The New Birth And Conversion: The True Salvation
“The believing one now is at rest.
Resting in Christ ,
Now at peace with the Father.
She has come to the place of active trust.”
Do you desire this comfort, rest and peace with God? The following will explain how one can have peace beyond comprehension!
What is needed for the work of Christ to be real for your life? How is the work of Christ appropriated to you? In other words what have you done or what do you need to do to be right before God? In answer to these questions we must look to the Bible for these answers. Let’s look at what Jesus said:
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. In these declarations of Jesus we are told that two things must be:
1.) there must be a new birth or the person must be born again or born from above by the work of God
2.) all human beings that would have an entrance into the kingdom of God must be converted.
This terminology may be new to you. You may be wondering just what this means. That is good. For in this section of basic discipleship it is important that you know this. It is here that you may learn if you really have life in Christ. For the believer it will be a strengthening of your faith. For the one who questions his faith it will answer your questions. If you are not a Christian then you will know what repentance and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ is. Please note as you keep reading you will be called to dependence upon Christ alone for the salvation of your soul.
You must be born again : (read John 3)
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, 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 answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot nter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Notice that Nicodemus was a well trained religious ruler and teacher of the Jews. He came to the right person in the night to discuss things with Jesus. He however, did not understand the “heart matter” concerning religious things. He did not understand the issue concerning entering the kingdom of God. Notice what Jesus says in this communication with Nicodemus.
There must be a new birth subsequent to even seeing the kingdom of God. All the intelligence of people cannot help them to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus could not and he was very educated being considered very intelligent. Yet he was baffled about the real question concerning life with God in His kingdom.
The affects of sin and its consequences seemed to have somehow escaped this very educated man. That with many other things, I suppose. The Bible teaches the sinfulness of men and their depravity. God declares through the Apostle Paul that men in their sinful nature have blinded minds, the gospel is foolish to them and they are past feeling.
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Ephesians 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Is it any wonder then that the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed another birth? He was spiritually dead. And to be spiritually dead is to not be able to even think spiritually. The mind is dead toward God and His ways. They cannot do anything spiritual in and of themselves. The new birth is a must and the new birth must be from God. It must be worked by the Holy Spirit. Our physical existence is brought about by physical birth which is of the flesh. When we are physically brought to life and we hear, see, feed eat and grow. So the new birth must be from God worked by the Holy Spirit. The new birth is from God, as we are physically alive through physical birth the believer is made spiritually alive through being born again. In this spiritual birth the born again one can see the kingdom, enter the kingdom, grow in the laws of the kingdom of God. It is only with the new birth that we can know and understand what Christ has accomplished. In the new birth we come to realize His cross is not foolish. We can emotionally with conviction “run to the cross” and place ourselves under the blood of Christ by faith. Nicodemus had missed this important teaching of scripture.
The new birth then can be said to control the life of the one whom God births into the kingdom of God!!!!. They are called a new creation (2 Cor. 5). Look what others state about this marvelous work of God:
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature
Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The necessity of the new birth is stated by Christ, “you must be born again”. Unless you are born by the will of God you will die in your sins and enter eternal everlasting punishment. With out the new birth you will not care about God, and His ways. You will live:
Without Peace with God
Since God does the work in new birth we can say it is truly a mystery. Jesus shows that the new birth is a mystery that must happen before one can have a right relationship with God in salvation. It is a miracle worked by the God of heaven bringing men that do not think, care, or nevertheless seek after the God of heaven to think, care and seek.
The mystery lies in that we cannot fully understand it nor is it something we perform. It is God that performs it John 3:8 “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Now as we do not know where nor how the wind fully works nor comes from so is the work of the Holy Spirit. He moves in our lives orchestrating events and regenerating our heart so that at the time appointed we are regenerated so that we hear the gospel message, believe an embrace it because we have been born again (Eph. 2:8-10). We are not born into the family of God by our own will but by the power of God working when and where and how He wills thereby changing our wills through the mystery of divine rebirth.
