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Bible’s definition of ‘born again’ is different from American culture’s definition: Timothy Keller

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The Bible does not define “born again” the same way that most Americans think of the term, according to notable Presbyterian pastor and author Tim Keller.

Keller gave a speech on Monday at The Gospel Coalition’s 2019 National Conference, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, and centered on the theme of “Conversations with Jesus.”

For his message, Keller focused on John 3:1-16, in which a prominent Pharisee named Nicodemus met with Jesus and learned that he must be born again to enter Heaven.

Keller noted that for most Americans, hearing that someone is a “born again Christian” will make them think of a specific “type of person.”

In particular, Keller said, when many Americans think of born again they think of “emotional” people who worship with raised hands and crying or “people who have had very broken messed up lives” who now go to morally strict churches, or “knee-jerk conservatives.”

“So generally, when people in America hear the term born again, they think it’s for a type of person, it’s a kind of person,” noted Keller.

Keller explained that John 3 “indirectly and directly undermines that completely,” referring to the American perception as a “patronizing idea.”

“First of all, it indirectly does it just by giving us Nicodemus,” explained Keller, noting that Nicodemus did not fit the perceived type of person who becomes born again.

“He was a member of the council of the ruling Sanhedrin. He would have been a very high status figure. A wealthy figure. By no means an emotional person.”

Keller added that Nicodemus would not have been “a broken type of person,” noting that as a Pharisee, Nicodemus “wouldn’t have needed more moral structure” and that for a Pharisee, which often invokes “knee-jerk conservative,” Nicodemus was surprisingly open-minded.

“He comes to Jesus, Jesus who has no pedigree, did not come up through the ranks, hasn’t studied under any rabbis, has no credentials,” Keller noted.

“Nicodemus calls him ‘rabbi.’ And then he clearly wants to enter into a dialogue with Him. This is one of the most open-minded men you’d find in the Gospels.”

To be born again does not mean “you need more morality and religion in your life,” according to Keller, but rather being born again is “a challenge to morality and religion.”

“It’s saying you’ve got all the morality and religion in the world, Nicodemus, and you need to be born again,” Keller told those gathered.

“He doesn’t say ‘you’re an awfully, awfully moral guy. You’re at least three-quarters of the way to Heaven. But you can’t make it all the way, you need some kind of spiritual vitamin supplement’ … no, no, you must be born again. Nothing you have done counts.”

Keller said the passage “directly” undermines the American perception by noting that Jesus said “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they’re born again.”

“No matter how good you are, no matter how pulled together you are, you must be born again,” said Keller. “But it also would mean no matter how messed up you are, no matter how broken you are, you can be born again.”

Keller went on to note that when one becomes born again, they developed a “new identity” and a “new sensibility,” with “spiritual truth” a person might have heard before but did not comprehend now becomes understandable.

“I cannot tell you how, after years and years of ministry, when somebody who has come to church all their life starts to say ‘something is happening. I knew these biblical texts all my life, but now they just seem almost like somebody turned the lights on,’” said Keller.

“Or ‘I’ve read this. I’ve read this verse, but now suddenly it’s just hitting me now. I don’t know why. I’ve never saw this before. I don’t know why I’ve never saw this before.’ But more than that, what they usually mean is ‘I always knew God loved me, but I’m actually starting to sense that.’”

Dan Delzell, pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Nebraska, also tackled the question of knowing when one is born again in an opinion piece published by The Christian Post in 2016.

In his column, Delzell said that being “born again” is “not a matter of feelings” but instead is about “relying upon the promises of God.”

“And if you are relying upon your works in order to be accepted by God and forgiven of your sins, then you are not yet born again,” wrote Delzell.

“No one gets born again by relying on the law. The only way to be born again is to rely on the cross. That is, to accept the payment Jesus made on your behalf.”

Delzell went on to designate the question of whether a person is “trusting in the cross for salvation” or their works as “the first and biggest indicator of whether or not you are born again.”

“In addition to trusting Christ alone for salvation, a person who is born again will sincerely want to live for Christ,” continued Delzell.

“A born again person does not view his salvation as a ‘license to sin.’ Anyone who looks at Christianity that way is not born again. Believers don’t live for sin, but rather, they live for Christ.”

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‘Inverted cross and Satan’s praise’ during news presentation: ABC TV’s broadcast in controversy

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TV viewers in Australia were given a devilish surprise this week after a news broadcast suddenly cut to footage from a satanic ritual.

The incident occurred during a segment on Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) nightly news bulletin detailing the introduction of a new law that could see criminals handed prison sentences for hurting police animals

Just as the segment was about to end, the feed suddenly cut to a brief clip featuring three individuals on a stage alongside an illuminated upside-down crucifix.

Two of the three were standing up dressed in robes, while the other one could be seen sitting in front of what appears to be a keyboard.

One of the robed men, who is dressed entirely in black, raises his hands in the video, while the words “hail Satan” are audible on the brief clip.

Seconds later the broadcast cut back to news anchor Yvonne Yong who, despite managing to keep a straight face, appears to be aware of the mix-up.

After a momentary pause, she continued on to the next news item.

The incident was picked up on Twitter by ABC’s Mediawatch account, which shared the clip, writing “ABC’s satanic slip-up. What was going on here?”

At the time of writing, the video has been viewed over 159,000 times on social media.

ABC TV has so far failed to provide an explanation as to what happened.

According to Insider, the footage featured on the news broadcast comes from a Facebook video published by the Noosa Temple of Satan, a Devil worship group based out of Queensland, Australia.

The clip unwittingly featured on the ABC TV bulletin reportedly originates from a Facebook live stream conducted by the group on October 30. It can be seen around the eight-minute mark of the video, which can be viewed here.

The Noosa Temple of Satan has commented on the clip’s surprise inclusion in a Facebook post with the group sharing a link to the ABC Mediawatch tweet, alongside the comment: “Our hero…”

The group also shared a link to a story covering the incident, commenting alongside it: “Satan works in mysterious ways…..”

Led by Brother Samael Demo-Gorgon, or Robin Bristow as he was formerly known, the Noosa Temple is a religious organization dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Satanism in Australia.

“We emphasize the virtues of free-thinking and rebellion against Christian authority.'” a statement on the group’s website says.

“We revere Satan as a figure who symbolizes rebellion against tyrannical or arbitrary authority,” it adds.

Newsweek has reached out to the Noosa Temple and ABC TV for comment.

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