Teaching Children about Salvation

Rebekah - posted on 03/13/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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I received this at the Children's Pastor meeting I attended, thought I'd share it with everyone - it's a great reminder to US parents too! :)

Teaching children about Salvation

There is much confusion today about what it means to be a Christian. It is very important that what we teach children about their relationship with God is accurate. When we just teach children that salvation is “being friends with God” or “having Jesus as their best friend” we are not exactly presenting the full scope of what being a Christian really is. I can be friends with you, but it does not change my life for eternity. It does not give me eternal life. Yes, Jesus should be our best friend and we need to develop our relationship with God but that is a byproduct of the change that occurs in our heart when we are born again.

Some misconceptions in our society about being a Christian are that going to church makes one a Christian, praying and reading the bible makes one a Christian, being born in a Christian family or attending a Christian church makes one a Christian. Or even being religious, following a churches statement of faith, rules, or regulations, or just being a good person makes one a Christian. Most of these things are good and help us grow spiritually, but do not make one a Christian.

When a religious leader came to Jesus in John chapter 3 he asked Jesus what I must do to enter your kingdom. Jesus did not say belong to a certain church, obey more rules, or become more religious. He told Nicodemus you must be born again.

Now there has been a lot of confusion about what exactly being born again is. Is it just a decision to follow Christ, or is it a transformation of the heart of a person?
If it is no more than making a decision to follow Christ without a change on the inside being a Christian is no different than being a Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. It is simply just a religion that we have joined.

What sets Christianity apart from all other religions is the supernatural change that takes place in our spirit man. This is the good news. We do not have to serve God in our own power. He changes us on the inside and gives us his very life and nature so that we can serve him. Its not just rules and regulations he puts the law in our heart when he puts his love in our heart. Rom. 5:5 says that the love of God has been put in our heart by the Holy Spirit. The bible also says that Love is the fulfillment of the law. If we love God and our neighbor we have fulfilled the law.

In Ezek 36:26-28 Ezekiel prophesied “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.“ Here Ezekiel was talking about the change that would take place in the lives of believers after Jesus came and paid the price for our salvation.

I know the term “born again” was over used a few years ago when everyone from presidential candidates to movie stars said they were born again Christians. The term got drug through the mud and no one really knew what it meant, so we quit using it. The world asked what does “Born Again Christian” mean and no one knew, so we came up with terms like having Jesus in our heart and being friends with God.

When Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and disobeyed God something happened to Adam. He died. Not physically because we know from scripture that he lived for many years after the fall. He died spiritually. He was separated from God. When this happened he laid the foundation for all man kind to be born separated from God or dead spiritually.

That’s why the bible calls him the first Adam and calls Jesus the second Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45. In 1 Cor. 15:22 the bible says as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

As in the word of the Christian rapper, Tripp Lee “The bad news we were born in sin, The good news we can be born again.”

In order to be restored to the place where God had created us to be we needed a total transformation of our spirit man or be born again. When we receive Christ we are born into God’s family. We are not just adopted but born into it.

The Bible says in 1 Cor. 1:13 that we were delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God. Or in other words, we are taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of God. When I see this word translated I always think of the transporter room in the old Star Trek program. We were taken from one place and put into another into another.

The bible also says in 2 Cor 5:17 that if we are in Christ we are a new creation. Old things have passed away, all things have become new. This does not simply sound like a decision to follow Christ or being friends with God to me. It sounds like a total transformation of the heart.

With out this change in our spirit man we have simply became religious or joined a religion. Without the supernatural element of being born again we have a form of Godliness but deny the power. We have dead religion that we have to strive to be good enough and follow the rules and regulations. When the good news is that Jesus paid the price with his blood on the cross for our salvation, and all we have to do is receive the free gift that God offers us.

Without the blood of Jesus being shed we cannot be born again. Today, we live in a bloodless society. We don’t even see our meat being processed any more. We only see the pre packaged meat that we buy in the store. But Christianity is a bloody religion. From the sacrifices of the Old Testament that God commanded to cover the sin of Israel to the Blood of Jesus being shed to take away our sin in the New Testament. The Bible says in Heb. 9:22 without the shedding of blood there is no remission or taking away of sin.

Now, I am not talking about being graphic and gory with children. I would never scare a child for anything. But we cannot leave the blood out of our faith or teaching. It is the very basic element of our faith. That’s why Jesus commanded us to takes the Lord’s Supper or communion was to put us in remembrance of his sacrifice for us.

