It's been a while since I've written anything, and this will be somewhat short. Oh well, life happens.
A few weeks ago I was reading a new book by John Piper called Finally Alive, about what it means to be born again. It was awesome. Then I flew somewhere for work, and left it on the plane. Curses and drat. It's available free online, but something about that just isn't the same, so I'll probably finish it once I get another copy. Anyway, one of the first things that really stood out to me was an observation I don't recall ever making before. Piper asks a really basic question - why must we be born again? Why is that the only way?
Part of the answer he gives is based on this analogy - the severity of the cure is proportional to the severity of the disease. Nobody would undergo radiation therapy for a tummyache, or get your leg amputated for a sore toe. For measures that extreme to even be considered, the disease has to be incredibly dangerous. Bad enough that if these last-resort measures aren't taken, you will die.
So consider what that means with regards to regeneration. No other remedy will suffice - we must be born again. We must be completely made new. There is no other way. We cannot just be made better. We can't work really hard and improve. We can't be reformed. The command originally was given to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in the top percentile of righteous men among the most righteous nation on earth (for what that's worth). Yet even he could not just do better, so that he could stand on account of his own righteousness. No, the only way we can ever be brought into right standing with God, and see the kingdom, is to be born again.
What does that say about how we are before Christ makes us alive? How desperately sinful are we if no reformation could ever be enough, if we must be made completely new? That simple command - "You must be born again" - is about as strong a statement of total depravity as you'll find in scripture (and that's saying something!). If the only possible solution is to be born again, there is truly nothing commendable in us. Truly, salvation is completely of the Lord.
38 minutes ago