The New Birth and Its Necessity For Salvation
The New Birth
By: Donald Berry
There is absolutely no substitute for the “New Birth Experience”.
Jesus told a very devout religious ruler of the Jews: “Ye must be Born Again of the WATER and of the SPIRIT.” This is the NEW BIRTH.
This great SPIRITUAL BIRTH can never be received until there is GENUINE REPENTANCE on the sinner’s part.
Let me stress here and now that the NEW BIRTH is no part of “modern religion”. We do not receive this RAPTUROUS experience by joining some church. You cannot be voted into THE KINGDOM OF GOD by the congregation, or shaking a preacher’s hand.
This NEW BIRTH comes in a complete package of three important things that God requires of every soul that comes into the Kingdom — Repentance, Water Baptism in Jesus Name, and receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 3:3-7.
Jesus said, “Except ye REPENT, ye shall likewise perish.” We all agree on Repentance.
Jesus said: “He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall flow RIVERS of LIVING WATER” (but this spake He of THE SPIRIT). Jesus was speaking of receiving the Holy Ghost. John 7:38-39.
Peter said: God hath given the Holy Ghost to them that OBEY Him.” Acts 5:32.
John the Baptist said: “He shall Baptize you with THE HOLY GHOST”. Matt. 3:11.
Jesus said: “Tarry in Jerusalem until ye be endued with POWER from on high”. Luke 24:49.
Paul said: “Without the SPIRIT OF CHRIST we are none of His.” Rom. 8:9.
Jesus said: “Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Acts 1:8.
All through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, they preached and received the HOLY GHOST and spoke with tongues, and were baptized in Jesus Name for the remission of sins.
Why do preachers tell their people you don’t have to have the Holy Ghost to be SAVED when that was the ONLY MESSAGE and EXPERIENCE the New Testament Church believed in?
How can a PENTECOSTAL PREACHER believe anything short of the three steps into the Kingdom of God?
Do you believe a person is SAVED outside the KINGDOM OF GOD? You say, of course not! Well then. Paul said, “The Kingdom of God is Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy IN the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 14:17.
You can’t stop short of the Holy Ghost Experience and call it the NEW BIRTH.
Jesus said the Birth was “BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND SPIRIT”. You definitely can’t come into NEW BIRTH of a soul.
The fact is, you can’t be a PENTECOSTAL PREACHER and not believe in the FULL PLAN OF SALVATION.
Why, we’re not even “Sanctified” without the Holy Ghost! Rom. 15:16.
Will the day ever come when some of our churches will by-pass the WHOLE GOSPEL and take members into our churches without THE NEW BIRTH EXPERIENCE of Repentance, Baptism, and the Holy Ghost?
Dear brother and sister, we’re outside the KINGDOM OF GOD without the Holy Ghost — the “New Birth” Experience!
Paul told Titus: We are SAVED by “Mercy” and “Regeneration” and “Renewing” of the Holy Ghost which He “Shed” on us abundantly. Titus 3:5-6.
It’s a question in my mind if those who don’t believe the NEW BIRTH is not in the Holy Ghost, whether they ever received the Holy Ghost themselves.
How can we preach about the Apostle Paul in our pulpits, and all the Apostles, if we stop short of REPENTANCE, BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME, and the HOLY GHOST?
They all spoke in tongues. They all preached Jesus Name Baptism. The all preached Repentance.
A CHURCH FULL OF WHAT?
If we have a church full of people without the Holy Ghost, and they are on the “Church Roll” as members, we are no better off than the Denominations of the world.
Paul spoke about the “General Assembly of the FIRST BORN”. Heb. 12:23. Who were they? What did they believe?
The were the NEW BIRTH PEOPLE; they believed in the BIRTH OF WATER AND SPIRIT.
Peter preached THE NEW BIRTH strong in his day — Acts 2.
Three thousand accepted his message of Acts 2:38-39. Then in Verse 47. Luke said: The Lord ADDED to the Church daily such as should be SAVED.
