• Welcome to Talk Jesus

    A true bible based, Jesus centered online community. Join over 13,000 members today

    Register Log In

What is Christianity?

Users who viewed this discussion (Total:0)

Member
One-Quarter of Self-Described Born Again Adults Rely On Means Other Than Grace to Get to Heaven
November 29, 2005


(Ventura, CA) – When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean? What does someone imply when they adopt the label “born again Christian?” A new national survey released by The Barna Group indicates that the terminology used by followers of Jesus Christ reflects a breadth of meanings. While the most widely-held description is simply “Christian,” that term represents a segment of adults who engage in less religious activity and possess less orthodox views than do people who associate themselves with other descriptions.

Four Ways Of Viewing Faith

Overall, 80% of adults in the U.S. call themselves “Christian.” In comparison, the phrase “a committed Christian” is embraced by two out of every three adults (68%). The words “born again Christian” are adopted by just less than half of the population (45%). A two-part description of a person’s faith, in which they say they “have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important” in their life today, and in which they claim they will go to Heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, is also claimed by just less than half (44%). (This latter definition has been used by The Barna Group for nearly two decades to describe “born again” people without using the term “born again” in its surveys.)

The study showed some interesting relationships among these terms. For instance, one-quarter of those who call themselves born again did not meet the Barna Group criteria for born again – which generally meant they rely upon something other than God’s grace as their means to salvation. The “born again Christian” self-description tends to attract a greater percentage of blacks, people under 25, and people over 60 than does the Barna Group’s theologically-oriented descriptor. That two-part definition used by the research firm also attracts a larger share of upscale adults and more people who share their faith in Jesus Christ with other people.

Demographic Differences

The various religious descriptions had varied appeal across demographic segments. Age was related to these terms in some intriguing ways. Mosaics, the youngest adults (those 21 and younger) were comparatively comfortable with the terms “Christian” and “born again Christian” but were much less comfortable calling themselves committed Christians (just 29% did so, compared to a national norm of 68%). The preceding generation, the Baby Busters (now ages 22 through 40), were significantly below the national average in relation to all four of the terms tested, reflecting their relative distance from conventional organized religious groups and beliefs.

Blacks were the ethnic group that most deeply resonated with the term “born again” (75% embraced it to describe themselves, compared to only 31% of Hispanics and 44% of whites). Hispanics were comparatively likely to adopt the term “committed Christian” (58%).

Catholics, in general, were uncomfortable with the phrase “born again Christian.” Although just 14% said it described them accurately, 23% qualified as born again according The Barna Group’s definition.

Regionally, residents of the Northeast generally accepted the terms “Christian” (74%) and “committed Christian” (61%), but were far less likely to adopt the “born again Christian” phrase (29%) or to meet the Barna Group’s born again standard (29%). People living in the West had a similar portrait. Adults in the South were comparatively less likely than others to say they were a “committed Christian.” People in the Midwest were the most likely to claim to be a “committed Christian.”

The research also found that self-described conservatives were three times more likely than self-described liberals to embrace the “born again” label; blacks were two-and-a-half times more likely than Hispanics to do so; and people without any college education were almost 60% more likely than those with a college degree to stake a claim to being “born again.”

Only half of both of the “born again” segments (i.e., those self-described by the term and those defined by The Barna Group’s questions) had prayed to God, read from the Bible and attended a religious service in the past week. In comparison, nine out of ten “committed Christian” adults had done so and just one-third of those who said they are “Christian” engaged in the three behaviors.

Thoughts On Religious Language

The research suggests that phrases do not necessarily possess universally understood meaning. “Blacks, Catholics and young adults are groups who conjure up different images than do other people when terms such as ‘born again’ or ‘committed Christian’ are used,” noted George Barna, who conducted the research. “With more than 250 Protestant denominations in the United States, and the increasing diversity and customization within the spiritual realm, it’s not surprising that there is very limited common understanding with such language. The challenge,” he continued, “may be to avoid reliance on labels and brief adjectives as religious profiles. In our sound-bite society, with everyone moving quickly and making snap judgments, the temptation is to rely upon simple characterizations to provide a broad perspective on who a person is and what they represent. This is part of the challenge to churches: to know each person more deeply in order to serve them more meaningfully. Ideally, people of faith will recognize the value of genuine relationships in which we know each other at a deeper level and can therefore foster real connection and growth.”

