle of worldly power and prestige into the disgrace of a felon’s prison cell, but then emerged to a life of godly service to others, especially to prisoners throughout the world in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ. But though Colson’s conversion was particularly dramatic, the experience of being born again is common to every believer in Jesus Christ. I have sometimes heard people use the phrase “born-again Christian” as if it were a description of one particular, rather exotic, species of believer, as in “So-and-so has become a born-again Christian.” The idea seems to be that there are ordinary Christians – quiet, passive, rather harmless folk – and then there are those radical, firebreathing, born-again types. I think we all understand the kind of distinction that’s being made here, but we have to insist that according to the Bible it is a false distinction. There are no Christians except born-again Christians! Talking about Christians who haven’t been born again is like talking about mothers who’ve never had a child. Just as the act of having or adopting a baby makes one a parent, so the experience of being born again makes one a Christian.

unless one is born of water and the Spirit. “ (1 Peter 1:3. He began their conversation by politely observing that Jesus must have been sent from God because of all the mighty signs he was performing. .#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . He tried to interpret Jesus’ metaphor literally. and he was eager to speak with Jesus and learn from him. unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3). . Peter is echoing language that Jesus himself used. to an inheritance that is imperishable. and you hear its sound. But Nicodemus was attracted to Jesus’ character. John Wesley.” “Because you must be born again” was Wesley’s simple reply.8 ESV) The most fundamental experience of the Christian life—fundamental in the literal sense because it is the foundation upon which all else is built – is the experience of the new birth. The third chapter of the Gospel of John tells the story of a visit to Jesus by a Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus. You don’t become a Christian simply by being born into a Christian family or by having Christian parents. the Apostle Peter gets right to the point of Christian life and experience in an outburst of thanksgiving and praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy. but Jesus wasn’t talking about physical birth. The wind blows where it wishes. He was talking about a mysterious. perhaps because he was embarrassed about being seen with him or reluctant to risk his reputation by consulting with the upstart rabbi from Nazareth. or by virtue of being a 2 . “You must be born again. Here he had come for a quiet theological discussion and all of a sudden he is confronted with this radical demand. . In describing Christians here as being born again. the great 18th century evangelist who founded the Methodist movement. truly. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. . Truly. truly. spiritual change that takes place in a person by the power of God. I say to you. he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. inward. I say to you. . was once asked why he preached so often upon Jesus’ words from John 3. (John 3:5. which we call 1 Peter. So here is a foundational truth that is critically important to understand. Needless to say. ESV). Nicodemus was taken aback. Nicodemus came to call upon Jesus at night. This is how you become a Christian. but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.Born Again Born Again After the opening greeting of his first general letter. undefiled. and unfading . he cannot enter the kingdom of God. And Jesus responded abruptly with this: “Truly. which was unusual.

but of God” (Jn 1:12-13. But then. The Spirit’s activity is like the wind. not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man.Born Again native of a so-called “Christian” country. I know that I love him. We then realize somehow that. Whatever choices and decisions we make are really only the result of the prior decision the Lord has made: to choose us for his own. I can’t remember when I first gave my life to Jesus Christ. the wind blows wherever it wants. So the birth of God comes first and the receiving and the believing come later. And so I decide to confess Christian faith and join a Christian church.” Jesus “gave the right to become children of God. You don’t become a Christian by joining a church. 180° turn-around kind of conversion. when we have learned more. I can’t tell you the exact day I became a believer. that at that moment I had been born again. This new birth is the work of God. Christians experience this in different ways. of course. night and day. I really do believe in him. giving us new birth and new life in Christ. who were born. I would have to say that I have never had a clear. So we do not control him. It seems like it’s all just our own decision. I know that I know Him! And I know that I want to follow and 3 . well. The Bible says that to “all who did receive him. So how do I know that I have been? I know because I know that I believe in Christ right now. we come to understand that we don’t make the first move at all. I haven’t had that. the new birth is of God. yes. God does. and it certainly isn’t under our control. believing in and following Christ are part of every Christian’s life. or that we are attracted to him. a series of choices that we ourselves are making – perhaps even that we simply choose to ratify choices that others (like our parents) may have made for us. In fact. ESV).#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . If I may talk for a moment about my own experience of the new birth. who believed in his name. before and after. we may not even realize it when it’s happening to us. like Chuck Colson did. and the Spirit of God works wherever and whenever he wants. Born by the Spirit and the Word But how does all this happen? As Jesus said. But you become a Christian only by being born again. right then. It cannot be fully grasped or understood by us. I can’t point to a specific time and place where I knew. To us it seems at first only that we find ourselves interested in Jesus. he must act before we can do a thing. We don’t all have dramatic conversions. and to send his Spirit into our hearts. I want to follow him. You don’t even become a Christian by making a personal decision to follow Jesus or by confessing your faith in Christ – though. It is the mysterious action of the Spirit of God at work in the human soul.