How were these on the Day of Pentecost SAVED? — By OBEYING Acts 2:38. Those that came into the Church later had to obey Acts 2:38.
If it took Acts 2:38 to be SAVED and added to the Church then, it takes the SAME EXPERIENCE today to get into THE CHURCH.
Shame on any preacher that stops short of the GLORIOUS EXPERIENCE of the Holy Ghost and tells people they are SAVED.
Shame on us if we hold out on our people and tell them they have been BORN AGAIN short of receiving the Holy Ghost and speaking with tongues.
I would consider a PENTECOSTAL PREACHER that doesn’t believe the Holy Ghost is the “New Birth” as “The Blind Leading the Blind”.
Woe to you BLIND GUIDES that stand in the DOOR of the Kingdom and hinder those that would come in if they had a chance and was told “The Truth” about what the “New Birth” is.
I don’t understand a person that calls himself a “Pentecostal Preacher” and Doesn’t believe it takes the Holy Ghost to COMPLETE the NEW BIRTH. Although the Bible does say in the “latter times” some shall “Depart” from THE FAITH.
But Jude exerts us to contend for THE FAITH once delivered to the Saints. Therefore, I CONTEND there is no NEW BIRTH without the Holy Ghost with the EVIDENCE of speaking in tongues.
It may be a NICE CHURCH and congregation to be full of people like Cornelius was before he received the Holy Ghost, but they are not SAVED or BORN AGAIN, and have not come to the NEW BIRTH until they PRAY THOUGH and speak in tongues…PERIOD.
The trouble is, some want a REFINED CHURCH and everything just So-So to win the applause and favor of the public.
I know of a church that the Board Men didn’t believe in emotion and praising the Lord very loud, so they could win the public, but that place went DEAD.
STRONG NEW BIRTH PREACHERS
What we need today is the FULL OPERATION of the GIFTS of the Spirit in our churches, and this can’t be without THE NEW BIRTH EXPERIENCE in the Holy Ghost.
There’s no use to call our churches Apostolic, or UPC, or FIRST PENTECOSTAL or LAST PENTECOSTAL or PENTECOSTAL at all, if we don’t preach, and practice, the APOSTLES DOCTRINE and teach GENUINE REPENTANCE, BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME, and the receiving of the HOLY GHOST as THE NEW BIRTH.
I can’t comprehend anyone that would want to be in fellowship with we HOLY GHOST, tongue talking, “Apostolic Doctrine” Folks, that doesn’t believe the message we preach about the new BIRTH. How come some of these follows with us anyhow?
I appreciate the fact that out SOLID PREACHERS in the UPC are bearing down on the Message.
Paul said in Acts 20:27: I HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD.
Our “Motto” in the UPC has been “THE WHOLE GOSPEL TO THE WHOLE WORLD.” This means this Organization believes it takes REPENTANCE, WATER BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME, and the infilling of the HOLY GHOST to COMPLETE the NEW BIRTH.
This is in our ARTICLES OF FAITH printed in our Manual.
Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?
Jesus is coming for a Holy Ghost, Apostolic, NEW BIRTH BRIDE.
Are you ready?
Preacher, are your people ready?
Do the have THE NEW BIRTH EXPERIENCE?
Virgins, do you have the HOLY GHOST Oil?
The “End-Time Revival” is here!
Preacher! Declare the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD to your people, Preach the NEW BIRTH with greater fervor and anointing than you ever have before, and you shall be rewarded when THE CHIEF SHEPHERD shall appear.
No one that attended the 1971 Convention in Houston could doubt that God is pouring out HIS NEW BIRTH SPIRIT today.
There were NEW BIRTH SOULS all over the place being “Born Again” and speaking in tongues, and I’m glad I was privileged to be right in the middle of it!
NEW BIRTH REVIVAL TILL HE COMES…GLORY HALLELUJAH!!!
