As my children grew into their formative years I told them: "You can do whatever you want to do but always remember this - you have to live and die with the choices you make!" On a more personal level, the matter of being saved has always been and shall always remain your choice and has never been nor will ever be a choice made for you by your parents or guardians.
Everyone will make choices throughout life. Some are regretful and many are thankful. Some of the choices we've made may have been hurtful to ourselves or others while other choices may have resulted in a much deeper, fuller life. For instance, what we eat, what we drink, what we inject into our body, who we choose to marry (if they are in agreement) all reflect upon the choices we've made.
Having spent several years at college in Tennessee, I was very familiar with "country music" and several thought I should make singing my career, but I chose not to do that because "preaching the Gospel" seemed (to me) to be of far greater importance than trying to become a "country star!" Many songs have expressed the truthfulness of our human experience and several have made humanity keenly aware of individual dilemmas and triumphs.
On this particular subject, a country singer by the name of George Jones earned the title of "No Show Jones" as a result of his addiction to alcohol and drugs. People loved George's singing because it was based on true to life experiences and he always expressed songs with deep feeling and emotion. One of his most popular recordings was entitled: "HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY" and his recording company had to coerce him into making this recording for he was convinced such a morbid song would never sell. His fans apparently chose to think otherwise.
There was an interesting article published on the internet which revealed how George recorded one song which fit his personality to a "T" as they would say! The song was called "CHOICES" and the year it was released, Jones was suppose to sing it on the Country Music Awards show. Apparently, the CMA wanted George to perform about 30 seconds of the song just before a commercial break on TV, so George backed out of the performance and refused to sing only part of the song. During the live performance on TV, Alan Jackson rebelled against the CMA'S and stopped his song "POP A TOP" midway and started singing the full version of George's song. Alan had made his choice as well!
The lyrics to the song started with a chorus which went like this:
"I've had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I had listened, no I wouldn't be here today
Living and dying with the choices I've made..."
After Jackson broke the format and performed "CHOICES" on the awards show, it is rumored that he walked straight out the back door saying, "That might be the end of my career." Of course it was anything but! George saw Jackson's performance on TV at his home, and applauded the effort. A couple of years later, Jackson used the CMA awards to perform, for the first time, his post 9/11 tribute "WHERE WERE YOU."
In the mid seventies I chose to accompany my grandfather and uncle to California where my grandfather ultimately went to a cancer clinic in Tijuana Mexico just across the border from San Diego. He chose to try a cancer treatment not sanctioned in Canada or the U.S. While spending a few days in California, I asked him about accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior. His response was typical of many good people for he declared how (many years ago) some church member caused him to be resentful of Christianity in general and so it became his choice to have nothing to do with Christ for many years.
Now in his seventies, he told me that he had not served the Lord all these years and it was too late to start now! However, that was the worst choice (in my opinion) that he could ever make. I loved my grandfather dearly and had to stop preaching one Sunday after returning to Canada (at Nauwigewauk Christian Church) as I was sobbing uncontrollably after he passed away (having to my knowledge), never having made a commitment to the saving grace and Lordship of Jesus Christ. I must sincerely confess that I too have made a lot of bad choices in life, (even as a Christian) but neglecting my need for the Savior's love and forgiveness was not none of them. Therefor I must reiterate: " We live and die with the choices we make!"
Do you choose to continue reading this story to the end? "Will your life end up being in the hands of Jesus Christ or are you one of those who still thinks - "I can just take my chances!" But I say to you - "Why gamble when you are guaranteed a sure thing!"
GOD has given each of us "GOOD NEWS" AND IT'S OUR CHOICE TO TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.
OPEN HEART SURGERY
Had I not had open heart surgery many years ago I could possibly have passed away by now. (ONLY GOD KNOWS!) After my PHYSICAL surgery, I felt I’d been given new life! In fact, a very good physician (actually a cardiac surgeon - a rather non-flighty fellow) by the name of "Parrott", said to me (following my procedure): “Conrad you’ve been given a second chance!” Not many people have a second chance TO LIVE, but everyone has been extended a second chance for eternal life, and some might even consider successful open heart surgery as being "born again" but it was only maintenance on a physical heart which was failing.
The following article is not my writing about having a cholesterol free life - I’m talking about a new life - “freed from the consequence of sin!" The great physician (Jesus Christ) is prepared to perform the required spiritual surgery on your heart, which will cause you to be “born again” and enable you to live forever.
HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN? If not, do you want to be born again? This message is being presented in order to help anyone understand the procedure Jesus will use when performing his transformational surgery on our spiritual heart.
However, I implore you to accept the fact that Jesus Christ is the only "heart specialist" who can actually perform the "spiritual procedure" which allows each of us to be born again! In fact, "the Christian Great Physician" can and will do far more for you and I than you'll experience after spectacular physical "by-pass" surgery.
