Sometimes Catholics are challenged by other Christians concerning the authenticity of their faith. The promise of eternal life in heaven is said to belong only to those who have been born again. Catholics are made children of God through faith and the grace poured out on us at baptism.
The same is true for all Christians, for anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Usually, when Christians talk about the importance of being born again, they are drawing from the passage in John's gospel 3: A few other places in the Bible with phrases closely associated with being born again are found in James 1: While the importance of a spiritual rebirth is found in Scripture, when we examine the Bible to learn more about the significance of being "born again," we discover that the meaning often given to it by born-again Christians does not fully reflect the biblical teachings they cite.
Exploring the use of the phrase "born again" in the Gospel Catholic hookup a born again christian John will also validate the Christian experience of Catholics. In many translations of John's gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus, "You must be born again" 3: In the original language the Greek phrase can also be expressed as "born from Catholic hookup a born again christian. The difference between Jesus' use of "born from above" and Nicodemus' "born again" is a result of Nicodemus' misunderstanding what Jesus is saying.
Nicodemus is baffled to hear that Jesus says he must be born "again" if he wants to see the kingdom of God. Jesus, however, is telling him that he must be born from above. The direction from which this birth occurs is of great importance. It is the Spirit's activity that makes this new life possible, and the new life is given through the gift of the Spirit poured out on us in baptism.
It is necessary to be born again in baptism, that is, to be given a spiritual rebirth from God. That is not necessarily the born-again experience many speak of as being the one essential mark of a true Christian. There are really two different matters here: The Bible has a lot to Catholic hookup a born again christian about both, but the connection between the two is not absolute.
The Bible does indeed suggest that Christians have every reason to be confident of their relationship to God in Christ, but beyond baptism, that confidence is not based on any particular religious experience.
Experiencing God's Love As Christians, we can be confident of God's love for us as children because it is Christ, the one who died for us and who is risen from the dead, who is the guarantor of our saving relationship with God. We know God loves us because of Jesus, not because we have had an "experience.
The experience is not what makes one a Christian, but the power of an experience that flows from one's awareness of being loved by God can also be quite transformative. Paul makes it perfectly clear that we are brought into a special relationship with God through baptism. In his letter to the Galatians he reminds them that their relationship to God is not based on observance of Jewish law but is one they know in their hearts because of the movement of the Holy Spirit there:.
Paul offers the testimony found in their own hearts as proof of their new status as children of God. If they had not been aware of the Spirit crying out to God, "Abba, Father! Again, in Romans 8: It was also a prayer that was offered over and over in Christian gatherings. One might expect that "Abba, Father! The experience of having said it was proof positive for Paul, Catholic hookup a born again christian Galatians, and the Romans of their new relationship to God. There is no doubt that the cry was heartfelt.
This utterance, which goes back to Jesus himself see Mark According to the eminent Catholic biblical theologian Joseph Fitzmeyer, S.
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If they did so in Rome and Galatia, then undoubtedly Christians prayed in this manner in many regions of the Roman Empire. It would have been no less heartfelt, and certainly no less Spirit inspired, because they prayed it often within a liturgical context. They had no trouble believing that what they had been taught to pray by church leaders was simultaneously an urging of the Spirit.
They believed Catholic hookup a born again christian worship was inspired, and it stirred their hearts. As Catholics, we believe our worship is also inspired, and our hearts are also stirred. We are, after all, engaged in the same worship as our early brothers and sisters.
It is very natural to associate the "Abba, Father! In receiving this new birth we become the children of God in the most special sense of all: At Jesus' baptism, a voice cried out from heaven saying, "You are my beloved son" Mark 1: God speaks the same message to us at our baptism, a fact made clear in the liturgical response from the heart of early Christians: What they prayed together in worship they also felt deep within their hearts.
That is a message we may need to remind our own hearts of.
Every time we pray the Our Father, we are repeating this heartfelt prayer of early Christians, calling on God as our loving parent because we know in our hearts that we have become God's very own children.
Not just cousins, in-laws, or friends of the family, we are the Catholic hookup a born again christian and sisters of Jesus Christ. Growing in Our Personal Relationship with God Cultivating a personal relationship with God in Christ is a lot like cultivating a relationship with anyone who is important to you, such as a spouse or an important friend.
Relationships that are important need time dedicated to them so that they can grow and flourish. Open, honest communication is a must. Also, the time spent together should be enjoyable and refreshing, as much as possible. When things go wrong in a relationship, of course, we have to spend time sorting things out, apologizing, and recommitting. However, much of the time spent in a healthy relationship means just enjoying each other's company.
All this applies as much to our relationship with Christ as it does with Catholic hookup a born again christian close, personal friend. And that is because Christ truly wants to be our close, personal friend.