The True Born Again Experience?

Q. I enjoy your website and appreciate your knowledge of God’s word. My question concerns the true born again experience. Most church messages I’ve heard call people to the altar to confess Jesus as their Savior, but never truly prepare the convert for the broken and contrite surrender necessary for the completion of their salvation. Do you agree that our Western Christian culture has watered down the message, leaving many who believe that they are born again deceived?

A. I agree that the Western Christian culture has watered down the message. But the area where this has occurred is in discipleship, not salvation.

First, the broken and contrite surrender, as you call it, is something that happens through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and leads to our decision to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness

Salvation is an event you experience once, it’s not a process you go through until you’ve completed it. Paul wrote that we were included in Christ when we heard the gospel and believed it. At that moment the Holy Spirit was sealed within us as a deposit that guarantees our inheritance (Ephes 1:13-14). In 2 Cor. 1:21-22 he further said when that happens God accepts responsibility to make us stand firm in Christ, puts His seal of ownership on us, and puts His Spirit in our hearts to guarantee what is to come. At that point our salvation is assured because it’s what we believe that saves us, not how we behave.

It’s where we go from there that’s been watered down, or ignored altogether, in so many churches. As a result over 90% of born again believers live wasted and defeated Christian lives. Still saved, as Paul said, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Cor. 3:15). In other words, with nothing to show for their Christian lives.

What a different world this would be if every Christian’s daily prayer was, “Lord, help me to live up to what I’ve already attained” (Phil. 3:16).

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