We have all heard the terms “born-again” and “saved”. Many people believe that these two terms are synonymous. If both terms mean the exact same thing, we wouldn’t need two different terms to describe them. It’s like saying a SUV is the same as a motorcycle. While both are vehicles, there is a huge difference between the two. If you happen to be going down the road and it is raining or snowing the difference between the two vehicles will be obvious. And depending on which vehicle you are using, you can arrive at your destination very comfortable or very cold and wet. Another way to look at is the difference between a jet and a helicopter. While both have the ability to fly, again there is a huge difference between the two. Helicopters have the ability to stay stationary over a particular area for an extended period of time. A jet, on the other hand, does not have this ability. If you are on a jet and it stops in mid-air you are going to have an unpleasant experience, a very unpleasant experience.
Along these same lines of thought there is a difference between being “born-again” and “saved”. We are going to start with the experience of being “born-again”.
The writer in John 1:12-13 says in regards to Jesus, “But as many as received Him (Jesus) to them He (Jesus) gave the right (authority) to become children (or off-spring) of God to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In John chapter 3 we see Jesus having a conversation with a religious leader who was a Pharisee. In verse 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The expression “born-again” in the Greek text means “born from above”. Now Nicodemus, a high ranking Pharisee, could not understand the meaning of the term “born-again”. Nicodemus was very familiar with the expression “salvation” but could not understand the “new birth”. Jesus in verse 10 was a bit mystified by the fact that Nicodemus could not understand this. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things?’” The “new birth” is something that religious people have a hard time understanding. I don’t have the time to go into all the discussions with people who “study the Bible all the time” and do not understand what it means to be “born-again”. Many of them have PhDs after their name. After many years I’ve come to the conclusion that the term PhD stands for “Potatoes have Dimples”. And like potatoes, many have “eyes” but they cannot see. Be very careful in taking advice from any spokesperson on religious ideas. More often than not they are a “common-tater”. Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist that. Please forgive me.
Anyway, back to the subject of the “new birth” or being born from above (“born-again”). Until after the resurrection of Jesus only 3 HUMANS are referred to as being the offspring of God. In Luke 3:38 it refers to Adam as the son of God. In Genesis 2:7 we read, “The Lord God (Jesus in His pre-incarnate form) formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” In verse 18 we read, “And the Lord God (Jesus) said ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to (In Hebrew, equal to in every way) him.’” Since we know Eve was taken out of Adam’s side, she also would be considered the offspring of God. And we also know that the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary and she conceived Jesus the Son of God.
Now please be patient with us those of you who have already been taught this to you by your church. Yes, it’s basic New Testament Christianity but not everybody is getting the same basic teaching or training in understanding the New Testament. Thank you for your patience.
After His resurrection, in the upper room, that same evening Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples (John 20:19). He showed them His hands and His side and they were glad when they saw Him. In verse 22 it says, “He (Jesus) breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy (Sacred) Spirit (or life force).’” PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE THIS EVENT WITH WHAT TRANSPIRED ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST. Many people make this mistake. These are two separate actions of two separate spirits; the Spirit of Jesus (who is God in the flesh) and the Spirit of Almighty God. Romans 8:9-11 gives us clarity on two different operations of two different Spirits; the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God. Verse 9 says this, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, IF indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he (that person) is not His (meaning God the Father).” Notice the terms “Spirit of God” and “Spirit of Christ”; two different terms, two different Spirits, two different operations. Verse 10 says this, “And IF Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit (of Christ) is life because of righteousness.” Then verse 11 reads, “BUT IF THE Spirit of Him (the Holy Spirit of God) who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He (God) who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit (God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit) who dwells in you.” Again we wish to point out if it was all the same Spirit, then there would be no need for two designations (Spirit of Christ, Spirit of God). Spirit means “Life force” in both Old and New Testaments. The actions of a particular “Spirit” lets us know just exactly what kind of Spirit it is. Remember, vehicle-SUV or motorcycle. Both are vehicles, but both do different things.
Now back to what happened in the upper room that evening. John 20:22 we read Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy (sacred) Spirit”, which is the exact same thing He did when He breathed on Adam in Genesis 2:7. This could not be the same Spirit that He told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they received power from on high in Acts 1:8. That is in reference to the Holy Spirit Baptism which is a subject for another blog.
