Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times

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Millard J. Erickson, Justin Taylor, Paul Kjoss Helseth
Crossway Books, 2004 - Religion - 365 pages
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If you were to ask your friends how to get to Heaven, you would probably receive as many answers as the number of friends you have. Someone would probably suggest that you should keep the Golden Rule; someone else might say that you need to live up to the Ten Commandments; others might advise that you should pray, or give to the church and the poor, or that you should “just do the best you can.”

But when you are dealing with something as important as eternal life and Heaven, you need more than just the opinions of friends. You need the truth!

When we look into the Bible we read, “Jesus said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.... Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7).

“Born again?” That may sound strange to you. What does it mean? To explain this, let’s look at what the Bible has to say.

God’s Word, in the first place, is very realistic. It teaches that no one can gain entrance into Heaven by good works or even religious practices. The Bible reveals our true condition: “There are none righteous, no, not one.... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Our personal experience also teaches us that we all have broken God’s laws and have not even “done the best we can do.”

The biblical diagnosis for our condition is clear. We, by nature, are described as being “dead in trespasses and sins;” “alienated from the life of God;” as “having not life” (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18). Just as a body without physical life is declared physically dead, so any person separated from the life of God is described in the Bible as spiritually dead.

Separated from God, dead in our trespasses and sins, we cannot hope to enter Heaven. We need new lives, cleansed from sin and its penalty. We need to be restored to fellowship with God. We must be born into a new life—we must be born again.

Jesus Christ came to bring us this new life. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Receiving the life that Jesus can give is what being born again is all about.

When we think about God’s love for us, it is really more than we can comprehend. God sent His Son Jesus Christ from the glories of Heaven to enter the human race and pay the penalty for our sins. This is the extent of God’s love for us! “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

On the cross of Calvary Jesus willingly bore all our sins and suffered the full force of God’s righteous judgment. By His death Jesus provided for our salvation. By His resurrection from the dead, Jesus broke the power of death.

Today the risen Lord Jesus offers new life to all who will receive Him as Savior. He promises, “He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

If you will respond to the Son of God by receiving Him as your Savior, you can have everlasting life right now. On the basis of God’s Word you can have assurance that Jesus Christ has totally suffered the penalty of sin for you. And you can be born again into the family of God, knowing that one day you will live forever with your Lord in Heaven.

“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Have you been born again?

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About the author (2004)

Millard J. Erickson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is a leading evangelical spokesman with numerous highly regarded volumes to his credit, including the classic text Christian Theology.

Paul Kjoss Helseth is Associate Professor of Christian Thought at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota and the author of numerous scholarly articles.

Justin Taylor (PhD candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worlds--hosted by the Gospel Coalition.

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of The Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books including Scandalous, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

R. Scott Smith is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. He is the author of Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge. Dr. Smith has lectured and presented numerous times on his specialty, postmodernism, and he is also the secretary-treasurer of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

STEPHEN J. WELLUM (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

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