What Exactly Does It Mean To Be A Born-Again Christian?
Lucifer, one of the three top-ranking angels -(archangels)- that God Almighty created-the other two are Mathew and Gabriel, who was in charge of one-third of the angels rebelled against his Maker out of foolish pride. The rebellion by Lucifer and his angels ended in a fiasco and they were driven out of heaven. God Almighty placed a curse on them and Lucifer became Satan and his renegade cohorts became foul or demonic spirits. Hell fire was then created as the permanent abode for these rebellious spirits. God Almighty decided to separate heavens-there are three heavens-from hell and the space in-between became the earth. These three abodes-heavens which are up-Hell which is underneath and Earth which is in-between-are domiciled by three sets of creatures. The third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2) is where God Almighty dwells with His majestic court and Glory. The first and second heavens are inhabited by the remaining angels. Hell fire is the permanent abode of Satan and his rebellious spirits while the earth belongs permanently to a sub-angelic set of creatures generically referred to as Man. That is you and I. But for you and me to legally reside on earth, we must demonstrate our obedience and love to God Almighty. Adam and Eve were the two representatives that God Almighty created on behalf of the generic Man-the human race-that must demonstrate their loyalty and obedience to Him. They failed when Satan deceived them to rebel against God just as he and his demonic spirits did. Then the fate of Adam and Eve, including their children became that of Satan and his demons. Just as Satan and his demons died-cut away from God Almighty because of sin-Adam and Eve including their children-you and I-also died and were cut away from our Creator.
But unlike Satan and his demons that were original sinners and are lost permanently and could not be redeemed, God Almighty decided to cut the human race a slack since they were deceived. The reason Satan deceived Adam and Eve was for him and his rebellious spirits to escape hell because the place is terrible and horrible. Since Satan could not become God in heavens, he and his demons could be content with becoming gods on earth. But God Almighty put a kibosh on Satan's plan. In the first place, God never gave the earth to Satan so his claim to rule the earth is illegal. But whether by deception or illegality, the power to rule the earth that God gave to Adam and Eve was now in the hands of Satan and his demons and they began to use that power, but of course on their own terms but not in furtherance of God's purpose. Satan and his demons must be stopped. Only God Almighty could stop Satan and reclaim the earth back to God's original purpose. So God Almighty came down physically to accomplish this task about 2,000 years ago by becoming like one of us. His name is Emmanuel, The Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. First, Jesus Christ who is God-in-the-flesh had to demonstrate to human beings the tremendous powers Adam and Eve were given by Him which they forfeited to Satan and his demons. That was why He performed those miracles we read in the Holy Bible. Second, Adam and Eve must be punished with death, in addition to being banished from the face of God because God Almighty is a God of justice, even to Satan and his demons. Thirdly, the power that Satan stole must be retrieved. That was why Christ died and resurrected. The earth now belongs to who it originally belongs to: you and I, but with a caveat: willingness to return back to God and obey Him. This act of returning back to God Almighty to fulfill His original purpose for Man which is to exercise power, authority and dominion requires three things; a new heart, a new spirit and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is called “born anew,” “born a new creature,” or simply “born-again.” If Our Lord Jesus Christ matter-of-factly told Nicodemus anyone who is not a “born-again” will not enter His Kingdom, then believe it. The Savior didn't say, one must be saved but must become born again. That means there is a difference between being saved and born again. The Savior didn't even utter the word; “Christian,” during His earthly sojourn here and the word “Christian” didn't creep into our lexicon until about 30 years after His ascension when in Antioch His believers were addressed as such meaning, “Christ followers.” Can one be saved and yet not born-again? I wrestled with that question in the first ten years of my Christian life as I went through daily contradictions and spiritual identity crisis trying to figure out whether I would make it to heaven or not.
