We MUST be Born Again
to see the kingdom of God

       For a generation or so there has been a big move among ethnic groups and minorities to get back to their "roots". The black community, for instance, looking back to its African culture and ancestry, are adamant about being called African Americans. In an ever increasing, fast-paced world where people feel they are getting lost in a blitz of conformity, people cling to ethnic pride for identity and security. We look into our family trees hoping to pluck out some famous personality or an example of a sterling individual that we can associate ourselves with, and say, "This is in my blood, this is what I'm like, this is who I am." But for the born-again Christian, truly converted and made a new creature in Christ, this should all change.
      We are given a whole new family heritage. Our roots can be found in the Bible. Our forefathers are men like Abraham, David, Daniel, Peter and Paul. 
The Bible tells us "Therefore if any man be in Christ; he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17) The most precious of these new things is a new heart, or spirit. We become, and in all actuality, are a totally new creation, a new creature. That is why the term 'born-again' is most appropriate. With our new birth we also get new roots, a new lineage for we become a true member of the family of God. It is a grave misconception fostered by humanism in the Church that says we are all the family of God. The Bible says that when we are born-again it amounts to an adoption of that person by God the Father. Our family tree instantly changes. Old things pass away, the Scripture says; all things are become new. Our genealogy in the spirit changes from Afro-American, Scottish, Irish, Italian, Indian or Japanese, to the genealogy of our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are of the family and household of God now. Therefore our "roots" are in God, in Christ the Savior. Our family history, our family tree is laid out before us in the Bible.
      This is not supposition, theological gymnastics, speculation, or presumption. A man I know once had a dream where God showed him the genealogy in Matthew which ends with Jesus, the Son of God. The voice of the Lord said to him, "Now you can put your name right next to His in that genealogy. You are of the family of God".

      We should get excited about the Bible once we see it as the history of our family - this is our family tree now. In it there is an abundance of 'aunts', 'uncles', parents and grandparents of faith so we may be able to see true faith. They stand as shining examples for those who wish to live exemplary spiritual lives by faith. They are representative of that encouragement of excellence which we all long to find as a bright light in our past through our ancestry. The excellency of our ancestry, or lack thereof, never can produce the proper inspiration to live godly lives, unless we find that they had lived the exemplary life. But God's record of our faithful 'relatives of the spirit' can inspire us, because they testify to the reality and possibility of living by extraordinary faith. The Bible calls them a "cloud of witnesses".
      Even in the flesh we are all descendants of Adam and Noah. We were all "in the same boat" in a manner of speaking. We are all related by Noah. But, when born-again, the Ethiopian, the Hindi, the Native American, become one in the family of the circumcised in heart. Now we are the children of Abraham in truth and he is the 'father of faith'. If we are Jesus' brother, then we are also of His lineage. The New Testament (the new deal or new covenant) begins with this verse, "These are the generations of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham." A Jew is not, as it says in Romans 2:28, one who is outwardly a Jew, but one on the inside. We are all of Abraham's seed. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
      Look to the Bible as your source. This is where we find the roots and heritage of our new life which is in Christ. Your family tree can be found within the pages of the Bible. You can place your name in its tree. For if you are truly born of the spirit and are now a child of God, then the Bible contains your true and spiritual roots.

                                                                                                                                    by LeRoy J. Gardenier

      THE NATIVITY is about the historical birth of the central figure of all human history, the man Jesus Christ. For those who profess to be Christians, THE NATIVITY is also about the religious reality of God condescending to become man; of the Father sending His Son into the world. For the born-again, Spirit-filled disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, THE NATIVITY, the Christmas celebration, the defenseless, helpless little child in the lowly manger - this and all it implies is both a profound manifestation of the depth and breadth of God's pity on and compassion for a crazy, mixed-up world. But it is also a brilliant revelation of the beginnings of a whole NEW CREATION that will eventually not only straighten out this disjointed, hate-filled world but will, in the end, make everything right!
     THE NEW BIRTH is linked to THE NATIVITY but is something else again. Like THE NATIVITY, THE NEW BIRTH is also a glorious manifestation and a brilliant revelation. Like THE NATIVITY, THE NEW BIRTH is an invisible birth into the Kingdom of God. THE NEW BIRTH is accomplished by faith. This birth may occur in the midst of vast multitudes or in the seclusion of one's bedroom. Either way or differently, THE NEW BIRTH is essentially a private experience - a spiritual communication between the individual soul and the forgiving, loving God who now becomes more real and personal to him than any other person or thing in the world. As at THE NATIVITY, the seeker secretly experiencing THE NEW BIRTH becomes a helpless spiritual babe (no matter what the chronological age many be). In spite of its weakness and helplessness this "new creature" begins to rest with a supernatural assurance in the arms of its new spiritual "mother", the Holy Ghost!

