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>Living Faith: Life in the Kingdom

Only Dead Men Need Apply

You may have already heard
the familiar words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus: “Ye must be born
again.”


I also heard those words as
a young man. In fact, I heard them many times before I made the
personal decision to be “born again.” Additional years
passed before another statement of Jesus also gripped my heart:
“Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it
abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”


It's as if Jesus is offering
the recipe for spiritual life in these words, and the first
ingredient is death. Unless death takes place, life cannot be. Unless
the old dies, the new cannot be born.


Thousands have responded to
Christ's first command to be born again. They have prayed the
sinner's prayer and claimed the new birth, but have then attempted to
incorporate the new life into old ways of living. Little changed,
except that they “took Jesus with them” to the office—or
to the dance floor. They claimed faith; they called on Jesus to also
save their friends—or asked Him to help them make a dollar. For
them, Jesus was the perfect, additional dimension to a well-ordered
life.


I have no heart to judge
them, but I am convinced Jesus meant something more than life
renovation when he talked about the new birth. When he told Nicodemus
to be born again, he was ordering a man who “had it made,”
and who had already shaped his life into a success, to begin his life
again at the bottom, to discard his achievements and credentials and
become—not a better rabbi—but a spiritual infant. He was
telling the old Nicodemus to die so that a new Nicodemus could be
born with the spiritual genetics of the heavenly Father.


That death is the deliberate
decision that “I no longer matter; Christ is all.” It's
allowing Jesus to put the ax to all that was the focus of the old
life—the unholy longings, the self-centered ambitions and the
bitterness. It's the surrender of everything that comes from self and
Satan, and the willingness to leave Jesus take over the inner sanctum
of our hearts.


Why is it that we're so
quick to think we can be “born again” without also
“falling into the ground and dying,” when, according to
the words of Jesus, you cannot have life without death?


I could ask you if you've
been born again. But, when it really comes down to it, I'm almost as
interested in knowing whether or not you've “died.”


It's very true that there is
life—abundant life, in fact—for Christians. But only
those who have gone through this gate of death will enter the land of
spiritual life.


Do you want to be alive in
Christ? To live abundantly in Him?


You can, but only dead men
and women need apply.





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