CHAPTER 5

 

YOU MUST BE BORN-AGAIN

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God … That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’”

(John 3:3-7 NKJV)

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan – this rebirth comes from God.” (John 1:12-13 NLT)

You did not become a citizen of your country of birth because you were a good baby, obeyed certain rules, were voted in, or paid an entrance fee. You obtained citizenship because you were born into that country.

It’s the same with the Kingdom of God. There’s only one way: you must be born into that Kingdom. Church membership won’t do, a degree or ten in theology won’t do, being a good person won’t do, being a minister of the gospel won’t do, being born into a Christian family won’t do, being influenced by a Christian culture won’t do, simply acknowledging Jesus as a good man who once lived on this earth won’t do.

Remember God formed Adam’s body out of soil but it was lifeless until the moment He spoke His life into Adam. At that moment Adam’s spirit was created and he stood up as a living being. When we speak about this rebirth keep that in mind. It’s a spiritual rebirth, not a physical, emotional, or a mental one. The moment you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour God will breathe His life into your spirit again. At that moment your spirit, that has been unplugged from the life of God, will come alive again, and you will be as brand new as Adam was the day God created him. At that exact moment you will step over from darkness and death into the Kingdom of God and eternal life (Eph 2:4-6).

Eternal, abundant life does not start in heaven. It starts the moment you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. If Jesus were only concerned about getting us into heaven the Bible would’ve been a very short book. As we have seen, Jesus had a lot more in mind!

Now, if you’re not born-again you’re spiritually separated from the glory and abundant life of God, and destined for hell. We cannot tiptoe around this truth. Since we will all face death we need to settle some issues: There is no purgatory. You’re not coming back as someone else (or something else) in another life, and you’re definitely not changing into an eternal pile of dust, or into an angel. You can’t think or hope that you’re going to heaven. And you can’t still be wondering if there is a place like that. You can’t even think or hope there is no hell. You’ll have to know that you are born-again. And you’ll have to know it before you die.

“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47 NKJV)

“(F)or he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4 NLT)

You know, eternal life is not reserved for a chosen few. God does not have a little elect group. There’s no such thing as a pre-selection of people: that some were selected to go to hell and others to heaven before they were born. Jesus didn’t die for a certain race or church group. He died for the whole world. And He died for you. He is your answer, your hope, your freedom and your life. He made the difference for you between life or death, heaven or hell, blessing or curse. But you have a free will. You can choose to believe Him or not. You can choose to go to heaven or to hell. And although God loves you with all His heart, He will not override your decision.

Listen, God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell (2 Pet 3:9). Hell was created as an eternal punishment for Satan and his fallen angels only. Hell was never created to punish people. Jesus went to hell as our substitute so that we don’t ever have to end up in that place. That’s why God in His mercy is giving us time and more time to return to Him!

 

SO MANY CHOICES

“Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed.”

(Prov 12:19 NLT)

We’re living in a world where people are constantly faced with many religious or spiritual choices, and many groups insist that they alone are right. The question: Is what we believe the truth or a lie?

Think about this: Is Jesus confused about all the issues some religious groups constantly fight about? No. You see, when we lose focus of Jesus Christ, and what He came to do, we become distracted or involved in issues or debates that really has no sense to it other than making people angry with each other (1 Tim 1:4). Besides, Jesus didn’t come to establish a religion, and He didn’t come to establish a certain denomination. He came to establish the Kingdom of God.

And yes, the simple message of Jesus Christ will sound like utter madness to those who are still spiritually disconnected from God (1 Cor 2:12-16). There will always be those who’ll only accept what make sense to their intellect. There will always be those who’ll first seek a sign before they believe. There will always be certain philosophers, debaters and masterminds debating the things of God, and Satan will use them to try and influence those who have found Jesus (1 Cor 1:20, 22-23).

Well, God’s not getting uptight. He doesn’t have to blast a sign from heaven to prove His existence. The force of Life proves Him. The fact that we have breath proves Him. The glory of His entire creation proves Him. The transformed lives of people prove Him. Answered prayer proves Him. God knows that the wisdom of this world is nothing but useless nonsense. He knows that some people are still influenced and bound by Satan’s lies (1 Cor 1:19; Col 2:8).

Some might ask, “Aren’t we all living in a New Age, a post-Christian era, or a global village, and whichever religion blows your hair back is fine?”

No, it is not fine. Your eternal destiny is at stake.

Of course Christianity messed up, misrepresented the gospel of Jesus Christ in horrific ways, has been confused (and still is) over issues, not to mention the way it misused its power in some cases. Throughout history we’ve seen the results of spiritual darkness and confusion. And so often we forget that it’s not the message that has ever changed but our opinion about the message that has changed.