John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Having read this far you know by now that salvation is out of your hands. It is a salvation totally of God. There is no flexibility for anyone to boast that they know God and love Him within their own power and will. Those who love God do so only because He first loved them and gave them a new birth. Man cannot transform his own nature, cannot change his own heart. Mans heart is deceitful and man in his sinful nature cannot understand their own heart for, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Therefore if men cannot make the birth happen, if they do not deserve it. And if they cannot even bargain or do anything to earn it then it must be a miracle from God. For you to be in a right relationship with God there must be a miracle to take place in your life (Eph. 1:3-14) for,… “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
A personal note to you:
“What then can I do?” you may be asking. The answer is nothing. I would suggest however at this point say that if you are concerned and see that you are in need of this necessary, mysterious miracle then do the following:
Fall Prostrate Before Him
Cry out to God
Call upon Him
Cast yourself upon Him
Acknowledge you sinfulness
Acknowledge your need
Acknowledge your failure
Acknowledge your unbelief
Acknowledge you are beginning to understand some of who Christ is
Acknowledge what you understand of what Christ has done on the cross
Ask Him to be merciful
Ask Him for a miracle
Ask Him for a new birth
Ask Him to give you a new life
Remember a promise of God
Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
So you must be born again which can only happen by God himself. When that happens the3 next must will be done and htat is conversion will take place . The Bible states that to be right with God there must be conversion. Jesus said
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
So now just what does it mean to be converted? How does that relate to being born again? How can I be converted? The simple meaning of conversion in salvation is a changing from the old life or the old self of sin and selfish to a change that becomes dependent upon God. To be converted is to turn from your old life with a radical change that includes a life of knowing, acting and being emotionally convicted to do that which God asks. The Christians in Thessalonica were converted for Paul gives this testimony how they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”. Conversion is commanded by God for He “commands all men everywhere to repent”.
When one is converted he or she will do accomplish two actions: a.) turn from sin and b.) turn to God. This is the message of Jesus. He calls men to repent and believe. Notice this call of Jesus in the gospel of Mark: 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
To be right with God, that is to come to salvation there must be repentance from sin and faith toward God in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is faith placed in the work of the the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul declared conversion a necessity he said that in order to believe the Gospel unto salvation there has to be repentance; ie, a turning from sin, and faith; ie, a look toward and an adherence to the work of God in Christ Paul in Acts 20:21 testified both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s now look a little closer at each action in conversion. Let’s first look at turning from sin which is called repentance. It is important to know what repentance is not.
Repentance is not the turning over a new leaf.
It is not a resolution to do better.
It is not a regret or a feeling sorry for a wrong which you have committed.
Repentance is none of the above. You may want to change and by God’s common grace you may live differently today than you did yesterday or two weeks ago for that matter. Many times people do wrong and set in sorrow about getting caught and work so as not to do that which they got caught doing (2 Cor.7). Many people in their young life experienced things, were caught by the authorities and corrected. Now they changed their behavior but Biblically this is not repentance.
What repentance is? Repentance is a turning from sin. This change is a change that involves the mind, heart, and will. In the parable of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11-32) repentance is made known in the change that took place while the son was away from the father. The son had a change of mind, a heart that was changed to the point that the son would recognize the sin committed against the father, and a will bent to the point that the son would serve the father as one of the hired servants. Biblical repentance is an action and that action includes the following three elements: admission of sin, sorrow for sin, and a turning from sin to righteousness.
Admission of Sin
To truly admit sinful behavior is to have a changed mind toward sinful behavior in our on lives.
In conversion there is a conviction of sin. There is a consciousness of the law of God and that that law has been broken thereby making the person repenting very conscience of sin in their lives (Rom. 3:20). Admission is to say I have sinned.
Sorrow for Sin
Repentance is not only an admission of the fact of sin, but it involves a heart change. This change is a sorrow for sin in the mind of the one repenting. Sorrow for sin is more than feeling regret and acting in self-pity. Self-pity and regret is a self sorrow or a worldly sorrow and not a sorrow that leads to repentance . Repenting sorrow is sorrow that is God centered. Sorrow of this kind is grief. The sorrow of repentance is a sorrow wherein the one believing acknowledges with a heavy heart that they have sinned against God.
2Co 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Psalms 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For you that are reading this here are some questions for you to ponder: Have you at this time had this real change in heart? If not then - Do you realize how awful your sin is and that you have sinned against a Holy God. Do you have grief that you have broken God’s commands? Are you finding that you are having thoughts and a heart for truly repenting?
