SUNDAY 25 JANUARY, 2015
‘‘Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Jh. 3v3
THE Bible passage quoted above is one of the most quoted Bible passages. Necessarily, it is the encounter between Jesus and the Jewish leader, Nicodemus, who came to Him at night to enquire about some religious issues bugging his mind. The emphasis should not be the time of his visit, but the purpose and the attendant teaching that eventually came out of it. His enquiry brought about Jesus’ statement that ‘he must be born again.’ It is true that he was taken aback, but the fact remains that he should turn a new leaf in order to appreciate the import of Jesus’ message.
Ever since then, this statement has been re-occurring in the life of believers and would-be believers. We must admit it should be on going, especially now that we have claims and counter-claims that if care is not taken, may negate the truth of the gospel. Already, there are some assumptions that have been discovered, which we think should be separated from the truth of the matter.
Firstly, some people assume that belonging to church denominations (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal group) name them invariably qualifies them to being born again. We should note that there is a great world of difference between belonging to a church denomination and being born again. Of course, Christianity is a religion of personal relationship with Christ and not one that is driven by denominationalism. By this, we are not saying that belonging to a denomination is not good, but it is not enough, if there is no personal relationship with Christ, as that leads one to being born again.
Secondly, some people take pride in the use of Christian names. To such categories of people bearing such a Christian name may entitle them to being born again. But we do know to a large extent that there are people bearing Christian names, but who are associated with such condemnable acts as robbery, adultery, cultism and exam malpractice among others. So, you can see it is not enough to just bear the name, especially when it negates what one stands for.
On the other hand, particularly for us in Nigeria, when most persons are asked to fill a form and there is a column requiring them to fill their religion they quickly fill Christianity. I think there is a great error and over time it has persisted giving the idea of ‘lumping together.’ By this, I mean both those who are Christians in the real sense of the word and those who become so when filling a form in order to be classified for the purposes they are pursuing.
We can confidently say with the above that those elements are not enough to justify one for being born again. It is much more than that. To be born again implies that one recognises that he is a sinner and needs forgiveness. He is then washed in the blood of the Lamb and more importantly accepts Jesus as his Lord and personal Saviour. At this stage, there is an intimate relationship with Jesus, Who redeemed him or her by His death on the cross of Calvary. Furthermore, according to the Bible, he is a new creature, as old things (old way of life) are passed away and behold they are made new (2 Cor. 5:17).
You may now begin to appreciate why it is not enough to claim to be born again but one by life and conduct is expected to show that really he/she is born again. According to Paul, the life one is to live is no longer himself or herself living but Christ that lives in him or her (Gal. 2:20).Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. www.ibrucentre.org