Physical new-borns are found in nurseries. In the meantime as we live for and unto him we are being guarded by God’s power through faith until the time comes when our salvation will be fully revealed (v. We all need to be born again! You cannot enter the kingdom of God unless you have been. and more specifically the message of the gospel is the means the Holy Spirit uses to cause us to be born again. So the word of God. Put yourself in his way so that he can do his work in you. hearing through the Word of Christ. And it lasts forever. Jesus said. And what triggers that? What brings about this new birth in our hearts? There is one specific means that the Holy Spirit uses to give us new life and bring us to faith in Christ. it has some pretty profound implications. the Bible. And if you have been born again? Then praise God! It is the greatest gift he has to give you. not of perishable seed but of imperishable. that when planted in our hearts. brings new life within us. the sacrificial death. through the living and abiding word of God . We are born again. As new-born children of our heavenly Father. We are born again to a living hope. And always pray for the Spirit of the Lord to have his way with you and to do his work in you.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . and the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ. you need to make this your most urgent priority. 5). And none of that can happen until a person has been born again. You need to expose yourself to the Spirit’s means and methods. So if you haven’t. not through participating in religious rituals or sacramental rites. 4. not by repeating prescribed phrases or obeying formulas and rules. spoil or fade” – kept in heaven for us (v. Read the word of God for yourself. And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23.25. Sit under biblical preaching and teaching. If that’s true. Words of Hope #2250 5-23-04 4 . an eternal hope that guarantees our own future. “So faith comes from hearing. God’s Word is the seed.Born Again serve him with all that I am and have. “since you have been born again. spiritual newborns are found in churches where the word of God is proclaimed. believed and obeyed. So find a church like that and listen to the gospel. writes Peter. ESV). but by hearing and believing the gospel message about the miraculous life. .” (Romans 10:17 ESV) wrote the apostle Paul. A little later in chapter one Peter urges his scattered flock to love one another earnestly and with pure hearts. . . through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. NIV). we have been promised an “inheritance that can never perish.

not enough money. People like that may actually wish that they could be born again! But they can’t. especially those who suffer because of their faith and stay true to him.” or “Born again by a Holy Spirit. fighting. And they also experience the “sanctifying action” of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Bible Background – We believe Peter. tragedy and hardships. not one forgotten. and good for them! 1. clumsy yet enthusiastic follower of Jesus . believers in Jesus are being born again. Isn’t that exciting and wonderful? Think for a moment about people who are born into very poor families where there is trouble. and the Holy Spirit are united in this effort to give new life and hope to people everywhere. “How you can be born again. The Holy Spirit turns them away from sin to a good.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . Paul E. 3. Peter. power and compassion for believers. because of his great kindness. the quick-acting. God. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit together because of their “great mercy” give “new life” (a new birth) and a “living hope” to sinful people who believe in Jesus. The Message translation for verses 1-9: I. Theme – The verses answer the question . Jesus Christ. shed for them. But. to change them. The Holy Spirit is God’s power working in people. Title – “Born again” might be lengthened to “How God gives new spiritual life to believers. little love and no comfort.What does God want to do for you? The answer is. and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifices of Jesus. 2.” This last title may help people listen to your message who are afraid of evil or personal spirits. May everything good from God be yours! 5 .” But. there is a real hope for everyone in the world who suffers from the effects of sin. am an apostle on assignment by Jesus. This is the greatest hope in the world! All around our troubled world every day. has decided to give his life-changing Spirit to sinners who will believe in him. writing to exiles scattered to the four winds.wrote these two letters that have his name. evil. They experience the forgiveness of their sins – they are washed clean because of the blood of Jesus Christ. give them new inner power.Born Again Message Notes by the Rev. Hostetter Introduction – The message introduction says that this is the first message in a series on “The Trials of a Christian. the Father. injustice.” or. This “living hope” comes from God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In them you will see the Lord Jesus in all his love. new life which is pleasing to God. God the Father has his eye on each of you. God. disease. Not one is missing. the Messiah. this first message is not about trials! It is about the greatest wonder and fact of the Christian life – that God. and lead them to be like Jesus Christ.

