OUR NEED OF SALVATION
When Adam and Eve fell from the temptation of sin in the garden of Eden, sin entered the world. God had to bring judgement on sin and separate sin from Himself. Even today we are born with a sinful nature and separated from God spiritually. We are all born into sin automatically at birth because of their fall.
Sin is the transgression of the commandments of God. Sin brings emotional, physical and spiritual problems to the lives of men and women today. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).
When Jesus came to this earth; He brought the gospel (good news) of eternal life through His death, burial and resurrection. When Jesus started His earthly ministry He taught repentance saying...
...The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:15)
Through His blood, our need of salvation has been paid. This plan of salvation is explained in the Bible in three simple steps of faith; repentance from sin, water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. These three steps of faith make up the term "born again" or the "new birth" experience.
Today, God is inviting people to enjoy this wonderful "born again" experience. God is love and He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). It is His goodness that leads men to repentance (Rom 2:4). The need of salvation is very great and God's grace has come to give us power over sin.
OUR BELIEVING FAITH AND REPENTANCE
When a person comes to realize that they are a sinner, they should begin to hunger and thirst for a "power" that is greater than themselves. God in all His love will try to call and draw a person to Himself (John 6:44). This usually entails a Christian coming along and telling them about God. Then God will try to speak to that individual.
As the gospel is presented to that individual, it is during this time that conviction for sin begins to increase. They begin to feel guilty for their sins. It is also at this crucial time that they must decide whether to accept God's invitation or not. If they accept God's invitation, then faith begins to activate in him. It is God that gives every man a measure of faith (Rom 12:3). This faith is called our "believing faith."
Many teach that the terms "believe on the Lord" and "accept the Lord as your personal savior", in and of itself is all that is required to be born again. They teach, it is at this believing stage when a person is "saved." However, while it is true that the above mentioned terms are a necessary steps toward the new birth experience, it is only the beginning steps of the salvation process. There is so much more to salvation then a recited prayer of confession.
As a person's faith in God increases, they begin to abhor their sin even more. As this process moves forward, a cry from deep within their soul begins to echo their prayer; "I am so sorry God for my sins. I desperately need you to forgive me, I am so lost without you."
This precious cry from a sinner is what is termed as "the prayer of confession." And even though this is absolutely necessary, it is not the end. It must also be coupled with repentance. The word "repent" or "repentance" means; to think differently, have a change of heart, to turn away from sin unto God (i.e. "about face"). Repentance is the first step by which we enter into the kingdom of God. If we choose not to repent, then we will perish for eternity (Luke 13:3).
There is a difference between just confessing and repentance. True sorrow (conviction) precedes repentance. We need to feel great sorrow for the sins we have committed before God. But, feeling sorry (and just confessing) is not repentance. Some people are "sorry" they got found out, but that doesn't always change them. Godly sorrow is when we feel so broken and hurt because we have grieved God that we will plead to God to forgive us and we will turn our sinful life around and begin a life of pleasing God. It is an about-face as we allow Him to control our lives forever.
THE NECESSITY OF WATER BAPTISM
The next step to having a born again experience is water baptism. Some think that baptism is a work; therefore it is not required for salvation. We are going to see that baptism is not only required, but it is a commandment. But first, we are going to study if baptism is a "work" or not.
One of the misconceptions in coming to God is the issue of "faith" and "works" as related to baptism. Some assume that water baptism is a work that earns our salvation and therefore it is not necessary to be saved. However, works are deeds that we come up with to try and please God on our own. Baptism is an act of obedience that God put in place; therefore it is not a work that we came up with. Also notice the phrase "saved through faith" in the following verse.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
Believing faith is not a passive stance; we must do something to show our faith (James 2:14-18). It is through this faith that we accept God's provision of salvation. We in turn then act on our faith and repent of our sins, are water baptized and filled with baptism of the Holy Ghost (later). We have acted (showed) on our faith by being obedient to His commandments. Let us see how water baptism and spirit baptism are part of the gift of God's grace through faith.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Tit 3:4-5)
Notice in the above scripture that water baptism (washing of regeneration) and the baptism of the Spirit (renewing of the Holy Ghost) is in direct reference to someone being saved by the mercy (grace) of God. We are saved by His mercy, (notice the word) "BY" the washing of regeneration. The word "regeneration" means, rebirth as in born again. It is BY baptism that the grace of God is extended to us through the born again experience.