This GREATEST PHYSICIAN can and will completely cure your sin problem! ANYONE submitting to His care, will have "a new heart" after he performs his spiritual open heart surgery. Everyone needs spiritual open heart surgery because all have "a sin problem." But in spite of this, he definitely wants you and I to have the real “second chance” and this will by your only chance for a sinless eternal life in the eyes of God.
If you believe you have possibly not been born again - this article should interest you and I shall attempt to look at the scriptural answer to the fundamental question: “How can I be born again?”
In perspective, let's look at first things first! You most certainly must trust in God and believe Jesus is able to perform corrective surgery. YOUR STARTING POINT has definitely already begun if you've heard the Good News about God's Son and possess a saving FAITH which declares : "I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God!"
Many ardent PREACHERS and believers adhere to a "faith only" doctrinal position which specifies simple procedures you can follow which explains their teachings on how to be born again. Even though we have much in common regarding matters of faith, their church traditions might bring me and them into a doctrinal conflict.
I believe (as many do) that we should only be following procedures Jesus taught his apostles and outlined in the Scriptures through the power of the Holy Spirit! Many of my "faith only" brethren might ask you to think of this like modern physical open heart surgery which is less invasive than opening up the entire chest cavity but lets remember - we are talking about spiritual matters and Jesus has specified the procedures he will use as our great physician. What we want to believe or think we believe may not be in agreement with the procedures Christ has laid out in his "great commission."
I’d much rather hear about Christ's procedures on what constitutes "re-birth" than well-intended procedures described by some modern theologians. Did I just lose you here or are you still with me?
THE OPERATING THEATRE
Therefore, this leads to the next question, “If theologians have moved away from Christ’s foundation teaching regarding procedures which are necessary in order for a person to be born again, which operating theatre should I or you be entering in order to have an answer to the most fundamental questions - "What must I do in order to be born again?”
When Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, he did so IN ORDER to obtain your soul's salvation. Prior to HIS RESURRECTION, he declared: “I will build MY church and the gates of Hell WILL NOIT stand against it.” He also taught: “A house divided against itself, can not stand!”
Therefore, I truthfully and lovingly maintain: “All sectarian theological divisions" and speculations may have absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s will for you and His church! However, many (well intended) theologians agree with long standing HUMAN traditions, which have been sanctified over time and yet such speculations can REMAIN full of spiritual error. Matters of opinion are given place over things that are essential and If you agree with that and I truly hope you do - you have cause to continue reading!
Theological expediencies have drastically altered the course Christ first gave to His Church. That course is referred to, (by our Lord) as being on the “straight and narrow path.” Spiritual errors occur whenever well intended church leaders (historically) diverted from "the procedures” our Lord first taught His disciples to follow and they became the procedures of choice for the early church.
Again, we must be reminded that CHRIST IS OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN! The church belongs to him - does it not? Is there any other name given among men whereby we must be saved? I want to Honor the great physician today!
Listen to His teaching. All are welcomed into the family of God, (by the Heavenly Father) whenever they accept Jesus as being "the Christ, the son of the living God” and follow Biblical teachings regarding how one is born again into the Kingdom of God.
Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life - no man comes to the Father except through Me.” When ANYONE (including you and I) follows clear instructions given by Christ to His DISCIPLES - he/she will be one of those souls which God adds to Christ's Church. New Testament scriptures emphasize this fact, and particularly so in (Acts 2:47) NIV “…and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”
Therefore, in order to answer my very first question, you need to know and follow clear teachings of Jesus Christ. “Hear Him!” Are you willing to TRUST that he alone is able to completely transform your SINFUL life?
The prerequisite for asking: “How can I be born again?” certainly entails the fact that ANY person who asks this question must first believe that they must be “born again." It seems rather impossible for anyone who actually wants to be "born again," to not first believe they actually can be born again! They will only consider such an action if they have concluded that Jesus Christ was telling the truth. The Lord told Nicodemus (a politician), “You must be born again.” But (with tongue in cheek) it seems many political figures believe this might only be for the feeble minded but certainly not for them! After all, WHAT WOULD THE PUBLIC THINK?
What does scripture actually teach concerning this subject? Is there a blueprint, to follow, (so to speak) in order for anyone to be born again? John wrote, “these things are written that you might KNOW that you have eternal life.” That sounds good enough for me! Therefor, any confusion over spiritual re-birth can only and will only be absolutely eliminated if we go into the Bible and take God at His word.
First… we must acknowledge the context in which the scripture is written and examine the content of the message itself. Remember, the Lord said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word shall never pass away.” Therefore, I plead with you to not just "feel" you have been saved but actually "know" you have been saved. Your conscience will be absolutely clear(in this matter of faith) when you completely commit you whole life in the care of the great physician for only he has the ability to perform "spiritual open heart surgery."
In Matthew 7:21. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, BUT HE WHO “DOES” THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven WILL ENTER.”
