WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
SALVATION AND THE NEW BIRTH?
by Betty Miller
Everywhere in this world we find heartache, strife, sickness, poverty, injustice and a host of other ills. Why can't men live in peace and enjoy the good things in this earth? The Bible (God's book to mankind) gives us the answer to these questions and tells us how to be born again and what that means. He tells us in His Book that all the troubles in the world are due to either my sin or someone else's. All of mankind is sinful, thus separated from the holiness of God. The Bible says that men and women can only find salvation in Christ Jesus.
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
What exactly is sin? If you asked ten different people, you might get ten different answers. Some might say that sin is "doing something wrong or breaking the law", while others might say that sin is "hurting another person or taking an innocent life." Still others might deny the very existence of sin, saying that there is no such thing as right or wrong-- in short, that there are no real absolutes in this world. However, most people agree (regardless of culture) that there are certain actions that are wrong, and should be punishable by fines, imprisonment or even death.
Even the person who "doesn't believe in right or wrong" would have a hard time observing a maniac rape and murder a small child, and say that what happened to them was not a crime.
Sin is a terminal disease that eats away at the very heart of this planet. It destroys individual people, families, cultures, even the earth itself. Our world is defiled by it, yet most people cannot even give a definition of the word, or grasp the true gravity of the situation. What is sin? Surely sin is more that ten different opinions from ten different people. Is there any final authority on this subject?
The Bible says that sin is a heart condition. It is a condition of rebellion against God, which stems from pride. The Bible even refers to pride as "original sin." The Hebrew definition of the word sin means "to miss the mark." God created us to be like Him, but our pride and rebellion make us fall far short of that purpose. Our actions, though they may be "sinful" are really only the fruit of our rebellion against God. Our outward actions merely mirror our true inner condition. It is our true inner condition that God is concerned with. He knows the "real you" better than you yourself do, because he sees "the inner man" and all your secret thoughts and motives.
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8
Though one may lead a "good life" on the outside, God looks on the heart. It is the nature of man to look on the outward, but outward appearances can be deceiving.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." Matt. 23:27-28
We cannot deal with our sin by "cleaning ourselves up" the outside, when our problem is a heart condition. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." John 8:34 We are all slaves to our sinful nature, and we can only be cleansed from within.
Since sin is the root cause of all our troubles, we must deal with our sin first if we want less troubles in our lives. How do we get rid of sin? God tells us in His Word that by nature we are "...dead in trespasses and sin;" (Ephesians 2:1) and that we are "...alienated from the life of God..." (Ephesians 4:18). Just as a body without physical life is declared physically dead, so anyone who is separated from God is described in the Bible as spiritually dead. As long as we remain spiritually dead, we cannot know God.
We all need a new life. We need to be cleansed from sin and it's penalty (which is death) and restored to fellowship with God who made us all. That is what Jesus Christ (God's Son) meant when He said we "must be born again" (John 3:7). "...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Without the experience of the "new birth" we have no hope of enjoying the glories of heaven nor escaping the terrors of hell. Have you been born again?
The "new birth" is not a religion, not living up to a creed, not a set of rituals, nor joining a church or denomination. It's a transformation. Our old nature is changed and we receive a new one. Old things pass away and all things become new in Christ. We receive a new heart, new desires, new ideas, and a new direction because of this new nature. A birth is the coming into being of a new life which has the nature of its parents. When you were born the first time, you were made a partaker of the nature of natural man. When you are born again, you become a partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). God can become your heavenly Father.
The greatest attribute of God is that He is a God of love. He loves you and me. He loves all sinners and wants to save every one of us from hell and the terrible results of our sin. His Word tells us, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21). God hates sin because of what it produces-- war, sickness, poverty, etc., but God loves the sinner.
God sent Jesus Christ, His only Son, so that we might have new, everlasting life. The Bible tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). By His death and resurrection, Jesus paid for our salvation. He broke the power of sin and death, making it possible for us to have everlasting life. The life of God raised Jesus from the dead and He was the first born Son into the kingdom of God.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:12-18).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was nailed to a cross by ungodly men for no sin of His own. He was an innocent man-- the only man who was ever perfect and sinless. He never sinned, yet He took your sins and mine by taking an unjust death. Because He did this willingly, He was raised from the dead by His Father and given life and authority over the powers of darkness. God now imparts that same life and authority to all those who come receiving His provision for their sin. "...the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7)
We must accept God's Word that says we all are sinners and know that it is sin that separates us from God and repent or "turn away" from that sin. Until we each acknowledge, and ask forgiveness for our own guilt, we will never be free from it. It will eventually lead us right into hell.
"The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9)
God wants to give us His power over sin. We cannot conquer sin without that power. God wants to give us life for death, beauty for ashes, health for sickness, joy for grief, peace for strife, love for hate. God's Word says, "...I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Do you want abundant life? This abundant life comes only as we are born again and as we follow on and receive all that God promises us.
It isn't always easy following God, but nothing worthwhile ever was. You may be ridiculed and persecuted. You will face many temptations to fall back into your old nature. But you can be assured that God is with you, and He will give you power to overcome every one of them.
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil 3:7-9
You can pray right now and ask God to come into your heart and receive the new birth. Simply talk to Him as you would talk to another person. You might pray a prayer similar to this:
God, I come to you in the name of Jesus, I do not know you personally, but I want to know you. I believe that
Your Word, the Bible is true. I repent for hardening my heart toward you,
and delighting myself in things you hate. I don't want to go to hell; I really
want to be free of my sin. Dear God, I ask Jesus to come into my heart and cleanse me of the guilt
of my sins and give me the power to overcome those sins. I want to be Your
child and learn of Your ways. Keep me from evil and save my soul. I am asking to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord so that I can experience God's love and plan for my life. Amen
If you said that prayer and meant it from your heart, you are now a child of God. You will need to do four things faithfully every day so you will grow in God.
1. Read God's Word daily.
You need to read and study God's Word (the Bible) every day. This is how you will learn about God's ways and how to overcome your problems and troubles. His Word brings strength to your spiritual nature. If you do not have a Bible, make your first prayer request to God to supply you with one.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15).
"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:10-17).
2. Pray to God daily.
We must fellowship and talk to God if we are to hear His guidance and learn of His nature. We are promised that all of our needs shall be met if we will only ask the Father in the name of Jesus.
"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14: 13-15)
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
3. Fellowship with like believers daily.
Ask the Lord to show you the people you are to pray and fellowship with. He does not want you to be alone in your Christian walk. We need one another's prayers, encouragement, and love to grow in God.
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
4. Keep your heart pure before the Lord daily.
Ask God to cleanse you of all sin and impure thoughts and motives. Satan, our enemy, will try to break our fellowship with God by getting us back into sin or trying to get us angry at God. Guard against this by resisting the devil daily.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
"Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
If you received the Lord into your heart, welcome to the family of God! If you need help in this new life, e-mail us at [email protected]