What is the aim of this book? What is it about? John Piper sets out to give an explanation of what it means to be born again according to the Scriptures. He contends that there is a misconception among many people about what it truly means to be regenerated by God. He begins the book with a great opening line: “The declaration of Jesus that we must be born again (John 3:7) is either deluded or devastating to the one who would be captain of his soul.” (p. 9) There is no middle way. Jesus’ words to Nicodemus were perplexing. How can a person be born again? What Jesus says goes beyond external obedience or conformity. Being born again means being completely transformed from the inside out.
Piper tells the story of two individuals, Augustine and C.S. Lewis, who had very different regeneration experiences. Augustine was struck by the utter filth of his own sin. As a result, he took up the Bible and read Romans 13:13-14. Paul’s words drew him to the Savior and Augustine was transformed. For Lewis, it was completely different. Upon the influence of a few friends who had been discussing Christianity with him, Lewis says he came to faith in Christ begrudgingly. He had no more arguments, no more reasons. Though their stories are different, “nothing is more important for two human souls than to say truly, ‘We know that we have passed out of death into life’ (1 John 3:14).” (p. 12)
The major issue that Piper highlights in this introduction is the fact that there are many “Christians” who look and live just like the world but still claim that they have been born again. How can this be true? If we have been regenerated, then we have been transformed into a new creation in which our lives are progressively becoming more like Christ. True regeneration absolutely leads to a changed life. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian. So it means that many people who call themselves Christians and yet bear no resemblance to Christ are not born again.
I think that gives us plenty to think about and discuss this week and in the weeks to come.
So what do you think about Piper’s claims? Is he right about being born again? And are there many people claiming to have been born again that really haven’t? Fire away.
Read chapter 1 this week and expect a post on Monday (November 16th).