How to be
How to be Born Again
Heaven or Hell – Our Choice
Most people are aware that the Bible teaches two eternal destinies for the souls of all mankind. Heaven or Hell. Heaven is a wonderful place where Jesus is King, pain and suffering are absent from our then immortal bodies, and we shall live forever.
Hell is a place of torment, fire, and brimstone – the which when one enters, they may never leave again. Our only plan of salvation today, so that we may enter Heaven and not go to Hell, is a plan called, being “Born Again.” Jesus Christ authored this plan at Calvary when he was crucified, buried, and resurrected on the third day. Whether or not we obey God’s plan for our salvation is totally up to us as individuals. As my Pastor always said, “It’s in your hands!”
What Does it Mean - to be “Born Again”?
Jesus taught that except a man is Born Again he cannot see the kingdom of God, nor can he enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5). If we desire to be saved, go to Heaven, and see the kingdom of God, it is imperative that we are “Born Again” as Jesus said.
But what exactly does that mean?
Nicodemas asked the same question in John 3:4, “…How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
Jesus replied in verses 5 and 6, “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Jesus basically said, “I’m not talking about a natural (or physical) birth that can save your soul; I’m talking about a spiritual birth that can save your soul. This “New Birth” (being “Born Again”) includes a water element (water baptism), and a spirit element (the infilling of the Holy Ghost). If this really is a part of the plan of salvation, we should expect to see it preached in the book of Acts where the church was first born.
Amazingly, we do see this “New Birth” of water baptism and the Holy Ghost - all throughout the book of Acts.
At the time of the ascension of Jesus, the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Ghost. – Acts 1:4-5 Jesus then told them, that after they received the Holy Ghost, they would be given power from on high. – Acts 1:8
Many of the disciples waited in Jerusalem, as Jesus had said, until the day of Pentecost. And just as Jesus prophesied, the power from on high began to fall.
Acts 2:1-4 declares, And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues [meaning = they spake with new unlearned languages - miraculously], as the Spirit gave them utterance.
When the people of Israel heard these disciples speaking in tongues, they asked, “what does this mean?” – Acts 2:12 They knew that a miracle was taking place, but why? What was its purpose?
Peter then arose and preached unto them, that Jesus Christ was the purpose! Peter preached so mightily, that conviction rested on many hearts. It made perfect sense now, why Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom (or, the “plan of salvation”) to Peter – as the Lord knew he would be the first one to preach the message of salvation, on the day of Pentecost. It is obvious from reading the text, that many Jews which heard Peter at Pentecost BELIEVED him, and believed on Jesus Christ whom he preached; for afterward - they asked Peter in Acts 2:37 “What shall we do?”
Unless one believes, and are longing to be saved, they will not ask for the next steps of salvation to be revealed unto them! Since Peter could perceived their faith and sincerity, he continued to preach to them - the same message of being Born Again that Jesus had prophesied would come. (water baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost).
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” This would clearly constitute being “Born Again”, of water and of the Spirit.
Who is this plan of salvation available to? Peter answered this question, as he continued:
Acts 2:39 “For the promise is unto you, and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” As God is still calling people into His kingdom today, so the message of salvation, and it's plan to enter heaven - HAS NOT CHANGED! It's called the "everlasting gospel" for this cause.
The Bible puts all of mankind in three different categories: Jewish, Samaritan (which is half Jewish), or Gentile (everyone else on earth). In the book of Acts – we have examples of all three categories being “Born Again” – thus the plan of salvation authored by Jesus Christ is the SAME - for anyone and everyone who wants it. Jesus said “…whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely”. – Revelation 22:17
We see the same “Born Again” (water baptism and Holy Ghost) plan of salvation in Acts 8:14-17 “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
Again, we see the same “Born Again” (water baptism and Holy Ghost) plan of salvation in Acts 10:44-48 “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. [How did they know they received the Holy Ghost?] For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Again, we see the same “Born Again” (water baptism and Holy Ghost) plan of salvation in Acts 19:1-6 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost SINCE [or, after] ye believed? [It is obvious by this text, that one does NOT receive the Holy Ghost at the point of merely "believing" in Jesus] And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
Are you seeing a Theme - here in Acts?