You can not earn or merit your salvation! It IS God’s will that you submit to his authority in order to enter His Kingdom. Only Jesus can offer you the “FREE GIFT of LIFE” but if you will not accept the gift Christ is offering - and take no action to receive it - but "ONLY BELIEVE" he can do this - you have a problem! Are you still following me here or have I just lost you in the field of traditions?
Continuing in Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” vs. 23 “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
So - are you willing to do things Christ’s way or whatever way "feels" right to you? vs. 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (throughout Scripture Christ has always been the rock of our salvation) vs. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on that rock. vs. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. vs. 27 “The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell - and great was its fall.” (Whose house do you want to be in?)vs. 28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; vs. 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes….."
YOU SEE (dear friend), Christ pointed each of us to the fact that He was sent here by God (his miracles attested to that fact) and therefore He was FIRMLY COMMITTED TO GOD'S TRUTH….just LIKE THAT!
On many occasions Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee in a small boat, (with His disciples) but on this night a great wind arose and they thought they would MOST CERTAINLY PERISH in a violent storm while Jesus slept on a pillow. They awoke him rather indignantly screaming: “Save us Lord; we are perishing!” That certainly was an understatement - if there ever was one! He came here because we were perishing in our sin and that sin had destroyed our relationship with God!
In Matt. 8:26 "Jesus said unto them, 'Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (He didn’t get cross with them - he just stated the facts) Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. vs. 27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
HERE ARE THE FACTS AS WE KNOW THEM
Interesting isn’t it! - The wind and WAVES listen to and obey his voice, but generally speaking, many people will not obey him and they care to listen TO HIM even less. If Jesus were to ask you, “Have you been born again?” (He’d already know the truth but would let you give your answer!) But what I'm coming at, is just this: Would you base your answer on some traditional theological teachings or would your answer be based on the truths our Lord taught his early disciples?
Many of the early disciples left off following Jesus, (because of statements he made concerning his body and blood) - so he asked his chosen Apostles (the twelve) - “Will you also go away?” and they answered, “Where can we go Lord? for ONLY YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF LIFE!”
Are you willing to take Christ at His word? Do you have faith in Him? Again, would YOUR answer be BASED ON THE FOUNDATION TEACHING of Jesus Christ, (who alone is THE ROCK of your salvation) or would your answer be based on "the sands of popular theological opinion and belief" Or do you even have any particular beliefs at all? In order to clarify this matter ( if you choose to continue) ; please accompany me now to that time when JESUS dealt directly with his answer to this question.
When Nicodemus came to meet Jesus, IT WAS very Dark! THE NIGHT OFFERED PROTECTION FROM CHRIST'S ENEMIES and therefore, he could met secretly with one of the Jewish political leaders who apparently believed in the Lord's teachings, while several other leaders were seeking to have Christ assassinated. In their minds, Jesus' teachings were totally unacceptable. He was a heretic. Many Pharisees were specifically looking out for their own interests (much like some politicians and church leaders today).
Even before Nicodemus could find courage, to ask THE QUESTION - (on this dark night) Jesus ANSWERED THE following QUESTIONS: "Do I need to be born again?" and “How can I be born again?”-
It is therefore my considered opinion that JESUS (the Son of God) perceived Nicodemus thoughts! Have you ever had someone look you in the eye and commence telling you what was on your mind? Sort of wakes you up in a hurry doesn’t it! Jesus often knew what people were thinking or plotting. He often commented on what his Apostles had actually been arguing about among themselves while He was physically away from them. Therefore, on this night, (it is most certainly possible) Jesus knew exactly what Nicodemus’ was trying to ask him but did not know exactly how to articulate the question!
Look at John 2:23.…. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast; many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. vs. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, vs. 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”
Mankind has always had a sin problem and Jesus was God's solution to the problem. He was the only man who could and would fix the problem before God! This "problem" persisted ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Jesus knew the purpose behind his coming to earth and would do whatever it took to protect his purpose. This meant that no political assassins or anyone else would keep Him from His prophetic appointment upon the cross - at Calvary.
He would not (nor could not) die just anywhere, or at any time other than His appointment on that cross, (at Passover) lifted up, blood shed, His death in exchange for our life! He would pay THE only RANSOM which frees us from being separated from God's presence forever. Ultimately, Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead confirmed His mighty authority over the law concerning sin and death. His ultimate ascension back into Heaven, confirms - He continues to intercede on our behalf (once and for all)!
