Millions of people hesitate on the brink of being born again because of their fear of where it will lead them. Implicit to Saul of Tarsus being born again as Paul the Apostle was his surrender to the will of God. This is an inescapable sequel to everyone who comes to Christ for salvation. Paul defined the doings of a born-again believer as a life of “understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17) and then doing it.
The will of God is the believer’s total concern.
What is the surest way to know the will of God? The willingness and resolution to do it. Said Jesus: “If any man will do his will, he shall know” (John 7:17). As a Christian you can be absolutely sure of one thing: Christ has a work for you to do which no one else can do as He wants you to do it.
Reverend and Mrs. Victor McMannus told me recently of their former maid, Angela Watson. My wife and I were staying with them the first winter we were married. I had apparently said to Angela: “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord?” Replying that she didn’t, but would like to, she knelt down then and there and gave her life to Christ. Shortly after, she went to the Faith Mission Bible Training Institute in Edinburgh, through nurses training, and then to Nigeria. There she has been leading people to Christ and helping in the healing of bodies for eighteen years.
It seems to me from the Scriptures that one of the surest evidences that someone has been born again is that he immediately feels it is God’s will to reach someone else for Christ.
Olga Brady’s father had been a German gold miner and her mother was a Filipino beauty queen. She had married an American lawyer, and the couple lived in one of the most palatial mansions in Upper Luzoni. But suddenly, Brady died and Olga grew bitter and morose. They had had no children because they wanted to be swingers in the social circuit. So Olga was overtaken by a sense of complete alienation and despair. She felt that the Filipinos treated her as a European, and the Europeans treated her as if she were Filipino. She locked herself into her house alone and vegetated. She often thought of suicide. Like Frank Sinatra’s song, she just wanted to curl up and die.
Then one day, a knock came on her door. It was a kindly person inviting her to a gospel meeting in the University of Baguio gymnasium. She came only to escape her melancholy. Sitting up in the balcony, she heard a knock at her heart’s door. It was Jesus. Would she open her life to Him? She decided she would. And she did. And the very next night she brought her doctor to the service. He, too, was born again. And when we left Mile High Baguio in the Northern Phillipines, it seemed that Olga Brady was lighting up the whole spiritual sky with her glowing testimony to the power of the Risen Christ.
But, in case someone should get the impression that being born again is all fun and games, let me hasten to stress that it is also a spiritual battle.
The Christian will never be happy or content in a state of spiritual defeat. He will strive for the mastery. He will fight the good fight of faith.
I serve as Chancellor of Richmond College, and our Biology professor is Dr. Norman Martyn. He is also an Anglican rector of a parish near Peterborough where Joe Scriven, over a century ago, wrote the most familiar words ever written in Canada. Joe was a missionary from Ireland, working among our Iroquois Indians when he was joined by his Irish fiancee. Just before the wedding, she was killed in an ice accident. Joe buried her with his own hands and a broken heart. A year later, in a letter to his mother, he reflected:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged.
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Joe Scriven was on the road to triumph, even though for him, as for all, there were times when the road was rough.
Where else does the born-again experience lead? Into the strengthening of Christian marriages and Christ-centered homes. In Ephesians 5, St. Paul taught that in being “followers of God, as dear children … as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:1-25), and “Children obey your parents in the Lord … and, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
Here in Canada one in four marriages ends in divorce. Only one in twelve marriages ended in divorce when we entered our second century as a nation in 1967. In the United States, the divorce rate has gone up as much in the last four years as in the previous ten. And ten times as many couples register that they are living common-law now as a decade ago. This affects nearly everyone sooner or later, because everyone is born into a family, and sooner or later 97 percent of men and 96 percent of women marry. Nine out of ten of both sexes attach maximum priority in life to a happy marriage.
Many take marriage all too lightly: a television program is frivolously entitled: “How to Survive a Marriage!” A magazine cover story is entitled: “Hooked on a Married Man!”, while a columnist cracks: “The trouble with marriage is that the whole thing has given divorce a bad name.” In the name of women being liberated, judges are now beginning to grant the custody of children to adulterous wives, while 20 percent of single-parent families in North America are now headed up by the father — up 300 percent.
Is divorce really as frivolous or glamorous as many in the media make out? Canadian TV star Michele Finney lamented recently over her “lousy marriage and the rotten divorce,” which led to so many “frustrations” and “bitterness.” Joane Carson goes public in relating how divorce from Johnny felt: “You both lose … that’s the strongest thing that comes through, the fact that you’ve both lost. There is the agony of picking up the pieces … there is no way to go through divorce easily. I don’t care who wants out, both people go through their own private hells. It touches every single part of your life from skin to gut level.”
