Is the ‘Born Again’ Experience More Than An Event?
March 13, 2021Empowering Influence, Salvation, Spiritual Intimacy, Transitions
Many people wonder about their salvation, since they have not experienced a ‘born again’ event. You may ask, as Nicodemus did of Jesus, (a) how is one actually reborn? [see endnotes for Scriptures] What are we birthed into? If I’m already interacting and walking with God, do I still need to be ‘born again’?
When we closely examine Scripture, we can see that a born-again experience is real but speaks of more than an event; it is intended to wake-up our awareness of God and His desire to be involved in each of our lives. When we receive input from God, our life transformations are enhanced.
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (mature).” (b)
The Better Way
I was raised in a Christian home where Scripture reading was a daily activity. Consequently, I developed an appreciation of Scripture and became aware of God’s presence very early in life. My awareness generated a lot of questions and resulted in many short conversations with God.
While on a walk one evening, at the age of 16, I recalled a few of the amazing conversions I’d recently heard about. These life-changing events activated people’s awareness of God in an intriguing way. As I pondered these remarkable experiences, I wondered if I should ignore God for a time so I could experience this rebirth. I wanted my appreciation of Him to be as full as possible.
Thankfully, I sensed God immediately say, “You have chosen the better way.” I quickly understood the importance of walking with Him from the beginning. It is better to know and follow God from our beginnings than it is to live in separation and suddenly be awakened. We can come to know and experience God’s forgiving love and favor at any time, even today. (c)
It is better to follow God from our beginnings than it is to live in separation and suddenly be awakened.
Responding To ‘The Spirit Of Life’
The ‘spirit of life’ in each of us comes from God and is our source of life. (d) By design, each of us has a deposit of God’s Spirit and this makes us all related to Him. From childhood, we can be aware of His care and protective presence or we can realize through a series of waking moments that God is speaking, sharing insight, leading, and guiding. At any time, we can respond to His guidance and learn to be better expressions of His heart.
For some, it takes a major awakening event before their spirit begins to perceive and respond to God’s presence. Regardless of how we begin to interact, the important thing is that we be receptive to His transforming presence and “learn of Him.” (e)
Anyone can begin to know God as ‘The Creator’, ‘Lord of history’, ‘Ruling King’, ‘Correcting Judge’, ‘Coming One’, or as our ‘heavenly Father’. God responds to any of our perceptions, for He loves all of His human offspring and desires to be a guiding presence in each of our lives.
The ‘spirit of life’ that is in us comes from God and is our source of life.
The transfer of ‘offspring’ into ‘sons’ was illustrated in the family life of old Israel. While fathers considered them offspring and set the tone, mothers were the first to influence, teach and discipline a child. In much the same way, our first experiences in life tend to be as natural people. Scripture bears witness, “the spiritual is not first, but the natural…the earthly.” (f) However, as our Father, God is involved!
At the age 13, boys would experience a Bar Mitzvah and come under the influential interaction of their father, to become ‘sons’. During the following years, they would learn a trade and how to interact with distant relatives and strangers as extensions of their father. While boys at this age become responsible for their actions, they were still considered to be children until the age of 30.
Scripture speaks of this transition from offspring to children as: we are “given the right (permission) to become children of God.” (g) When we approach God as adoring and unassuming children who are willing to learn, we come to know Him as ‘Father’. (h) When we respond to God as Father, we experience a more personal and intense interaction with Him. This intimate approach helps transform our youthful responses so we can become more mature sons of God. (i)
When we respond to God as Father, we experience a more personal and intense interaction with Him.
Many times, because of the environment we are raised in, we can miss or overlook the reality of God, and be unaware of His guiding presence. While some sense and become aware of God early in life, others seem to need an emotional jolt of light before realizing His love really cares for them.
The ‘born again’ phrase appears in our Bibles in only one place, where Jesus said:
“Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit…the wind blows …and you do not know where it comes or goes…so is everyone born of the Spirit.” (j)
Jesus is saying: “The kingdom of God is not seen (perceived) or entered (experienced) without receiving input from above.” This rebirth ‘experience’ is more than an event; it’s an awakening that can begin with or without a specific conversion experience. It simply speaks of a loving fellowship of hearts: His with ours and ours with others.
Kingdom life is experienced when our spirit is interacting with God and with one another. Like the blowing wind, our participation in the kingdom of God is ongoing and is only proven by the fruit of our lives, (k) also known as “The Fruit of the Spirit.” (l)
As our fellowship with God increases, our interaction accelerates our transformation into better reflections of our heavenly Father’s love and light. As we become more sensitive to His guiding presence, we will find our minds are more appropriately renewed, daily.
Kingdom life is experienced when our spirit is interacting with God and with one another.
a) John 3:5-12; b) Romans 12:2; c) Psalm 87:5; 78:5-8; d) Ecclesiastes 12:7; Proverbs 20:27; e) Jeremiah 29:13; 6:16; Matthew 11:28-30: f) 1 Corinthians 15:46-47; g) John 1:12; h) John 14:6; i) Ephesians 4:13-16; j) John 3:5-8; k) Matthew 7:17-20; l) Galatians 5:22-25
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder