What I gathered from her talk was that being born of the Spirit was a result of obeying the commandments and walking in love. I hope that she wasn’t intending to put it that way, but I never heard her speak of the work of Christ on the cross nor the moment of one’s conversion. She almost made it sound like a process. Sanctification, is of course, an ongoing process. But conversion is instantaneous – a moment when we are take from death unto life.
The cross must be an integral part of the message of the new birth. For it is through the cross that our old spiritual life in Adam is put to death. Our flesh (physical being) is not inherently sinful, but rather it becomes corrupted by our sinful spiritual identity. Jesus is the perfect illustration of this. He was born in “the likeness of sinful flesh”, and yet He was without sin. And the reason was because He was born through the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit through the virgin Mary, thus bypassing the spiritual corruption of Adam that comes through the seed of a man. Our old spiritual identity, which is the root cause of our sinfulness, is described in Ephesians 2:1-3 as being “according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience”. And at conversion, this old spiritual life is put to death through our spiritual union with Christ on the cross, and we are raised to newness of life with Him (i.e., born again) through our union with Him in His resurrection. The cross-less born again experience she speaks of almost has a new-age flavor to it. “If you walk in this path you will begin to experience being born again by the Spirit”. You can call that Spirit she refers to as the Spirit of Jesus, but if the cross is not at some point brought into the discussion, then it really isn’t the Christian born again experience.
I just hope she is not teaching a born again experience that is the result of our own efforts at spirituality. I did hear her refer to depending upon Jesus to fill us, which is vital to the Christian life experience. But the initial regeneration experience occurs at the moment when we truly embrace Christ by faith and surrender our lives to Him. That is not a process. It may be a process in getting to that point, but the death to life quickening of our spirit is instantaneous, and the ability to walk in love flows from there. And the reason is, as Romans 5:5 states, “For the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit He has given us.” As John said in 1 John, “We love because He first loved us”. And the love which we express to God and to others is wholly generated by the Holy Spirit and not by ourselves. That is why the new birth experience must be the genesis moment in our Christian walk. For we are incapable of loving as God would have us to apart from His power. And that is why being born again cannot be a process achieved as we walk in love.
I don’t think Rachel would disagree with you. If you follow her blog, you’ll be aware that she is very Christ-centered. As with most of us, she may not always remember that she has new watchers who need to be assured of this. But she’s very accessible. If you were to ask her about this in your typical courteous way, I know she’d discuss it with you.
As for me, I agree with you more than I disagree. I will confess, though, that although I prayed “the prayer” many times as a young person, I can’t put my finger on a point of conversion. Some can point to a particular moment and time and say, “This is when I believed.” I just can’t. I’ve always believed, and then again, I came to believe. But when, I don’t know.
Jesus told His followers, “Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey . . . and baptizing them . . .” Watchman Nee states in The Normal Christian Life that it is more scriptural to talk of salvation taking place at the point of baptism (though he doesn’t commit to this, that I can see) than at the moment of praying a special prayer. The sinners’ prayer is not (as I feel sure you know) to be found in scripture. We don’t see the disciples or apostles praying it or teaching others to pray it or to lead potential disciples in praying it.
I’ve seen many people emotionally manipulated in a time of crisis or in an emotional church service or evangelical presentation standing in front, praying the prayer of salvation. Seldom do they follow through in a life of discipleship. Of those I personally know, none have. We love to say, “Today 247 people prayed the prayer of salvation to receive Jesus as their personal savior,” but what does that mean if they don’t follow Him?
I think the moment happens when a lost one sees Jesus and turns from his wicked ways to follow Him. At that moment, he is “saved.” And at that moment, he begins to be “saved.” From Colossians chapter one, it seems to me that our salvation comes in following Jesus (being of the Kingdom). It is only possible to die to this world and live toward the Kingdom of God because Jesus has, by His death, enabled us to do this and rescued us from our sinfulness.
But if I continue this, I’ll write yet another blog post. Visit Rachel’s site. Ask her. I’m sure she’ll be happy to discuss with you what she believes.
I whole heartedly agree with what you say. I too “prayed the prayer” several hundred times as a youth – with no assurance. But if we look at Romans 10:9 we find that being saved involves declaring Christ as Lord and believing He died and rose again for us. I was a “part b” Christian during my youth, intentionally neglecting “part a”, which is declaring Christ as Lord. When I was 23, I was sitting at my table reading the bible, trying to figure out why I never “felt” saved. I consciously decided that night that I was going to follow Jesus. No prayer was prayed. But my life radically changed. I believe in retrospect that that’s when part a and part b came together and I was born again. I have since come to the conclusion that Christ does not regenerate rebellious sinners, but only surrendered sinners. And I would give a strong leaning toward Watchman Nee’s comment about baptism. As Peter says in 1 Peter 3:21, baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience”. Nevertheless, I do think that God regenerates us before we get into the water,
I do believe the gospel is often presented in a shallow easy-believe manner. Whenever I lead someone to Christ, I make sure they are fully conscious of the fact that they are surrendering their life to Christ in the sense that they are declaring Him as Lord. I have seen people who come to Christ with this understanding continue on and lead transformed lives.
Hia everyone on this page .I was looking for the meaning of God’s glory and found myself here .I believe it wasn’t a mistake as I have learned a lot as a young Christian here .thank you Cind and any one who participates the way you guys share the word of God,it is clear.
RACHEL is doing a awesome job i am in full agreement with her, she is being absolutely lead by the holy spirit, her calling is from the lord, she is blowing the trumphet in zion. and i am very glad u are one of the sheep as well as i that has found her amen cindy!!