I am not a huge fan of the term “having Jesus in our heart” either. The Bible says that Jesus is at the right hand of the father making intercession for us in Romans 8:34. I understand what we mean when we say that Jesus is living in our heart but Jesus himself is not living in us. His life and nature is in us. His character is in us. The love of God is in us. The 1 Cor. 13 kind of love is what is in us.

I realize that some of this is quit technical and is not presented on a Child’s level. Instead of talking about our nature being changed from sin to love, I talk about when Adam disobeyed God he received a sinful heart. We all are born with a sinful heart because of Adam’s disobedience. He represented all of us. When we are born again we receive a clean heart. I then explain what this means on a child’s level.

I had heard the terms Jesus died on the cross for our sin, born again, being saved, and all the other Christian terminology that is thrown around lightly my entire life growing up as a pastor’s child. But I did not understand it, until I became an adult and researched it out for my self. Sadly to say that many people grow up in our churches hearing these terms and never fully understand it. Then walk away from the faith because it was not presented in a way that made sense to them when they were older. It was presented like a fairy tale or Santa Claus and when they were old enough to think for their selves, they realize it did not make sense and walked away from the faith.

We as the body of Christ need to get back to teaching what “being born again is” so that the children and teens growing up in our churches understand it. If not when they become adults they will see no difference in Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism and will walk away from their faith and the church.

By Jerry Moyer
The Jubilee Gang
www.jubileegang.com

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Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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Quoting Claudia:



I do know that verse, I believe it is referring to first having faith and then it is the spirit within you that produces the desire to do works for the Lord.  Not the other way around.  I agree with you that it is a change of heart and that it is a transformation from within but it is always the spirit of God that produces the fruit.. I'm not saying baptism is not important and at that I agree with you that it is full emersion baptism that represents the dying to our old nature and being raised up in Christ. However, I will revert back to Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED."    






And we can agree to disagree on that one topic, I still believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I know that I am saved and yes, I have been water baptised.






Blessings!






Now, I've gotta get off this computer and get the rest of my housework done... lol!  Have a good one.





True, believing that God raised Jesus from the dead, will indeed "save" us - but there is a difference between "salvation" and "born again".  Salvation is for everyone who "believes" it.  Being born again, means I had a transformation within - for without receiving the Holy Spirit we still are the same.  Hence why I said faith without works is dead.  There still is an action (1) believing, (2) repenting (essential to receiving salvation), (3) bapism (essence of being born again, for this is how you receive the Holy Spirit) and (4) making disciples - the essence of God's instruction "go out into the world".



 

Claudia - posted on 03/17/2009

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I do know that verse, I believe it is referring to first having faith and then it is the spirit within you that produces the desire to do works for the Lord.  Not the other way around.  I agree with you that it is a change of heart and that it is a transformation from within but it is always the spirit of God that produces the fruit.. I'm not saying baptism is not important and at that I agree with you that it is full emersion baptism that represents the dying to our old nature and being raised up in Christ. However, I will revert back to Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED."    



And we can agree to disagree on that one topic, I still believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I know that I am saved and yes, I have been water baptised.



Blessings!



Now, I've gotta get off this computer and get the rest of my housework done... lol!  Have a good one.

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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Claudia, Do also remember the verse in James, "faith without works is dead". And Acts is the Book about "born again" Christians - when the apostles went out and turned people to Jesus, it involves a heart change, a transformation from within, so that we can then produce the fruits of the Spirit - which only come by baptism, to receive the Holy Spirit, we must be baptised, which receiving of the Holy Spirit is how we do become children of God.

Claudia - posted on 03/17/2009

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Scriptures are clear in Eph 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- “not by works”, so that no one can boast. 



Still why would we not want to be baptized if we accept Jesus in our life?  Doesn’t Jesus urge to do so in Matt 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”   Would we want to do anything less than what Jesus instructed us to do?



So, I'm clearly not saying we shouldn't baptize, only that it is not a requirement for salvation.



Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED."  



That's it, it does not read on to be baptised and then you will be saved.

