The movie “Case for Christ” was released a couple weeks ago. It is about an atheist who sought to find evidence for Christ, and then eventually becomes a Christian. It is a rather compelling story, that a once hardened skeptic turns true-believer by searching for Jesus but truthfully, I am not surprised that it happened that way.
Jesus’ words were clear that if you seek, you will find, (Matt. 7:7) so when I hear of a conversion story like that, I ask “what did you expect was going to happen?” Christ, unlike any other, is one who is so very near to the seeker of truth, so near in fact that you can actually find him. He is not some distant or abstract idea, nor is he some far off deity that has nothing to do with the world. No, Jesus Christ is actively involved in each of our lives, sustaining us by the very virtue of his power, and he desires relationship. He doesn’t need people, but the fact that he wants people to be with him where he is, (Jn. 17:24) makes him rather remarkable to say the least.
But is simply looking at the evidence enough to bring about a true conversion, or does something more, dare I say spiritual or more metaphysical, need to happen? Jesus spoke of what it means to come to faith by using the phrase “born again,” now unfortunately this phraseology hardly means anything anymore considering that Barna; a well-known Christian research group surveyed people in American and found out that 70% of people are born again Christians. Yet those same people, many of them are wrong on the deity of Christ, his atonement, the gospel and what it means to actually live as a Christian. So are they really born-again? I would say not.
But let’s go back to what Jesus meant when he said “ye must be born again” (Jn. 3:3). First off, Jesus is not talking about going back into your mother’s womb, rather he is speaking of being born again by the Holy Spirit. As physical birth represents the beginning of life, so does being born again by the Spirit show the beginning of a spiritual life, one that is aware and responsive toward God’s love.
Have you ever wondered why Christians seem to be enthralled with Christ, how they can see so much in the Scriptures and believe wholeheartedly in the Gospel? Or what about this, that an unbeliever can read the Scriptures, hear about Jesus and disregard the Good News as simple, crude and a throw-back to a bygone era where men didn’t have the treasury of science at their disposal? There are many people who have brains the size of Texas, who understand the original languages of the Scriptures and have studied the evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, yet they are not Christians. Why is that? It is not because of a lack of evidence, it is simply they are not born again by the Spirit.
Well how does someone become born again? What exactly happens in that transfer of not being born, to suddenly being born? Honestly, that question is far too great for the scope of this very short column and perhaps I will address it soon. However I will say this, how does Spiritual birth happen? It happens by God alone, for he is the only one powerful and sovereign enough to bring that about in an individual. Much like you cannot generate your own physical birth it can be said the same of the spiritual birth, God’s power exercises over you and thus you are born again.
The atheist turned Christian became a believer, not simply by looking at the evidence and judging what is true, ultimately. He became a Christian by being born again by the Spirit, the availability of the evidence was just an added bonus.
So I will close with this, in order for you to be a believer, a follower of Christ, you must be born again. So look to Jesus, his cross, and hear about his glorious gospel in church this Sunday and pray that it happens to you.