This is exactly what you must do when you make a message. 23. This is a special work of God in the heart and mind of a person.Born Again A NEW LIFE What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him. I know how great this makes you feel. You never saw him. They mean exactly what they say: A believer in Jesus is born again by the Holy Spirit of God. 4. people. Our goal in speaking the Good News of Jesus is to make it seem that Jesus is talking to us now in the circumstances of our life – touching our customs. it’s your faith. But that often sets believers off from others. not your gold. that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. you’ll get what you’re look forward to: total salvation. This is an attempt by the translator to take the original Greek words and transfer the meaning in the best way for native English speakers today. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure. including a future in heaven — and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. We seem like a separate people (which we are)! But we should not be because God has us here in the world to share the gospel. I hope you understand what I mean! Paul worked hard at using local language and idioms to preach the Good News. Key Words – • “born again” – 1 Peter 1:3. When Jesus wraps this all up. religious practices and beliefs with words that make sense immediately. We must do so also. even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. The Bible teaches that this Spirit of God changes our spirits or souls. think about The Message translation carefully. this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for. This is what we call a free or paraphrase translation. confusing or hard to understand. If you speak contemporary American English. But some Christians don’t like it because they are so accustomed to traditional and often very old words and ways of talking about the Gospel. yet you trust him — with laughter and singing. You take the words of the Bible as you have them and attempt to re-state the important truths so that your listeners will feel that you are talking to them directly. They really don’t understand us. not make it hidden. The Holy Spirit enters our hearts 6 . genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all — life healed and whole. You still don’t see him. Because you kept on believing. you will recognize right away that this is ordinary speech for ordinary thinking people! The church tends to develop its own language to express the special meanings that come from the Bible. and do not seem to be foreign! That is a big order! The Message attempts to do this in English. But. These two words are used in both verses. yet you love him.

Doctrine and teaching notes– • The Holy Spirit – Scholars of religion tell us that most people have a “high God” but. and not “it. regeneration describes how God puts us in his family again. and what they do. Believers change. Most people think of spirits as frightening. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God. and believe. Preachers don’t convert sinners. • “sanctifying action (work)” – (v. generation refers to the persons who are born at a time very near to each other. by the living Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). The Bible teaches us that we have become enemies of God because of our sin. invisible and powerful forces. interprets the Bible.” The Bible teaches us that there is one Holy Spirit. influences and teaches people. • 5. what can they do to get back into God’s 7 . Most people believe that they are born into their religion and should stay in it. They are often evil.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . from all that I know. What do your people believe? Ask people in your region what they believe about spirits. and not good or holy. deacons and persons with the power to bring healing and cast out demons.” that is what we should do. It refers to the way a believer turns away from evil to God. listens. We should not be afraid of him. But. there is no “high spirit.Born Again and we are changed.” (John 14:16.” which we use for things. 16:7). moves. The Holy Spirit does. This happens to all people who are born. He has all the characteristics of a person. When you believe you will know this Spirit. “conversion” (p. evangelists. They use their powers to make trouble. so we use the pronouns “he. “Turn from sin. This change is amazing! It takes away the fear that comes from guilt and sin. Intercessor. administrators. So. We are re-generated.means “again”. what they say. Jesus called him “the Comforter. When the Spirit says to us. born again of “incorruptible seed. You may be surprised at what they will tell you. they find that God was turning them while they were making their decision! God wants all people to turn to him. He never rejects anyone who turns to him. after they believe. The Holy Spirit talks. The Holy Spirit moves people to do this. him” for the Holy Spirit. He also gives us the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” such as the calling and ability to be pastors. So. 2) This means the Holy Spirit turns people away from Satan and sin and gives them the power and desire to do right and follow the commands and Word of God. That is God speaking to us by his Holy Spirit.1) This is a good Bible word. in how they think. Helper. Re. At first people may resist and refuse to believe and obey. Each person “receives the Holy Spirit” when they believe in Jesus. teachers.26. 15:26. We can and should pray to him. (Romans 8:9-16) • Regeneration – This is the word we use in English when we teach about the new birth through the Holy Spirit. He has the power to give us the “new birth” which is a great gift. fills believers’ hearts with his power and presence.

The new life comes from God through the Holy Spirit. If there is no faith. Jesus sent this Holy Spirit to believers after he rose from the dead and went up to heaven to be with God. souls. Baptism. He came into his own world. 5. God himself was the one who made them his children. but his own nation did not welcome him. in 8 . usually fierce and dangerous they are living unseen powers in the dark places of earth and water – in caves. That is how we are “born again. John 1:10-13 CEV The Word was in the world. They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires.Born Again family again and truly be his children? They must be born again. The article is quite scholarly. So he gave them the right to be the children of God. 2. * Baptism of infants is a separate but related issue. a sign or symbol. demons. Note the verses listed especially in the New Testament. though God had made the world with his Word. Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. but no one knew him.” 6. The new birth is a mystery. Your mission or church can tell you their views and how their views relate to regeneration. Some Christian churches believe in “baptismal regeneration of infants (babies). but God gives his power to us through the Spirit. unseen powers and forces? It make take some work for you to explain the Biblical meaning of Holy Spirit. The regenerating grace of God comes directly to lost sinners through the Holy Spirit. Here is a short description of the meaning of regeneration: 1. not by the water of baptism. just as the wind is a mystery to us. This new birth happens as the sinner believes. 3.” At Words of Hope we do not believe the Bible teaches spiritual rebirth of babies. See the article “Regeneration” in the New Bible Dictionary. The Spirit of God is not a wild wind. Here is a listing of some of the ways people see spirits: • • • they are unseen powers that hurt people they are like animals. We are not gods. the new birth has not taken place. Culture – What is a spirit? What words do your people use for spirits. shows the spiritual union of a believer with Christ in his death and rising from the dead. The Word of God (through the Bible) helps sinners to understand so they repent and turn from their sins and believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is God with us and God in us.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes .* 4.

” Many scientists do not believe in God and they do not believe in the power of spirits. Believer’s mood changes from sad and sullen to happy! peaceful – quiet. and also “being trustworthy. Praise God! The Holy Spirit of God – How can we understand what he is like and what he does? I think we can best understand him by examining “the fruits of the Spirit” as described in Galatians 5:19-23 CEV. People believe that they may cause this trouble again. 9 . Look carefully at this list: God’s Spirit makes believers – • • • • • • • loving – the opposite of being hateful.” and native religious healers may claim that they have power to control these powerful spirits. relaxed. they are not gods but they have powers much greater than people there are many stories about the bad that spirits have done to people in the past. The great Holy Spirit of God produces very different desires and emotions (feelings). People feel powerless. frantic. But. ordinary people do not have power over them. All kinds of strange theories and ideas are being taught and considered.” a person we can believe in without doubt. demons. patient – able to control discontent. “Full of faith” with integrity. confident– not anxious. Communists believe like this and many people in America. weird people.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . “witch doctors. These verses explain the bad and harmful desires of people before they believe in Jesus. in deep rivers and large seas (oceans) • • • • • • • • their powers may be contacted in the entrails (intestines) of animals they are like strange. Shamans. They act and feel like this because of their own choices and the powers of the Devil and bad spirits in their lives. to wait on others. The need for a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit is very important. mean. to solve problems. But we do know there is ONE SUPERIOR POWER – that is the Holy Spirit of God. kind – always considerate of the feelings and troubles of others. surprisingly. often ugly and mean in appearance and acts. they are the souls or spirits of family (relatives) who have died and who return to be fed and have their requests satisfied.” as belief in God.Born Again deep holes in the ground. When he makes our hearts new we have all the protection we need against whatever unknown and unseen powers or spirit may be working against us. agitated. spirits and the Devil. faithful – means “trusting. today in America many people are very much interested in the world of spirits. revengeful. these spirits give frightening messages and predictions in dreams. doing good even when it is not expected. Even Christians do not claim to know much about angels. happy – or joyous. good – doing the opposite of evil and wrong. Being strong to do the best for people and God. Other? Our age has been called “the age of science.