Claudia - posted on 03/17/2009

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Quoting Krystle:

Doesn't the term "born again" simply refer to baptism? I've read John 3:3 and the scriptures that follow and in John 3:5 Jesus' response to Nicodemus' questions were, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit..." (KJV) So, it is necessary to reach salvation (preservation or deliverance from danger or destruction) by being born again by way of water (baptism {a symbol that one has made a complete, unreserved, and unconditional dedication though Jesus to do the will of God}).

What do you think? I would love to discuss this article.



The term born again refers to being born of the spirit.  We were already born once of water (through our mother's womb) it does not refer to baptism.  You do not need baptism to have salvation.  The only thing required for salvation is to accept Jesus as God and believe that he died and rose again for your sin.  Baptism is simply an outward proclamation of what has already occurred in your heart.  I like to explain it like a wedding ceremony... the couple is usually already legally married in the courts under the law, but the wedding ceremony is just a public proclamation of what has already taken place.  The wedding ceremony didn't marry you, the legally binding paperwork is what married you. (I hope that didn't confuse anyone, lol)  We choose to be baptised because we follow Jesus' example, but it is not a part of your salvation.

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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Here's another interesting article, touching on similar to this... any thoughts??



 



"ASK JESUS INTO YOUR HEART"??
by Andrew Strom.