      THE NEW CREATION - this particular expression is used less than half a dozen times in the New Testament. But wherever in the Scriptures there is reference to what the Lord Jesus did or will do; wherever in the epistles there is a description of our spiritual character or a promise of what we can become in Christ. All these are spiritual realities which are part and parcel of THE NEW CREATION manifested in the Person of the Savior at THE NATIVITY; applied to and gradually ingrained in the believer owing to THE NEW BIRTH; and shortly to appear outwardly as Roman 8:19 testifies: "For the earnest expectation of the creature (i.e., all creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."
     At Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judea at a certain hour on a fixed day in human history Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, was born into this world. He was the child of Mary, yet the very Son of God. At a definite point in time, whether through an instantaneous revelation or the culmination of a lengthy spiritual process, the individual soul experiences THE NEW BIRTH and for the first time his spirit becomes alive to God. To be sure he was always God's offspring. He may even have religiously celebrated both Christmas and Easter. But now, because the Father has drawn him to Jesus; because the Holy Ghost has convicted him of "the sin of the world"; because now the living Lord, Jesus Christ, has revealed the efficacy of His shed blood and made Himself known as this soul's personal Savior the individual realizes he is, in very fact and deed, a son of God. Before very long; probably sooner than later, these powerful, far-reaching, earth-shattering consequences and implications of both THE NATIVITY and of THE NEW BIRTH will be gloriously unveiled and magnificently manifested in THE NEW CREATION which is now private and hidden but then will be corporate and conspicuous. This NEW CREATION, the very Kingdom of God, the mystical Body of Christ made manifest has been in the process of formation for ages and will endure for all eternity.

Christmas traditions have often put an over-emphasis on the historical aspect of THE NATIVITY. But if we look carefully at some of our traditional Christmas carols we find both THE NEW BIRTH and THE NEW CREATION (previewed at the Lord's Second Coming) play a significant part in the Yuletide festivities. The third verse of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing concludes: "Mild he lays his glory by/Born that man no more may die/Born to raise the sons of earth/Born to give them second birth." The final stanza of It Came upon a Midnight Clear looks to the Second Coming and to the Millennium: "For lo the days are hastening on/By prophets seen of old/When with the ever circling years/Shall come the time foretold/When peace shall over all the earth/Its ancient splendors fling/And the whole world send back the song/Which now the angels sing." In my small booklet of carols, Joy to the World speaks of THE NEW BIRTH: "Let earth receive her King/Let ev'ry heart prepare him room." But the last verse of this ever-popular anthem looks beyond the present age to the longed-for time of the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ: "He rules the world with truth and grace/And make the nations prove/The glories of his righteousness/And wonders of his love."
      Of the three Scriptural events covered in this article, THE NATIVITY -THE NEW BIRTH - THE NEW CREATION, it is THE NEW BIRTH that is central. THE NEW BIRTH looks back upon Jesus' First Coming not just with nostalgic fondness and the remembrance of Christmases past, but with the spiritual eyes of deep discernment and a heart full of wondrous appreciation. A spiritual view of THE NATIVITY reveals the beginnings of a whole NEW CREATION. Bethlehem brings us back to those beginnings. Genesis states: "In the beginning God..." The Gospel of John, chapter one, says: "In the beginning was the Word..." 2 Peter 3:13 states: "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Genesis hearkens back to the beginnings of creation. THE NATIVITY at Bethlehem shows us the reality of a whole NEW CREATION - the birth of a most special Human who is God and is to be endowed with the God-appointed and God-anointed position and power to make new not only individuals through THE NEW BIRTH but even the entire world we live in as well as worlds beyond, through the promise of THE NEW CREATION.
      One day the Lord Jesus Christ will return in the clouds and will be universally acknowledged as "the King of Kings and Lord of Lords" Rev. 19:16. During this present age God has exalted the Lord Jesus to be "a Prince and a Savior" Acts 5:31; the "captain of our salvation" Heb. 2:10. As we are reminded once again of the impotent little Babe lying in the crude cradle, let the occasion of His earthly birth recall for us the indescribable riches of THE NEW BIRTH as well as the inestimable price He paid to make NEW LIFE available to us. Let us look on the Christ Child this year with spiritually far-sighted eyes viewing the promise of His Second Coming and the surety of the promised NEW CREATION. This Christmas and henceforth let us lay down our all-too-human weapons of pride and stubbornness, of intimidation and manipulation and, like our Savior find our present glory in the perfect will of the Father!
     THE NATIVITY, the birth of the Christ Child; THE NEW BIRTH - these are "intimations of immortality." THE NEW CREATION is being built upon these supernatural foundational truths. As A.W. Tozer, a respected Christian writer puts it: "If we believe the New Testament we must surely believe that THE NEW BIRTH is a major miracle, as truly a miracle of God as was the first creation; for THE NEW BIRTH is actually the creating of another man in the heart where another man had been".