It is absolutely essential that you experience the new birth (John 3:7). : “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” “Must” is a strong word of necessity. It’s not an option. Genuine Christianity is, as Puritan Henry Scougal titled his book, nothing less than The Life of God in the Soul of Man [Sprinkle Publications]. Scougal wrote that book in 1677 when he was 27; he died of tuberculosis when he was 28. NOTE: THIS DEAR AUTHOR HAD NO IDEA THAT THIS BOOK WOULD REACH THE HEART OF WHAT WOULD BE THE GREAT REVIVALIST, GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
In the early 1700s, a 21-year-old Oxford student realized that his debauched, wicked life needed to be reformed. He resolved to change. He denied himself every luxury; he wore ragged clothes; he ate no foods except those that were repugnant to him; he fasted twice a week; he gave his money to the poor; and he spent whole nights in prayer, lying prostrate on the cold stones or the wet grass. But he felt like he was putting a coat of paint on rotten wood. His outward deeds only hid his inward corruption.
Then a college friend, Charles Wesley, gave that struggling young man, George Whitefield, a copy of Scougal’s book. Whitefield read Scougal’s book with amazement and delight. It told him that true Christianity is the union of the soul with God. It is Christ formed in us. Whitefield said (In A Frank Boreham Treasury, p. 66),
When I read this, a ray of divine light instantaneously darted in upon my soul; and, from that moment, but not till then, did I know that I must become a new creature. After having undergone innumerable buffetings by day and night, God was pleased at length to remove my heavy load and to enable me, by a living faith, to lay hold on His dear Son. And oh! with what joy—joy unspeakable and full of glory—was I filled when the weight of sin left me and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God broke in upon my disconsolate soul!
Whitefield’s favorite Scripture became John 3:3 (KJV), “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He went on to preach more than 18,000 sermons, often on that text, sometimes to outdoor crowds of over 20,000 people (with no microphone!). He made many trips to America and was used greatly in the First Great Awakening. In one of his final sermons, he said (ibid., p. 70), “I am now fifty-five years of age and I tell you that I am more than ever convinced that the truth of the new birth is a revelation from God Himself and that without it you can never be saved by Jesus Christ.”
A friend asked him one day, “Why do you so often preach on Ye must be born again?”
“Because,” replied Whitefield solemnly, looking full into the face of the questioner, “because ye must be born again!”
This story by: Stephen J. Cole