Jesus never broke the Mosaic law which had been given by God at Mt. Sinai. He fulfilled every requirement outlined for the MOSAIC DISPENSATION. He did not sin! Consequently, he did not have the problem with sin which everyone else has in their life. No other person, who ever lived, can claim such righteousness! No not one! It is written in the book of Romans 3:23 (to the people of the Nations) “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”
Almighty God became man through Jesus Christ, and His “precious one” would present Himself as the Heavenly Father's sacrificial lamb (the perfect sin offering) and become God’s acceptable sacrifice! Today, Christ is sitting on the Right Hand of Our Heavenly Father and is there to makes intercession (forever) on our behalf. I recently heard preacher "Snowy" speak in Alberta about the shepherds on the night of Christ's birth. They were told: "YOU will find the Savior wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger!" They knew that the first born perfect lamb would be wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger to protect it from injury for these were the ones which would later be offered as a sacrifice. The angelic messengers directed them to the savior of the world - THE LAMB OF GOD!
Put your brakes on for a moment, and let your thought go back to the time of Jesus' ministry. THERE WERE many things which he considered of vitally important concerning our salvation but some choose to totally overlook in the case of expediency. Now consider this! Jesus walked approximately 60 miles in order to be baptized (immersed in the Jordan River) by John, and in effect he told John this had to be done “in order to fulfill all righteousness” As He came up out of the water, the Father declared "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased….HEAR Him!"
JESUS EPITOMIZED THE LOVE GOD HAS FOR EACH OF US! Because of his sacrifice on Calvary's cross, he completely delivered every repentant sinner from sin’s eternal consequence! The Mosaic Law (as a school teacher) could no longer separate anyone from the love, mercy and grace (unmerited favor) of God. Anyone "in Christ" has been set free from the consequence of sin (having been born again by the will of God) and they can approach the Heavenly Father directly - HAVING PLACED their entire faith and trust in Christ's promises - knowing that Jesus Christ alone COMPLETELY redeems them from the law of sin and death. (PERIOD)
If you've listened to the singing on this web site, (which was originally recorded in 2007) entitled, “Thank God,” you’ll notice one song included new lyrics which say, “If you’ve been buried with Christ, you will never die twice!” Its one thing to depart our fleshly body when we die (we’ve no use for it any more anyway) but, "in Christ" and "through Christ" we "will not" be separated from God at the Judgment. This is exactly what the scripture teach us. This is the hope and yes - THE ASSURANCE THAT WE CLING TO!
We have been made alive "with Christ" - through the redemptive power of His atoning blood. Jesus (only) becomes our righteousness. "In Him" we are declared "righteous" BEFORE GOD because CHRIST OWNS US! He bought and paid for us at Calvary. We rise up out of the waters of baptism in the likeness of his DEATH, burial and resurrection. If we are "IN CHRIST" WE ARE BORN AGAIN in the eyes of God. (But don‘t just take my word for that) - examine the scriptures and see whether or not this is so!.
AGAIN, AT THIS POINT SOME CHRISTIANS WILL ADAMENTLY MAINTAIN THAT WE ARE SAVED "BY FAITH - ONLY" and do not actually recognize or confirm that the word "only" had been added by Martin Luther centuries ago. We are in complete agreement that "without faith it is impossible to please God" but our Lord Jesus Christ expects us to have an "obedient" faith and not just an "intellectual assent" of the facts concerning who he really is!
BY NOW, YOU MUST HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT THIS IS MORE LIKE A SHORT STORY THAN YOUR 20 MINUTE SERMON; BUT WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH RATHER THAN PLAYING "BEAT THE CLOCK"! Are you still with me here?
WHAT WAS JESUS' POSITION ON THE SUBJECT OF BEING BORN AGAIN?
Lets examine (in some detail), the intriguing story where Nicodemus secretly comes to Jesus, knowing several of his fellow Pharisees are plotting to assassinate Christ whenever opportunity arises.
John 3:1 "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know (apparently he was referring to everyone who believed) that You have come from God as a teacher for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
(In my opinion) Nicodemus wanted so very much to know if Jesus was the long awaited and promised Messiah, who would usher in the physical Kingdom of God! He was probably attempting to confirm what other politician were also thinking at that time. He has the Kingdom of God on his mind all right and I suspect he thought Jesus could be the long Promised Messiah who would usher in a new Jewish State which would drive out the Romans forever! However, he did not realize God also foretold of a New Covenant which would take effect upon Christ‘s death and after his resurrection!
God's people are all people of FAITH and true children of Abraham. They take God at His word! They listen to Jesus - (God's son!) John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.”
On the morning of his trial, Jesus ANSWERED Pilate's QUESTION when he asked: "ARE YOU A KING?" - Jesus affirmed and added: “My Kingdom is not of this world!” Christ's Kingdom (the church) is therefore a spiritual kingdom, and completely unlike that which existed under the Mosaic Covenant and now everyone in the entire world has been invited to qualify as a citizen. Oh course, we know, when Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God, He speaks from a position of authority - He has IN HOUSE KNOWLEDGE on the subject. Therefore, I firmly believe Jesus is PURPOSELY redirecting Nicodemus’ thinking concerning the Kingdom of God!