(The above article appeared in an issue of the Gospel Tidings)
FORMULA FOR THE NEW BIRTH
By W. C. Parkey
JOHN 3:13 – ACTS 2:38
In a previous issue we discussed what Jesus meant by the “kingdom of God” when He said, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). We also explained that “born of the water” as mentioned in John 3:5 is equivalent to being baptized in water by immersion as given in Acts 2:38. Now it is time to address the question: What did Jesus mean when He said “born of the Spirit” in John 3:5, and how is it possible for a man to know that he has been born “again” of the Spirit? We maintain that just as “born of the water” refers to water baptism, so “born of the Spirit” refers to the baptism of the Holy Ghost as it is recorded in the second chapter of Acts.
BORN OF THE SPIRIT
The first step to identify the birth of the Spirit is one of definition. It must be clearly understood that a
conception is not a birth, and that justification is not equivalent to regeneration. This will explain how it is possible for God to be working in the life of a person before that person is considered “born again” just as there is life in the natural before there is birth.
The controversy regarding the abortion issue as to where life begins is not nearly as important as the controversy surrounding the beginning. of spiritual life. Just as the uniting of the egg and the seed in humans results in a conception which, if it proceeds without interference, will result in a normal birth, so the uniting of the seed of the Word (1 Peter 1:23) with faith in the heart of the individual produces a response that will result in the born-again experience if it follows to its conclusion without interference.
Unfortunately, it is possible for that process to be interrupted before a birth takes place.
There was nothing wrong with the Word, and there was nothing wrong with the faith in the beginning. But if that faith does not follow in obedience to the Word of God, that faith becomes a dead faith and the results are disappointing (See James 2:26).
Everyone who has had occasion to observe the progress of a child as it develops before its birth knows that before birth there is – life, before birth there is movement, before birth there is growth, development, and great change. But it is only at the time of birth that there is breath, that the child is named, that it is counted in the family. So it is in the spiritual realm.
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). “And of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there” (Psalm 87:5-6).
Let us notice the progress of the New Testament Church. When the disciples gathered at Jerusalem they were instructed to “tarry . . . until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you . . .” (Acts 1:8).
It was obvious that the Holy Ghost had not come upon them. “The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Jesus said, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost NOT MANY DAYS HENCE” (Acts 1:5)!
At this time, those who had followed Jesus were disciples, (Acts 1:15) they were worshippers (Luke 24;52-53), but they had not been baptized with the Spirit, they had not been filled with the Spirit, they had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, had not come!
When the day of Pentecost was fully come, the Holy Ghost was poured out (Acts 2:17), it was shed forth Acts 2:33), it was given (Acts 11:17) and the disciples were all filled (Acts 2:4), and they were baptized (Acts 1:5; 11:16) with the Holy Ghost. This is called “the beginning” in Acts 11:15 and from that time the lord added to the church such as should be saved (Acts 2:47).
Let those who have received experiences with God note that “the path often just is a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). In the words of the prophet, “Then shall we know if ye follow on to know the lord” (Hosea 6:3). Our experiences with God do not qualify us to reject further experiences if such experiences are found in the Word of God.
This principle is amply illustrated in the life of Cornelius. He was a man of character, a devout man who feared God, and regularly prayed and gave alms (Acts 10:2). It is important to recognize that though this man’s devotion was noted by God and that he was visited by an angel, he awaited the arrival of Simon Peter to tell him words whereby he and his house could be saved (Acts 11:14). Cornelius needed and received the Holy Ghost baptism (as well as water baptism) to complete his devotion (Acts 10:44-48).
The Samaritans had an incomplete experience but, nevertheless, a joyous one. When they believed Philip’s preaching there was great joy in the city as they were baptized in water in the name of the Lord Jesus and witnessed miracles, healings, and exorcisms. However, they had not as yet received the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:15)! It is interesting to note the statement that he was “fallen upon none of them” (Acts 8:16). Some would maintain that the Samaritans received a different or an inferior blessing, but not so!
