You Must Be Born Again

A Sermon on John 3:3 – Audio Here

Mum and Dad bring their newborn baby girl to church to show her off.  Everyone gathers around and sighs and makes faces and says things like “What a beautiful baby!  What a gorgeous little nose!  How soft her skin is!  She’s just adorable!  She’s just perfect!”  One woman calls her husband over and says “Jim, what do you think of the newborn baby, isn’t she just perfect.”  Jim looks her up and down, frowns and asks the mother – “When was she born?”  The mother says “10 days ago.”  Jim says, “I think she needs to be born again.”

Isn’t that the most offensive thing to say?  You need to be born again.  Her mother would be likely to say – “What was wrong with her first birth??!  How dare you say she must be born again!”  It’s very offensive isn’t it?

And it’s no better if you say it to a grown-up.

I was once speaking to a woman at a bus stop.  And we started talking about Christian things – she was a Roman Catholic and told me that she loved the teaching of Jesus.  I said, “Me too, I was reading just last week John chapter 3 – do you know the story of Nicodemus.  She said, ‘Of course.’  I said, well it’s interesting that Jesus says to this very religious man: ‘You must be born again’.”  I asked her – “Have you been born again?”  Instantly she frosted over.  She turned her shoulders 15 degrees to the left and raised her chin 15 degrees in the air, and that was the end of the conversation.  It made for an awkward few minutes before the bus came.

But that’s what happens when you start talking about being “born again.” It is dynamite.  It is offensive.  But Jesus is unrelenting.  He says it again and again.  Verse 3:

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Verse 5:

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Verse 7:

7 You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’

You must, you must, you must be born again.

[SLIDE – You must be born again]

Jesus says “Don’t be surprised at this”.  We are surprised though.  Perhaps we’re like Nicodemus, coughing and spluttering in amazement, v4:

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Is that what you’re suggesting Jesus?  Going back into my mother’s womb?  I don’t think I’d like that, and I’m pretty sure she would object.

No says Jesus – not that.  But nonetheless, you MUST be born again.

Are you born again?  I look out on a room and there’s one thing I can safely assume about you.  I assume that you have been born once.  That’s a fair assumption – everyone in this room has been born once.   But I don’t assume that everyone here has been born again.  I imagine there might be quite a few here who have been born once, but not born again.

And Jesus says, v3, unless you are born again you can’t SEE the kingdom of God.  Or again, v5, unless you are born of water and the Spirit which is another way of saying unless you are born again – you can’t ENTER the kingdom of God.  You MUST be born again.

Are you born again?  Jesus says “You must be born again.”  What about your family members.  Bring to mind family members – they must be born again.  Bring to mind friends – they must be born again.  Bring to mind neighbours – they must be born again.  Bring to mind work-mates – they must be born again.  Everyone you pass in the street today – they must be born again.  As we approach the mission next week, may that shape our prayers and our inviting.

So there’s the necessity of the new birth.  But let’s ask four questions about this new birth.

First we’re going to consider what the new birth is NOT (clear up some misunderstandings).  Then we’re going to consider what it is.  Third, we’re going to think about why we need it and finally, how to get it.

So first, let’s think about what the new birth is not.

Because I can hear an objection already.  I can almost hear some of you in your pews saying: “I don’t like the phrase ‘born again.’”  “I’m a Christian,” you might say, “But I’m not one of those born again types.”

I have heard that many, many times.  “I’m a Christian, but not one of those ‘born again types.’”

Now I have some sympathy with that.  In certain circles “born again” has become a brand of Christianity.  It’s the sort of brand that a US Presidential candidate might claim for themselves to win them votes – “I’m a born again Christian.”  I can’t imagine it would help either Gordon Brown or David Cameron in their campaigns claim to be ‘a born again Christian’.  I think if either of them claimed to be a born again Christian we wouldn’t have to worry about a hung parliament in May.  They would haemorrhage votes instantly.  But in some environments, being ‘born again’ is considered a positive label and it describes a certain brand of Christianity – a smiley, intense, exuberant Christianity.  The kind of Christian who bursts out in spontaneous prayers in King James English.  The kind of Christian that keeps bumper-sticker manufacturers in business.  That brand of Christianity.

