March 7, 1995
Imagine getting up one cold winter morning to discover your three-year-old is missing. After a fruitless search of the house, you open the front door to an icy wind blowing snow in your face. You look down. Your child is lying on the step. You snatch her inside. She is blue and stiff. There are no vital signs. How can she be alive?
When this happened to a family in Saskatchewan, the frantic parents and a determined medical team defied the obvious and tried to revive the child. Their story has a happy ending; she lost one leg but laughs, eats, sleeps and moves. She is very much alive. Was she already dead when her mother found her? Or still alive? Are the signs reliable indicators? Thankfully, who thinks of asking if she is alive now? The signs of physical life are unmistakable.
However, there is another kind of life. It has some of the characteristics of physical life but there are great differences. It is what the Bible calls “spiritual life.”
Some would argue that all creatures have a basic “spiritual” life. They say we are part of a cosmic energy, a spiritual reality that ties the universe together and is part of every living thing. Others include inanimate objects. God’s Word does not allow that broad understanding. According to it, God is the eternal Reality, an invisible Spirit who created all else from nothing. His creation, whether visible or invisible, is distinct from Him and depends on Him.
The Bible also teaches God is the source of all spiritual life. According to Jesus, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” While human beings have a “spirit,” it is disconnected from God because of sin, a separation called “spiritual death.” The good news is that spiritual life is available and can be received from God through a new birth.
Unfortunately, many get on the “born again” band wagon using this term to describe what happened when they set goals or made resolutions. Some even use it to sell shampoo. However, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Just as our physical life begins with birth, so can a vital, new spiritual life. It comes as a gift from God through His Word. 1 Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” The Word of God is both a written account and a living Person, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ disciple, John, wrote, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
New birth is not a gimmick. It comes through faith in Christ and through sharing in His life. Like physical life, it bears evidence of its reality and those who have it know they have it. Those who claim they are “born again” but display no evidence of any life from Christ are deceived and possibly trying to deceive others. Spiritual life is self-evident in attitudes and actions. Those who have it confess their sins. They see themselves in the light of God’s holiness and realize they do not earn or deserve His favor.
Reborn people also confess Christ as Lord and stop trying to run their own lives. They will sometimes make mistakes and sometimes even rebel and look frozen and lifeless, but spiritual life eventually prevails. Those who have it begin resembling the One who gave it to them.