Alive Again

Alive Again June 28, 2016

A few years back I read an unusual news story about a fellow named Walter Williams, an elderly man who passed away under hospice care. The county coroner checked his pulse, found nothing, and declared him dead. He completed his paperwork, placed the dead man in a body bag, and transported him to a local funeral home where he helped the mortician place the body on the table for a normal embalming. What happened next was definitely not part of a normal embalming: the man in the body bag began to move—first, kicking his legs and then taking long, deep breaths. As you might imagine, the county coroner began to move as well! He called paramedics, who quickly transported Mr. Williams to the hospital, where family members welcomed him back.

It’s spooky stuff when the dead return to take their place again among the living. But that’s precisely what happens when an individual comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ. “Regeneration” and “new birth” are the theological terms for it (cf. Eph 2:1-5, John 3:3-8), and it has wonderfully meaningful implications for our new lives in Christ.

First, new birth gives us hope. Birth imparts your ethnic identity, citizenship, socioeconomic class, and even the potential and limitations for your mental and physical development. A “new birth” recreates all of that, giving you a new identity, new citizenship, new class, new family, new character, and new future. You can change! In fact, you are changing! And it’s not up to you; God is doing this.

Regeneration also frees you from the burdens of shame about your faults and failures. It means you are under renovation, being renewed into the image of Jesus Christ. You can be honest about your sin without fear of criticism or rejection. After all, people are much more forgiving when they realize a transformation is taking place, as when they see a “Please Excuse Our Mess” sign at a store under renovation. 

Finally, regeneration is a powerful ground for assurance. You were once dead in sin, dead to God, dead to spiritual warnings and comforts. You were unwilling to take God up on His offer of love and life, disinterested in it, unable to take advantage of it. So how did you get saved? God granted you new life freely, entirely apart from any request you made, faith you expressed, or reformation you began. He chose to set His love and mercy upon you. How loved you are!