But Jesus is not interested in starting a brand of Christianity.  John 3 is not about a new brand but a new birth.

It’s so ironic that “born again” has become a brand because John 3 is about sweeping aside all brands.  Jesus is sweeping aside all labels.  Because, think about it – Nicodemus had some pretty impressive labels.

Verse 1 – He was a man of the Pharisees.  That was a really impressive religious sect.  The Pharisees were serious about God, serious about obedience, serious about their bibles.  Serious about publicly proclaiming God and showing everyone how very holy they were.  Pharisees would definitely have bumper stickers – “Holier than Thou” in massive lettering.  Nicodemus proudly wears the Pharisee label.  And Jesus says, “Forget the label, you must actually BE born again.”

Verse 1 also tells us, Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  He was civic minded, he cared about his community, he was an important, upstanding, powerful, moral leader.  And none of that matters to Jesus. He says “You must be born again.”

In verse 10, Jesus calls Nicodemus, “Israel’s Teacher.” It’s a good bet that this was an actual title that Nicodemus held.  He was like a professor of theology.  He was the top bible teacher of his day.

In terms of biblical, religious, moral, powerful men – Nicodemus was the best of the best of the best.  He had the most impressive labels.  He was a member of the most prestigious clubs.  And Jesus isn’t interested in labels and clubs and positions and pedigree.  Jesus is not starting a new brand, He’s demanding a new birth.  It’s not about the label, it’s about the reality.  It’s not about belonging to an outward movement – it’s about having an inward change.

So if you don’t like the phrase “born again” because you associate it with a brand, I sympathise.  Jesus does not want us to go out and get “born again” bumper stickers.  But He insists that we ALL have the reality. “You must be born again.”

The new birth is not a brand of Christianity – it’s the very heart of it.  And while we’re clearing up misunderstandings let me say this as well.  Knowing WHEN you were born again is not important.  Knowing WHETHER you are born again is essential.

Jesus doesn’t say “You must know when you were born again.”  He just says “You must BE born again.”

Some people can point to a day and say “At 3:30pm on the 22nd of September I was born again.”  Well Hallelujah, that is wonderful.  For myself, I don’t know when I was born again.  Some time in the 1990s is about as specific as I can be.  Somewhere in that decade I think – I might be wrong.  It might have been before then.  I don’t know.  But WHEN it’s happened is unimportant.  WHETHER it’s happened is essential.  For some the light comes on in a flash.  For others it’s a slow burn.

You may not be able to remember a time when you didn’t LOVE Jesus.  That’s wonderful.  You don’t remember being born the first time, and you don’t remember being born the second time either.  That’s ok.  You don’t have to know WHEN, but it’s essential to know WHETHER you are born again.  “You must be born again.”

Ok so we’ve cleared up a couple of misunderstandings.  What actually is the new birth?

[SLIDE – What is it?]

Did you notice how in verse 5 you expect Jesus to use the phrase “born again” and instead He uses the phrase “born of water and the Spirit.”  Obviously Jesus thinks they are the same thing – being born again is being born of water and the Spirit.  And Jesus expects Nicodemus to pick up on this language.  Verse 7 – you should not be surprised Nicodemus.  Verse 10 – you’re Israel’s teacher, you ought to understand this.  Nicodemus ought to understand, because the Old Testament speaks of how we become NEW in water and the Spirit.  And Nicodemus should have instantly thought of Ezekiel chapter 36.  That was our Old Testament reading this morning.

Keep your place in John 3 and let’s turn back to Ezekiel 36:

24 “`For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

To be born again is to become NEW in water and the Spirit.  It’s to have THESE VERSES happen to you.

Verse 25: You are cleansed from sin (a new cleansing).

Verse 26: You get a change of heart.  From stone to flesh – from hard to soft – a new heart (new desires within you).

And Verse 27: God’s Holy Spirit comes to live IN you (giving you new power to go God’s way).

That’s the new birth – a new cleansing, a new heart, a new Power – God’s Spirit Himself comes to take residence in you.

Have you been born again?  Do you know this reality?  New cleansing, new heart, God’s Spirit.

During a Billy Graham crusade, one teenager described what it was like to be born again.  He was in terrible trouble at the time and well into the drug scene.  But listen to how he describes the new birth.  He says:

It was like on a hot day and you are dirty and take a shower, only I felt the shower was on the inside and it was even more than just getting the mud washed away, it was like something else came in.