Abraham was the man who believed God- (he trusted and obeyed the Word of God)- Abraham followed God‘s leading and GOD MADE A PROMISE TO ABRAHAM THAT THROUGH HIS SEED, THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE BLESSED AND GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES! (JESUS BECAME AND TODAY REMAINS - THE FULFILLMENT OF THAT PROMISE!)
What is Christ‘s point WHEN teaching these things to Nicodemus? How does this relate to Nicodemus personal relationship to God? This secret meeting means Jesus can come straight to the point. Nicodemus carefully follows CHRIST'S TEACHINGS but apparently does not know what to believe any more. He has been SINCERE in his religious convictions but maybe he has been SINCERELY WRONG - the “what if - factor" is gnawing at his soul. (Nicodemus may be thinking: "IF THIS MAN REALLY IS THE MESSIAH - AM I GOING TO OBEY HIS VOICE OR ONLY LISTEN TO MY RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS?")
Jesus presents Nick with a major spiritual broadside. In this secluded one on one setting, Jesus will not speak in parables (indirect answers) as He often did in public. HE REVEALS GOD'S DIRECT TRUTH TO NICODEMUS! There is no double talk! No person ON EARTH can ACKNOWLEDGE this spiritual reality until they first confess who Jesus Christ really is. After this, you can brake down the facts concerning "being born again" into four parts which we will soon look into with more detail.
1. Unless one
2. Is born again
3. He cannot SEE
4. The Kingdom of God.
Jesus apparently makes his point and by doing so, he goes directly at "the heart" of the matter truthfully and bluntly. LETS LOOK AT THIS CONTEXT ONCE AGAIN. “Unless” there is an entirely new beginning in an individual's life - some sort of fundamental redirection if you will, (a refocusing of priorities) that person will continue heading away from the Kingdom of God, rather than move toward it!
Therefore, (it is my opinion) Jesus is teaching Nicodemus a fundamental truth, THAT REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD IS OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE. It is turning from sin and turning to God or else a person will definitely miss out on ever recognizing the fact that the TRUE Kingdom of God is now found in Christ's church and that church was first establish on the day of Pentecost - after his resurrection and ascension back into Heaven. Jesus will now imparts God's Spirit in the heart and mind of every obedient believer. This is when the spiritually dead are risen with Christ in newness of life. (born again)
On this very night, Jesus taught Nicodemus - who can be and how to be born again. John, (the one who immersed Jesus in water at the Jordan River), came preaching, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus never shunned the truth concerning where He came from, who he was, why he came. or what he now can accomplish for each one who has been born again!
"Every believer" must truthfully approach this fundamental question, "Have I been born again according to the will of God?" The truthful answer comes when you look at the illumination Jesus shone on this subject during the intriguing meeting he had with Nicodemus.
John 3:4 "Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?" (apparently he was a very mature man) "He cannot enter a second time into His mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
I wonder if Nicodemus was thinking - “I hear what you are saying Jesus …. I accept your words to be truth but what in the world are you talking about?” “Lord, I’m quite confused with this whole subject so please help me understand things more clearly!” “I know that I came forth out of my mother’s womb when I was born… but who or what will I come out of - this second time - in order to be born again?”
NOW, look closely at Jesus’ answer! He clearly responds to Nicodemus’ open question USING DIRECT TERMS in order for Nicodemus to comprehend Christ’s teaching on what it means to be born again. John 3:5 ONCE AGAIN - Jesus answered,
1. Truly, truly, ......(Take what I’m about to say, totally serious Nicodemus)
2. I say to you ......(I speak with AUTHORITY- this is God SPEAKING TO YOU NICODEMUS)
3. Unless .....(Salvation IS CONDITIONAL AND what I’m about to say next is essential. It IS YOUR CHOICE!
God's grace is extended to you when you become clothed with my righteousness)
4. One is: .....(THAT IS ANYONE, EVERYONE - for God loves the world Nicodemus)
5. Born....(Nicodemus, you‘re not going to come out of your mother - this time you are going to come out.)
6. of water .....(This will be the mode for your entrance into my Kingdom Nicodemus. Being immersed is something you choose to do rather rather than the choice of your PARENTS OR GUARDIANS. Your faith IN ME will compel you to do it! Do you remember how God led Moses to bring His people through the Red Sea Nicodemus?)
7. AND .....(Take note of this little conjunction that joins things of equal value)
8. The Spirit .....(This will be my part Nicodemus - I will send the Holy Spirit into you, He will lead, comfort and strengthen you as you walk in new paths of righteousness for my names sake. )
9. He cannot enter .....(Follow my plan for being born again or you‘ll be looking for the Kingdom but will never find it in this world)
10. Into the kingdom of God .....(Nicodemus, These are my people who will be called out of the world. They are sheep of my pasture and they listen to my voice. Right now people are outside of my Kingdom but by being born again in this way God will add them to His forever family (the church).