8. I realized something was missing in my 10 . God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (v. People who are under the control and influence of evil spirits are often out of control and very obsessed with their own desires. (vv. 9.5) 11. They are not just religious! 7. 4. (v. when I was 16. renewal) through the Holy Spirit. (v. Use above information. He told his story. This is a person who does not lose control of his/her feelings and desires.3) The object or outcome of this hope is an inheritance with God forever.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . Here is a summary of 11 points in 1 Peter 1:3-7. Here is the outline of the message. polluted or faded from within or without. I was born into a farm family of parents who loved Jesus. I did not turn away from God. God has come to us! (v. What a list of virtues (good points)! We call this the “Spirit-filled life. 1. 6. 3.3) God does this because he is so kind and merciful.3) This inheritance cannot be spoiled. I was not a rebel. Outline – My Notes are already very long. (v. But I was bored and not deeply interested in Jesus. prayed constantly. 7.4) This inheritance is kept in heaven for us by Jesus. taught me and took me to church. 5. praying and reading the Bible did not affect me greatly.” When people believe and are born again. The final goal of life is our salvation which God will show us when Jesus appears at the end of time. which can well be divided into two parts.3) The means and basis of this hope is the rising of Jesus from the dead. reasons for praising God: 1.4) We are protected against loss of our heavenly inheritance by the power of God. (v.Born Again • • gentle – a person who is soft and caring like a good mother and Jesus.3) This new birth gives us a living hope. 8. a young preacher who had been saved from a life of sin and unbelief came to our church. This is my story of faith in Jesus. My testimony of the new birth and power of the Holy Spirit in my life. not a dead religion. 2. self-controlled – under God’s control. Then.5) 10. (v. Believers feel and act like the true children of God. read the Bible. Born again – expand the points in this section. 5. For the first 16 years of my life I was quite a good boy. the Holy Spirit drives them to act as this list explains. (v. (v.3) God gives us the new birth (regeneration. (v. 2.7) 9. We are protected by our faith through which we hold on to God’s promises. The Holy Spirit takes away the inclination to satisfy selfish desires at all costs. but going to church. This was not my parents fault. Born of the Spirit and the Word – explain the points in this section. Introduction – The only real Christians are “born-again” Christians.

I studied the Bible and enjoyed it. God helped my weak faith and gave me a new life through the Holy Spirit. I went home and came back for the evening worship service. When this preacher came I listened.#2250 – 5-23-04 – Message Notes . in a Bible College and in the ministry of Words of Hope. the words on the page seemed like living words to me.Born Again life but I didn’t know what to do about it. Army just after World War II and God kept me from all the evil temptations to which other troops were giving themselves. give you peace and joy. I prayed for myself and others. however weakly. My first wife died of cancer. We went to Sudan and Pakistan together with our three daughters. God will bless you. All of a sudden. and direct your life. Not exactly! But. I wanted to obey and believe in God with my full strength. genuinely “born again. I had fulfilled all the requirements of my church. We served God together in churches. I was baptized in a stream by our loving pastor on a Saturday afternoon with other teen-agers in our church. For the first time in my life I knew in my heart that God was really alive and that I was truly his child. Soon after that I felt called to be a pastor and later a missionary. I loved God with my heart. I entered the U. and God replaced her with another marvelous person. guide you. On that Sunday morning when we had communion. That Spirit has always been with me even though I have tried to reject his counsel sometimes. I went to college and God gave me a wonderful wife. You can have the same. I have had a rich and wonderful life because of the kindness and power of God. What did I do? I believed. Then I prayed to God. I took the Bible from my bedside table to read it which I had been doing with very little interest.” That started me on a new path in my life. 11 . He will be your Father and you will be his child. but I decided I should not take it because my heart was not at rest and at peace with God.S. But it did not make any real difference in my life. in the jungles of Mexico. change you. Everything was the same! But. I read them with great excitement and joy. almost as if being led into it by God himself. when I went to bed that evening.

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