The Edgewood staff just returned this afternoon from the fall district conference of our denomination, and as usual, it was held at the beautiful Green Lake Conference Center. It’s a fine place to spend a day or two, and we all had a great time, finishing up with lunch at nearby Christianos, meaning some of the best pizza in Wisconsin.
Now, anyone who has ever been to Green Lake or the aforementioned conference center knows about a historic building on the grounds known as the Roger Williams Inn. Originally named the Lawsonia Country Club Hotel, the Inn was constructed by the H.O. Stone Development Company of Chicago in 1930. Situated right on the water, almost all of its 81 guest rooms have a view of lovely Green Lake. And you may not know that today, a major project is going on to restore the exterior and renovate the interior of this historic building. It should be wonderful to behold when the project is finished.
I’m bringing up the Roger Williams Inn renovation project because a lot of people think it is a fine example of what Christianity is – a renovation project. But actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Quite the opposite, Jesus said, Instead…”You must be born again.” John 3:7 (ESV)
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones explains what this means in a chapter entitled “Born Again” from his book, The Kingdom of God. Some excerpts:
“We have a curious notion that to be a Christian is to just be a little bit better than we are now. We think that if we stop doing one or two things, and take up two or three others, then we are Christians. Is not that it? Knock off one bit, add on another! Put on a new suit, Brighten up a bit, clean yourself a little bit…, And then you are all right. But that is not Christianity; that is morality if you like; ethical behavior or philosophy. It is all right, but it is not Christianity. It is as far removed from it as it can possibly be.”
“Christianity is not just an addition to something you have already got…when people become Christians, it is not a little bit of improvement on what they were before.
“Before we can become Christians, we need an entirely new start.”
“This is the New Testament teaching; sometimes it is called “a new creation”, “regeneration” – you are generated anew and afresh. And, of course, by that He means that what you are by nature is useless and hopeless, that you need to be a “new man”. So you need life, a new nature. God does not renovate us; he does not improve us or make us a little bit better. No, he puts new life into us. He works an operation on the soul and He infuses a principle of life, a new disposition – we are made “partakers of the divine nature.”
Glory to God, this is the new birth – and according to Jesus, it is the only way to see the Kingdom of God.