Paul’s experience is further evidence of the way in which God’s Word touches our lives, but we are expected to follow in faith and obedience in order for God to complete the work. Paul, after having had a tremendous experience on the Damascus road, spent three days in blindness, fasting, and praying, until Ananias came with the words, “Brother Saul, the Lord . . . hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17).
In every case I have mentioned there was a gracious acknowledgement of what God had done, but there was no reluctance to camp on the other side of Jordan instead of entering the promised land of the Spirit. The great promise of “the just shall live by his faith” is immediately followed by the warning, “But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:39).
The twelve Ephesian disciples of Acts 19:1-5 were men who were ignorant of the possibility of the Holy Ghost but, when the promise was explained unto them they were baptized in the name of Jesus and when Paul laid his hand upon them the Holy Ghost “came upon them” and they spake with tongues and prophesied. They were disciples, yes! They were believers, yes! But they had not received the “born again experience.”
THE SOUND OF THE SPIRIT
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof and canst not tell from whence it cometh, or whither it goeth. So Is Everyone That Is Born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)!
It is interesting to note that the word for Spirit is “pneuma” and the word for wind is the same word. Just as there is a sound which the wind makes that signifies its presence, so is there a sound that indicates when one has been born of the Spirit. We are not left to imagination, invention, or intuition to determine if we have been born again. There is a sound that indicates when one is born of the Spirit. That sound is given by God and it is the sound of speaking with other tongues – as the Spirit gives the utterance (Acts 2:4). This is known as the “initial evidence” of the Holy Ghost and is the only scriptural initial evidence that we have. Any other evidence becomes subject to subjective interpretation and may not be valid.
THE EXAMPLES – In keeping with the rule that “in tile mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” the inspirer of Holy Scripture has left us with sufficient evidence that tongues is the initial evidence of the Holy Ghost. There are three accounts where it is definitely stated that men spoke with tongues when they received the Holy Ghost. These include: (1) the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:4); (2) the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:46); and (3) the Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:5).
In addition, there are three accounts where it may be implied of assumed that they spoke with tongues. These include:
(1) The Samaritans. When the Samaritans received the Holy Ghost, it was through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. This was so apparent that Simon the Sorcerer offered them money that he might have the power to give others the Holy Ghost. We may safely conclude that what Simon saw was the same phenomenon that had occurred in the instances given before.
(2) The Joppa Brethren. When Peter went to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, he took with him six brethren from Joppa. When the Gentiles in Caesarea received the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues, the brethren of the circumcision were astonished, but listened to Peter’s decision “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (Acts 10:47).
The language of Peter indicates that the experience the Gentiles were receiving was an experience that he and the six brethren had already received, so we conclude these six brethren had spoken with tongues.
(3) The Apostle Paul. While the scripture does not record that Paul spoke in tongues when he received the Holy Ghost, Paul does proudly say, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than ye all (1 Corinthians –14:18). Is it not logical to believe that Paul began his tongues-speaking like all of the other apostles – at the time he received the Holy Ghost?
(The original source and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)
THE PLAN OF SALVATION
I. The keys to the kingdom.
A. Matt. 16:18,19…thou art Peter…and I will give unto thee the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
B. Acts 2:37,38…what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
C. Acts 8:16,17…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid (Peter and John) their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
D. Acts 10:44-48 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word…And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
II. The new birth. of God.
A. John 3:5…except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom
1. I Peter 3:20,21…eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…
2. Romans 8:9…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
B. Matt. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him , and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him :
C. Mark 16:16,17 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. And these signs shall follow them that believe…they shall speak with new tongues.
D. Luke 24:47-49…remission of sins should be preached in his name…tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
E. Acts 2:38…repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
F. Acts 8:16,17…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…and they received the Holy Ghost.
G. Acts 10:44-48…the Holy Ghost fell on all them…And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord…
H. Acts 19:1-6…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them ; and they spake with tongues…
III. Just believing is not enough.
A. James 2:19…the devils also believe…
B. Mark 1:15…repent ye and believe the gospel.
C. Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. . .
