If a Catholic is asked if he is “born again,” his answer should be a resounding “Yes!” This is because the Bible tells him that he has been born again through Baptism.
Look at 1 Peter 3:20, where God prefigured our Baptism with Noah being saved through water. In verses 21 and 22, it goes on to say this:
“21 It is the baptism corresponding to this water which saves you now — not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience given to God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, with angels, ruling forces and powers subject to him.”
The Bible further goes on to say that it is through Baptism, through the water and the Spirit, that a person is “born again.” In John 3:5, it goes on to say just that:
“5 Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; 6 what is born of human nature is human; what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above.”
And in the same Chapter, after finishing the above discourse with Nicodemus, Jesus goes with his disciples and baptizes people in the Judean countryside and in Aenon.
There are a multitude of places in the Bible that talk about how we are saved – but not one of those passages talks about our being saved by a single act of faith at just one point in time.
Look at these examples:
In Hebrews, it tells us that we will not see God unless we are holy and that we must strive to maintain this.
In Matthew, we learn that we must forgive others to be forgiven.
In I Timothy, women are saved through bearing children and continuing in faith and love and holiness with modesty.
John 6:54 tells us we have eternal life by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus.
In John 3:15, the Holy Scriptures tell us that belief in Christ gives us eternal life, and
In Matthew 19, Jesus tells us keep the commandments to have eternal life.
1. “are Saved” in Rom. 8:24;
2. “being Saved” in 1 Cor. 1:18; and
3. “will be saved” in Romans 5:9-10.
Our salvation is, was and will always be — a process. It is not a single act in and of itself.
So, when did the concept of being born again by “accepting Jesus” come into being? This perversion of the faith came into being in the 19th Century. It was popularized by the televangelist Pentecostal Kenneth E. Hagin and other “Word-of-Faith” Pentecostals, such as Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch and others.
Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego on August 10, 2004, said this about the Word-of-Faith, Born Again Movement:
“According to Hagin, there are many things that this new birth is not.
“The new birth is not: confirmation, church membership, water baptism,the taking of sacraments, observing religious duties, an intellectual reception of Christianity, orthodoxy of faith, going to church, saying prayers, reading the Bible, being moral, being cultured or refined, doing good deeds, doing your best, nor any of the many other things some men are trusting in to save them.
“Those who have obtained the new birth did the one thing necessary: they accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior by repenting and turning to God with the whole heart as a little child.” That one act of the will, he explains, is all they needed to do. But is this true? Does the Bible support this concept?
Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13; cf. 25:31–46). One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.”
It is SO important what we believe in. In fact, it is the difference between eternal life and eternal suffering. Well-meaning fundamentalists spread the “born again” doctrine out of love and concern for the souls of others – and not for their own personal gain or exaltation of pride or superiority.
We Catholics can rest assured that eternal salvation is the result of a lifelong walk with God. I pray that we can be diligent in spreading this truth to those who do not understand.