So we can see that baptism is not a "work" as some teach, but is part of the grace of God. It isn't our own "works of righteousness that we did," but it is God's righteousness and grace. God's grace is something He gives to us and not what we give to God. It is God that supplies the grace through the baptism of water and Spirit. Jesus paid the price for our redemption, but it is our belief (faith) that compels us to be obedient to God's salvation plan. Now let's look at water baptism.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 28:19-20)
Notice that Jesus had told them to teach all nations (them and future believers) to "OBSERVE" (obey) what He (Jesus) had "COMMANDED" them. Notice the subject is baptism. So, we can see here that baptism is a command. It isn't optional or just a profession of one's faith. It is a MUST!
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mk 16:16)
We should also notice in the above verse that Jesus also commanded that if anyone believes on the Lord and is baptized, they shall be saved. Now this is very important, notice what is said. He that believeth "AND IS" baptized shall be saved. There is a direct link between "believing on the Lord" and water baptism as a condition to be saved. If a person just "believes," but does not get baptized, can they be saved? According to the above scripture he will be damned.
A lot of people will quote John 3:1-5 and say that we have to be born again, which is absolutely true! But, most teachings stop short and they do not realize what Jesus had actually commanded. Jesus said that to EVEN ENTER into the Kingdom of God, a person MUST be born of water (baptism) and the Spirit (the Holy Ghost).
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
In this scripture Jesus is referring to "water" as water baptism and of course we know that the "Spirit" is the baptism of the Holy Ghost (later on). So, if a person is not water baptized and filled with the Spirit (Holy Ghost), then they are not saved according to what Jesus commanded about being born again. But if they obey what Jesus taught about water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, then they will experience the true plan of salvation!
THE FORMULA OF WATER BAPTISM
We are going to look back at one of our earlier scripture readings to see what we are to use for a baptism formula. The formula is the words that are pronounced over someone when they are baptized.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Mat 28:19)
It has been a long-standing tradition that everyone should be baptized according to the above scripture, which they are absolutely correct! But the formula that is widely used is the titles; "Father, Son and Holy Ghost". This practice was not used by the original church fathers. The words (pronounced over a person) "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" was instituted much later in history. We will see in our study that baptism was never spoken over a believer in the titles of "Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
When Jesus spoke Mat 28:19 (see above), He told them baptism was to be done “in the name.” Notice also in the following scriptures that the term “in the name” is used for salvation, words and deeds to describe what Jesus commanded.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luk 24:47)
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:12)
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Col 3:17)
Now let’s look at Mat 28:19 again. Jesus was saying to baptize "IN THE NAME" of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. What is the NAME of the Father? John 5:43 says JESUS. What is the NAME of the Son? JESUS! What is the name of the Holy Ghost? John 14:26 says JESUS!
We can clearly see here that there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. And any word or deed that we do should be done in Jesus name. Therefore is very clear that water baptism is to be done in the name of Jesus Christ.
The subject of baptism is fairly deep, so here are some other reasons for water baptism. We are baptized for the remission of sins or washing away of our sins (Acts 2:38). When we are baptized we "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). This is where we apply the name of Jesus to our life. We are baptized into His death by baptism. Baptism is our spiritual burial (Rom 6:3-4).
Baptism is also our "spiritual circumcision." Baptism is where we "cut off" the sins of the flesh (Col 2:11-13).
So, if we are to use the name of Jesus Christ in baptism, surely there must be people in the scriptures that were baptized this way. No where will you read of anyone getting baptized using the titles "Father-Son-Holy Ghost." Here are the scriptures where baptism was done in the name of Jesus…
Peter preached Jesus name baptism in Acts 2, especially Acts 2:38. The Samaritans believed on the Lord and were baptized in Jesus name. (Acts 8:12-17) The Gentiles were commanded to be baptized in Jesus name. (Acts 10:44-48) Paul re-baptizes disciples of John the Baptist in Jesus name. (Acts 19:1-6)
It is very clear that what the Apostles taught was baptism in Jesus name. They obeyed what Jesus taught about baptizing in the name of the Father-Son-Holy Ghost. It is all done in Jesus name!
THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST
Now to the third step of salvation; the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign (evidence) of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. Some do not teach what you are about to read, but if you are hungry for some joy in your life, this is the answer God has for you.
