• AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Theology


    Do you think God deals with us all in the same manner?  Do you think every person needs to affirm the same thing, quit the same sins, and all become something new?

    I’m going to be honest here, and say something very candid.  It might offend some, and I’m sorry if I do.  Please hear me out though.

    I don’t think we all have to be born again to be in the Kingdom.

    Wait, what?!

    I don’t think we all have to sell all we have, give it to the poor, and go after Jesus.

    I don’t think we all have to abandon our father’s fishing company and go live a life on the road, as James and John did.

    Why would I make those statements?  Because I think Jesus deals with us one-on-one.  He sees us and speaks to us individually, not issuing cookie-cutter responses to our needs.   When he met the rich ruler of Luke 18, he confronted him with what he needed to do, telling him to sell his possessions.  When he spoke with Matthew, he told him to leave his practice and follow him.  The Roman centurion in Matthew 8 had a faith that was stronger than those in Israel, and Jesus commended his faith, letting him stay in the military.  Nicodemus in the famous encounter of John 3, on the other hand, was told that he needed to be born again.

    Jesus, in these four encounters, handled each situations differently.  He dealt with the individual directly, not with everyone generally.  For the rich ruler, it is implied that the man made an idol out of money.  He needed to get rid of it completely, not just change his spiritual condition.  The centurion, on the other hand, was probably well-off like the man in Luke 18.  Yet, he was treated by Jesus on a different level than the ruler.

    I have a sinking suspicion that God wants to deal with us in different ways.

    Certainly though, the preaching pattern of Paul seem to demonstrate that we need to call upon the name of the Lord.  We need to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, according to Romans 10.9.  Yet, I think we all will have different roads to get to this conclusion.  We all will be treated differently when it comes to the road to redemption.  Some might need a “Damascus Road” conversion, with a dramatic appearance of Jesus himself.  Others, will need a quiet voice nudging them to the cross.  Yet others will need to see the grandeur of nature to meet the Creator of it all.

    God works differently for different people.  While you might not need to be born again, you might need to be hugged into the Kingdom or swiftly kicked in the pants into God’s grace.

    How did God bring you into his grace?  (I had to be kicked in the pants several times.)

  • Josh Augustine

    Somewhat related: do you feel that the church in Acts is designed to be a model for the modern church?

    The church I’m currently attending believes this is the case, but there are certain aspects of the church in Acts that are inconceivable in modern American culture, such as selling all your goods and living communally (which you mention in the headline).

    The early church in Acts did seem to call all Christians at that time to the same lifestyle, from what I remember. I’m sure there were practicing Christians outside of those groups as well, though.

    Thanks for the interesting thoughts, as always!

    • Good question, Josh! I wonder if the churches that were planted by Paul gave all that they had and lived communally. One example that came to mind was the verse in I Thessalonians 3 where Paul tells the people waiting for the return of Christ to work for their food. Paul and Aquila/Priscilla were tentmakers, no doubt they had tools that they used to provide for their livelihood.

      Trying to get back to the Early Church is a noble goal, yet the first century or two had its share of fighting. Reading over Acts you can see that things weren’t an idyllic paradise, it wasn’t a workers paradise by any stretch of the imagination. Imperfect people were in the Church, which means that they were still being formed into the image of Christ (even Paul and Peter).

      It would be interesting to see how the other churches grew, not just the Jerusalem one. If the letters of Paul are any indications, it looks like they had some growing pains!

  • Carrie Granger

    I understand all your references to God’s unique plan for us as individuals, except one.”You must be born again.” There are almost 30 scriptures that talk about the need to be born again. What about all those? Jesus said in John 3:3 ” Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Clearly an all inclusive statement. He didn’t say all must leave their fishing business, true. But being born again is not in the same category. To have a relationship with God we must be born of water and of the Spirit.