How often do we forget that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is really a follower of Jesus Christ (Matt 7:21-23)? How often do we trade a personal relationship with Christ for legalism and formalism? How often do we fight to preserve the power, positions, or opinions of men – forgetting that we’re here to fight for a much higher cause? How often do we trade the simplicity of the truth for religious traditions, and by doing that rob the Word of its power (Mark 7:5-15)? And then we dare lay the cause of our spiritual stupor at the feet of Jesus? How odd.

But, putting all that aside, is it really reasonable to allow the disbelief, bad experiences, negative opinions, or incorrect religious theology of some to keep you from the life Jesus offers you? Not at all!

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.

My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”

(John 10:10 NLT)

The battle is about life and death. Jesus came to give us life but Satan will always try to keep people from this truth. Satan’s not bothered if people investigate all kinds of philosophies, religions, spiritual experiences, a thousand different gods, or no god at all – as long as they never find Jesus, the Giver of Life!

You know, the devil is not brain-dead. He’s spiritually dead, but he’s not brain-dead. He hates God and has severed himself from His rule, but he still knows that God is the Supreme Ruler of the heavens and the earth (Luke 4:9-12; James 2:19). His mission is just to prevent people from believing the gospel, and to do that, he will use cleverly designed arguments or wise religious debates to confuse people. That’s why our victory over the works of the devil is in the spiritual dimension, not in the natural dimension (1 Cor 2:18-21)!

It’s all about Jesus. Nothing else!

After all that’s said and done, what people believe is either built upon the truth of Jesus Christ or on the deception of Satan. Rather than following the crowd, why don’t you find the Truth? Why don’t you meet Jesus personally? Since your entire eternity is at stake, you owe yourself at least that.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

(John 14:6 NLT)

Jesus is not part of many truths, part of many different ways, or just one of many religions. Jesus is the only way, truth and giver of life (John 14:6). Jesus is the only one who fought and destroyed the devil to give us back our freedom and life. No one else did, regardless of how sincere they were, or are, in their teachings. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, no one else (1 Tim 2:5). There is only one Name that we can call on to be saved and that is the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). There is one door to eternal life and that is through Jesus Christ (John 10:9)!

 

REACH OUT TO GOD

We’re living in a time of grace and God has made His grace available to all of us. It is by grace, through faith, that we’ll be saved and not through our own efforts (Rom 3:27; 4:16). Jesus died for you because He loves you. He doesn’t want you to face eternal death. Today, when you hear His voice, don’t shut your heart. Today is the day of your salvation. Don’t put it off. God is determined to save you but Satan is just as determined to wreck your life before you can be saved.

If you have not yet given your heart to Jesus, or if you have drifted away from Him at some point in your life and want to return, simply pray this prayer:

“God, I come to you just as I am. I repent of my sins and I ask You to forgive me. I believe Jesus is Lord. I believe that Jesus came to earth as a man and died on the cross for me. I believe that You raised Him from the dead. You said in Your Word that all those who call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved. I call upon Your name, Jesus. I invite You into my heart as my personal Lord and Saviour. Thank you for saving and forgiving me. Thank you for giving me the power to live for God. Amen.”

Now thank God and put your past far behind you. From today on you have a brand new start in life. In Christ you have no past, only a future. And although nothing seems to have changed in the natural world at this moment, the greatest miracle of all has taken place and Satan’s worst nightmare continues: the birth of a new creation, and one more believer who can enforce his defeat!

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Before you set out on your great journey with God, you need to consider something: Baptism in water, and baptism by the Holy Spirit. Why?

Baptism in water is simply a symbolic event; a reminder to you that your old nature is dead and that you’re a new creation in Christ (Col 2:12). No, baptism will not save you. It won’t make you more holy. It will not earn you points with God. What it does is to help you to identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus. By going down under the water you identify with the death and burial of your old life and when you get up you identify yourself with your new life in Christ (Rom 6:1-11).

Then you need to be baptised with the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in a new heavenly language, to receive God’s presence and power upon your life (Acts 1:8). Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an act separate from your new birth (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-6) God wants you to be filled with His Spirit and with His power. You cannot live this Christian life in your own ability (2 Cor 4:7). You need the power of the Holy Spirit to be a bold witness for Jesus and to expand the Kingdom of God upon this earth (1 Cor 2:3-4).

Of course we can debate all around God’s command. We can cling to traditions handed down by generations before us. We can fear the opinions of people more than what we’re willing to obey God. But, if we stop to think for a while, who is desperately trying to keep us from being empowered? Isn’t it Satan? Isn’t it him who keeps people busy with fights for the sole reason of swaying our focus from the real purpose of God?

If you choose not to be baptised you will still go to heaven, and no doubt God loves you just the same, but God is purpose-driven. He wants you to live a transformed life of victory and resurrected power on this earth!