Last week we have discussed about the identity of Christian people in this world. We have also thought on what is the meaning of us becoming as Christians, that firstly we either came as pilgrims or sojourners in this world. Therefore, we understand that our main citizenship is in heaven but not in any place in this world. Secondly, we also understand that our main constitution is the Bible, not any other laws. And thirdly, that we also talked about that we as pilgrims or sojourners mean that our first king is Christ. Our main longing as pilgrims or sojourners is the heavenly treasure, we pray that our Kingdom come on earth as in heaven. To realize our identity that we came as pilgrims or sojourners in this world is something that is very crucial for us. What caused us to be pilgrims or sojourners in this world is because we have been reborn again by God – that we became a new human and became a heavenly citizen in which we will talk in details on verses 3 and 4. These verses mainly focused on being born again, which was the source of God’s mighty grace – that has been experienced by the children of God. And the rise of Christ that has occurred in the history is the fact that being born again could be the case. Being born again can also bring life full of hope, that it has been an inheritance that is imperishable. This is the reward of being born again to all people that became heavenly citizens, own by God and became the children of God.
This morning we will reflect about being born again. How do we know that we are being born again? Should we born again, we can then receive the everlasting but imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that God has prepared to all His children. What is the definition of being born again? A theologian named Anthony Hoekema described being born again as a regeneration in a reformed theology – is the work of the Holy Spirit that unite one that has been born again with Christ. And when they are united, they then alter their heart. Therefore, that they were spiritually dead became spiritually alive then when they became spiritually alive will willingly repent from their sins, believe in God and serve the God. By the mighty grace of God that it has caused us to be born again.
There have been misunderstandings to some people that being born again can be understood as consequences that we believe in God. To become a Christian or to believe in Christ, can sometimes be understood from scripture reading, listening to the words of God that people then realized of their sins, realized of God’s mighty love – then they appeared to become Christian as they are being born again. However, the real question is that should we know Bible teachings that we are the sinners since Adam sinned, that all of his descendants that we are all “spiritually dead” together with Adam. But how those “dead” people can respond to God’s calling? How those “spiritually dead” people can also believe in God? The reformed theology emphasized that not because you believe in God that you will experience new birth, that it was because of God’s mighty grace have already been mysteriously working inside people’s mind from the beginning.
Secondly, how a person can experience from being born again? 1 Peter 1: 23 stated that “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”. If Paul talked about faith appearing from the hearing of God’s words so that people can believe, but Peter took a step back that we can born again through the living word of God. This second point emphasized us as children of God to keep evangelizing. People can be born again from the word of God and believing it.
Thirdly, how can we know that we have been born again? We can answer this question through another question that is parallel on how we know that we have been born physically? It means that we are alive, and it can be proven by a birth certificate. Coming back to the original question, we can answer that our spiritual life is alive, there is a new birth through Christ. There must be a characteristic that owns the new life in Christ. The first characteristic of people that has been born again is that people that has been born again is the people that capable to and willingly believe to Christ. People born again not because of their own accordance, but it resulted that they believe to the one and only Christ. The second characteristic of people that has been born again is that they purify themselves (1 Peter 1: 22). The last characteristic that people has been born again is that people can own the real, sincere love, deeply from the heart. This is not easy, and it will not be possible without being born again from God’s mighty love.
Therefore, we as children of God and as people who has received God’s blessings to be reminded again to love one another, like Christ love His people. May we be reminded to strive not just for the good of people but also for ourselves and for the glorious name of God.