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The Truth about Our Greatest Need

Most folks don't want to hear it.

The Truth that Makes Us Free (5)

“‘You must be born again.’”
John 3.7

Only one way out
The greatest problem facing the human race, and all the people with whom we have to do each day, is the problem of sin. People – including many Christians – may not believe that. That does not make them unbelievers. Rather, it makes them wrong believers, because having refused to believe God and His truth, they choose to believe something else.

Rather than accept the Bible’s assessment of the mess we’re in, they point to secondary issues and dilemmas, denying the truth of God and turning to whatever wheel of culture or social policy may be squeaking for the grease of attention and effort. Social justice, climate policy, educational reform, critical-this-that-or-the-other, defunding police, funding police – all these, while not to be neglected, are but fleas on the elephant in the room.

And the elephant in the room is sin. When we let God be true, every denial of His truth will be seen to be a lie. And God in His truth explains that all who turn from Him to lies will multiply problems, stress, difficulties, and disappointment for themselves as long as they deny the root cause of all our ills – sin.

Christians fall prey to the ravages of lies whenever they feel, for whatever reason, they cannot take God at His Word but must temper or add to or otherwise qualify the plain teaching of Scripture by embracing beliefs, views, trends, or practices which have their origin not from within the Word of God but in the world of rebellion against God.

This is the clear teaching of Scripture from cover to cover, and though many may scoff at the idea and insist on a wide range of other ills needing more urgent attention, and though Christians may pragmatically seek to justify compromising with lies, the fact of sin remains; and unless we deal with the problem of human sin, it will continue to drain every semblance of goodness and hope out of our culture, society, and our very lives.

The Bible teaches that there is only one way to escape the death grip of sin. We must be born again.

Now there’s a solution to our ills that our wrong-believing age finds completely, well, unbelievable. Does that surprise us? Should we back away from what the Scriptures teach, simply because our wrong-believing contemporaries find that solution simplistic, naïve, or insane? Or out of touch with history?

Not at all. Let God be true, though everyone in the world considers His Word to be laughable. The Word of God is true and reliable, as countless millions have known from every nation, tribe, and culture, and for thousands of years. That our age in flight from God scorns the Word and its solutions to our ills should neither surprise nor faze us. Indeed, the world’s hostility to what the Bible teaches is exactly what the Bible says we should expect. So even their looking at us as fools, simpletons, meddlers, self-righteous know-it-alls, and unwelcome nuisances demonstrates the reliability of the Word of God.

Why it must be so
As the Bible explains, every human being is born into this world incapable of knowing the life for which he or she has been created. We are all dead in our trespasses and sins from the moment we are conceived, and this is how, kicking and screaming, we enter the world as babies and prosecute our lives apart from Jesus Christ (Ps. 51.5; Eph. 2.1).

In short, we are all born dead. Thus, the only way to recover from this condition is not by trying to improve it through external means – education, possessions, government policies, better health care, income redistribution – but by going to the root of the problem, sin, and submitting to the spiritual surgery of the Scriptures and the Spirit of God (Heb. 4.12; Jn. 6.63).

Jesus explained that we can be born again by receiving the teaching of His Word concerning Him and the work He has done for our salvation. By believing in Jesus, acknowledging and repenting of our sins, and looking to Him and His Word for the sustenance and direction we need, we are born again into the kind of life that overcomes the power of sin with good works of love (Rom. 12.21). We can escape the womb of death and breathe the true air of God’s Word and Spirit that brings life and truth to light within us for every area of life – the truth that makes us free.

This is the condition referred to in Scripture as salvation. Salvation is what every human being needs, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to accomplish salvation for us (Rom. 1.16) As we listen to the Word of God, speaking to us in the Scriptures, the Spirit of God opens our minds to understand, engages our hearts to receive, roots in our consciences to make us willing, and actually commandeers our voices, enabling us to cry out to God as Father and be born again by His grace (Gal. 4.4-6; Jn. 1.12, 13).

They all laughed at Jesus
Our message to the world is the message of Scripture and of our Lord Jesus Christ: “You must be born again.” Nothing else the Bible has to teach us – about ourselves, our world, and our greatest need – will make sense until we come to the place where we submit to God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We must be born again. Attempting to clean up the mess we’re in – whether personal, social, cultural, or universal – without addressing the problem of sin will find us always falling short and grasping at straws.

And though our neighbors, friends, and co-workers may respond to us like Nicodemus did to Jesus – “How can these things be?” – we must stand firm on the truth of God, explaining, as the children’s song insists, “the Bible tells me so.”

They laughed at Jesus as He proclaimed that message, and they’re likely to laugh at us. But the laughter of wrong-believers might just be a cover for the unease they feel at the thought that God has somehow found them out and is, through your word and His, calling them to face up to the lies they’ve been living and submit to the truth that is in Jesus for a new way of life.

God’s Word of truth can bring life to our dead-in-sin neighbors and friends and our blinded-by-sin fellow believers, so let us be bold about telling them this wonderful Good News. This does not mean we ignore the great issues of our day, only that we keep them in a proper perspective, insisting always on first things first.

For reflection
1.  Why is “You must be born again” the solution to the human problem of sin?

2.  How has “You must be born again” proved true in your life?

3.  What can keep you from telling your wrong-believing friends, neighbors, and co-workers, “You must be born again”?

Next step – Preparation: Are there people in your life who need to hear the Good News of being born again? What is your plan for reaching out to them? Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field?

 T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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