Our day is characterized by 'powerless Christianity' which is actually no Christianity at all. On every hand we see churches full of men and women, who are claiming to be saved, whose lives, desires, and thoughts are no different from the rest of the world which claims no such faith. We see a "form of godliness, but a denying of the power therof" (2 Tim. 3:5).
Most church gatherings today are, essentially, no different than the social gatherings of fraternal organizations. Men come together for so-called 'christian fellowship' and all the while, their conversation and activities would be equally at home at the Elks Lodge or the Lions Club. Most 'worship services' are geared to entertain and make men feel good, rather than to exalt a Holy God and humble men in the dust of adoring wonder before the Sovereign Creator. The same men pray the same prayers each Sunday, and their main concern is that the preacher finishes his sermon in time for them to catch the opening kickoff on TV.
The hymns concerning the precious blood of Christ are sung with tearless eyes and unbroken hearts. Church buildings are packed on 'Easter Sunday' with women whose interest is in showing off their new outfits and not in "adorning themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety" (1 Tim. 2:9). Sunday school classes are 'taught' by men and women who arrive bleary-eyed from their entertainment of the night before. There's always plenty of time and zeal for 'church groups' to go on outings to the circus or some other worldly amusement but little if any time spent seeking the Lord in earnest prayer together, time for the theater and TV but little time or interest in studying the word of God.
Now certainly there are exceptions to the above stated cases, for there are a few people in practically every church who love Jesus Christ and seek to honor Him. But this description is characteristic of the trend we see in today's 'churches'. So, what, may we ask, is the problem with most 'church people' today?
I believe the answer lies in the fact, that while many have learned the facts concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, relatively few have ever experienced the 'power of His resurrection' being 'born again'(1 Pet. 1:23).
Churches of our day have been fed a steady diet of "another gospel: which is not another" (see Gal. 1:67), but actually no gospel at all, so long that they are convinced that a man become a child of God simply by an act of his will. But the scripture teaches that the Sons of God are "born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:13). "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). Many think that because they have believed some facts and made a "decision" to follow Christ, that everything is alright, but the scripture says nothing availeth anything "but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15). Many lay claim to being the sons of God, whose hearts still run longingly after the things of the flesh. But again, the word of God tells us, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Many say they can still cling to the things of this world and be Christians, yet the Bible plainly says: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 Jn. 2:15).
The only way that we, as the fallen sons of Adam, can be made to love the things of God is to have the power of the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 6:14, Rom. 6:4), to build 'us into a habitation of God' (Eph. 2:22). For 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it" (Ps. 127:1). Because of our deadness in tresspass and sins (Eph. 2:1), by nature, we need that power to quicken us (ie. give us life) and give us eyes to see spiritual things. "For the natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). We must be 'born again' and made 'new creatures' and the only power that can perform that in us is the power of a Living Lord.
My friend, I ask you plainly: "Have you been raised from the deadness of your sinful nature to walk in fellowship and obedience to Christ?" Perhaps you are a church member such as has been described, and now you see the hypocrisy and deceit of claiming salvation while your heart is still unchanged. Oh, I beg you to flee to Christ this moment. Fall upon your knees and ask forgiveness. He casts off none who bow humbly before Him, bur makes the power of His Spirit manifest in their lives. Or maybe you, my reader, have never professed faith in Christ yet you see that without His power you too shall perish in your sins. My earnest plea to you is, go to the Saviour this moment and lay bare your heart before Him. Confess your sin to Him and be encouraged, for He is the Saviour of sinners and saves such as be of a broken and contrite heart.
Come guilty souls, and flee away,
Like doves to Jesu's wounds;
This is the welcome gospel day,
Wherein free grace abounds.
God loved the church, and gave His Son,
To drink the cup of wrath;
And Jesus says, He'll cast out none,
That come to Him by faith.
Joseph Humphreys, 1743
What is It To Be Born Again?
We've heard the term 'born again' used quite frequently lately. It has been the subject of several well-known books and men from the president, right down to a pornography publisher have laid claim to it. So, it would do us all good to just open the scriptures and see what they have to say about being born again.
The first thing we notice as we look to the scriptures is that: "if any man is to enter the kingdom of Heaven and love the things of that kingdom, he must be born again". For 'except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' (Jn. 3:3).
Next, we see that this new birth is a sovereign act of God which is not influenced by the will of men. For those which are given power to become the sons of God and believe on His name were 'born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (Jn. 1:13). "The wind bloweth where it listeth (wishes) and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." (Jn. 3:8)
Thirdly we see that this new birth is a transforming operation, for it turns sin loving men and women into those who hate the way of ungodliness. 'Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (i.e., sin is not his way of life); for His seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin (openly, willfully, and wantonly), because he is born of God" (1 Jn. 3:9). Those who stole, steal no more; those who were drunkards are turned from their drunkeness; and liars are made bearers of the truth when they are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23).
So, to be 'born again' is to be transformed by the power of God. And the evidence that this change has taken place in our hearts is not seen by what we claim to be or claim to have done, but by the demonstration of the transforming power of "God's Spirit in our everyday life. 'And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind' (Rom. 12:2). 'For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world' (1 Jn. 5:4).
Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God has given;
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to heaven.
The sovereign will of God alone,
Creates us heirs of grace;
Born in the image of His Son,
A new peculiar race.
The Spirit, like some heavenly wind,
Blows on the sons of flesh;
Creates a new, a heavenly mind,
And forms the man afresh.
Our quicken'd souls awake and rise,
From the long sleep of death;
On heavenly things we fix our eyes,
And praise employs our breath.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)