One of the most basic things that has amazed me for many years is the preaching of "Giving your heart to the Lord" or "Asking Jesus into your life" to become a Christian. Do we not realize that such a practice is found NOWHERE in the entire Bible? Is there ANY example of someone "asking Jesus into their heart" (or similar) to become a Christian in the book of Acts? NO - NOT EVEN ONE. The book of Acts is full of literally thousands of people becoming born-again Christians. And we are often told exactly what these people did. But there is no record of any of them doing anything like "asking Jesus into their heart" to be saved.
Now SURELY, if the church has even remotely got it's act together, it would have this one thing right. Surely this has got to be one of the most crucial and basic points in the whole New Testament:- How exactly are people supposed to become Christians? What were they told to do in the New Testament? A very simple and straight-forward question, you would think. And so vitally important.
But incredibly, it seems that very few of us have even bothered to ask this question or to take on board the glaringly obvious answer. Here we have one of the most vital, fundamental points that it is possible to have in Christianity:- "What shall we DO TO BE SAVED?" And generally speaking, our answer today is utterly different from that of the apostles. Incredible really, isn't it? It's right there in black-and-white, time after time! But TRADITION has blinded our eyes to the Truth. And I'm sure that even many of you reading this will be shocked at how obvious the truth of this matter is.
Let's start with the day of Pentecost (-a great place to begin!) As we all know, the Holy Spirit fell on the 120, and they all began to speak in tongues. This is officially known by theologians as the birth of the Church - the beginning of Christianity as we know it. And after Peter preached his convicting sermon to the gathered crowd that day, another 3000 people were added to the church. And we are told exactly what occurred:- "... They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, WHAT SHALL WE DO?' And Peter said to them, 'REPENT, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS; and you shall receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT'" (Acts 2:37-38 RSV). Notice how different Peter's reply is to what we tell people today. We might have said something like, "Just say this little prayer after me" but Peter said nothing like that at all.
There were three elements to what Peter told them:- REPENTANCE, WATER-BAPTISM and receiving the HOLY SPIRIT. We see this pattern repeated again and again, right through the book of Acts (-in fact, throughout the New Testament writings) in the most glaringly obvious way. And yet still we hear, "Just ask Jesus into your heart" preached throughout Christendom today.
The next significant people-group to be reached by the early Christians were the Samaritans. In Acts chapter 8 we read how Philip the evangelist saw massive Revival in Samaria:- "But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were BAPTIZED, both men and women... Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT" (Acts 8:12-17). Note the identical pattern to the salvations on the day of Pentecost.
I hope you realize that we have been talking about THOUSANDS of conversions here. And NOT ONE of them involved "Giving their heart to the Lord" or "Inviting Jesus to be their personal savior". If you look up these Scriptures in Acts, you will see that every time it was "Repentance, Baptism and Recieiving the Holy Spirit". -Over and over again.
The next significant people-group to be reached by the early church were the 'Godly' gentiles (-Acts chapters 10 and 11). Peter was led to preach to Cornelius and his household. And God suddenly moved even while he was still preaching!:- "While Peter was still saying this, the HOLY SPIRIT FELL on all who heard the word... they heard them SPEAKING IN TONGUES and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 'Can anyone forbid water for BAPTIZING these people who have RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:44-48). Peter later described the scene again: "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit FELL ON THEM just as on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15). He also referred to it as them being "Baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:16). I hope you can see from these passages that the Holy Spirit 'FALLING' upon people is the same experience as people 'RECEIVING' or being 'BAPTIZED' in the Holy Spirit.
Thus we see the same pattern as before, in the salvation experience of Cornelius' household
1. Repentant hearts
2. Receiving the Holy Spirit
3. and Baptism
Another good example involves some disciples of John the Baptist whom Paul met at Ephesus:- "And Paul said, 'John baptized with the baptism of REPENTANCE, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.' On hearing this, they were BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the HOLY SPIRIT came on them; and they SPOKE WITH TONGUES and prophesied" (Acts 19:1-6). I guess I hardly need to point out the pattern by now?
Notice too that there were no "instructional classes" to prepare people for baptism. All the way through the book of Acts, people were baptized STRAIGHT AWAY, as soon as they were believing and repentant. With the Phillipian jailer, he and his entire household were baptized immediately - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT (-Acts 16:32-33). With the Ethiopian eunuch, he was baptized by Philip straight away, in some water that they saw while travelling in his chariot (Acts 8:35-38). And the apostle Paul himself was baptized immediately by the disciple Ananias, who said something very interesting to Paul beforehand:- "Rise and be BAPTIZED, and WASH AWAY YOUR SINS, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16). This verse would be treated almost like "heresy" by many in today's church. How shocking to imply that baptism might have something to do with forgiveness and cleansing from our past sins! However, there are many verses like it scattered throughout the New Testament. Also note that Paul was told this DAYS AFTER he had had his blinding 'Damascus Road' experience. Today's Christians might assume that Paul was "born again" during this blinding encounter with God. Not so. Not until Paul was to be BAPTIZED was he to have his sins "washed away". This is clearly what the Scriptures say. Arguments, anyone?