Sins washed away, hearts made new, the Spirit living within you.  That’s the new birth.  Do you have it?

Anyone can have this.  There are no sins so great that God’s cleansing will not wash them clean.  There is no heart so hard that God can’t soften it and make it beat again with warmth and love.  There is no limit to what the almighty Spirit of God can do when He gets a hold of a life.  Any life can be made new.  Any life can be made new.

Every life MUST be made new.  You must be born again.

Why?

[SLIDE – Why do I need it?]

Turn back to John 3 and Jesus will explain why we MUST have this change in us.

Because it’s very easy to think that drug addicts and bankrupts and down-and-outs need to be born again, but do I?  Yes.  Even the Nicodemus’s of the world need the new birth. Everyone does.  WHY?  Because humanity is perverted.

Look down at those first five words of verse 6:

Flesh gives birth to flesh.

That is a five word summary of the history of the human race.  Flesh gives birth to flesh.

In the bible ‘flesh’ is our frail human nature – but usually it refers more specifically to our sinful human nature.  And the story of the human race is ‘flesh gives birth to flesh.’

Adam and Eve got the human race going east of Eden.  Flesh and flesh, and they made more flesh.  Sinner and sinner, making more sinners.  Their children were just chips of the old block.  They were all just flesh reproduced and rearranged.  And then their children were just more flesh reproduced and rearranged.  Sinners giving birth to more sinners until – here we all are.

A world of flesh.

And in our flesh we are the very opposite of what the new birth is about.  We all have uncleanness that pollutes us.  We all have a hardness of heart especially towards God.  And none of us naturally want to go God’s way.  We’re all a part of a mass of humanity that is east of Eden, estranged from God, twisted in on itself and not fit for heaven.

I mean you all look very nice in church this morning.  But if Jesus is telling the truth here, then our natural state is not pretty.  I have to say, underneath – if you could see my heart and all its uncleanness just this week – you wouldn’t want to listen to me.  And if I saw your heart and its uncleanness this week – I wouldn’t want to talk to you.

Maybe you think “I’m not that bad, other people put up with me alright.”  Well yes, flesh puts up with flesh because that’s all flesh knows.  In the end though, God does not put up with it.   Verse 3 – in your natural state you CANNOT see the kingdom.  Verse 5 – in your natural state you cannot enter the kingdom.

Think about this: In the kingdom of God when Jesus returns, the bible says His face will shine like the sun in all its brilliance.  Those who have God’s new life will be able to see Him and enjoy His presence face-to-face. With God’s new life, we can happily gaze at the blazing beauty of Jesus.  But if someone doesn’t have this new life – they are not fit for it.  On that day they will run shrieking into the outer darkness and they will prefer it there.  If you don’t have Christ’s new life, you will hate Christ’s presence.  You will positively prefer hell.  Flesh cannot enter the kingdom of God.

It’s a real problem.  Especially when you consider that flesh can’t stop being flesh.  Flesh just gives birth to more flesh.  Lemon trees reproduce lemon trees and will never reproduce anything other than lemon trees.  Baboons make more baboons and can’t make anything else but more baboons.  And sinners keep on producing sinners and they cannot produce anything other than more sinners.

Flesh NEVER gives birth to true spiritual life.  There’s nothing in my genes that makes me fit for heaven.  There’s nothing in my pedigree that makes me fit for heaven.  And there’s no fleshly performance that I can give to make me fit for heaven.  The strictest moral regime cannot lift me out of my fleshness.  The greatest teachers in the world cannot educate me out of my fleshness.  A number of bishops have laid their hands on me in special ceremonies, but that has never changed me from being flesh.  And now that I’m an authorized minister of the gospel, still – I can’t change you from being flesh.  I’m flesh – you’re flesh and AS flesh we are stuck.

On our human level – all we ever do is reproduce and re-arrange the flesh.  We can’t change it.  The most brilliant education, the most moral upbringing, the most inspiring religious observance – they all operate on the level of flesh.  All we ever do is reproduce and re-arrange the flesh.

Do you feel the weight of our problem?  If you don’t, you’ll never see the need for the new birth.  I am flesh and flesh cannot qualify flesh for heaven.