D. John 7:38,39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit…
IV. The evidence of the Holy Ghost.
A. James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame…
B. Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe…they shall speak with new tongues.
C. Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
D. Acts 10:45,46…on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they hear them speak with tongues…
E. Acts 19:6…the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues…
(The original source and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)
THE HOLY GHOST
By: Paul D. Dugas
What is the New Birth?
Can a man be born again without receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues?
I. Is a man born again with repentance and water baptism?
1. John the Baptist preached repentance and water baptism.
a. Repentance – Matt. 3:1,2 Luke 3:8
b. Water baptism – John 1:26 Matt. 3:13-15 Luke 3 : 12
2. If repentance and water baptism were the only requirements of the New Birth John would have been in the kingdom of God.
a. Did John feel this was enough to be born into the kingdom of god? Matt. 2:11,12 John 1:7-8
b. Was John or his followers at that time in the kingdom of God, even though they had repented and been baptized?
1. Luke 7:28,29 – He that is least in kingdom is greater than John.
2. John did not claim to be in the bride – He was only a friend – Repentance is not enough. John 3:30
3. Did anyone actually receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the gospels? John 7:38,39
Men could repent be baptized and have their sins forgiven in the gospels.
a. Thief on cross Luke 23:43
b. Man with palsy Mark 2:5
However the true born again experience required to enter into the kingdom of God was not possible until after Jesus was crucified and ascended. Luke 22:32 Acts 1:4,3
II. The church or bride of Christ is composed of those who are in the kingdom of God.
1. What is this kingdom
a. Rom. 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
b. Luke 17:20,21 “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, lo here! or lo there! For, behold the kingdom of God is within men.”
c. John 7:38,39 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (but this spake He of the Holy Ghost….)
2. What did Jesus say was required to enter into the kingdom
a. John 3:3-8 “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.”
III. Where do you find the scriptural way to enter the Kingdom of God?
1. Jesus directed His followers by strong command as to what they must do.
a. What to preach and what to do first Luke 24:47-49
b. What to expect Acts 1:4,5,8
2. Did these followers including Mary the mother of Jesus obey?
a. 120 believers including Mary prayed at Jerusalem until they were filled with Holy Ghost. Acts 1:13,14 Acts 2:4 this was the start of the church age. The kingdom of God which is, “Christ in you the hope of Glory” Col. 1:27, had begun.
IV. The book of Acts is the only book where we learn how to be born again. The church was founded on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost as promised in Joel 2:28.
1. What actually did happen Acts 2:1-4
2. Did the Apostle Peter feel that this experience of Acts 2:4 was what the Lord had commanded them to receive.
a. Acts 2:33 “Having received of the father, the promise of the Holy Ghost, He (Jesus) hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. ”
3. Did Peter preach the Holy Ghost as a part of the New Birth. Acts 2:38,39.
V. How do we know initially what the sign is that a person has received the Holy Ghost.
1. Jesus said, they would speak in new tongues Matt. 16:17
2. Jews receive Holy Ghost at Jerusalem Acts 2:4
3. Gentiles receive Holy Ghost at Caesarea Acts 10:44-48
4. Johns converts Acts 19:1-7
The church started on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:4
Peter opened the church by giving three requirements to be saved.
2. Water baptism in Jesus name
3. Gift of Holy Ghost Acts 2:38
Paul did not feel that repentance and water baptism was enough. It had to be:
2. Water baptism in Jesus name
3. Holy Ghost with evidence of other tongues Acts 19:1-7 Jesus said – Ye must be born again, except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:3-5
Finally Roman 8:8,11 states “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his…”
(The original source and/or publisher of this material is unknown.)
BORN AGAIN WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
By: Ralph Woerner
A few years ago the media talked quite freely about Christians who claimed to have had a born again experience. I don’t think the public ever understood, however, what Christians meant when they said they had been born again other than they had undergone some kind of emotional experience. Even though I’m a bit late in doing so, I’d like to explain what being born again involves.
