Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Must Be Born Again, O Israel!

It’s my birthday on Thursday (6th April) and, God willing, I’m going to be giving an evangelistic talk to a holiday club for seniors on John 3v7: “You must be born again”.

If this is right, and there seems to be something in it, John is primarily talking about the resurrection of Israel.

So can I still give my talk from that text calling for individual sinners urgently to believe in Jesus that they might be personally regenerated and enter Christ’s heavenly kingdom, or does it need a speedy rethink? Would it be better to say: believe in Jesus and you will be grafted into the re-born people of God, the True Israel?

The former certainly seems the more accessible message, once you've decoded the jargon. The latter seems to call for a grasp of the whole plot-line of Biblical theology. No, on seceond thoughts perhaps both are equally alien to your average unbeliever.

What do you think, talk team?


1 comment:

Liam Beadle said...

To be too obvious for a moment: 'Ye must be born again' (Jn 3.7) - plural; but 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' (Jn 3.3) - singular.

In 3.7, the plural is odd, given Nicodemus is on his own. But in the context of the implicit challenges of 3.3 and 3.5, is it not the case that Nicodemus is being addressed as a potential member of the new Israel he will belong to? And so, he must 'be personally regenerated and enter Christ's heavenly kingdom', which is the Body of Christ and the true Israel. Or, in terms the unbeliever might understand more easily, 'God's people'.

That message, consonant with the interpretation of that the underlying theme is primarily the resurrection of Israel, doesn't seem wholly different from the conventional approach seen, for example, in evangelistic books such as 'Turning Points' (p. 151).