But verse 6 wonderfully goes on – “the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

There is another kind of life. Thank God – there is another kind of life: Spirit life.  It’s a life that comes from above.

Perhaps you have noticed the footnote in verse 3 next to born again.  Another way of translating “born again” is to say “born from above.”  There is a life that comes down from heaven.  Not flesh life.  Spirit life.

Well, how do I get it.

[SLIDE – How do I get it?]

It’s interesting, Nicodemus asks the How question twice.  In verse 4 he asks “How”?  In verse 9 he asks “How?”  And Jesus doesn’t do what we expect Him to do.  Jesus doesn’t say “Here are the 5 steps you’ve got to take to be born again.”  Because, of course, that would be the way of the flesh – that would be about our power to change ourselves.  But being born from above is not about our powers below. It’s not about US climbing into heaven is it?

Verse 13:

No-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.

Flesh cannot climb up to heaven. But Jesus came down.  And He came down to our level.

Do you remember those famous verses we say every Christmas?  The Word became flesh.  John 1 verse 14  – Jesus, the Word of God, who created it all – He BECAME flesh.  He stepped down into our flesh-life.

And this is absolutely vital to understanding the new birth.  Here is how the new birth came about.  Jesus joined our family tree.  He summed up our frailties and our sufferings and our sins, our twisted selfish fleshly lives – He became that.  And He put it all to death on the cross.  He was lifted up, v14, to die the death that flesh deserves.  On the cross, HE was cast shrieking into outer darkness.  He went the way of all flesh and was buried.  But three days later, He burst up out of the tomb into new Spiritual life.  As 1 Peter 3:18 puts it: “He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.”

On Easter morning, Jesus pioneered the new birth.  He was the Ultimate Human Being who went through flesh-life and into Spirit-life.

If you want to look to find the new birth – ultimately you don’t look into your own heart.  You won’t find it there.  Don’t look for an experience, look to Christ.  To find the new birth – look to Jesus.  That’s where the new birth is.  In the One who was crucified in flesh-life and raised into Spirit-life, (1 Cor 15:45).  And the whole world is meant to find new life there.

Verse 15 everyone should believe in Jesus and find eternal life.  When we look away from the flesh and our earthly powers and when we just look to Jesus He gives us His own Spirit-life, His own new birth.

Maybe like Nicodemus that means counting your earthly achievements as a loss.  “So what if I’m a Pharisee, so what if I’m a ruler, so what if I’m a respected teacher.”  “So what if I was confirmed by Bishop Bell, so what if I’ve sat in church all my life, so what if…”  Bring to mind any earthly achievements you’re tempted to trust in.  That’s all flesh.  Look only to Jesus for your standing before God.

Bishop John Taylor Smith was at one-time Chaplain General of the British Army.  One Sunday he was preaching in a large cathedral on John chapter 3 and the necessity of the new birth.  And to drive home the point he said, “My dear people, do not substitute anything for the new birth. You may be a member of a church, even the great church of which I am a member, the historic Church of England, but church membership is not new birth, and ‘Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” The rector was sitting on his left. Pointing to him, he said, “You may be a clergyman like my friend the rector here and not be born again and ‘Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” Also on his left was the archdeacon in his stall. Pointing directly at him, he said, “You might even be an archdeacon like my friend in his stall and not be born again and ‘Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ You might even be a bishop, like myself, and not be born again and ‘Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'”

Powerful stuff.  A day or so later he received a letter from the archdeacon who wrote: “My dear Bishop: You have found me out. I have been a clergyman for over thirty years, but I have never known anything of the joy that Christians speak of. I never could understand it. Mine has been a hard, legal service. I did not know what was the matter with me, but when you pointed directly to me and said, ‘You might even be an archdeacon and not be born again’, I realised in a moment what the trouble was. I had never known anything of the new birth.” He went on to say that he was wretched and miserable and had been unable to sleep all night, and begged for a meeting, if the bishop could spare the time to talk with him.

“Of course I could spare the time,” said Bishop Smith, “and the next day we got together over the Word of God and after some hours we were both on our knees, the archdeacon taking his place before God as a poor lost sinner and telling the Lord Jesus he would trust him as his Saviour. From that time on, everything has been different.”

