THE BEAUTY AND MARVEL OF SPIRITUAL NEW BIRTH
P. Samuel Manoharam
The present generation of Christians want Christ and the world too. They believe in Christ as Lord, but without forsaking the materialistic world. They worship and praise Christ, but seldom obey Him. They flout the Christian precepts and do not honour Christ's teachings and His commandments; but they seek God's blessings. They are self-centred and are unconcerned about the ways of God. They ask the Lord to help them carry their cross, but decline to take up their cross, because they do not intend to. They want to follow Christ, but at their convenience. They have such a low view of God! This generation is a degenerate brand of Christianity. Sadly, this is the new philosophy of modern Christianity.
Many people who secretly long to believe in Christ are turning away because they see flaws and blemishes in the lives of the Christians who witness to them. They find no difference between Christians and non-Christians. We have too many unholy 'Christian saints' among us who have become road-blocks for advancement of the kingdom of God!
Have our prayers for spiritual revival yielded any fruits in our churches? Do we really fear God and obey Him? The Bible says, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl.12:13). Why are we not following the early Christians as our role models? Why are our churches filled with nominal, un-regenerated Christians? Is our Christian 'religiosity' to be blamed for this apostasy? Or is it our emphasis on the church buildings rather than our hearts? God seeks to dwell in human hearts. Andrew Murray said, "The reason some people see and feel nothing of God is because they seek Him outside: in books, in the church, in outward religious exercises. They will never find Him there. He is found first in the heart. Seek Him in your heart and you will never seek in vain. That is where He dwells; that is the seat of His light and the Holy Spirit!" Billy Graham said, "Christianity is not 'going to church on Sundays'. It is 'living twenty four hours every day with Jesus'."
"The churches are filled with unconverted people. They know about God, but they don't know Him. They are informed about Christ, but they are not transformed by Him. They know the moral laws, but are powerless to fulfil them. Their conduct is shaped more by the mores (attitudes) of society, than by their knowledge of Christianity," lamented Stanley Jones. Many of us have knowledge about Christ, but not of Christ, which comes through real conversion. True conversion takes place through the divine act of God. Our churches need truly converted people.
What Is The Remedy?
There is an urgent need for change in our thinking. False and perverted concepts of Christianity must be given up, for they deprive our churches of the power and presence of God. Dogmatism must give way to Christ-centred and Christ-honouring spirituality. Many Christians have no idea of what spiritual life is! They do not know how to adjust their lives to the divine pattern and image of God; instead, they try to 'modify' God and bring Him to the human level! We need to learn the truths of God's sovereignty and Christ's lordship as taught in the Bible.
According to A. W. Tozer, "Our false sense of God, who is mighty, majestic and awe-inspiring, is resulting in our loss of real consciousness of His divine presence and power. It is leading us to the loss of our ability to look at Him with our inward eyes, to truly worship and to adore Him." It is because God is spirit, they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn.4:24).
It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ in us, who enables us to truly worship God and pray. If we do not have the Holy Spirit in us, our prayers will not be heard, no matter how sincerely we pray. The Bible says, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (Jas.5:16).
With Spirit's enabling power, every born again Christian must practice the precepts and the principles taught in the Scriptures to keep himself/herself unspotted from the world. Implicit obedience, humility, simplicity, self-control, self-denial, modesty, holiness and cross-bearing are the hallmarks of a sanctified, spiritually mature, Christ-honouring Christian.
Do you know the kind of life that God the Father has planned out for His redeemed children here on the earth? It is a life of inexpressible joy and peace! Not the shallow and mundane life we are accustomed to. Christ wants us to experience the new life in Him and be partakers of His divine nature. God has made us for eternity and is graciously working in us to spend eternity with Him. "When God infuses eternal life into the spirit of a man, the man becomes a member of a new and higher order of being." Only such a man is a true Christian. "Get Christ Himself in the focus of your heart and keep Him there continually. Only in Christ will you find complete fulfilment."
Watchman Nee has beautifully expressed the life God has ordained for us in these words: "A life filled with joy and peace, a life which has no barriers or obstructions in its fellowship with God, a life which is not contrary to God's will, a life which is not craving for the materialistic world, a life which is free from sin, a life which is overcoming and victorious, a life which is holy and powerful, a life which enables us to have fellowship with God all the time, by reading the Scripture, praying and meditating." This is the life God has ordained for every Christian.
Need For Spiritual Change
Change is an important ingredient in the life of a Christian, and one of the hardest to accept. To experience the life that God has ordained for us, we must gladly and willingly allow the Spirit of God to change our nature and attitude in order to be conformed to the image of His dear Son. Tolstoy has rightly said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." A Hindu proverb says, "A man may change his acts but not his character." And here's a Muslim proverb: "If thou hearest that a mountain has moved, believe it; but if thou hearest that a man has changed his character, do not believe it." Any change in our nature, habits and attitudes can take place only by the work of the cross of Christ, through its amazing power, when we fully surrender ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
The time is short. The Lord's second coming is very near. We are growing older. We all began our life with the appointed number of days and have already used up many days. We do not know when our life will come to an end. A poet expresses it thus: "The leaves of life keep falling one by one." The physical frame has begun to wither and is slowly decaying.
So, let us guard against the danger of becoming insensitive towards God's kingdom and its values, lest our insensitivity gets 'chronic' with the passage of time and we are too late for God to change us!! Let us surrender ourselves to Jesus and ask Him to transform us. He will surely bring about the needed change in us, making us new, and giving us marvellous spiritual life.
We will then experience and exhibit the beauty and marvel of spiritual new birth. What is done for Christ now will be rewarded in eternity!