Many Christians are taught today that Baptism is basic- ally a 'symbolic' act. In my youth I was raised mainly in Baptist churches, and they always taught that baptism is an "outward SYMBOL of an inner change". Thus baptism is stripped of much of it's significance and power in Christian thinking. For a "symbol" is never as important as the real thing, is it? I have studied baptism extensively in the New Testament. It is NEVER spoken of as a mere 'SYMBOL'. Rather, it is spoken of as being a 'circumcision of the heart', a "cutting off", a "burial" into the DEATH of Christ. And it is also spoken of as being "for the forgiveness of sins" and to "wash one's sins away". I am convinced that in the spirit realm (from God's point of view), baptism is seen as a LITERAL "burial into death" (-see Romans 6) which has a profound effect on our hearts and lives. But still we preach, "Ask Jesus into your heart", and deny many people one of the most vital keys to living a Christian life. I am also convinced that baptism MUST be by 'FULL IMMERSION'. Sprinkling little infants is not enough. This must be baptism for BELIEVERS. And the original Greek word 'baptizo' actually means "TO DIP OR IMMERSE". So people must be 'buried' under the water in baptism, not just sprinkled. (-I'm sure most of you already agree with this).
Likewise I am convinced that Baptism in the Holy Spirit (accompanied by 'speaking in tongues') is ESSENTIAL. It is NOT just an option. As we have seen in the book of Acts, the way that people became Christians in the New Testament was to (1) Repent, (2) Be Baptized in water and (3) Be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (accompanied by 'tongues' as far as we can tell). What right do we have to change the fundamental teachings and practices of the Bible, just so we can make things more "convenient" for new converts? Unless we are getting people saved the Bible way, how can we claim to be getting them saved at all?
We are forever talking about being "born again" in the church today. But are we truly getting people 'born again' like they did in Acts? Bearing in mind the pattern that we have seen in the New Testament, what exactly do you think Jesus was talking about when He declared that, "Unless a man is born of WATER and of THE SPIRIT he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"? (Jn 3:5). Born of WATER, born of the SPIRIT. Hmmmmmm. That's a tough one!
Baptism in water and the Spirit are never regarded as mere 'options' in the Scriptures. In fact they are clearly ESSENTIAL experiences to begin to walk in Christ's kingdom. There are many Scriptures on this that are often bypassed today or regarded as "inexplicable" because they do not fit in with current tradition. Please take the time to look up the following:- Mark 16:16-18, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Titus 3:5-6, 1 Cor 10:1-2, Gal 3:27, Col 2:11-12, 1 Cor 12:13, Heb 6:1-2, Rom 6:2-11, Rom 8:9, Mt 28:19, etc.
I really mean it. Please do take the time to look at the above Scriptures if you have any interest in this issue at all. Many people write to me with their opinions, saying, "I cannot believe you are teaching this." -And yet they have never bothered to actually look up the Scriptures on the subject! PLEASE read Acts and look up the above Scriptures before sending me your views.
It is my belief that there are a number of important teachings and practices from the early church that will be restored during the coming Revival. (-God often does this in Revivals). I am convinced that the above teaching will be one of them. (-I have believed this for many years).
I realize that I have probably shocked and provoked a number of you with this article. Please believe me, I myself was very shocked when I first came face-to-face with these truths some years ago. They really are very apparent when you study them, but I was blind to them for many years. I was amongst those who gave out tracts like 'The Four Spiritual Laws' and led people in the "sinner's prayer". Like many, I would back this up by mis-applying Rev 3:20 - "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him, and sup with him and he with me." It was only later that I realized that, as Leonard Ravenhill points out, this Scripture is clearly aimed at the CHURCH, not at unconverted sinners. It is Jesus standing outside the 'Laodicean' church, trying to get in! Please go and read the whole passage - Rev 3:14-21. You will see what I mean. It is very clear.
I am not ashamed that I used to preach these things. It was all I knew at the time. But I was certainly shocked to discover how much of the basic gospel I was leaving out. Like me, there are a number of you who will have to "search the Scriptures to see if these things be so" just as the Bereans did. Believe me, I fought these truths for months before I simply ran out of corners to back into. I knew the implications of this were huge and I just did not want to face it. But there they are in black and white. And this is not a trivial matter. These are key gospel truths that we are talking about here.
After writing the first version of this article, many people wrote to me pointing out that the THIEF ON THE CROSS was not baptized or Spirit-filled, yet he was clearly saved. Please believe me, I had all these same objections when I first came across this teaching. But God annihilated all my excuses one by one. So let me deal with this "THIEF ON THE CROSS" thing right here.