Some well meaning theologians teach that water has nothing to do with our salvation. They WANT to spiritualize water and say it isn’t really necessary - it has nothing to do with being born again. Do you agree with them - that believing "only" is what Jesus taught Nicodemus on that night? I believe Jesus was very clear with His instructions to Nicodemus.
You should take note that GOD DELIVERED HIS PEOPLE THROUGH WATER ONCE BEFORE! They placed their complete faith and trust in God as they walked through the red Sea on dry ground. Turn to 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and carefully read what it says. In the NIV, Paul writes, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
Now listen up - how much clearer does it have to get than that? Stay with me here and lets look at this deeper. For 430 years the Hebrew’s (Abraham’s physical descendants - through whom God chose to bring a blessing upon the world) stayed in Egypt. Upon their first arriving, the Hebrew family had been invited to stay as Royal privileged guests and over many ensuing years, they were forced to stay as Royal underprivileged slaves. ULTIMATLEY GOD SENT MOSES TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE FROM SLAVERY..
In our day, whenever an individual recognizes (through God’s Word) that he/she is a slave to sin, Christ (in effect) sends this "Good News" message: “I have come to free you from your slavery to sin.” Therefore, today, unbelievers are still being held in bondage to Satan’s slavery of sin as the Hebrew’s were physical slaves in Egypt. They yearned for freedom yet had no idea how it would come but "the deliverer" came as God promised. God sent them a type of Christ - a savior who would lead them out of bondage. They chose to follow Moses, after God used many convincing proofs that He had sent Moses to accomplish this task. Do you begin to see interesting parallels between Moses (a type of Christ) and Jesus Christ - Savior/ redeemer of the world?
After causing ten awesome plagues in Egypt, God brought this great company to a place of decision at the Red Sea. They could either remain slaves or have complete faith that God alone would set them free forever. He brought them to a place where they were literally “hemmed in.” They had no place to run! No place to turn, No place to hide. They had to trust in his power and obey his promises or go back into slavery.
Hereafter, whenever they trusted and obeyed His voice, God would renew his covenant with Abraham's descendants and gave them the promised land. After a number of days (after the Hebrews had a small taste of freedom), Pharaoh’s MIGHTY military force came to take them back into slavery once again. Pharaoh was not willing to lose all his Hebrew slaves and now they appear to be trapped and their only escape was (you guessed it) through water! There would not be thousands of wooden boats to ferry them across the Red Sea. Only a direction intervention of Almighty God could possibly save them and HE DID! ONLY THE DIRECT INTERVENTION BY ALMIGHTY GOD SAVES YOU AND I AND THROUGH CHRIST AND HE HAS!
On that day, God told Moses to raise his staff over the waters of the Red Sea and “see the salvation of the Lord!” God parted the deep water and His (chosen people) CHOSE TO obeyed Gods command and (by faith), went forward into the parted waters. Through God's awesome power Moses led the people to the other side of the Red Sea where they were all delivered safely into a new found freedom. When Pharaoh's terrified army attempted to follow them into the sea, God left the Egyptian pursuers buried in the same water by which He had just delivered His people in safety. OUR BAPTISM INTO CHRIST PARALLELS THIS FACT.
They were freed from slavery. In this same way, when you are buried with Christ in believer’s baptism you become freed from enslaving sin. His redeeming blood allows you to walk safely away from slavery and into His freedom. Therefore, in the same way, water (in believers baptism) is the place and time through which God chooses to keep His promise and set you free from your slavery to sin. IS THAT TOO HARD FOR YOU TO COMPREHEND AND UNDERSTAND? GOD SAVED THE HEBREWS AND EACH OF US BY HIS POWER TO SAVE AND HE USED WATER AS THE MODE IN BOTH INSTANCES.
Hebrews had to believe what Moses said and trust that God to do it. They had to trust in His words and follow God's commands by going down into the water in order to be saved. A Hebrew would certainly not have been set free had he stayed on the west side of the Red Sea and blatantly refusing to go down into the water and you and I (my dear friend) are no different! The old hymn goes: "TRUST AND OBEY FOR THERES NO OTHER WAY TO BE HAPPY IN JESUS BUT TO TRUST AND OBEY."
The Hebrews took Moses at his word and proceeded across toward the other side of the Red Sea on dry ground - through congealed walls of water (God’s mode of escape) and He saved them! Today (In much the same way), water baptism (immersion) into Christ is the only mode God offers in order to escape enslavement to sin! Do you need further clarification? Allow me to give you a modern example - It's summer and you have an in ground swimming pool, the diving end is probably very deep. Now, go out on the diving board and take a leap of faith into the swimming pool.
Now ask yourself one question - Is it necessary for you to have water in that pool, in order for you to have a swim? You know it’s necessary! The pool needs lots of water, if you are going to dive in. In theory, some theologians teach that actually having water in the pool is not necessary! All you’ll have to do (according to their theology) is jump off the board with the complete assurance of faith that everything will be just fine, because their teaching holds that faith only is all that’s required in order to go for an “eternal swim”.