Whether you are a Jew (Acts 2), or a Samaritan (Acts 8), or a Gentile (Acts 10) = all were saved and/or “Born Again” the same way. They all took the necessary and obvious first steps of believing and repenting of their sins (as many do today). However, they also did not stop there! They continued on - to obey ALL of the plan of salvation. They were Born Again (of the water, and of the Spirit); by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receiving the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking with other tongues. Even Paul, taught (in Acts 19:1-6) = Jesus' name baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking with other tongues - as the plan of salvation, and the "Born Again" message!
I thought, all I had to do was BELIEVE (in order to be saved)?
People often take a few Bible verses out of context and build their entire doctrine around it. But Jesus instructed us in Matthew 28:20 to “observe all things”!
If all we had to do was “believe” in order to be saved – then the devils would be saved and going to Heaven as well. For, James 2:19 clearly says “Thou believes that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
Obviously, the devil is not going to Heaven; therefore, it becomes clear that “believing” alone - is not the entire plan of salvation.
One Bible verse alone - proves that it takes MORE than just “believing”, to be saved!
Mark 16:16 says, “He that believeth AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved…”
Wow! What if we had stopped at “just believing”; and not read, that water baptism is essential to our salvation. Any sincere heart can see - such a clear biblical revelation.
Want more proof of the importance of baptism, relative to our salvation?
I Peter 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now SAVE US…”
Can it be any clearer than this? I think not.
Some Verses that are often taken out of context:
One of the most MISQUOTED scriptures in the Bible, is John 3:16 "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."
Many people misquote this part of the verse as saying "Will Not perish", but that is NOT what this verse says.
There's a big difference in "Should Not Perish" and the words "Will Not Perish." The phrase "Should Not" - denotes that you have started a journey of salvation by believing, but also - that the journey has MORE TO IT. It suggests that believing alone, is not the conclusion of the journey, but rather, it is only the beginning.
Acts 16:30-31 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved [as opposed to "thou ART saved"], and thy house.”
Some would stop at this verse and take this as the entire plan of salvation. We call it, “Easy Believe-ism”. But there are so many problems with this theory. First, we need to finish reading the story (as it was not complete).
Acts 16:32-33 continues by saying, “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
Notice: the disciples NEVER told this family, that ALL you have to do to be saved, is “believe”. Rather, it was told to them that "believing" was the BEGINNING of this plan of salvation. This is proven in verse 32, as they didn’t stop with saying “believe”; rather, they continued on to preach unto them “the word of the Lord”. This “word of the Lord” no doubt included the “Born Again” message, because that same night this entire family was baptized.
Another Misunderstood Verse
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
After reading this verse, it almost appears as though “salvation” is just a confession of the mouth, and a believing in the heart. However, we need to read another couple of verses to make sure this theory is correct.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Acts 8:13 “ Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Acts 8:18-23 “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou has thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. For I perceive that thou are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”
According to Matthew 7:21, not everyone that confesses that Jesus is “LORD” of their life, will be saved. According to Acts 8:13, and Acts 8:18-23 = It is possible to “believe” on the Lord Jesus Christ, and still be in the bond of iniquity. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are in the bonds of iniquity, you are NOT SAVED!
How do we Reconcile these verses?
The Bible does not contradict itself, for a kingdom divided against itself, shall not stand. So how are these seemingly different verses, to be understood? It is obvious that we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved (else we would go no further with Him). It is obvious that we should confess Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life (as we should not be ashamed of Him).
However, it is also obvious, that if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the words of Jesus remain in effect. We must be Born Again (of BOTH, water and Spirit). We cannot stop at simply believing and confessing. Nor can we stop (like Simon) at believing and baptism. We must continue on - to be filled with the Holy Ghost!
This agrees with what Jesus said about true “believers”. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were biblical signs that could prove whether or not one was a true “believer”?
