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Born again

December 2004 | by Chris Smith

In 1993, I started to attend church for the first time on a regular basis. God must have been drawing me because I felt that this was the right thing to do. We were driving 50 minutes each way to get to my grandmother’s Baptist church every Sunday.

We also attended a modern-style non-denominational church closer to home. It also had a contemporary style of worship and a great children’s program. During this time I found myself enjoying the sermons and the fellowship with others at both churches.

The problem was that, try as I did, I could not follow the Bible’s teachings in my daily life – I still found myself sinning at an alarming pace. I was completely unable to fight my sins.

There always seemed to be something missing. I was haunted ( for lack of a better word ) whenever I read or heard the words of Jesus, ‘You must be born again’ and ‘Depart from me, for I never knew you’. This was not just uncomfortable but actually caused me fear and anxiety. This went on for years.

In fall of 2002, I started to attend Berean Baptist Church. This first time we attended was because we were meeting a friend in Flint, Michigan, and decided to try out Berean which happened to be close.

For the first time ever I was challenged with the truth of God’s Word, and my wife and I both decided to start attending on a regular basis.

The next week we went to church just like any other Sunday. Pastor Dickie preached from John 3 and the story of Nicodemus, and it was as if I heard it for the first time. At one point he was making a point clear and said, ‘You must be born again, you must be born again, you must be born again!’

The Lord suddenly opened my eyes. I could not hide any more because I was understanding God’s truth for the first time and I was broken.

Right there in the pew I was unable to hold back the tears (they return again as I am writing this). I was overwhelmed with the guilt and pride I had for all those years and I realised what a phoney and a fake I really was.

How I had sinned before a just and holy God! But, at the same time, all the love and forgiveness that Christ offers filled my heart to comfort me. I was born again in that moment in that pew – it was unmistakable. I sought out the pastor after the service and we prayed.

I did not attend Berean Church that second time because of any music or great children’s programs or any ‘cool’ workshops. I went because I had heard the truth preached. I did not hear man-made doctrine, but God’s Word – in all its glory and truth. God is sovereign and salvation is all of grace.

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