Our Question Box

Dr. Leonard Greenway, pastor of the Riverside Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan is in charge of Our Question Box. Questions from all ages are welcome. No signatures are required and no names will be published.

From a reader in Ontario, Canada:

Question: What is it to be born again? . . . Must our life-styles show that we love the Lord, if we are to be assured of salvation? . . . But then, we are saved by grace, arent we, and not by what we do?

Answer: The above questions were asked in a context in which the reader laments her husband‘s toleration of social conversation among church people who “go along with the times,” hockey games on Sunday, divorce when a marriage fails, nude movies, etc.

It is conceivable, of course, that in our “conservative” churches, in one of which our reader’s family has membership, there are bornagain (i.e., regenerated) people whose spiritual growth has been so deplorably retarded that they must come under the brand which the apostle Paul laid upon certain “brethren” in the church at Corinth, when he said, “ye are yet carnal” (I Cor. 3:3). These adult “babes” in a congregation continue to perplex me, and I know that many pastors share with me a sense of bewilderment with respect to members who insist that they arc Christians, but who have no scruples with regard to habitual worldly conversation and conduct. Certainly, they must be regarded as quite exceptional to the ordinary spiritual progress of a maturing believer. At this moment I am reminded of the test I gave one of my catechism classes yesterday, covering the third part of the Compendium. There is that section on good works where we are taught that “good works are necessary to show that our faith is alive” . . . assuring me “of the sincerity of my faith.” One wonders about the “sincerity” of the faith in those offenders mentioned above.

Meanwhile, let us be reminded here that good works do not produce regeneration, but are subsequent evidences of regeneration. The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit who raises God’s people from the grave of sin to the new life in Christ. Cf. Ephesians 2:10; John 1:13; John 3:1–8.