An archdeacon could go through 30 years of ordained Christian service and not be born again.  Will you allow me to be as rude as Jesus?  Can I ask you – are you born again?

Maybe God is particularly speaking to you this morning.

That’s what Jesus is speaking about in verse 8.

Verse 8 is a great play on words from Jesus.  You see, wind is the same word as Spirit.  And ‘sound’ is the same word as ‘voice’.  So another way of saying verse 8 is to say “The Spirit blows wherever He pleases, you hear His voice.”  That’s the way the Spirit brings the new birth – you hear His voice.  The voice of the Spirit is God’s word.  And right now as you hear God’s word, you are feeling the wind blow.  The wind is blowing in this room.  The Spirit’s voice is being heard.  He is speaking Jesus’ words into our midst.  “You must be born again.”  “Flesh only gives birth to flesh.  The Spirit gives birth to spirit.”  “Everyone who believes in Jesus may have eternal life.”  The Spirit’s voice is carrying these words to you and if you receive them, you have eternal life.  If you hear the Spirit’s voice – do not harden your heart.

Here’s what you should do…

Turn back a page and we’ll finish with John chapter 1, verse 12:

12 Yet to all who received Jesus, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

How do you get the new birth?  Receive Jesus into your life, believe in Him and He will share EVERYTHING with you.  He will share His cleansing with you, He will share His own heart with you, He will share His Holy Spirit with you, He will share His new birth with you.

Are you born again?  Jesus says You must be born again.  You can be born again.  Receive Jesus into your life – and you WILL be born again.

.

Posted on by Glen in evangelism, salvation, sermons

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

37 Responses to You Must Be Born Again

  1. Pingback: Jesus must be born again « Christ the Truth

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  3. Michael Gormley

    Dear Glen,

    Regeneration in John 3

    These different ways of talking about being “born again” describe effects of baptism, which Christ speaks of in John 3:5 as being “born of water and the Spirit.”

    In Greek, this phrase is, literally, “born of water and Spirit,” indicating one birth of water-and-Spirit, rather than “born of water and of the Spirit,” as though it meant two different births—one birth of water and one birth of the Spirit.

    In the water-and-Spirit rebirth that takes place at baptism, the repentant sinner is transformed from a state of sin to the state of grace.

    Peter mentioned this transformation from sin to grace when he exhorted people to “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 2:38).

  4. Glen

    Hi Michael,

    I think water and Spirit refers most basically to Ezekiel 36 (esp v24-27).

    Don’t forget: Jesus insists that Nicodemus should already know these things, being Israel’s teacher – v10. This is *old* teaching that Jesus is bringing that Nicodemus’s own study of the Hebrew Scriptures should have yielded.

    Therefore He cannot be here referring to this new sacrament called baptism.

    Now certainly the new birth / new heart reality is something to which baptism also refers but it’s not what Jesus is talking about here. Baptism does not *equal* the new birth even if it is a sign of it.

    The “must” of regeneration is tied to the “must” of the Son of Man’s lifting up (v14). He is the true Man who comes from heaven (v13), who takes up our flesh life and puts it to death on the cross, to be raised to Spirit life (cf v6; 1 Pet 3:18). He is the Original born-again Man, and we share in His new life when we look to Him – i.e. to believe (v15-16).

  5. Bror Erickson

    Glen,
    I would argue that being born of water and the spirit is referencing baptism precisely because Jesus is referencing Ezekiel 36 where again being sprinkled with water is joined with being given the Holy Spirit. The Lord is also point ahead to something he is going to do for Israel. Ezekiel is at this time prophesying concerning baptism, and what it will mean, what it will do.

  6. Glen

    Hi Bror,
    I would say baptism is the sign of this ‘cleansing’ reality. How would you articulate the relationship between baptism and regeneration?

  7. Bror Erickson

    Glen,
    This is going to be short, because I need to get back to work.
    I would articulate the relationship between baptism and regeneration by saying that baptism does what Jesus says it does with his very own words and the words of his apostles in John 3, Ezekiel 36, Matthew 28:18-19 Titus 3:5-8, Romans 6 For, 1 Corinthians 6;11, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2 :38-39, Ephesians 5:25 and Gal. 3:26
    And then remind one that if there is only one baptism as Ephesians 4 says, then this baptism must be the baptism that regenerates.
    or to be shorter the same way Luther does in his catechism

  8. Si Hollett

    You have, in Acts, the Samaritans in Acts 8 who get baptised, but the Spirit doesn’t come to them until later.

