Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The "Ya'll" of being Born Again.

This is an article that I wrote for my Fresh Brewed Theology column in The Choteau Acantha. It was published in January of this year.  I am posting it here because it pertains to a comment by Tabatha in a recent post, Biblically Defining Eternal Life.  

There is a great debate within Christianity about how an individual "get's saved."  (Calvinism vs. Arminianism) I have come to the conclusion that both were working from faulty a pre-supossition. They both ignored the Covenantal context of the Bible, and rather imposed their westernized framework upon the text. Hopefully, this article will stimulate fresh thinking in these areas. 

Fresh Brewed Theology, January 2012.

"Alter calls," "the sinners prayer," and "inviting Jesus into my heart" are all phrases that dominate modern Christianity.  It is not uncommon for Christianity to be summed up as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In other words, it’s He and I. This is amplified by the influence of the westernized rugged individualism of our culture. 
However, Biblically speaking this may be putting the cart before the horse.  Throughout the Bible, God always deals first and foremost with corporate bodies of individuals, and then with the individuals within that corporate body.  
Imagine the Hebrews of the Old Testament as a student body.  God brought them into His University when He brought them out of Egypt.  Over time though, that student body failed to graduate because they could not collectively pass the test of the law.  There were some individuals who followed God, but they could not bring the whole student body to graduation, because all sinned.   In fact, there are many places in the Old Testament that refer to this corporate body as “dead” even though it was made up of living and breathing human beings. 
Now let’s take a closer look at one of the more well known phrases found in the New Testament.  
John chapter 3 records Nicodemus as a ruler of this Old Testament student body when Jesus comes on the scene.  During this now famous interview, conducted under the cover of darkness, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”  
The original King James version gets the “you” of this passage correct when it renders it “ye.” This very small, yet foundational variance should be recognized.  The “you” is plural and is speaking about a collection of individuals.  The greek language makes this variance clear, but modern english does not differentiate unless you grew up in the south where “you all” is squished together to make “ya’ll.”
Jesus is telling Nicodemus that ya’ll, the failing Hebrew student body, must be born again.  In order to graduate from God’s University there needed to be a new student body. 
Jesus was the first to perfectly pass the final exam.  Yet, the law, still put him to death unjustly.  Through that sacrifice, and vindicated by his resurrection, He became a new spiritually reborn student body that the law could no longer condemn.  Those who were trapped in the fleshly body of Adam that only brought death could now be released to join the reborn spiritual body of Christ wherein eternal life was found.  
Abandoning our own test score and putting our faith in Jesus’ test score is all that’s required to become a member of the class of Jesus.  However, it is not a one person class.  When one joins the body of Christ one is joining a corporate body that transcends time, race, tradition, denomination, culture and creed.  Together, the ya’ll is a New Creation. 


  1. I understand what you are saying about the corporate body, but how does that tie into Calvinism vs. Arminianism? I come from an extreme Arminian background. If all one has to do is put faith in Jesus, it sounds very Arminian. After hearing your last podcast with NCE's I was wondering which view you took. I can't make myself grasp Calvinism. In John 3:16 where it says "that whosoever believes in Him will be saved" unless the "world" He was talking about was Isreal and not our definition of the world. But then again, there is no more 'sea', so would that not now include us in the 'world'? And to confuse things farther, when the elect is mentioned in the NT, is not that the Jewish people who were saved from the destruction of the nation (the 144,000), the chosen remnant? I think the way we use the term 'saved' is odd. The remnant was saved from the destruction of Jerusalem, but what are we 'saved' from? It seem to me that we have been granted life, especially since as a gentile, I was never born into the death of Adam. do you deal with Calvinism vs. Arminianism? Do we have a choice?

  2. Tabatha,

    Very good observations.

    The reason a corporate body view of salvation ties into the C vs A debate is because both of them ignored the corporate aspect, or covenantal, framework of the Scriptures in favor or individualizing it all.

    Once you put "salvation" in a context of a corporate body you really move past the arguments of both A and C. And yes, I agree, Calvinism fails because the "elect" in Scripture is referring to Israel, or the elect remnant, IMO. (I used to be a staunch Calvinist.)

    I think you are correct to think that Jesus came to save the "covenant world" but that certainly has an impact on the rest of the world. Remember, Israel was supposed to take the Gospel to the nations. (Check out Mark 11:17 and where Jesus is getting that from the OT. Also check out this passage in light of John 3:16: John 11:49-51 & John 18:13-15)

    So, salvation is complete in the Body of Christ. We as individuals, through faith, come into that Body. The New Jerusalem is an immigrant nation, so to speak.

    I will agree that this is closer to Arminianism on the surface, but I think if you dug deeper you would see that there are vast differences.

    I see the OC as having a tiered structure. Land = Israel / Sea = Gentiles. We see the Gentiles in covenant with God but at a different level than Israel. The great thing about the NC is that there is no more distinction. We are all children of God through faith and we all have closer communion with God than even OT Israel.

    I think the last part of your comment was 100% on. What are we saved from? Well, I would answer that by saying that we are saved from darkness and a life without Light. You are exactly right that when someone is "saved" (just for the lack of a better term) they are being made alive through abiding in the Vine. Life comes from union with Christ. (But that doesn't mean they were dead before. You must have life before you can die.)

    Most will balk at this line of thought because of the traditions regarding Hell, etc., but I can't see anyone faithfully exegeting a continuation of the body of Adam post AD 70.

    Hell, Immortality of the Soul, and a few other deeply held traditions will be called into question though if one takes the route that you and I are on. Unfortunately, many don't want to question those doctrines.

    I pretty much ignore the C vs A debate now. I try to present a much more organic approach to the whole situation. Abide in Christ and He will abide in you. It's that simple.

    Thanks for the comment.


    This is an article I wrote a year or so ago, that pertains to this subject a little ( not the C & A argument, but the heaven & hell thing ).

  4. Charles,

    Thanks for that link. I read it and really enjoyed it.

    Christianity will become potent again when the majority of Christians realize that the Biblical Story has to do with this life, first and foremost.