The most obvious question is:- When did this event occur - was it under the OLD Covenant or the NEW Covenant? When Jesus proffered salvation to the thief, was the Old Covenant still in place, or had the New begun? For clearly, it only became possible to become an actual CHRISTIAN (-born again - a member of Christ's body) AFTER the New Covenant had started. And for the New Covenant to begin, Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb had to die and also be RAISED FROM THE DEAD. The New Covenant could not begin until this occurred. Surely we all know this? Jesus had to die and be raised from the dead, and then ascend into heaven, sending His Holy Spirit, before the Church could truly begin or people could start becoming born-again Christians. That is why people in the Old Testament, or even in Jesus' own day were not "born again" the way we are today. They simply couldn't be. Remember, Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest born among men, but even the least in the kingdom was greater than he. John the Baptist couldn't become a "born-again Christian" because the New Covenant had not yet begun. I bet he would have loved the opportunity! Jesus died in agony and was raised again, to purchase for us this wonderful new life in Him. Surely we all know this? GLORY TO GOD!!
Now back to the thief. Did he have his conversation with Jesus and die under the New Covenant or the Old? The answer, obviously, is:- The OLD Covenant. He was presumably a Jew - one of God's chosen people (though a sinner), who received a wonderful pardon from Jesus when he repented and turned to Him. But those were very different conditions to those that we live under today. We now have a NEW Covenant - a NEW "agreement" with God, very different from the Old. We have a new and living way in which to walk. How do we enter into it? By being born again - of water and the Spirit. And this has only been possible since Pentecost - the day the church began. I am not saying that "death-bed repentance" is not possible today. I'm sure that God has reached down in His mercy many times to people who have turned to Him when they were close to death. But these are special cases. They are not the "norm" for New Testament Christianity. Repentance, Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are ESSENTIAL to enter into the New Covenant, I believe.
As I said, many people offer me their own views and opinions on all this without truly studying the basic Scriptures on the matter. It is important to remember that fundamental doctrines are not about mere opinion. They are about what the SCRIPTURES SAY. I tell you, I have put MONTHS of study and prayer into this whole subject. I could tell that it really was THAT important. I honestly considered EVERYTHING - every angle I could find. Please treat this with the seriousness that it is due. This is a very crucial area. I believe these are SALVATION issues that are being discussed here. And the case is enormously strong. Just read the Scriptures. (-It should take less than an hour to read through the Scriptures highlighted above). I urge any of you who are the least bit interested in this to PLEASE read those Scriptures.
I am well aware that 'doctrine' tends to be divisive by it's very nature. And I know that I am taking a big risk talking so openly about such a controversial teaching. I try and keep right away from doctrinal debates in general. It is only the most fundamental and important issues that I bother making a fuss about. You will notice that even though I run a 'Prophetic' site, there are no debates about the 'Pre-trib'/ Post-trib positions or the exact meaning of Daniel's 70 weeks, etc. I just find such debates pointless and utterly dull, to be honest. I heard the arguments many moons ago, and just cannot stomach any more. I have no desire for nit-picking arguments. But the BIG issues, like New Testament salvation and God's plan for His church - these things I really do care about. For I believe the devil is robbing us blind in some of these crucial areas. And God wants to restore these truths to the church.
Just imagine for a moment that I am right, and baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are a lot more important than we have been led to believe. Just think how many thousands of believers around the world today have received the Holy Spirit (including 'tongues') but have simply not bothered getting baptized. After all, it's only "symbolic", right? Or perhaps they say, "I got sprinkled as a baby." I myself know many people in this exact position. I think it's terrible, and I believe God does too. Not to mention all the believers who still have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Don't you think God's heart aches over all this? Why do people ignore His commands? Our church traditions and habitual patterns have a lot to answer for in this area. This has got to change, my friends. And I believe it will only change when the underlying doctrines are challenged. But if I am right, the devil will fight this all the way. He likes anything that leaves believers impoverished or still chained up in any way. This really is crucial doctrine, otherwise I simply would not bother with it. I have really stuck my neck on the line and risked my reputation over this. And I do not do so lightly.
I have been accused of being "legalistic" and 'majoring on minor points' by a couple of readers. I really cannot see this. As I have said, some doctrine is "straining at gnats" and some is really crucial. I believe this issue falls into the second category. Others accused me of being "too literal"! (I had to laugh over this). Now this is basic Bible doctrine we are talking about here, isn't it? Too literal? What on earth else should we be?
Other readers accused me of believing in "baptismal regeneration". This is not the case. I believe that (1) Repentance, (2) Water-Baptism and (3) Receiving the Holy Spirit, are ALL ESSENTIAL. I do not believe in "baptismal" regeneration. These elements are all equally important and we need to have all three to be able to call ourselves 'New Testament Christians', as far as I can see.