The Process of Being Born Again: To receive a new heart, a new spirit and a being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is a process. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God by Satanic deception, since we all carry the genes of Adam and Eve, it is logical that we are born to disobey God. Try as we might to please Him, we cannot, because we are born that way. In fact, our inclination is to want to live independently of Him but there is a catch-God wants to have a relationship with us. He creates us for His pleasure but because of the sin-soaked and mangled nature we inherited from Adam and Eve, we want to live for our pleasure. But He's the Creator so He leaves a void in our spirit which cannot be filled with any other thing except Him. That part of the human spirit is called “communion.” Since the fall of Adam and Eve, human beings have tried unsuccessfully to fill that void with anything but God and we are continually aided by Satan and his demons everyday not to fill that gaping void with God. Sex, pleasure, pride, money, wealth, political power, fame, sports/recreation, covetousness, intellectualism, philosophy, religion etc. are some of the things human beings have tried to replace God with in the communion spirit but all to no avail. When all else fails which is always the case, reality dawns on us that we need this Creator. But where is He? How can I know Him? What do I need to do? What does it entail to have rest? In addition to our constant quest to have rest since all these other pursuits do not guarantee rest of the spirit, God Almighty in His infinite power and wisdom has put two other things in the human spirit: conscience and intuition. Conscience in itself has three planks: guilty, seared and free. Intuition is the process through which God talks back to us when we commune with Him. The last tool God sets before each and every one of us is the distinct and inevitable reality of death. All these measures were deliberately put in place by the Maker for us to constantly seek Him and perish an illusion in anybody's mind we can live independently of Him and make it. No human being can. So Satan and his demons knew all these and have crafted various artifices to counteract these parts of the human spirit since they cannot remove them but they can distort their uses. That is why human beings created and are still creating ways to commune with God known as “religion.” It is man's attempt to worship God based on our terms rather than on God's terms. Then Satan created prayers, rituals, fasting and menageries of spiritual activities based on man's terms to make us feel good and lift up our guilty consciences. We feel good when we go through all these motions.
Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they didn't need prayers, fasting, rituals and self-designed worship to understand God. They were friends with Him and had fellowship so they knew and understood God intuitively. Because God Almighty created us for His pleasure and will not be dictated to by us and will never live by our whims and caprices, any spiritual activity initiated by us toward Him, no matter how benevolent and innocent has no eternal value. This is why all the billions of religions and religious services, prayers and rituals that human beings engage in every minute are dungs before God Almighty. Consequently, when all fails and rest eludes each and every one of us, and then those who are sensible decide to do it His Way, He then responds to us. This is what is called Repentance-a change of mind and heart that let Him do it His Way rather than my way. No human being can return back to the True God Almighty any other way. It is either God's Way or no other way. Following this consciousness on the part of every human being, God Almighty now responds and takes you through the remaining process. Your acknowledgment that you need Him at all costs allows Him to commence three successive spiritual surgical operations in your life: a new heart-there are two types of the human heart, the heart of stone and the heart of flesh. The heart of stone is the one we are all born with which all human beings inherited from Adam and Eve after their disobedience and the heart of flesh which is the new heart God Almighty will give you upon genuine repentance which only He knows by looking at the way your heart of stone operates. The second spiritual surgical operation is a new spirit to replace the hardened and mangled spirit we were born with from our parents. It is in-between these two spiritual steps in a human beings' life and the final step that people are saved but are not yet born-again. “If you confess your sin and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ was conceived in the flesh, that he died and rose up on the third day, you shall be saved because it is with the heart that one believes and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation, thou shall be saved, “Romans 10:9-10. Here begins the journey to a new beginning but it is just starting and not the end. You are saved at this juncture but you are not yet a born-again Christian. Just like a woman who is pregnant and we can all see the bulging stomach but she must give birth. It is this transition from the second to the third and final stage that most Christians do not understand and it is the toughest stage in the Christian Walk. Many Christians at this stage have a new heart and a new spirit but the two are incapable of withstanding the devices of Satan and his demons. That is why you see such Christians going back to sin which they have just confessed. How many times do you hear such Christians rushing to the church and lamenting thus; “You see I gave my life to the Lord in so and so year but after sometime, I backslide.” The turmoil going on in the hearts of such Christians are a volcano. They wonder: “I will not commit fornication or adultery again in my life,” but couldn't understand why they fall prey to the same sin(s) over and over again. They attend church services regularly, pray all the time and have a firm resolution not to sin deliberately but somehow, they can't stop sinning to their chagrin and frustration. It appears there are two personalities struggling to dominate their beings. Many of our Christian churches are full of these helpless and silent Christians every day that go about believing they are born again Christians. But they are not born again Christians until they ask God Almighty to complete and finish the final and last stage of the Conversion Process. He-God Almighty- must come in to domicile in your spirit and that was why Our Lord Jesus Christ told us to ask, knock and seek. The Holy Spirit must come in and take permanent residence in your spirit-body.