There is! People hear the term “believer”, and could assume the definition is simply, “One that believes in Jesus Christ as their savior”. But let’s allow the Bible to define a “believer”!
Jesus said, in John 7:38-39 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Note: The Bible defines a “believer” as one that will receive the Holy Ghost.
Some people assume that we receive the Holy Ghost, when we “believe” on the Lord. But scripture teaches, that the sign of one receiving the Holy Ghost, is evidenced by speaking with other tongues (see Acts 10:44-48, Acts 2:1-4, Mark 16:17, Isa. 28:11-12).
Notice in Acts 19:2, Paul asked certain disciples, ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost SINCE (or, AFTER) ye believed?’ And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Obviously, these disciples “believed” on the Lord, but had NOT YET received the Holy Ghost. Therefore, the sign of receiving the Holy Ghost could not have been, simply “believing”.
Further proof that we are NOT filled with the Holy Ghost upon “believing” is the account found in Acts 8:5-17. Philip had a great revival in Samaria, he preached Christ unto them, the people gave heed, verse 12 confirms - they BELIEVED Philip's preaching concerning the kingdom of God, they also saw Philip perform miracles, demons were cast out, the lame were healed, the people were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and there was even great joy in the city.
YET – Peter and John were sent there, SPECIFICALLY, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, for even though all these wonderful things had happened, they still had not received the Holy Ghost.
When Peter and John laid hands on them, they finally received the Holy Ghost, and no doubt spoke with tongues (for upon seeing that miracle, Simon offered money to be able to do the same thing, with the laying on of hands). There is nothing mesmerizing (to a Sorcerer), about someone quietly accepting the Lord in their heart as their personal savior. But speaking in tongues; that is a visible and audible miracle to be desired.
Acts 2:33 further proves - that the Holy Ghost is an event that can be SEEN and HEARD, when one receives it. Acts 2:33 says, “…having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now SEE and HEAR.”
Let’s face it; No one “SEES” or “HEARS” anything, when one chooses to “believe” or quietly “accepts the Lord into their heart” as their personal savior. It is truly wonderful to make the decision to believe, and to accept the Lord; however, BIBLICALLY, it is not the evidence of one receiving the Holy Ghost.
Many people have been asked before, “How did you know, that you received the Holy Ghost?” The answers vary, but often sound something like the following: “I know I received it because I felt good on the inside.” Sounds good. But when my wife cooks me dinner, I often feel good on the inside too (and I don’t suppose it was the Holy Ghost at all). Ladies and Gentlemen - let’s stick with the Bible as our guide, instead of going by what we think, or the traditions of men.
Mark 16:17-18 declares, And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues [or, new unlearned languages]; They shall take up serpents [or, uproot demonic strongholds]; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them [accidently of course]; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover [or, operate in the gift of miracles and healings].
Now = “It is a wicked and perverse generation that seeketh after a sign” (in order to believe). However, we are not following signs AT ALL. Rather, these signs are FOLLOWING US! Are these signs following you?
According to the above listed verses: Jesus defines a “believer”, NOT - as merely one that believes on him and confesses him; but one that ALSO speaks with tongues, casts out devils, uproots demonic strongholds, is miraculously protected at times, and allows the gifts of the spirit to operate through their lives.
Some would argue that we are saved by faith alone. Well - the truth is, although we are saved by faith, true faith - always produces actions on the part of those who believe.
Consider 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 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: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O 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 thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”
If you think our “works” play no part in whether we make it to Heaven or not; then read Revelation chapters 2 and 3, and tell me how many times your hear Jesus Christ (the Judge) say, “I know thy works”. Apparently, even though we are saved by His grace, our works are extremely important to God, and obviously play a role in whether or not we make Heaven our eternal home. Again, we are not saved by works, lest any man should boast. Our works may not MAKE us saved, but they very well could KEEP US saved. A LACK of works (refusing to be busy about our Father's business), would clearly show a lack of love and appreciation on our part toward God. No doubt it would show an unthankful heart. Such an attitude would certainly paint a picture of a heart that has left its first love, in the eyes of God. So his mercy and grace saves us, as we obey His plan of salvation. Then we are expected to get busy for the kingdom of God - rather than simply "sit on a pew".
