Pastor Greg Laurie of California megachurch Harvest Fellowship spoke to his congregation about how not to be born again, answering the question that if one doesn't become a Christian by birth, merit or ceremonial traditions, then how one can start a personal relationship with Jesus.
Part of a new series, called "Life," Pastor Laurie started the sermon by stating that "the goal of every Christian should be to know, learn (about) and become more like Jesus."
He read out John 1:1–5, which reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
The pastor underlined that "Jesus is God." He is "co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit," he explained.
"Jesus could not have identified with us more closely than He did. It was total identification without any loss of identity," Laurie told the congregation. "If you don't believe that Jesus is God, then you can't be a Christian."
But, he continued, "Jesus was also fully man," referring to John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
The pastor explained that nothing can be more divine than Jesus calming a storm or the veil in the temple ripping from top to bottom after His death, and "nothing could be more human than His crucifixion and death. … He became human without ceasing to be God."
If you want to know what God's like, just look at Jesus, Laurie stressed.
It's important for us to know that God, who became a man, shined His light on humanity, the pastor said, explaining that humans are not good, but God is good. He added that things can change overnight if we began to live the way God wants us to live.
The pastor then read John 1:12, 13, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
You cannot be born again of blood, Laurie said, and explained that you're not automatically a Christian because you were born in a Christian family.
"The only way to being a Christian is to be born again," he said. You cannot become a Christian by a human decision or desire either.
Using an example, Laurie said you do not become a surfer by buying a surf board, and that to be a surfer, you have to surf. To be a Christian, he continued, "you have to humbly come before God, admit your sinfulness and turn from those sins and embrace Christ as your Savior and Lord."
You cannot be born again with human will, the pastor said. "No one can do this for you, only God can. … So, it's not by descent, desire or determination … but by receiving Christ."
It's not about following rules, he concluded. "It starts with saying, 'God, I'm a sinner; Jesus come into my life; force me of all of my sins."