Other readers have brought up the verse in Romans that says "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Rom 10:9). Actually, a number of theologians believe that this statement was used as a kind of "baptismal confession" in the early church. I remember a fellowship I was involved with years ago that used it in exactly this way. To me, this verse "proves" little doctrinally, either way. It needs to be put into context with the WHOLE New Testament to gain the proper perspective on it. I certainly don't see it as proof for 'asking Jesus into our heart'.
One of the most serious allegations I have faced is that I am preaching a kind of "justification by works" by saying that baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are so essential. And that I am "adding to the gospel" and taking away people's freedom like the Galatians!! Serious charges, indeed. But let's look at this carefully. Is baptism a "work" that I can do to myself? Is receiving the Holy Spirit a "work"? I don't think so! These are initial experiences that are 'DONE TO US' or given to us - they're not things that we can "DO" ourselves, as such. Can I baptize myself? No! And isn't it a brief one-off act of simple faith and obedience anyway? To me, baptism is no more a "work" than, say, the act of "praying a sinner's prayer". The act of opening one's mouth, moving one's jaws and praying is not seen as a work. And neither should baptism be. They only take an instant, after all. The real question is:- Is baptism a truly spiritual act, or is it merely a symbolic ritual? That is the real question. This also brings up the whole issue of 'convenience'. For we love neat little packages that are comfortable and easy in this age, don't we? (-"Just asking Jesus in"). And baptism is so wet and messy, we think. But at the end of the day, what it boils down to is this:- We have to make a decision between doing things the Bible way and doing things the modern 'convenient' way. It is that simple.
Now, onto something else that numerous people raised:- Where does FAITH come into all this? Aren't we supposed to be saved by FAITH? Absolutely! And faith is at a premium right through this whole thing. What happens when someone hears the gospel and BELIEVES it? (-A crucially important moment). Are they automatically a 'Christian' now? Just through believing what they have heard? Or do they have to act on that belief in some way to become a Christian? Were the Jews who were 'cut to the heart' when Peter preached at Pentecost automatically Christians right then at that moment, or did they have to DO something in FAITH to become Christians? Clearly, they needed to DO something, because Peter told them, "Repent and be baptized, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." And it is clear that each one of these elements involves the exercise of faith in Jesus.
However, I believe that when the Bible speaks of the "faith that saves us", and being "JUSTIFIED BY FAITH", it is speaking of the LIFE OF FAITH that we undertake after we have become a Christian. It is 'WALKING IN FAITH' day by day, moment by moment, after having become a Christian that justifies us before God. It is the covering of the blood of Jesus that hides our sin and makes us clean in God's sight. If we are walking in faith, covered by the blood, we are saved, and we must continue to walk in it. And it is clear in the Scriptures that it is only by the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that we can walk in this kind of saving faith. This faith is a gift from God -"Not of ourselves, lest anyone should boast..." Like the love of God, this faith is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us. So how can we obtain it without RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT? (-Which brings us back to Repentance, Baptism and Receiving the Holy Spirit as our ESSENTIAL starting point in the faith).
Actually, a couple of readers mentioned something quite interesting about baptism in the book of Acts. For it is noticeable in Acts that everyone was baptized "IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS" or in the 'NAME OF JESUS CHRIST'. Now most churches today baptize in the name of the 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit', and I guess this is a small point, but I believe that if they felt it was important in Acts to speak the name of Jesus Christ over people as they were baptized, then I should do it too. I am not legalistic about the need for this, but personally these days I baptize people "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST". (-To make sure all the bases are covered).
To sum up, it is my belief that God has been slowly restoring truth to the church over the centuries since the Dark Ages when so much had been lost. Luther's Reformation saw the restoration of 'Justification by Faith', the Anabaptists re-introduced baptism by immersion, Wesley re-introduced the importance of the 'new birth', and this century the Pentecostals re-discovered the infilling of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. (There have been many other things over time also, but this is just a simple overview). It is my belief that we are now at the stage where God wishes to restore the church to her true original glory, with all the basic doctrines and practices, "church life" and the full original gospel, the 'five-fold' ministries, etc. -Everything. That is what is about to occur in the coming Revival, I believe. And that is another reason why I believe basic New Testament doctrines are so important.
In past centuries, as now, the believers of that time walked in the light that they had, and God will judge them according to the light that was available to them. But now it is time to see the church truly restored to fullness in many areas. And it is going to be UNCOMFORTABLE, and it will surely leave much "SHAKEN" in it's wake. A new Reformation is coming, and it is important that it leaves nothing undone that needs doing. Otherwise our children are going to have to have a further Reformation to correct all that we left undone. Let's make it as complete as possible this time, shall we? For Christ cannot return until a glorious Bride is made ready for Him, without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing". Surely we live in the days of the 'restoration of all things' about which the Scriptures speak.