Turning from Sin to Righteousness
This is the point where there is a change of will. The one believing acknowledges their sin, its breaking of God’s commands, and the desire and want to forsake sin because it is displeasing to God. It is here that the one believing turns to the acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ. The desire is to do all that He has commanded and His commands are not burdensome to the one believing. The will is not to continue sinning as they have been, but to do his will. This is in the fulfillment of the command to forsake sin. This we know must be done before God will forgive sin: Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon and the psalmist again acknowledged this: Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. David is a classic example of someone repenting and turning from sin to God. David cried in repentance desired, to be cleaned, and then desired to have a renewed mind for the purpose of godly living:
Psalms 51:1-2 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalms 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
The persons repenting in attitude and in action show that they desire to be forgiven, and to live life in a set apart manner for the Lord. They want the past forgiven and their future changed. They now desire mercy therefore the obey the command in Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
A personal call
· Are you willing to change?
· Are you wiling to make God’s will your greatest desire?
· Have you repented?
· Have you turned from your sin in godly sorrow?
· Have you ask God to help you repent?
Remember : The kindness of God leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
We must now turn our attention to the second phase or part of conversion. The first part we looked at was repentance now we turn to faith. What is the importance of faith? What is faith? How do we know that we have faith? And what is the object of faith? Answers to these questions it is desired will be understood after this section of teaching .
The number one requirement for having the life and death of Jesus Christ applied to your life in salvation is faith. Faith is the pathway by which men lay hold upon the blessings of God in the salvation purchased by Jesus. “How can I be saved?”, has been a questioned asked throughout all of history. It is only in the Bible that we find the answer to this question; 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, and thy house.” Jesus told of His being given so that those believing in Him would have eternal life: 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”. It was the Apostle Paul that said that if one truly believes in the heart / mind the work of Christ in that would have salvation. 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.”
The term “faith” or “belief’ in the Scriptures is important being used in the Bible more that five hundred times. Faith in the scriptures are pointed to the person of Jesus Christ. It is He that has “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit”. It is upon Him that one must believe in order to be saved and have life through His name (Acts 16:31; 1 Pt. 2:6; Jn. 20:31) without faith in Jesus Christ there is no salvation, redemption, forgiveness of sins. Without faith there is no peace with God. It is for this reason for both the Christian and non- Christian, who may be seeking to fall on the mercies of God, need to understand what true faith toward God in Christ is.
Since faith is so important it is urgent that one knows just what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ . The question must be answered what is Christian faith? As we will see faith has three elements:
knowledge <------> emotion <-----> volition
Without either one of these three elements there is no real life changing faith which brings salvation. You may have just knowledge as an academic pursuit. You may learn something about God and Christ and it stir you to an emotional level but if there is no volition or action then there is no real belief in that which you emotionally have a knowledge of. There are even times when people act to do the “nonimal Christian” things “just because”. Maybe their parents “did it”. Maybe they are in the habit from a child. But there is no real knowledge about Christianity nor is there any emotion concerning it and it’s purposes. Then there are others that do Christian actions out of knowledge without having their emotions involved. What they do is not out of a love for God or their neighbor but just a duty. A classic Biblical example of no faith but some creatures of God having knowledge and emotion would be the demons of James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Lets then take a closer look at each of these three elements of faith and see if we can see how they work in unison to be true faith. True faith needs to be understood. True faith is:
Based upon Knowledge
To believe in Christ for salvation it is important for a person to know several things. The things that they must know and believe may not be totally clear to them at first when they believe. That is they do not need nor will they possibly understand a course in Systematic Theology, Christology, Biblical Anthropology etc. However a man that comes to God must believe some basic information for ‘without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). So then the person believing needs to know the following:
a. That there is a Holy God.
b. That they have sinned against this Holy God.
c. That Jesus Christ is God and that He died, was buried and rose the third day from the dead.
d. That His death was to atone for the sins of all that believe in Him.
e. That man cannot save himself.
f. That man must repent of sins and turn in faith to Christ’s work alone for salvation.