The Bible is really quite clear about how a person does and does not become a Christian. He doesn’t become a Christian simply by attending church, by living a good moral life, by being raised in a Christian home, or by believing the proper things about Jesus Christ.
It’s true, Christians do attend church. It’s true, they do have a high set of moral values. It’s true, they do have a common set of beliefs. But this isn’t what makes them Christians. The only way to become a Christian is by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which involves the born again experience.
It’s hard for people (who haven’t experienced it) to understand what is meant by the new birth. When Christ first told Nicodemus that before he could inherit eternal life he would have to be “born again,” it nearly blew Nicodemus’ mind. “How on earth can a person be `born again’?” he asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb after he’s grown and be born a second time? How can a person be born more than once?”
What Nicodemus didn’t understand is Christ wasn’t talking about a physical birth, but rather about a spiritual birth. Just as a person becomes part of the human family through physical birth he becomes part
of God’s family through spiritual birth. When Christ tried to explain how this spiritual birth works and what effect it has on a person’s life he said: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. We hear the sound of it, but we can’t tell from where it is coming or to where it is going; so is everyone who is born of God.” We can’t see the wind. We know it’s there, however, by the sound it makes and the things it does. Similarly, we can’t see the new birth. We know when it has taken place, however, because of the moral and spiritual changes it has made in a person’s life.
Being born again can be compared to a blind man receiving sight for the very first time. A whole new world opens to him. Things he couldn’t perceive or appreciate before — flowers, birds, bees, trees, animals, placid lakes, rushing streams, or sunsets over the ocean now take his breath away. When a person’s spiritual
eyes are opened, a whole new world opens to him also. Darkness gives way to light; death gives way to life.
When Adam and Eve sinned their spiritual lights went out. That darkness remains over man’s heart until it is dispelled by the Spirit of God. Because he’s in a state of spiritual darkness the unconverted person cannot perceive or appreciate spiritual things. Indeed, they are foolishness to him. He can’t perceive spiritual things because they’re spiritually discerned. He’s like a blind man trying to perceive the wonders of nature. Spiritual things can only be perceived by those who have had their spiritual senses quickened, only by those who have passed from spiritual darkness to spiritual light, from spiritual death to spiritual life (1 Peter 1:9).
Why do some people pass from spiritual death and darkness to spiritual Life and light while others do not? Jesus answered that question. He said, “Light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Some people don’t want to know the truth about God, Christ, sin or salvation because it would make them uncomfortable if they did.
A professor of a large university recently said: “I used to think my problem with Jesus Christ was intellectual. Now that I’ve made a careful study of his life and weighed the evidence of his deity, I’ve concluded that my problem with him is moral rather than intellectual. To be honest about it, I’m not a disciple of Christ because I don’t want him messing up my life.” It’s refreshing to find someone who’s honest about his difficulty with Christ for a change. Most of those who pretend to have intellectual problems with Christ haven’t even investigated the matter. Their intellectual objections are nothing more than a smoke screen to cover their sinful behavior Christ knew this would be the case. He said, “Everyone who does evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be manifest that they are wrought in God” (I John 3:19-21).
When Adam and Eve sinned they fled to the back of the Garden and hid among the bushes. They didn’t want to face God after what they had done. Men have been hiding ever since.
One of the major differences between the person who has been born again and the one who has not is: one has been spiritually enlightened and the other has not. One is walking in the light; the other is walking in darkness.
Another difference is one has received spiritual life and the other has not. One is alive in Christ; the other is dead in trespasses and sins. Adam and Eve died spiritually when they sinned against God. This state of spiritual death remains until a person is quickened by the spirit of God.
Illustration: “I went to the altar like a candle without light; there was no meaning or purpose in my life,” a young convert recently exclaimed. “But while I was kneeling in prayer something happened. God touched my heart. He set my candle on fire. Everything is different now. Spiritual death has been replaced with spiritual life. A love for Christ has been planted in my heart. I’ll never again be the same.”
