The Christian faith is not expressed in a moment, a single decision but it is a way, a road of righteousness which we walk. The beginning of our journey on this path begins with Gods work in us so that we are re-born. This week I want to explore what that new birth looks like. What does the bible say about the details of this new birth. What is involved? Much of this teaching comes from the teaching of David Pawson, a well known and credible bible teacher from the U.K who is now with the Lord in Glory.
The way of the Christian could be called the way of Salvation. God enters into our life to salvage us from our sin and our uselessness and does a work to make us useful to his kingdom once more. We are being recycled from perished human to being useful once again. Extracting us from hell, while as incredible a blessing and benefit that is, should not be understood as THE primary purpose of salvation, we are saved TO obedience and life in God not just FROM hell.
Just as though the recycling of plastic or paper takes time and includes processes of breaking it down, removing foreign object and reshaping, so to SALVATION is a process in reshaping the person to be useful to God. What we often refer to as “Salvation”, the moment you were “saved”, when you "accepted" Jesus is really, to continue the anology, the moment when we are picked up for collection and put into the garbage truck, headed for the recycling plant. It is not the end and we can get lost along the way. It is important to keep on being saved.
The Bible does not paint the picture of being saved as a one time event and clearly describes the process of being saved in 3 parts within 3 respective tenses and 3 stages of deliverance from sin:
Past: justification: free from the PENALTY of sin
Present: sanctification: free from the POWER of sin
Future: glorification: free from the PRESENCE of sin
Most often in the New Testament salvation is referred to in terms of the completion of salvation and in the future tense.
Romans 13:11: And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
Hebrews 9:28: so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
1 Peter 1:5: who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Today we have seen that to be saved, to be a Christian, is not the result of a one time event. It is a past, present and future walk in our life. Being recycled for Gods good purposes.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Isaiah 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright leads away from evil; he who guards his way protects his life.
For every path it is best to have good foundations and good beginnings. Each day this week I will explore an element of the ideal birth into the new life of a believer. These 4 elements are instructions from the Apostles to new believers in the New Testament and we would do well to embrace all 4 in our lives, as essential to our faith today. They are:
Repent (to God the Father)
Believe (in Jesus Christ)
Baptise (in water, in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit)
Receive (the Holy Spirit)
The book of Acts, is the book that is chronologically the most suited to the teaching of New Birth as it is the only book that covers the period of transition in a believers life. The Gospel’s speak to Jesus time on earth and the epistles speak to the converted Christians. The book of Acts specifically records the period when people were being converted from unbelievers to believers.
Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls.
Acts 8:14-16 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they came down, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for still He had come on none of them. They were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 19:1-5:And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Each day this week we will take a closer look at each of these 4 elements.
May God bless your walk with him this week and this teaching edify and encourage your faith.