The climax of a born again experience peaks when a person is filled with the power of God. It is through the gift of the Holy Ghost that enables a person to spiritually re-unite himself with God. Remember earlier that it was the fall of mankind that brought about a spiritual separation. It is through the Holy Ghost that fellowship is restored.
In the Old Testament it was prophesied that the Holy Ghost would be poured out on all flesh (available to all) (Joel 2:28). John the Baptist also came saying that Jesus was going to come and baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Mat 3:11). Then, as discussed earlier, Jesus himself said that a person MUST be born of the Spirit to even enter the Kingdom of God. We see here that prophecy and that Jesus spoke a lot about being Spirit filled.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)
Jesus also made an interesting statement above about believers receiving the Holy Ghost. You will see above that anyone who "believes on the Lord" shall have "rivers of living water" flow from their belly. Jesus was not talking about a literal river of water, but a spiritual flow! Notice His statement, "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." Also notice, when Jesus says that "believers" will be able to receive the Spirit, that they will not receive the Spirit until He is glorified (ascends up into heaven). The Holy Ghost (Spirit baptism) was not available to believers yet because Jesus was not ascended up into heaven yet. So, that means that Jesus is speaking of another day in the future.
What about the Comforter that was promised? Jesus tells us that the "Comforter" is the Holy Ghost (Spirit). This promised Comforter will be sent to us and dwell in us. We will see that Jesus was telling us that the Holy Ghost (Comforter) is going to come to us. We read the following scriptures…
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (Joh 14:16-17)
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (Joh 14:26)
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (Joh 15:26)
Next we are going to look at what Jesus taught about speaking in new tongues. Our scripture below comes from the same text that refers to "believing and baptism" in order to be saved. We read…
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mar 16:16-17)
Notice what He also said… "these signs shall follow them that believe… they SHALL SPEAK with new tongues." What is Jesus talking about here? The word "tongues" in the Greek means, a language (learned or unlearned). It is the same exact Greek word as stated in Acts 2:4. Jesus was saying that one of the signs that someone is a true "believer" is that they will speak in a new language (tongues).
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence… But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. (Act 1:4-9)
We see in the above scripture that Jesus told them that they were going to receive the Holy Ghost with fire, this is the promise of the Comforter that he spoke of. Then He goes on and tells them that they are going to receive the power to become witnesses. When He was done, he ascended (was glorified) into heaven.
BIBLICAL EXPERIENCE IN SCRIPTURE
Because receiving the Holy Ghost is biblical, surely there must be instances in the bible where people received the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues. We are now going to see what events took place to fulfill the prophecies of Jesus.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Act 2:1-4)
Everything Jesus promised came to pass on this day. There was about 120 believers in the upper room and they all received the Holy Ghost and fire, speaking with tongues as the Spirit gave them the utterance. This is the birth of the church. The Holy Ghost was poured out on all them that believed. They spoke in "new tongues" as Jesus taught.
The Apostles were given the command to preach the plan of salvation to all creatures. They preached repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost. So let's look at this for a moment.
Peter preaches to thousands of people after the Holy Ghost was poured out. He told them of the prophecy in Joel 2:28 where God was going to pour out his Spirit on all flesh. He then told them how they killed Jesus, the people responded by asking the question, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter responding said…
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Act 2:38-39)
There it is again, repentance, baptism in Jesus name and the gift of the Holy Ghost. This was the message of salvation that was preached to sinners. Did Peter disobey God? No, he taught what Jesus commanded him to preach. Let's look at some more.
Philip was sent to Samaria to preach the word of God. When they believed his preaching, they were baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they sent for Peter and John who prayed for them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17).
Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius to preach the word of God (read all of Acts 10). They were baptized in the name of the Lord and received the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues. Notice Peter says they "heard them speak" in tongues.
When Paul was sent to Ephesus, he came across some disciples of John the Baptist. They were only baptized under John's baptism. They were only taught that they had to "believe on the Lord" and be baptized confessing their sins (Act 19:2-6). Noticed that Paul asked them if they received the Holy Ghost when they believed; and they said no. He then re-baptized them in the name of the Lord and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues.
As we conclude this study, you will notice in the Bible that what Jesus taught and what the original church taught were the same. The born again experience is so essential that Paul said that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ in us, then we do not belong to Christ. We read...
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom 8:9)
Let’s remember the promise and embrace it!!
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Act 2:39)