There is a curious trend developing on online forums. Perhaps you’ve seen it yourselves: Someone will post a comment claiming to have been recently reborn, and the comment will be copied and pasted (spammed, actually) across multiple webpages by the initial person or account.
Like Jesus’ early followers who were understandably wary of Saul/Paul when he claimed to be converted to their cause, we should also be wary of anyone who makes such an announcement to strangers on public forums.
When people are genuinely born-again, they always start preaching the Word. They can’t help themselves: the Spirit is moving in them and moving them to do it. After regaining his sight, Paul immediately took to the streets and started preaching Jesus as the Messiah. He didn’t announce to strangers that he was reborn; he started preaching Jesus as the Messiah. The same with the disciples when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – they immediately went to the streets and started preaching Jesus as the Messiah to strangers in different languages (tongues). Foreigners in Jerusalem heard the Gospel being preached to them by the disciples, who had never learned foreign languages. But again, the disciples didn’t stand on the streets proclaiming their rebirth; they stood on the streets proclaiming the Word.
When I was born-again from atheism 22 years ago, I also didn’t run around proclaiming my rebirth to strangers. Instead, I called my grandmother thousands of miles away (I was in Australia, she was in Canada) to tell her I believed in Jesus, as I knew my grandmother was the only one of my family and friends who would understand what had happened to me. As for strangers, I offered them love and kindness and some passages from scripture (I had only started reading the Bible for the first time on the day I was reborn), but I didn’t feel moved to publicly proclaim my rebirth. I knew it would have no positive affect on anyone except those who already knew God.
Newly-reborn believers are bursting with the newly-infused presence of God’s Holy Spirit on their souls. This makes them overwhelmingly loving and merciful. They are also prescient in a way they’ve never been before, as scripture tells us that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” New reborns who have a background in scripture see God’s Word in a whole new light (like when an optometrist testing different magnifications finds the one that is exactly right) and so are able to deliver God’s Word with force and conviction based on their new clarity of vision. Meanwhile, those who are newly reborn but don’t yet know scripture well enough to preach it spread the Good News in a different way – through acts of love and kindness. But no ego is involved. Newly reborn people are the most humble souls on Earth.
In the New Testament, the only people who ran around drawing attention to themselves by making out-of-place impromptu announcements were people possessed by demons. Scripture tells us that in the last days God will pour out his Spirit. However, what I’m seeing now in these public announcements of spiritual rebirth is not an outpouring of God’s Spirit, but rather an attempt to deceive, knowing that many Christians will accept professions of faith (especially new conversions) at face value.
Paul says we are to test the spirits, and Jesus says “by their fruits shall ye know them”. There was a flurry of highly publicized alleged rebirths by celebrities a few years ago, but these celebrities have since, by their words and actions, walked back their professions of faith.
Be very wary of people who spam comment sections with news of their rebirth. Be cautious in following them to their website or elsewhere. “Test the spirits”, and if through discernment you find their rebirth to be genuine, celebrate with them and God and the whole host of Heaven, as “there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who need no repentance”. But if you suspect something other than the Holy Spirit has entered these people, pray for them and let them be.