It’s been three months since I’ve posted. No, I didn’t lose interest in writing or even worse, fall off the face of the earth. It’s been the busiest semester of my college career for me and I simply haven’t been able to get around to writing. And I miss it. I wish I could have continued through this semester but I’ve had to cut things out I love doing, and this was one of them. I should probably be sleeping instead of writing this to prepare for more homework I have to do in the morning but there is something that I feel the need to share at this moment. When something concerning the Kingdom of God comes to mind we should remember the profound, one-verse parable of Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
I will not be writing about this verse but this verse is the reason I will be sharing what you’re about to read. The Kingdom of God is such an urgent matter that when we discover (more so, God reveals) something new in Scripture, we should seek it out with joy and share it with others.
I want to focus on the first part of 1 John 5:1; thirteen simple words. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” What’s so profound about this? This is something Christians hear all the time. There’s nothing new here. Or is there? Let’s break this down.
The word “that” is not just a word that is thrown into this sentence just because. This is not a vague religious commitment but a wholehearted trust in the saving work of Christ. Everyone who believes has been born of God. That is a promise. Notice the word “has” also. This means that before believing in God, we were born of him. This verse tells us that regeneration precedes faith. What is regeneration? Christians will sometimes use these big theological terms that non-Christians have no idea what they mean and other times, Christians themselves don’t know what they mean.
Regeneration is when we receive God’s gift of new spiritual life. God says twice in the book of Ezekiel that “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26). God softens our hard, sinful hearts, allowing us to believe in him. If we go to the gospel of John 1:12 we see this again. “But to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Receive, then believe.
This is the Gospel right here. That given an infinite amount of chances we would never choose God on our own. Not even once. That’s how corrupt we are in our natural state. That’s how corrupt sin is. God had and still has every right to leave us on our own and let us suffer the consequences of our sin, which is eternity apart from him. But the story doesn’t end there.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)
The Gospel continues in this passage. We are given a way out from our corruption. We were dead in the trespasses and sins. Dead means dead. We cannot do anything to bring ourselves back. Often, the analogy of us “drowning” in our sins is used, where God throws us a life raft and we grab onto it, obtaining salvation in that way. I find this analogy troubling as it implies we have to do anything to receive God’s grace. If we had to work for grace, it is not grace. A more correct analogy would be us drowned at the bottom of the ocean and Jesus comes down to bring us back to the surface and he breathes new life back into us. That is the Gospel. Not that we did anything to accomplish our own salvation, but that God did it all. We see this in verses 8-9 of the Ephesians passage. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
This is God’s wonderful and undeserved gift of regeneration. Without it, we would never come to believe that “Jesus is the Christ.” This is what it means to be born of God. It means that we are hopeless, foolish sinners who, without the intervention of God, would be condemned to hell. God is perfectly just in not saving a single soul. He has no obligation to save anyone. If he were obligated to save, grace would not be grace. And if God does not have grace, then God is not God.