Have You Received Your Divine Degree?

Dr. Tommy Boland, Pastor, Cross Community Church

“You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Every year graduating high school seniors head off to college in search of a degree that will help open doors of opportunity and pathways of possibility in their chosen field of study. Some pick a particular course of study and pursue it to completion. Others change direction along the way until they find where they fit.

But did you know that there is a degree that is available to everyone of any age that transcends what is offered by any college or university? It’s a B.A. from the College of Christ – Born Again!

John 3:7 is taken from the classic passage in the New Testament when Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, came to Jesus under the cover of darkness (“Nic at night”) to ask some deep questions. Nicodemus could have sent one of his assistants, but he wanted to meet Jesus personally in order to separate fact from fiction. During that encounter, Jesus uttered those famous words, “You must be born again!” Nicodemus’ puzzled response made it clear that he didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4).

Clearly, Nicodemus did not understand what it meant to be born again. And if he didn’t understand what it meant, he definitely did not understand why it is needed. Let’s take a look at both of these issues. 


The College of Christ

The phrase “born again” means to be born from above by the Almighty. In the College of Christ, everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and trusts in His sinless life, atoning death and supernatural resurrection is born again. Eternal life is not earned through behavior, but rather received by faith in the One who offers it. No one enters the Kingdom of God by living a better life; they enter by believing in the One who is life and gives it freely to all who believe.

“Why?” you might ask. “Why don’t I have anything to do with it? Surely if I live a good life, do more good things than bad things, surely God will let me into His heaven!”

That may seem logical, but such thinking reveals a profound ignorance of the righteousness and justice of God. Habakkuk 1:13 warns us that God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil; He cannot tolerate wrong. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2). It is impossible to be “good enough” for God, because His standard is perfection! You don’t believe that? Jesus flatly said that we must “Be perfect . . . as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 

Have you been perfect lately? Ever? If you think you’re even remotely close to perfect, allow me to show you what God thinks. 

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!” (Job 15:15-16).

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Theologians refer to the sinful state of men and women as our “guilty inability” to be righteous before God on our own merits. Apart from Christ, we are objects of God’s wrath because of our innate propensity to sin. When we recognize this — when we fully comprehend our condemned condition — we may raise our eyes to heaven and utter the same despairing cry as Peter did when he began to sink beneath the waves: “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30).


How to get your degree

And just as Jesus reached out His hand to rescue Peter, He reaches out to you and me, offering us His Divine Degree:

[Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

Of all the degrees we might pursue through higher education, the only one that truly matters, the “highest” one of all, comes from the College of Christ. But here is the best news of all: Unlike every other degree, which is earned through your financial commitment and disciplined effort, your B.A. from the College of Christ is not earned, but bestowed on us by the grace of God alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. That is the most important degree in the world – your B.A. – Born Again!

If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, are you ready to do so now? Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To believe is more than giving intellectual assent that Jesus is God. It is putting your complete confidence in the fact that Jesus is who He says He is and has done what He said He has done. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant what He said. He paid the price in full for all your sins — past, present, and future. Have you received this truth through faith? If you have, then you are born again! 

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN! 


Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.


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