And divorce costs all of us money — in tax dollars. In Ontario, we pay for 40% of the divorces transacted in this province, not to mention the millions it costs to support the abandoned children who are casualties of these divorces. Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth, was very concerned about the home. He was born into a home. His first miracle was at a marriage ceremony. He often healed broken hearts by raising a dead son to his mother, or a dead daughter to her father. And when He was on the cross, He cared for His mother, Mary, by committing her to the custody of John the Apostle.
Is your marriage on the Rock, or on the rocks? Doctor George Crane, M.D., Ph.D., the clinical columnist in newspapers throughout North America, has calculated that when a married couple are active together in the same church they have about a 50 times greater chance of avoiding divorce; and that only one in 500 marriages breaks up where there is a family altar. It is a truism in this final quarter of the 20th century that the family that prays together stays together.
I received a letter the other day from a man in Idaho. He told me, “Because of my neglect of my spiritual life, I now find myself separated from my wife. I put myself first and finished last. My wife put God first and finished first. I had just put the two little girls down for a nap and switched channels on the TV and I knew if I watched, there would be a message for me.” There was, and he says: “I prayed the sinner’s prayer.”
On a Friday night during a recent meeting in California, among those who came forward to be born again in Christ was a handsome 18-year-old, Tom Harris. He attended nightly thereafter until Tuesday. After the service he came up and told me he was flying back home to the Midwest in a few hours. Tom had left home at 16. Not once had he contacted his parents. Instead, he got into a ripoff swindle, pedaling fake magazine subscriptions and spending the money on a life that included shooting heroin between his toes. Now, with Christ, he had phoned his family. His folks were so glad to hear from him that they wired him a ticket to come home and he had come to tell me that he was on his way.
John and Julia Mays had given up on their marriage and separated. One night at a gospel meeting, without either knowing of the other’s presence, they both came forward and were born again. Then they saw each other. And they went home to live together, to love each other and to serve Christ. That was ten years ago, and they’re still with Christ.
Being born again gives us a new love for our families.
Finally, being born again leads us into a triumphant homegoing to be with Christ. I saw a note in The Toronto Globe and Mail which read: “Work for the Lord. The pay is not much, but the retirement plan is out of this world!” St. John wrote of those of us who have been born again: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
When I lived in Oxford, England, I drove down to what might have been the poorest and most squalid coal mining village in Wales to preach each night for a week in a tiny chapel. Each day I’d go house to house and ask the dwellers, “Does Jesus live here?” If he didn’t, I’d try to explain how He’d like to move in and transform their lives.
One afternoon I was knocking on doors and came to one which was ajar. When I knocked, it swung open. There in the shadows was a worn-out old man of 80 years with partially patched coal-dust saturated overalls. His off-white whiskers matched his mane of grizzly, grey hair which hung over his tired eyes blinking above a toothless smile. He knew me. He had hobbled around to the little chapel the night before. With lungs eaten out by a lifetime of inhaling coal dust, he squeaked, “Come in.”
With a big, rough shaky hand he shook mine and led me over to a creaky table, sitting me down on a wobbly bench beside it. Off to his right was a coal fire and hanging over it a black-coated chain suspending a soot covered kettle. Removing it, he poured its contents into two rusty tin cups of tea leaves. A shake of sugar and a splash of milk later, tea was served. With a dull knife, worn nearly in half, he hacked off a couple of pieces of bread from a nearly spent loaf, and squeezed chunks of cheese into them. It was the miners’ staff of life. He wanted me to eat and drink with him, and I did. But when I asked him if Jesus lived here, he replied that He didn’t. However, since the meeting of the night before, he’d thought of nothing else. His wife was dead and his children were long gone and hardly ever came to see him.
How could he invite Jesus into his life and know that he was His? I said, “Friend, just as when I knocked on your door, you asked me to come in and sit down and eat with you, so Jesus knocks on your heart’s door, and when you invite Him to do so, He comes into your life and sups with you and shares life eternal with you.” There and then he asked Jesus to come into his heart. When I left, there was the freshness of new spiritual life on his face. He had been well and truly born again.
Early the next morning, I felt the urge to go around and see my old friend again, and when I turned into his street, there was a slow, soupy rain falling. When I reached his grubby door, it was tightly shut. After knocking and hearing no movement, I looked through the window. The drape was drawn, but not quite all the way. Through the opening, I saw a plain pine coffin, the kind the British Government provides for those who can’t buy their own. The lid was up and there was my friend, and on his face I thought I saw an expression of peace which read. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
Reprinted by permission from What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? by John Wesley White, published and copyrighted 1977, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55438.

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