Source of This Information

The data reported in this summary are based upon telephone interviews with a nationwide random sample of 1002 adults conducted in October 2005. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample in this survey is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All non-institutionalized adults in the 48 contiguous states were eligible to be interviewed and the distribution of respondents in the survey sample corresponds to the geographic dispersion of the U.S. adult population. The data were subjected to slight statistical weighting procedures to calibrate the survey base to national demographic proportions. Households selected for inclusion in the survey sample received multiple callbacks to increase the probability of obtaining a representative distribution of adults.

The “Baby Busters” refers to the generation of people born from 1965 through 1983. The “Mosaic” generation includes all people born from 1984 through 2002. In this study, only those Mosaics born from 1984 through 1987 were included – that is, those who were 18 or older.

The Barna Group, Ltd. (which includes its research division, The Barna Research Group) is a privately held, for-profit corporation that conducts primary research, produces audio, visual and print media, and facilitates the healthy spiritual development of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-weekly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna web site (www.barna.org). © The Barna Group, Ltd, 2005.


Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the barna.org website is copyrighted by The Barna Group, Ltd., 1957 Eastman Ave. Ste B, Ventura, California 93003. No portion of this website (articles, graphs, charts, reviews, pictures, video clips, quotes, statistics, etc.) may be reproduced, retransmitted, disseminated, sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, circulated, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from The Barna Group, Ltd.
 
Member
The challenge,” he continued, “may be to avoid reliance on labels and brief adjectives as religious profiles. In our sound-bite society, with everyone moving quickly and making snap judgments, the temptation is to rely upon simple characterizations to provide a broad perspective on who a person is and what they represent. This is part of the challenge to churches: to know each person more deeply in order to serve them more meaningfully. Ideally, people of faith will recognize the value of genuine relationships in which we know each other at a deeper level and can therefore foster real connection and growth.”
This is the biggest problem with the Christian community as only my oppinion as I see it . Thanks Brother for your input and truth in this topic . Peace to you , and may the Blood of Jesus seal our covenant together as we lean upon him and his Mercy and Grace to save us all . Mike
 
Member
The evangelist D. L. Moody, who had a very effective ministry both in Britain and in the United States, on one occasion addressed a group of church workers. After the meeting he was confronted by an angry woman who said, "Mr. Moody, do you mean to tell me that I, an educated woman, taught from childhood in good ways and all my life interested in the church and doing good, must enter heaven the same way as the worst criminal of our day?" "No, madam," said Moody. "I don't. God does. He says everyone who would enter heaven, no matter how good they think they are, or how well educated, or zealous in good works, must be born again."

"You need Jesus Christ because you were born without the life of God"

Tom Skinner, converted gang leader, in his book Words of Revolution, put it like this:

You don't need Jesus Christ because you are a drunkard. You don't need Jesus Christ because you take drugs. You don't need Jesus Christ because you lie. You don't need Jesus Christ because you cheat on your income tax. No. You don't need Jesus Christ because you do bad things...Whether you have done any of these things is irrelevant. You need Jesus Christ because you were born without the life of God. That makes you a sinner. You don't have God's life in you.

Of course, the idea that we are sinners, separated from God, and needing reconciliation to him is in marked contradiction to the Hindu, Buddhist and New Age ideas that we are all part of "God" and that all we need is to become more fully aware of that. The Bible diagnoses our postition as being somewhat worse than that and beyond our own capabilities of doing anything about. However, this offer of spiritual life is available to all who want to be part of God's family through what Jesus has done on our behalf.

How are we born again? In Acts, chapter nine, we read of the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the early Christians. This encounter with the risen Jesus transformed him into Paul the apostle, one of the most effective Christian teachers and evangelists of all time. Michael Green, says of this experience:

While much of the paraphernalia of Paul's conversion was unique, four elements stand out which are present in every authentic conversion.


It touched his conscience. He knew he was kicking against the goads [sticks used for prodding animals pulling a plough].

It touched his understanding. He realised that the Jesus he was persecuting was the risen Messiah and Son of God.

It touched his will. He came to the point of giving in to Jesus and beginning to follow him.

It changed his whole life - his ambitions, his character, his relationships, his whole perspective on life.


No conversion can claim to be real unless it embodies these four elements.
 
Last edited:
Member
Conversion, or spiritual rebirth, must begin with an awareness of your need for forgiveness and for reconciliation with God. John Stott, renowned Anglican clergyman and writer, once conducted a questionnaire in his church in London. Amongst other things, he asked his parishioners what it was that led them to put their faith in Christ. Some admitted that it was not so much a sense of sin as that "life was a great burden and pointless", or "purposeless", or that they felt "unloved and unwanted."