You “Believe” the Gospel, but have you “OBEYED” the Gospel?
So many people “BELIEVE” the gospel of the Jesus Christ. But - that does not mean they have “OBEYED” the gospel. Did you know there was even a difference? The Bible explains.
The Gospel = is simply this: On Calvary - Jesus Christ did 3 things:
He was Buried
He Rose Again (on the third day) - I Cor. 15:1-4
Now = Let’s read the warning given in II Thessalonians 1:8-9, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY NOT the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord…”
Apparently, it is one thing to “believe” the gospel; but another thing altogether to “obey” the gospel. To “obey” the gospel – simply means to “DO” or “APPLY” the gospel. So how does one “DO” the gospel, or “APPLY” the gospel. Jesus said, take up your cross, and follow me. Yet many do not understand what he meant. Well, what did Jesus do, when he took up his cross? This is how we will follow Him!
He Died / So we must die (spiritually) by Repentance. Paul said, I die (or, repent) daily” – I Corinthians 15:31
2. He was Buried / So we are buried with him (spiritually), by baptism in Jesus’ name. – Romans 6:4, Acts 22:16 (in baptism, we are to literally invoking the name of the Lord, which is "Jesus")
3. He Rose Again / So we rise again (spiritually) in Newness of Life (by the Holy Ghost). – Romans 6:4, Romans 8:11
Therefore, if we are to “Take up our Cross, and follow him”. And if we are to “OBEY” (or Apply) the Gospel to our lives. It becomes clear that we must OBEY Acts 2:38.
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent (die), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (be buried), and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (or, receive that resurrection power inside of you).”
Not Saved By Works
Some would argue that baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost are works. And as you know, we are not saved by works of righteousness, lest any man should boast.
But Titus 3:5 teaches us, that baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost – is NOT considered “works of righteousness”.
Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration [or, water baptism], and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no way around it. Ye MUST be “Born Again” (of water, and of the Spirit), in order to be saved. It takes believing and confessing to make it in; but it also takes water baptism, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost as well.
In Acts chapter 10 - Cornelius would have been considered “saved” by most Christians today. However, your Bible paints it in a different light. Cornelius was a devout man, feared God with all his house, gave much alms, and prayed to God so often, that he prayed down an angel, and was told his prayers had come up unto God as a memorial.
Does he sound “saved” to you? Not so. Even though he was sincere, and was a devout and Godly man, he still had never been “Born Again” of water (baptism) and of Spirit (the infilling of the Holy Ghost). Therefore, Cornelius was told to link up with Peter, and he will tell you what thou oughtest to do. According to Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius finally found the salvation he was looking for!
The Thief on the Cross
Many people have wondered why the thief on the cross (Luke 23:38-43) did not have to Repent, be Baptized in Jesus' name, and receive the Holy Ghost - in order to be saved (as they did in Acts). However, we must realize that the "Born Again" plan of salvation was not complete until Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. Thus, the thief on the cross did not live and die in the "church age" (i.e. The Dispensation of Grace). The church age was not born until the day of Pentecost; therefore, the thief was saved by a different method, than that of today. Every dispensation of time, has had its own plan of salvation. In Moses' day, the "law" was the avenue for salvation. In Noah's era, only the ark could save. However, today (during the "Church Age", The "Dispensation of Grace") our only hope of salvation, is to be "Born Again" of water and Spirit, just as Jesus Christ said, and just as the early church OBEYED!
Ladies and Gentlemen – I urge you to make sure that you are Born Again as the scriptures teach, and not as man says. Many preachers will tell you whatever you want to hear, because they are either deceived, or simply want your money. However, at Prophetic News - We simply want to see everyone Born Again, and ready to meet Jesus Christ when He returns! We love you all! God bless you in Jesus’ name!
Written by: Rev. Bryan Smith (Prophetic News)