"We gather in faith..."

Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis J. Christian

Reflections

Sometimes well-meaning and devout evangelical

fundamentalist Christians will ask someone, “Have

you been ‘born again’”? By this they usually mean

have you had a personal encounter with Jesus during

which you gave yourself to Him and received the

Holy Spirit into your heart? They then claim that

without this experience you have not been saved. In

response to this question we should understand that

the main place that Jesus talks about being ‘born

again” is in the Gospel of St. John, chapter 3, verses

1-6. Actually, Jesus talks there about being ‘born

from above’. Nicodemus misunderstands this as

being born again.

Jesus then explains that being born from above

means being born of ‘water and spirit”. It seems

obvious that what he is referring to is baptism. It is

at baptism that we receive the Spirit of God who

unites us with the Risen Lord. Having received that

divine life, the same Spirit encourages and enables us

to live out that life. As St. Paul says, once we have

put on Christ (in baptism) we must live a new life,

that of Christ himself. Understanding this, hopefully

we can also understand that the term “born again

Christian’ is really a redundancy, a repetition. To be

a Christian is to be born again. Once we have been

baptized we have been born from above and do not

need to be born from above again. Of course, we

need to live out our baptism and recommit ourselves

to it each day. Baptism isn’t magic which guarantees

us heaven. It is the gift of God’s life which will

bring us to heaven if we live it out. Nowhere in the

gospels or in any of the letters of the Apostles do we

find any mention of the kind of ‘born again’

experience mentioned above as necessary for

salvation. But in baptism we are all born from above

(born anew, born again) and will be saved if we live

out the life of the Lord which it