But in answer to the question, "At the time of your conversion, what was your understanding of sin and guilt?" seventy-five out of one-hundred-and-five claimed to have been fairly clear. Here are a few examples: "I was fully aware that I was leading a corrupt life," "I knew I was guilty before God," "I was fully conscious of my sin and guilt," "I had an acute sense of sin that sometimes led me to despair," "I hated my shortcomings, which drove me to Christ."

It is not necessary to believe that you are a terribly awful person! You may not be at all. However, it is necessary to accept the fact that you have come short of God's requirements. If you don't believe that, read through Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel, chapters five, six and seven! One person who had attended church for forty years - had sung in the choir, taught classes, given time and money, and visited the sick - told in a letter to Decision magazine how she had become aware that her heart was not right with God. She wrote,

I fell onto my knees and prayed, 'Dear God, I'm lost. Please show me the way. Forgive me of my many sins. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.' You see, I had never admitted I was lost. When I did, and asked God to forgive me, Christ came into my heart...My battle was won.

"The crisis of self-surrender has always been, and must always be, regarded as the vital turning point of the religious life"
W.James

Secondly, there needs to be some understanding of who Jesus is. He is the crucified and risen Lord. He died for your sins and mine and now reigns in heaven until he will appear again to judge the world.

Thirdly, there needs to be a willingness to submit to Jesus as Lord of your life. However much your awareness of the need for reconciliation, and however much or little understanding you may have, the most important aspect of conversion, or spiritual rebirth, is the will. Are you willing to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord of your life. It means giving up the right to live our lives just as we please. We were created for partnership with the living God. However, he is the senior partner in the relationship, and without submission and obedience we cannot experience and enjoy his love. William James said, "The crisis of self-surrender has always been, and must always be, regarded as the vital turning point of the religious life."


The importance of this final point could perhaps be underlined by giving personal examples. Keith Millar, author of a number of significant books on Christian living, tells of his conversion as he sat in his car in the pinewoods country of East Texas in complete despair. He had been through training for Christian ministry in seminary, but had never known God personally. He says:

"God does not want a man's money, nor does he primarily want his time...he wants your will"

Keith Millar: As I sat there I began to weep like a little boy, which I suddenly realised I was inside. I looked up towards the sky. There was nothing I wanted to do with my life, and I said, "God, if there is anything you want in this stinking soul, take it."...There wasn't any ringing of bells or flashing of lights or vision; but it was a deep intuitive realisation of what it is God wants from a man which I had never known before, and the peace which came with this understanding was not an experience in itself. It was rather a cessation of the conflict of a lifetime. I realised then that God does not want a man's money, nor does he primarily want his time, even the whole lifetime of it a young Seminarian is ready to give him. God, I realised, doesn't want your time, he wants your will; and if you give him your will, he will begin to show you life as you have never seen it before.

Whether our finding a real faith is as definite and dateable as those experiences described above, the issue is the same. We each have to face the question of whether our basic motivation in life is to live for Christ or for ourselves.

I will let C. S. Lewis have the last word on this aspect of conversion with a quote from his book Beyond Personality:

Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your money and so much of your work - I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth or crown it or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked...the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you myself. My own will shall become yours."
 
Last edited:
Member
Popular Substitutes For Spiritual Rebirth

Popular Substitutes For Spiritual Rebirth

There are three things which people commonly trust in to make them acceptable to God, but which are no substitute for a personal acceptance of Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Religious observances

" It is sadly possible to 'ooze into church membership', without a personal relationship with God"
Sam Shoemaker
However important church membership may be as a means of growing in our faith, it is sadly possible to "ooze into church membership", as the Episcopal clergyman, Sam Shoemaker, put it, without a personal relationship with God. We can know about God without knowing him.

This is dramatically illustrated in a story told by Bishop John Taylor Smith, one-time Chaplain General of the British Army. He was preaching on one occasion in a large cathedral on the necessity of the new birth. In order to drive the point home he said, "My dear people, do not substitute anything for the new birth. You may be a member of a church, even the great church of which I am a member, the historic Church of England, but church membership is not new birth, and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" The rector was sitting on his left. Pointing to him, he said, "You may be a clergyman like my friend the rector here and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" Also on his left was the archdeacon in his stall. Pointing directly at him, he said, "You might even be an archdeacon like my friend in his stall and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' You might even be a bishop, like myself, and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"

A day or so later he received a letter from the archdeacon who wrote: "My dear Bishop: You have found me out. I have been a clergyman for over thirty years, but I have never known anything of the joy that Christians speak of. I never could understand it. Mine has been a hard, legal service. I did not know what was the matter with me, but when you pointed directly to me and said, 'You might even be an archdeacon and not be born again', I realised in a moment what the trouble was. I had never known anything of the new birth." He went on to say that he was wretched and miserable and had been unable to sleep all night, and begged for a meeting, if the bishop could spare the time to talk with him.

