Friday, June 06, 2008

“You Must Be Born Again”

This is a video clip of the late Dorothy Love Coates (1928-2002) and her group, The Gospel Harmonettes, singing Coates’ “You Must Be Born Again”. The sound is poor, so I’ve included the words below. Follow along as you listen:

Long ago I didn’t know nothing about Jesus and His love.
I had heard about it, but I had never felt it,
This manna that comes from above.
When this life of sin I could no longer stand,
I asked my mother how could I get to know the Man.
She said, “You must be—don’t you see—you’ve got to be born again.”

You must have that fire and Holy Ghost,
That burning thing that keeps the prayer wheel turning.
That kind of religion you cannot conceal,
That makes you move, makes you shout,
Makes you cry when it’s real.
Keep your hands right in the winding chain
Until your soul’s been anchored in my Jesus’ name.
You’re filled within, free from sin [now]
That you’ve been born again.

One day the fire from heaven on me reigned;
I didn't see nobody, but I felt the change.
Deep down in my soul, I felt a sweet relief;
I had to run, I had to tell it…[?] can’t hold my peace;
I've been washed in the blood of Jesus,
I'll praise His holy name.
Since that day I was converted
I’ll never feel the same,
My life’s been changed, I can't explain,
That you must be born again.
(Words and Music by Dorothy Love Coates)

Understand, this is an experience song. Although Coates was writing about a biblical truth, she wasn’t being biblically and theologically precise in her language. Like many old gospel songs and spirituals, “You Must Be Born Again” expresses how the composer felt. Listening to the words, I believe I understand what she meant. Further, I believe I know how she felt.

Of course, you know this song is based on that passage out of the gospel of John, chapter 3:

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Here’s the important question: Have you been born again? Have you experienced what Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes sung about so many decades ago? What was true for Nicodemus is true for you and me:
“You must be—don’t you see—you’ve got to be born again.”


Gary said...

Five questions that Baptists and Evangelicals should ask themselves

1. Does the Bible state that a sinner is capable of choosing righteousness/choosing God?

The Bible states that the sinner must believe and repent, but are these actions initiated and performed by man of his own intellectual abilities, or are faith, belief, and repentance a part of the entire "package" of salvation? Are faith, belief, and repentance part of the "free gift"? Does God give you faith, belief and repentance at the moment he "quickens" you, or does he require you to make a decision that you want them first, and only then does he give them to you?

2. Is there any passage of Scripture that describes salvation in the Baptist/evangelical terms of: "Accept Christ into your heart", "Make a decision for Christ", "Pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner's Prayer)". Is it possible that being "born again" is something that God does at a time of his choosing, and not something that man decides to do at a time of his choosing? Is man an active participant in his salvation in that he cooperates with God in a decision to believe, or is man a passive participant in his salvation; God does ALL the work?

3. Is the Bible a static collection of words or do the Words of God have real power, real supernatural power? How does the Bible describe the Word? Is it the meaning of the Word that has power or do the words themselves have supernatural power to "quicken" the souls of sinners, creating faith, belief and repentance?

4. Does preaching the Word save everyone who hears it or only the "predestined", the "elect", the "called", the "appointed" will believe when they hear the Word?

5. WHEN does the Bible, if read in its simple, plain, literal rendering, say that sins are forgiven and washed away?

Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

wwdunc said...

And, at the end of the day, you still "must be born again."