Claudia - posted on 03/17/2009

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Quoting Krystle:

Doesn't the term "born again" simply refer to baptism? I've read John 3:3 and the scriptures that follow and in John 3:5 Jesus' response to Nicodemus' questions were, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit..." (KJV) So, it is necessary to reach salvation (preservation or deliverance from danger or destruction) by being born again by way of water (baptism {a symbol that one has made a complete, unreserved, and unconditional dedication though Jesus to do the will of God}).

What do you think? I would love to discuss this article.



The term born again refers to being born of the spirit.  We were already born once of water (through our mother's womb) it does not refer to baptism.  You do not need baptism to have salvation.  The only thing required for salvation is to accept Jesus as God and believe that he died and rose again for your sin.  Baptism is simply an outward proclamation of what has already occurred in your heart.  I like to explain it like a wedding ceremony... the couple is usually already legally married in the courts under the law, but the wedding ceremony is just a public proclamation of what has already taken place.  The wedding ceremony didn't marry you, the legally binding paperwork is what married you. (I hope that didn't confuse anyone, lol)  We choose to be baptised because we follow Jesus' example, but it is not a part of your salvation.

Krystle - posted on 03/17/2009

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I just want to thank you again for your insight. I know that this really wasnt your original topic to begin with (was about the kiddies), I just needed clarification. Thank you so very much and God bless!!!

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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I agree baptism is an important aspect of being "born again" - the apostles clearly made it that there is a 4 step process - (1) repent, (2) be baptised, (3) serve, (4) make disciples.  That is the goal.  I don't believe in once saved, always saved - I believe we have to live up to the expectations of Jesus' example.  For the minute we are born again, we have the knowledge of right and wrong, the knowledge of what we must do - it is our free will that will hinder us.

Krystle - posted on 03/17/2009

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I know this sounds repetitive, I'm just looking for clear understanding. So, correct me if need be, from your comments and what I have been reading, baptism is still an important symbol after repentance to show that you recognize the authority of God and Jesus Christ. Although you did bring about a good point that the thief repented and therefore was saved, but he proved himself directly to Jesus, for he was there with him. I see this kind of like the day of judgment where the unbaptized will stand before Jesus and God and will be forgiven. But since they are not present with us it is important to symbolize our dedication. Somewhere I read that going beneath water symbolizes that you have died to your former life course. Being raised up out of the water indicates that you are now alive to do the will of God. All that said explains being born of a new spirit. But, that doesnt mean it guarantees salvation (phillippians 2:12) and you must be sure to keep a clear conscience even after a baptism. Jesus himself said to follow him, (matt 8:12, 1 peter 2:21), and he was baptized to show his commitment.

Thanks so much for helping me understand the process... I've been studying for sometime now but, I am not baptized, unless you count the old school infancy baptism.

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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I ask to kids "do you want Jesus to be the boss of your life?" - they totally understand that! Plus, makes them realize there is a "Lord" not just a "friend".

Naomi - posted on 03/17/2009

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True! I had a teacher in bible college who challenged to teach kids not only the love of God but his holiness as well.. there is a reason Jesus needed to be a sacrifice. kids ministry can be so hard, to find the right balance of language and terminology. I had one class once whom I asked 'how do you get to heaven' or something similar... and it was SO hard to convince them that it was not by 'being good'. They got told all the time how much God likes it when they are good little boys and girls.. they figured that's all it takes!

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2009

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All throughout Acts, there were people becoming "born again" and the first step to this is "repentance" - that produces a change of heart.  The next step was to be baptized, this is your public declaration that you will follow Christ.  As for the man on the cross, he was saved because he "repented", no public declaration needed because he was on his death bed (cross).



The born again process is basically as it is said in the Bible, "I have given you a new spirit within you".  See, when Adam and Eve fell, they separated themselves from God, thus creating "independence" - now we are desperate seeking "dependency" upon God and that comes with repentance, baptism and following Jesus' example completely.

Gayla - posted on 03/16/2009

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Hi Rebekah!  I love the explanation above!  Our church teaches the same thing.  When people add things to do in order to be born again, that makes it a "works" salvation, like raising your hand, walking a aisle, repeating a prayer and then the preacher pronounces them saved.  How can a preacher  know if an inward heart work has been done?  They can't know.   No one can come to God unless He first draws them to Himself.  God alone changes someone's heart.  A dead man can do nothing for himself.  We are dead in our sins and trespasses.  God has to move on our hearts and make us alive unto Christ!  And if baptism is a prerequistic to salvation or salvation in and of itself, Christ would have made the thief come off the cross and be baptized.   If any act on our part is magnified above what Jesus did on the cross, it is sin.  God was pleased with pouring out His wrath on Christ for our sins.  No one can go to God except through Christ.  Trusting Christ alone.  Praise God! 

Krystle - posted on 03/13/2009

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If this comment seems elementary, I apologize!!! I'm just trying to understand the term "born again." (Sometimes we all need to revert to our child-like ways in order to humbly understand God's Word!)



Doesn't the term "born again" simply refer to baptism? I've read John 3:3 and the scriptures that follow and in John 3:5 Jesus' response to Nicodemus' questions were, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit..." (KJV) So, it is necessary to reach salvation (preservation or deliverance from danger or destruction) by being born again by way of water (baptism {a symbol that one has made a complete, unreserved, and unconditional dedication though Jesus to do the will of God}).



What do you think? I would love to discuss this article.

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