"Of course I could spare the time," said Bishop Smith, "and the next day we got together over the Word of God and after some hours we were both on our knees, the archdeacon taking his place before God as a poor lost sinner and telling the Lord Jesus he would trust him as his Saviour. From that time on, everything has been different."

It may be appropriate to emphasise at this point that baptism, though it is the outward sign of our forgiveness and identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, is not a substitute for the new birth. It is clear in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit does not tie himself to religious ceremonies. However important they may be, without repentance and faith, ceremonies alone cannot save us.

Culture

Good breeding, moral living, education and culture are no substitute for the new birth. These things are all right in their place, but consider the following illustration. Suppose I start ploughing a bit of land in the spring. I plough it lengthwise and crosswise, every day except Sunday. Once in a while I put a cultivator in and cultivate it. Then I harrrow it. Then I roll it. I have been ploughing, harrowing, rolling and cultivating for months, and you come along and say:

"Tripp, what are you doing?"

"Doing! I am cultivating this bit of land."

"Well, I should say so! I was around here last spring, and you were ploughing it then. What are you going to put in it?"

"Well, I am not going to put anything in it, but I believe in a high state of culture."

Get the point? I cannot cultivate spiritual life I have not received.

Good works

It is easy to suppose that doing good deeds can improve my credit rating with God. Someone has likened this to teaching a caterpillar to fly by tying butterfly wings to its body! God's first requirement is that I be reconciled to him by the process of rebirth. Good works that are pleasing to God are those that grow out of my relationship with him.
 
Last edited:
Member
As a person presses on in the Christian life and seeks to grow in faith - by using the means he has given us such as reading the Bible, worship, fellowship with other believers, and daily seeking to serve God in the ordinary things of life - then changes will become apparent. The things one can expect to occur are a new love for the Bible as it becomes God's personal message to you; a growing love for God and for others; and a growing awareness of God's guiding hand in the circumstances of life. Theologian Jim Packer, in his book Keep in Step with the Spirit, says,

"The only proof of past conversion is present convertedness"
Jim Packer

Perhaps one of the greatest evidences of spiritual rebirth is the growing awareness of the reality of the spiritual world and the presence of Christ. Robert Laidlaw, founder of Farmers Trading Company in Auckland and author of the booklet The Reason Why, which has sold millions of copies around the world, wrote:

"If I had to say in one sentence what my experience of being a Christian is, it would be quite simply a continuous consciousness of the presence of Christ in my life."

Paul describes this experience as being "in Christ", a phrase he uses 164 times in his letters in the New Testament. He also describes it as having the "eyes of your heart" enlightened (Ephesians 1:18), or as having the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" shining into our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6).

In tropical waters lives the anableps fish. This fish has two pupils in each eye, an upper-storey pupil and a lower-storey pupil. The upper pupil is focused to see clearly in air while the lower pupil focuses in water. This fish can lie on the surface and see clearly in both worlds. Jesus called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth". If he has come into our lives, he will begin to give us second sight. We begin to see things as they really are. As Paul puts it, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). We begin to get a proper perspective on both worlds, the world of the spirit and the world of material things; the relationship between them and the relative value of each.

Dr. D. James Kennedy, who has been responsible for training thousands of people around the world to share their faith in a meaningful way with others, underlines the importance of this step:

"This is the only thing that you must do during your stay on this planet - the only thing you must do. You don't even have to grow up. You don't have to succeed. You don't have to get married. You don't have to have children. You don't have to have a home, a car, and all of the things people think they must have. The only thing that you must have is a rebirth, because your entire future depends upon it. "

I offer the final word to C. S. Lewis. When writing of the impossibility of making ourselves acceptable to God by our own efforts, and the need to face the consequences of either accepting the transforming work of Christ in our lives, or of drifting further from God, he said:

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We're like eggs at present. And you just can't go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must either be hatched or go bad.

- articles above taken from Christianity.co.nz
 
Member
Your are a true blessing sister . I pray for Gods protection and favor over you as you walk on deep waters to build up us all here at TalkJesus and around the world . Peace be with you sister , and may all your house be found in Christ because of your faithful service to Christ . Mike
 
Member
God bless you for that Brother Mike, for after a long night of mind wearying battle, Christ has once again used you to speak peace into my soul.

Luk 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
 
Top