Hello and welcome to the New Life in Christ website. At New Life we are committed to sharing with you the truth about the word of God. We have dedicated this website to help people understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ, how to be born again, and biblical discipleship.
In this teaching, we want to help you to understand how absolutely imperative it is that you be born again. It is the only way to salvation and entrance into the kingdom of God.
Are You Born Again?
Are you born again? This is a very important question.
"'Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."' John 3:3
Here, Jesus is saying that to be born again is the only way to true salvation. Being born again is the plan of salvation that Jesus authored through His death on the cross. It is vitally important that we come to an understanding of what is required for us to be born again.
All agree that when Jesus went to the cross, He brought in a means of salvation for everyone who will accept it. But what really happened at the cross? What can it do for me? How do I accept what was done there in my own personal life?
Death, Burial and Resurrection
Let us first consider what really happened when Christ was crucified. There were three steps to the work of Christ: death, burial and resurrection. It is very easy to see that these three steps make up the act of being born again spoken of by Jesus. To die, to be buried, and to rise again; that is to be born again. So we see that Jesus, through His death, burial, and resurrection, bought for us the plan of being born again spoken of in John 3:3, whereby we receive salvation.
The fact that Jesus purchased a plan of salvation for us is the greatest news the world has ever received. The thing we must understand is that not only was it necessary for Jesus to do something, but also it is absolutely essential for us to act upon what He did. Jesus told Nicodemus:
"...You must be born again." John 3:7
Now the astonishing thing is that Nicodemus was a religious leader of his day and yet, he had no conception of what it meant to be born again! Nicodemus inquired of Jesus:
"'How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'" John 3:4,5
Jesus was teaching Nicodemus that you can't be born again of a woman because the second birth is a spiritual birth, not a natural one.
What Must We Do?
Notice that Jesus is saying that without being born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. In other words , we cannot truly be saved. On the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached the first message after Jesus' death on the cross, the men cried out:
"'...What shall we do?' Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" Acts 2:38
Here Peter was giving to them the plan of salvation: repentance, baptism and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. If being born again is to be saved, Peter was evidently talking to them about being born again. Remember, there were three steps to the cross: death, burial, and resurrection. The way to accept Christ crucified in our individual life is to accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We don't have to literally die, literally be buried, and literally rise again. Jesus was our substitute and did this for us. All we must do is accept what He did by spiritually dying, spiritually being buried, and spiritually rising again. We take on His death by repentance, which is spiritual death. When a person truly repents, he dies to a life of sin and his own will, renounces it forever, and vows to live from that time on in accordance to the will of Jesus Christ. We take on His burial by baptism in water, by immersion into His name. The word declares:
"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism..." Romans 6:4
Baptism must be done by immersion, for something cannot be buried by sprinkling a little dirt on the top of it. That burial, after a few days, would certainly prove to be insufficient! Furthermore, every baptism, of which we have biblical record, was administered by immersion. That alone should determine our course of action on this matter. Finally, we partake of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is the new life that enables us to live as a Christian should live.
Spirit, Water and Blood
Therefore, we see that being born again means to spiritually die, repent; symbolically be buried, baptism; and spiritually rise again, receive the Holy Spirit. Thus, in plain language, an individual must repent of his sins, be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ by immersion, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the scripture, 1 John 5:8 tells us:
"And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one." 1 John 5:8
What is the one thing in which the Spirit, water and blood agree? Is it not the new birth? His blood covers our sins at repentance; the waters of baptism wash them away, thus making us clean for the Spirit to come into our lives to dwell. When the Roman soldiers thrust the spear into Jesus' side after He died, the scripture tells us that there came forth blood and water (John 19:34).This was for cleansing of the nations. It takes blood and water to eradicate sin. Blood is the cleaning agent and water is the flushing agent. When a jar is washed for canning, soap AND water are necessary to cleanse the jar so it might be filled with good fruit. Likewise, blood and water are necessary to cleanse the human soul so it may receive the Spirit of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit. This teaching was verified by Peter when he said:
"Repent and be baptized for the Remission of Sins." Acts 2:38
Repentance and baptism are absolutely essential for the remission of sins!
Paul taught that the three steps of the gospel are what we should preach. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, he tell us the following:
"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I have preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,..." 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Obey the Gospel
Paul went on to say:
"... and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8
Paul told us that the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. How can we OBEY the death, burial and resurrection? We obey through repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit, as we have previously explained. Notice that the Lord is to appear "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel." It is absolutely necessary for every human being to obey the gospel by being born again. Jesus told Nicodemus:
"You must be born again." John 3:7
Old Testament Speaks of the Born Again Plan
Let us consider another Biblical lesson given to us concerning this subject. The Bible teaches us that the things of the Old Testament were types and shadows of the things to come. When the priests of the Law ministered by offering sacrifices, there were three major steps to their duties.
Repentance - First they slew the animal to be offered on the brazen altar. The blood here was shed and caught in a container for use in the Holy Place. The flesh of the animal was to be consumed by fire. This teaches us of the first step of salvation: repentance. When we repent, we present our bodies a living sacrifice, and the blood of Jesus covers our sins.
