“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13)
The Christian born-again experience, of repenting of our sin and inviting Jesus Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior, is a break-away from the expectations of worldly conventional normalcy. It is the first test of being courageous and free-thinking enough to depart from the ways and thinking of the world…non-conformity in the most fundamental sense.
It is a separation from the way we used to think…of self being in control…a liberation from the worldly expectation of going it on our own without God’s help, guidance, or friendship.
Becoming born-again spiritually as a new Christian convert is a personal, one-to-one experience with God. It is not being “religious” or joining a group…although a new Christian believer does join a large group of the Christian church of believers scattered around the world.
“But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).
I recently watched a DVD biography of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. One of the central themes taught by Luther…one of the great insights in human history…is that there are only two sacraments in the New Testament…the Lord’s communion supper and baptism…and not the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church that interjected priests, bishops, and popes into the relationship between a believer and God…in order to establish the bureaucracy and financing of the Roman Catholic Church at that time.
This new and revolutionary teaching, of course, set off a firestorm of spiritual opposition…because the devil does not want believers to have a personal relationship with God…and at every turn in subtly corrupted “religion” will set up human intermediaries between believers and their personal walk of faith following Jesus Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13).
This is why a God-composed, bold and courageous journey of faith as previewed for us in the Bible, starting with Abraham and continuing through every positive character to the end of the Book of Acts…is so vitally important and will be attacked so forcefully as occurred in the Protestant Reformation.
As Abraham is walking from the city of Haran to Canaan the Promised Land, with each step forward Abraham’s normative conventional plans are being entirely displaced by the higher plan God has for his life. This is the God-composed journey of faith life-script for the new covenant, born-again believer that is at diametric odds with the worldly conventional expectations…which we courageously depart from…when we accept Christ into our lives.
I think this is the equally explosive extension of what Luther rediscovered 500 years ago in the now famous concept that “the just shall live by faith” in a personal life-journey with God…and if and when this concept takes hold in Christendom (Joel 2:28-29), the pushback from the world will be just as forceful and as intense as in the 1500’s protestant Reformation in Europe.