Most of us are familiar with Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (that means to call Jesus Lord) and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you WILL BE “saved”.” This is the basis of what is commonly referred to as the “sinner’s prayer”. There is only one other place where we see this same idea repeated and it is in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 30:14 we read, “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” Unfortunately since no one could be born again under the old covenant, this is not the New Testament way to receive the “new birth”. How do we know that? Well, we know that because it doesn’t say, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be “BORN-AGAIN”.”
If you read the rest of Romans chapter 10, you will see this was spoken in reference to a disobedient and contrary people. That would be the Israelites. And just because they said this (Romans 10:9) did not mean that they would continue to follow God, because they didn’t. Let’s just be honest about it, if everybody who said this prayer was truly “born-again” our nation would have been changed a long time ago. So just saying this prayer doesn’t bring about the “new birth”. I personally, in my sincere ignorance, thought that it did. For several years, my wife pointed out to me that there was no “change” in the people who made this “pledge”. As a matter of fact, James (the half-brother of Jesus), in James 2:19-20, “You believe there is one God, you do well. Even the devils believe-and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works (corresponding actions) is dead (or inactive).”
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Nowhere in the New Testament is anyone ever led in a “sinner’s prayer”.
2. Do you really believe that Almighty God would enter into a contract with someone who didn’t know the terms of the contract? The terms of the “sinner’s prayer” is that from this point forward Jesus is your Lord (master, boss, God, the one who has the final authority in your life). What that means is, you do what He wants you to do, not what you want to do. It’s also referred to as “repenting”.
3. Did you know that the apostle Paul did not consider his salvation a completed work? In Romans 13:11 he says, “And do this, knowing the time, that now that it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now OUR SALVATION is nearer than when we first believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand by which also YOU ARE SAVED, IF YOU HOLD FAST THAT WORD WHICH I PREACHED TO YOU-unless you believed in vain.” In Philippians 2:12 Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling.” In Hebrews 2:3 (which many believe Paul was the author of) says, “How shall WE escape if WE neglect so great a SALVATION, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…?” Hebrew 5:9 “And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of ETERNAL SALVATION TO ALL WHO OBEY HIM.” Apparently, the apostle Paul considered salvation an ongoing process. Bet you don’t hear these verses very much, do you?
4. Would you like to know what the apostle Peter thought on the subject of salvation? I’m glad you asked. In 1 Peter 1:4-5, “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for SALVATION READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME.” In 1 Peter 5:17-18 we read, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one scarcely be SAVED where will the ungodly and sinner appear?”
If all there is to become a Christian is saying a simple pledge (some call it prayer), then there is no difference between becoming a Christian or a Muslim. Here is the “infidel’s prayer” (sinner’s prayer) to become a Muslim;
“Ash hadu alla ilaha illa Allah, wa ash hadu anna Mohammadan abduhu wa resuluhu. This means I testify and witness that there is no god worthy of being worshipped other than Allah and that Mohammad is His Messenger. YOU MUST SAY IT AND BELIEVE IT”.
Isn’t it kinda creepy how close it resembles the “sinner’s prayer”? Why is that? Because Christianity has been reduced to a “religion”, not an on-going relationship with JESUS.
Here is what we are not saying, that everybody that said the sinner’s prayer is not “born-again”. We are NOT saying that. Please see the post “AM I BORN AGAIN? AM I SAVED?”. But what we are saying is this, that the true New Testament doctrine (some people hate that word), of being a “Christ like individual” is not being taught in the so called “Bible believing” churches. Why is it we spend 12 years (or more) of getting educated when we are young in order to become productive, successful adults and we’ve been told that all you have to do is to say some words after somebody and that’s all there is to it. Now that would be true if after saying the prayer you died, but since you are reading this, I’m fairly certain you didn’t die.
There is SO MUCH MORE that God wants to do in us and through us but we are being kept from the victorious life that is our birthright by the leaders of the so called Christian church in America. What they are saying basically is just say a prayer and everything is going to be alright.
In conclusion, “born-again” is making JESUS the LORD (boss) of your life. “Salvation” is the ongoing process of you becoming more like HIM every day.
After reading this, ask yourself this question, “Is everything alright?” and then listen to what your heart tells you. NOT what your head tells you, but what your HEART tells you.
With Love, Cincinnati Christian
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