Water Baptism - After the shedding of the blood, the priests were ordered to wash at the laver and to cleanse themselves with water in preparation for entering the Holy Place. The laver, a round fountain-like structure, was overlaid in the bottom with a looking glass. When the priest bent over to wash, he was able to see himself so that he could be sure that he was clean. When an individual is baptized, he should examine himself to be sure that he is leaving the world behind, once and for all. We see then that the second step of the tabernacle ministration plainly teaches us of water baptism. Blood and water cleansed them to prepare them for entry into the Holy Place, even as blood and water cleanses us in preparation for receiving the Holy One into our lives!
The Holy Spirit and Fire - After cleansing, the priest would then take fire from off the brazen altar and would enter through the veil into the Holy Place. The Holy Place had no doors or windows through which light could come. The only light to be provided there was to come from the golden candlesticks. These candlesticks consisted of seven wicks fed by oil from seven bowls. The wicks had to be lit with the fire brought by the priest from the brazen altar. The uniting at the candlesticks of the oil and fire to produce light is a perfect type of the Holy Spirit and fire promised to New Testament believers (Matthew 3:11). Without the light of the Holy Spirit, we could not see to live in the Holy Place, which is where every Christian should live. God spoke of His great plan of redemption in the Old Testament in types and shadows; and then in the New Testament, He spoke plainly to us so that we would have no doubt of His will! Once again, we recall the words of John:
"There are three that bear witness in the earth: the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood; and these three agree as one." 1 John 5:8
This Old Testament lesson beautifully reaffirms to us the absolute necessity of the full Born Again plan in each life for salvation!
Some Common Misconceptions
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - Scripture reads as follows:
'"Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house."' Acts 16:30,31
Many have taken this scripture to teach that all that is required for salvation is to believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world; and from that point on, the individual is saved. It is definitely true that an individual must believe that Jesus is the Savior in order to be saved. However Paul, who spoke these words in Acts 16, has some further teachings on the subject in Romans 10:13-15. Let us consider the text:
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they call on Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?" Romans 10:13-15
If we wanted to be absurd, we could take this thirteenth verse to teach that all an individual must do for salvation is to call out the name of Jesus one time and he has received salvation. Paul tell us they can't call on Him in whom they have not believed. Furthermore, he said that they can't believe in Him of whom they have not heard. We cannot merely believe. We must believe SOMETHING about Christ. When Paul told the jailer in Acts 16 to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he went on to speak unto him the word of the Lord (verse 32). The word which Paul spoke was apparently the GOSPEL; for the result in verse 33 was that the jailer and all his house were baptized at midnight. That is how essential baptism is for salvation. Paul took all these people out AT MIDNIGHT and baptized them!
Faith Made Perfect - Some would object here by saying that we are saved by faith alone. It is true that we are saved by faith, but it is also true that faith always produces action on the part of the believer. Let us study to verify this point from James 2:14-22.
'"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;' notwithstanding ye give them not of those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, 'Thou hast faith and I have works.' Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believes that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, Oh vain man, that faith without works IS DEAD? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thus how faith wrought with his works, and by his works, was faith made perfect?"' James 2:14-22
When an individual believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, what do they believe about Him? They believe the gospel, which is death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). James teaches us that faith without action is dead or - it is not really faith at all. When a sinner hears the true gospel and truly believes, he will obey the gospel. An individual obeys the death, burial and resurrection of Christ by repentance, baptism in Jesus' name, and receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking with other tongues. This is the salvation of Calvary!! "Seest thou how faith, wrought with his works and by his works, was faith made perfect?" (or complete).
Not By Works - If you are still having trouble conceding to this teaching because of the element of works involved, let's reason concerning one more point. Being born again - repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit is not considered by God to be a work.
In Titus 3:5 we are taught:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us; by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5
This scripture tells us that regeneration, which is being born again, is NOT a work of righteousness.
Concluding this matter, we will cite a familiar Biblical example. In the great revival at Samaria in Acts. 8:5-23, a sorcerer named Simon heard the preaching of Philip. He believed and was baptized and continued with Philip, beholding the signs and miracles which were done. Many people would say that because Simon believed, he was saved. Yet the Apostle Peter said of him in Acts 8:23:
"For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Acts 8:23
It is impossible for anyone in the bond of iniquity to be saved, for scripture tells us:
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36
Simon believed and was baptized, but he had not received the Holy Spirit; therefore, he was not born again. We cannot be half-born and survive. The entire work of Calvary is necessary for our salvation.
The Thief on the Cross - Many have asked, "If an individual must repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit for salvation, how was the thief on the cross with Jesus saved?" ( Luke 23:38-43). First of all, it was impossible for anyone to be born again at this time, for the born again plan was not yet complete. Jesus had not died, been buried and risen again. God has always had a plan of salvation for each dispensation of time. In Noah's day the only way of salvation was to get in the ark. In Moses' day the only plan was the Law. In the church dispensation the only way to be saved is to be born again. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Ye MUST be Born Again."
Conclusion - May we point out as we conclude this study that we have been given the first church and the Apostles after which to pattern our teaching and practices. In each recorded account of conversions under the Apostles' ministries, the three steps of being born again are evident. In Acts 2:38, it was repentance, baptism and the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8:12, Acts 10:44-48, and Acts 19:1-6, we find the born again experience taught and received. Why should we vary from this practice when we are to be built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone? Do not allow anything to turn you aside from this truth - YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!! If you haven't been as yet, you should do so TODAY!!