The moral and spiritual changes which occur when a person comes to Christ are really quite amazing. Spiritual things which seemed unimportant and worthless before are suddenly filled with meaning. Worldly pleasures which were so important before suddenly lose their appeal. Old things pass
away; all things become new!
The new birth is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. How do you explain spiritual darkness being replaced by spiritual light? How do you explain spiritual death being replaced by spiritual life? How do you explain a person’s character being changed in a moment of time? Yet, this is what happens when a person gives his heart and life to Christ. It’s what God promised when he said, “A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you.” It’s what he promised when he said, “I will put my laws in your mind and write them upon your hearts.” It’s what happens when God places his love in our hearts (Ezekiel 32:26; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Romans 5:5).
The new birth is not man reforming himself. It’s not man turning over a new leaf or resolving to do better. It’s God changing his heart from the inside out. There’s a mystery about it which no one can explain because it’s something which God alone can accomplish in a person’s heart.
A group of barbers, wanting to show their true Christian spirits, took a derelict from skid row and gave him a haircut, a bath, and a shave. Then, they dressed him in a new suit of clothes, paid three months’ rent on an apartment and gave him $250.00 to make a brand new start in life. Three days later,however, the man was in the gutter again, new suit and all. Their mission had failed. Why?
They had cleaned their man up on the outside, making him look respectable. But they hadn’t changed the passions of his heart. They had taken their man out of the gutter but they hadn’t taken the gutter out of their man. They had powdered and perfumed their man but they hadn’t changed his heart. That is something which only God can do.
Christianity is not man adhering to a creed, attending church, or believing the right things about Jesus Christ. It’s Christ coming to live within a person’s heart. The changes he makes when he takes up residence there are amazing. Drunkards become sober, harlots have their virtue restored, thieves become honest, scoundrels become good, the stingy become generous, liars become truthful, the grumpy become kind, the hateful become loving, the sinful become pure. Salvation is not a program of self-improvement. It’s, rather, a program of God transforming the human heart from the inside out. Before conversion man dislikes what God likes. After conversion he likes what God likes. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away and all things have become new.” That’s what being born again is all about.
Satan tries to convince some people that they’re so good they don’t need a change of heart. It’s true, some people live very good lives. But no one is so good that he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness and change. No one possesses spiritual life automatically. It comes only when Christ enters his heart.
Satan tries to convince others that they must straighten their lives out first before coming to Christ. The problem with this is, we can’t change our sinful nature any more than a leopard can change its spots. Only God can regenerate our hearts. He doesn’t ask us to change ourselves. He asks us to come as we are. He’ll do the rest.
The leper came as he was (leprosy and all) and was healed. The fallen woman came as she was and was forgiven. God doesn’t ask us to clean ourselves up first. He asks us to come as we are. He’ll be more than happy to do the rest.
Some people have a great emotional experience when they come to Christ and are born again. Others experience little or no emotion at all. They may not even be able to pinpoint the exact time when they gave their hearts to Christ but they know that they did. They know it because Christ is the object of their faith and devotion. And his joy and peace reside in their hearts.
Conversion is similar to the movement of the wind. To some it comes as a gentle breeze; to others, as a rushing tornado. To some it is quiet and tender experience; to others it is very dramatic. What sort of experience one has is not important. The thing that’s important is Christ has moved from the outside of his heart to within.
Sometimes the changes which occur are swift and dramatic; other times they are more gradual. Everyone is
different and everyone’s experiences of conversion are going to be different also. The important thing is not what one experiences but that Christ has entered his heart. “As many as received him,” the Bible says, “to them gave he the power to become the Sons of God, even to them who believe on his name” (John 1:12).
Down through the ages God has been calling people to himself. Those who have come have been born again and received his forgiveness, his joy, and his peace in their hearts.
In the third century, Cyprian (bishop of Cartage) wrote to his friend Donatus: “It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted; but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians. . .and I am one of them.” That is one of the most wonderful confessions a person can ever make. I am one of them too. What about you?
(The above article appeared in an issue of The Bethany Voice.)
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