How can anyone believe, (in all truthfulness) this is what Christ just told Nicodemus? Was He talking about real water, such as he was immersed into, when He went to John to be baptized? Was he only talking about spiritual water such as He talked to the woman at the well about? He promised that he would give her living water to drink so she would never thirst again! Look closely here - Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again (of the water) and (of the Spirit) …. Two distinct entities are they not? When we supply the faith and act upon it - God supplies the blood of Christ which forgives us of our sin.
Let’s get back to your swimming pool! What’s going to happen to you? Wake up friend! It's a long way down to the bottom! Are you beginning to get my analogy here? “Not a happy camper” when you land on your head in the bottom of the empty pool! It’s highly unlikely that anyone would have the audacity to eliminate the water from a swimming pool before they attempted to go for a swim. (Excluding their being on drugs of course!) Jesus (in all reality) would have a swimming pool filled with water (lots of real H20).
In order to be born again, your faith in Christ is displayed by your willingness to response to the Gospel message. You obey his Gospel after you hear the message, believe with all your heart, repent toward God, confess your faith in Christ and are buried with Christ in believers baptism (immersion). Or would you much rather have believers baptism declared non-essential by theologians who teach - baptism is only an option and not necessary? Remember the words of Jesus when he said: "So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin."
Jesus taught his disciples that water is part of His plan for our salvation . What if you were only to sprinkle a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the pool….Do you still want to take that jump of faith off the springboard under those conditions? I shouldn’t think that it would not make a lot of sense… do you? Remember God's words at Jesus baptism: “This is my beloved Son - HEAR HIM!”
If you’ve been taught that water has nothing to do with your salvation, when Jesus emphatically teaches the very opposite, where do you stand in His scheme of redemption? To be born again, Jesus says water has to be there and you dare not “spiritualize it away." Do you know more than Him? Remember, everything Jesus taught Nicodemus on that night, referred to a universal re-birth into the Kingdom of God.
Now, I’ll ask you this: "Who or what do you chose to believe?" Do you want the family theologian to perform your spiritual surgery or the spiritual heart surgeon? Listen to Jesus! Listen to Him very carefully! You don’t need theological expediency here - Jesus has clearly given the answer of how you can and must be born again! Follow His procedures if you want the operation to be successful. Ask yourself this question…”Who and what am I listening to, if I ask myself the question, “Am I born again?”
Jesus continued teaching Nicodemus in vs. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, (You’re absolutely right Nicodemus - you can’t enter your mothers womb again) and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. vs. 7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.”
Christ once also said, “there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death." and when He declares “You must be born again” - He chose to ACCOMPLISH the transition for your new birth "through water and by the Spirit.” Never the less, you can be assured that “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” We will either take Christ at His word or bring our so called “faith” into question! The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans giving precise explanation of the part water plays in being born again. (He helps us to connect the dots so to speak!)
Romans 6:3 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? vs. 4 therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (born again) vs. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, vs. 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; vs. 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. vs. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, vs. 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. vs. 10 for the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. vs. 11 even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. …. (born again)
I pray that you never think that I believe water (in and of itself) somehow saves you! However, water became the mode which God chose to use in order for our faith in Christ to be expressed through our action. Through faith, we do that which is pleasing to God! It is simply not enough to "only believe" that God wants to forgive your sin - you must reach out and obey Christ's Gospel thus accepting what He has to give!
Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-29 (N.I.V) “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”
In Acts 2:36-38 Peter clarifies the water issue even more when he said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ - this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent and each one of you be baptized (this is what you can do) in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Jesus promises to send God's Holy Spirit into you)
BAPTISM IS NOT AN END, IT IS A NEW BEGINNING. 1Peter 1:22-23 , “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, vs. 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
(Who do you choose to listen to? Whose teachings are acceptable to you?)
In 1 John 5:1 the matter is clarified even further when John writes, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him, vs. 2 by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. vs. 3 for this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. vs. 4for whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. vs. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
(Pause right here for a moment!)
John has just asked a question. Is believing that Jesus is the Son of God, all that is required in order for you to overcome the world’s (Satan’s) influence over your life? He is talking about saving faith - he is explaining that you might believe who Jesus is - however, when you believe the fact of who He is - saving Faith comes into play when you act upon that belief and thereafter, follow Christ's commands.
Belief, only acknowledges your position on a matter. Faith that is not acted upon is not faith at all! (Based on this observation) I can unashamedly say, that neither faith only nor water only is all that’s required for your salvation!) Listen up!
