What does it mean to be born again?
To be born again means the beginning of the new life within us by the power of God’s word and the sacrament of baptism. This is regeneration. (Evangelical Catechism, 1929 edition)
What is conversion?
Conversion is the faithful acceptance of the new life wrought by God hence a turning from the broad way and entrance upon the straitened way. (Evangelical Catechism, 1896 edition)
At Salem we believe it is the encounter with God in Christ which makes us spiritually alive. We confess that the Bible teaches we encounter Christ in the word and in the sacraments. We don’t make ourselves alive. We don’t give birth to ourselves. We must be born of God (1 John 3.9). God comes to us in Christ, and Christ comes to us in the word and the ritual actions he’s ordained (sacraments). In coming to us Christ makes us alive. It is a gift!
Receiving the gift of new life is called conversion. We are called to live into the new life Christ has given us. We do this by turning from our old life to embrace the new life. The 1929 edition of our catechism reads, “To be converted means to turn from the broad way of the sinful life and to enter the narrow way of the godly life”.
Conversion is not merely a one time event; it is a lifelong process. It is living the meaning of our baptism, which is that we have encountered Christ and he has given us new life. “Holy Baptism requires of us that we by daily repentance renounce all sinful longings and desires, and by faith arise to a new life” (Evangelical Catechism).
Lent is a time for renewing our commitment to this process of daily repentance, daily conversion. It’s a time for kickstarting what we should be doing all year long.
We’ve been given a tremendous gift! Christ has given us new lives. It happened when we encountered him in his word. It happened when we were baptized. It belongs to us! Lent says to us, possess your possessions. Live in the power of your inheritance. Believe the promise!
This Lenten season make it your daily practice to ask God to help you live for him that day. Pray for the power of his presence (the Holy Spirit). He will give it to you (Luke 11:13). Keep turning to him each day.
Stay under his word and receive his sacrament, thereby receiving Christ. Expect change! Expect power! Expect his ability to live for him in this day and age.
We have his promise, and he is faithful!
Lenten Blessings to all of you!