The Holy Spirit is the Great Judge, like the earthly judge who decides whether an accused person is guilty or not. As the accused-you and me-are brought to Him by our accusers-Satan and his demons-the prosecutor is the conscience. There are three types of consciences-the guilty, the clear and the seared consciences. Every human being struggles between the first two-guilty and clear but the third belongs to those who have given up and are not interested in giving their lives to Christ. Not only are the latter's consciences seared but their minds are reprobate as well. The conscience of every human being is guilty of flouting the laws of God which is called sin. Those who yearn to have their consciences cleared are drawn to God and not until a human being gets to that level can he/she be saved. No human being can be saved, not even by God Almighty if that person has not reached a stage in life that he/she has a guilty conscience and begs to be cleared. Billions of human beings are perishing every minute because they do not believe they are guilty before the court of God's justice. “He who does not believe in the Son of God is condemned already,” is the verdict of God Almighty on such people.
Now for a guilty conscience pleading for a clear conscience in what Paul's dialectically captured in Romans 7 that he wants to do good in his heart but couldn't because of another law in his body that has taken his mind hostage thus crying out “Who will save me from this body of sin?” the Holy Spirit poses three questions during the trial. As the guilty conscience prosecutes a sinner, the Holy Spirit asks: Do you agree you are guilty? Like human trial in earthly trial before an earthly and a secular judge, if you say you are not guilty-which Christ-haters and rejecters are saying now-the trial is postponed till the Lord's Day. But if you agreed you're guilty-which many of us have said here in life-the next stage is sentencing. Here, the Holy Spirit asks: Now that you confessed you're guilty, do you know your punishment? Your answer to the second question from the Holy Spirit should be an emphatic Death! But unlike human trial where an attorney will plead to your defense asking for leniency, here you plead the Blood of Jesus. “Holy Spirit, yes, I deserve the death penalty because God's Law says, the wages of sin is death and I deserve to die but Jesus Christ has already died in my stead and since He paid the price for my sin, I plead His Blood.”
The Holy Spirit then gives Hid verdict: Not guilty on the strength of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ so your conscience is changed from guilty to clear conscience. But at this stage, if you are sent away, your accusers are still waiting: Satan and his demons. They are bitter because you are declared “Not guilty,” but they won't leave you alone because they are still committed to make you sin again. So what the Holy Spirit does is that, He will follow you home to guard you wherever you go. This is what Our Lord Jesus meant when He said in John 16: 13 “When the Counselor-the Holy Spirit-comes, He will convict you of sin, righteousness and judgment.” No one can stop sinning until he/she agrees with God Almighty that sin is bad business. You can't change your mind about pride, fornication, adultery, unforgiving spirit, rebellion, stealing, covetousness, disobedience, jealousy, envy etc. until you see these sins from the way God see them, period. Once the Holy Spirit says, He will guide you everywhere you go, you must walk lockstep with Him, agrees with Him in all things, in all ways, always. This is why someone who is conscious and aware of what has taken place in his/her life will now say: “There is a Greater One in me-the Holy Spirit-than the one-Satan-that is in the world.” This is what is called “a born again” experience. It must be experiential. You must know and be aware of this experience and your knowledge of it determines your success in the Christian Walk. This process must take place for that is how God Almighty set it up and He doesn't change because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. But how long it takes place in a Christian's life depends on the amount of spiritual knowledge the person possesses. In some Christian's lives, it is quicker, in others, it is a long process and in many, it never takes place at all. Knowledge is what is needed and that knowledge does not come from an intermediary: pastors, deacons, and missionaries' etc. but from the revealed Word of God: the Holy Bible.
Dr Fayemiwo, author, publisher and CEO, Alternative Lifestyle Communication, DBA is an adjunct lecturer in African History & Media Studies at the City Colleges of Chicago in Illinois, USA.