1 John 5:6 (ESV) the apostle continues with his answer of what enables the believer to be born again in the eyes of God. "This is he who came by water and blood -Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by the water and the blood. (Baptism is no more than a bath, if a person has not come to Christ in Faith, committing their deliverance from sin to Him by trusting in His atoning blood) And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the spirit is truth. vs. 7 For there are three that bear testify vs. 8 the Spirit (the power that raised Christ from the dead) and the water (how we contact the merits of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection) and the blood (the ransom and release from sin‘s grip over us) and these three agree. vs. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater (Have you listened to a theologian or to Christ?) for this is this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. vs. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (so get into the Son and out of sin) vs. 12 Whoever has the Son has the life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have the life. vs. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (BORN AGAIN)
CONSIDERING THE BIBLE ANSWERS, the question TO ASK YOURSELF is this: “HAVE I BEEN BORN AGAIN?”
It is not for me to question whether your "religious experience" is in line with Biblical teaching. THAT REMAINS FOR YOU TO DECIDE. IT IS YOUR CHOICE.
Mark 12: 24 “Jesus said to them, (this was over an unrelated issue) “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” Pious religious people are no different today. Anyone can be honestly mistaken over this issue….but grant this if you will…..Jesus did not make a mistake over the paramount issue surrounding the new birth.
Mark 10: 17-18 states, “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” vs. 18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (The entire inference here has Jesus implying that if you are to call him good you should also recognize that He is God for the truth is THIS: No one is good except God alone and Jesus had plainly told others…“if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Mark 16: 15-16 "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. vs. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” There was that familiar little conjunction “and” once again, which joins things of equal value) This is our commission as recorded in Mark and the same though was expanded slightly in Matthews Gospel account Matthew 28:18-20 "(NIV) 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you always, to the vey end of the age."
This is the way Peter worded his message in 1 Peter 3:18-22 “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; vs. 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, vs. 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (don’t try to spiritualize that one folks) vs. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism (the burial of a repentant sinner in a literal watery grave in order for that sinner to rise up out of the water as a new baby in Christ) now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the flesh,(again, this is not a bath) but an appeal to God for a good conscience- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
I was baptized into Christ AT 14 YEARS OF AGE and have baptized people in their 90's - because we totally accepted everything he had accomplished on our behalf. Over the years I have openly acknowledge my faith in the facts surrounding His death, burial, resurrection and ascension back into heaven. He has applied his blood to my life and became my Passover lamb) vs. 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
Know this - Every demon ACKNOWLEDGED Jesus as being the Son of God when He walked on earth in the flesh. Since demons know who Jesus really is, that’s all they ever confessed about Him. They know that they are destined to a Godless Hell even though they believe who Jesus really is! Are you being any different from them? They would not WORSHIP HIM, but always had to ACCEPT HIS COMPLETE AUTHORITY OVER THEM. One day every knee will bow in Heaven and on earth DECLARING “JESUS IS THE CHRIST….THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD!” Remember this, if that is all it takes to be saved from sin - Demons were already doing that while Jesus walked on earth. THEY ARE NOT SAVED! Are you?
Jesus said, “UNLESS YOU are “BORN AGAIN” of the WATER and of the SPIRIT you will not see or even enter GOD’S FOREVER KINGDOM.” The Lord Jesus Christ wants you to obey his Gospel. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN AND YOU CAN BE FOR THAT IS CHRIST'S FOREVER PROMISE.
WAITS FOR YOU TO WRITE IT!
"THE ASSENSIONS" were a Maritime Gospel singing group and one of the many recorded numbers on one of their CD's entitled "I STILL BELIEVE" was called: "HOW LONG WILL YOU WAIT? " How long has Jesus Christ BEEN WAITING for you to decide if you will allow him to perform your "spiritual open heart surgery?"
Have you been BORN AGAIN? The wind and the waves obey His voice – WILL YOU?
HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST’S COMMANDS OR HAVE YOU BEEN FOLLOWING THE TEACHINGS OF MEN? “Marvel not when I say to you that you must be born again!” IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GREAT PHYSICIAN, taught Nicodemus HOW you can be born again - you can also be born again this very day. Heaven will not be empty if you’re not in it, but you’ll be sorely missed - if you’re not there!
Jesus wants you to be there! HE CAN SAVE YOU.
HE DIED AND AROSE FROM THE DEAD - ASCENDE INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER FOR YOU TO GET THERE.
CHRIST'S GREAT COMMISSION as recoded Matthew 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
ANY CHRISTIAN CAN ASSIST YOU IN ORDER FOR YOU TO OBEY THE GOSPEL, TODAY CAN BE YOU DAY OF SALVATION. Be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sin and you will receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit. IT REALLY IS YOUR CHOCE SO MAKE THE CHOICE TO OBEY CHRIST'S GOSPEL.
R. CONRAD CLINE
BACK BAY CHURCH OF CHRIST
NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
WRITTEN BY: R. CONRAD CLINE revised on JANUARY 02, 2023.
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