It is this particular element of faith that does not come from man’s reasoning but from the reasoning of God alone through the Scriptures. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
It is here once again that it is necessary to stop and ask serious questions concerning the faith that you may or may not have.
a. Do you believe in the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible? b. Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners?c. Do you believe that you are a sinner and guilty in the sight of God?
Notice: If you do then you have the beginning of true faith!
A Conviction (Emotion)
Faith is more than knowledge. It is knowledge with a proper emotional attachment. Faith must not only concern a knowledge of factual truth from the Bible. Faith also concerns the heart, or the emotions. One who believes must have affections and a desiring attitude to do that which has been stated or taught concerning the gospel message from the word of God. The emotion of faith is conviction. It is with the mind that we are informed of the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the life and death of Christ, and the need for repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. True convicting knowledge in the mind worked by the Holy Spirit will cause anyone who is truly believing to take hold of a personal truth. That personal truth is that Christ died for you. John 16:8-11 And when he (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; John 16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. True faith includes a full conviction that, “Christ died for me!”.
Conviction is an intense emotional desire to do that which is known. Once again it must be made perfectly clear that true faith is not emotion without a knowledgeable foundation. There are many that believe and for a short time rejoice in their new found knowledge. But as the Lord said it is only those that have action and fruit from their knowledge and emotion that enter into the kingdom God (Matt. 13 ). The demons do believe and emotionally tremble: James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” True faith then must contain the element of knowledge concerning facts about God, man and the work of Christ. It must contain an intense emotional desire to repent of sin and and to have the shed blood of Christ applied to sin for a covering or atonement. It then must also contain a follow up on the knowledge. This leads to the third element of faith which is action.
Once again here I will pause for a personal call to faith. Do you have the knowledge of what God is doing and has done in Christ? Are you being convicted concerning your sin and the need of having a Savior? Are you seeing some of the elements of faith in your person?
This is the element of faith that causes the one believing to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” it is also this element of faith that causes the one believing to “run “ to the cross for the cleansing power of the blood. They run to the cross crying out for mercy. They cast their souls salvation into the accomplished work of Christ on the cross. At this point in salvific belief the person puts all confidence in the work of Christ alone.
This element of faith rests upon a “do nothing” knowledge. It understands the hopelessness of sinful man unless God saves him or her. It understands that there must be a trusting only in God to redeem one from judgment. It understands that there is only one thing to do and that is to stand. Stand and let God give you the heart to receive this salvation. In giving this salvation you have new life and are now able to see God’s kingdom and enter into it with eternal life (Jn 3:16). The believing one now is at rest. Resting in Christ . At peace with the Father. He or she has come to the place of active trust. Even your faith at this point is acknowledged not to be of your own doing but a gift from God: Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. The believing one knows that there is no boasting or personal acknowledgement that can be done in any manner at this time. They truly understand grace plus nothing.
Saving faith contains three elements. That is knowledge whereby the believer knows who, what, when, where, and why. The emotional element is the truth revealed gripping the person whereby they say this is a need that I have. This is what Christ did done for me. And it is an action whereby they run to the Jesus and the work He did on the cross and cry out for His mercy, resting in Him alone for salvation. It is this faith that is the conduit by which the believer receives all of salvations benefits. All the spiritual benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ is received through faith. Through real faith in Christ the believer receives:
· Justification (Rom. 3:28)· Redemption (Rom. 3:23-25)· Reconcilation (Rom. 5:1)· Forgiveness (Lk. 7:48-50)· Eternal Life (Jn. 6:47)
Now once again a message and call for one that may not have been born again and converted:
1. The questions:
· Have you repented from sin and turned to the living God?· Are you prepared to take that step now?· Will you turn from sin, self, and the world and call on God’s mercy today?
2. The exhortation:
· Repent and turn from sin.· Trust in him.· Commit you soul to Him.· Know now that all that truly turn for their sin and turn to Him, He will abundantly pardon. ( Isa.5:7; Jer. 29:13; Jn. 6:37; Jn. 6:47)
3. The Warning
· God commands you to repent today (Acts 17; Ps. 27:1; Isa. 5:6;2 Cor. 6:2 ) If not you stand guilty before a holy God condemned to eternal torment.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Oh Lord grant each person that reads or hears these teachings the ability to repent and be believe in you by the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit. In Christ’s name. AMEN