    And oppositely, the Gentiles that hear the news in Acts 10, who have believed, get the Spirit, and Peter asks everyone else “Can anyone withhold water for baptising these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

    These two are the start of the next step outwards (Samaria, ends of the earth), so could be considered special cases.

    However… Acts 19 begins with some guys who had been baptised, but don’t have the Spirit. There’s nothing special about these guys that I can see.

    Looking at Eze 36, I can’t see how this is talking about water baptism of the New Testament, which is by immersion, is what it’s talking about. The sprinkling relates more to the law and stuff being made clean than baptism.

  9. Doug

    Hi Bror!

    I’m sure that Glen can answer this better than I can since I’m not a pastor or theologian, but wouldn’t a lot of those passages be referring to Baptism of the Holy Spirit (which occurs the moment a person believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life)? 1 Corinthians 12:13 discusses how we are joined to Christ by baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, Acts 2:38 seems to refer to a transitional time in Christian history since the gift of the Holy Spirit was not available to Palestinian believers at the time until after they were baptized with water in the name of Jesus. This is why Paul addresses some disciples who seemed to lack the gift of the Spirit when he says “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed” (Acts 19:2)? John 7:39 seems to back up this point by saying “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given.”

    Also, if the passages above do indeed confirm that water baptism is required for eternal life, how would that square with numerous other salvation passages that don’t mention baptism as a requirement? For instance, Romans 3:21-24 and Ephesians 2:8-9 would be incomplete (not to mention that the thief on the cross would have been unsaved). Salvation would no longer be a free gift if baptism (a work) were an additional requirement. However, the Bible emphatically states it is a free gift.

    Again, I’m not a Bible scholar or anything and I don’t claim to have a perfect theology. I don’t even know if everything I wrote above makes perfect sense. All I know is that I was saved the moment I recognized I was a sinner and trusted in Jesus alone for eternal life.

  10. Bror Erickson

    I’ll be back tomorrow. I’m on a bb right now. But Ephesian’s says 1 bapt. To posit a baptism of the spirit that is different than water baptism is to posit 2 baptisms.
    The spirit is given to the disciples in John 20 and then comes on them in Acts 2. So one can receive the holy spirit numerous times in different manifestations.
    John’s baptism, by his own admission is different than christ’s bapt, which is the one spoken of in Eph. 4.
    And baptizo in the greek is interchangeable with was mark 7 and even luke 11:38 I doubt the pharisee expected jesus to be “immersed” baptism in the New testament does not require immersion.

  11. Bror Erickson

    If you don’t mind I’m just going to post a link to a piece I wrote a while back that I think answers most of the questions posed here.

    http://utah-lutheran.blogspot.com/2010/01/baptism-why-baptism-shouldnt-have-to-be.html

  12. John B

    The question of baptismal regeneration is perennial and has divided the church for centuries. The lines are all clearly drawn and the boundaries are well established. Each party has its proof texts, and they’re often the same ones! For me, I can’t square this notion with Romans 4:11, no matter how much I’d like to affirm the theological legacies of any of the sixteenth century reformers.

    Aside from the specific questions about the efficacy of baptism as a religious rite, it seems that different understandings about the application of redemption underlie the various positions on baptism. As Michael suggests, the Catholic emphasis is on cleansing and forgiveness of original sin. But for me, Scripture speaks far more clearly, not about a religious rite that is a stage in the process of salvation, but rather about baptism *into* Christ. (e.g., Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27) The sign of cleansing is there to be sure, but even more vivid is the sign of union with Christ. The new birth and mystical union are inseparably joined, with all of the graces of redemption in Christ flowing from them. The Catholic understanding is nearly the reverse. Baptism cleanses and initiates participation in the sacramental life of the church, which, hopefully, will result in union with Christ.

    Baptism is a sign and a seal that conveys the gracious promises proclaimed to all by God’s Word to individual believers, personally.

  13. Bror Erickson

    John B,
    It is sad that this debate has separated the church for centuries. But this isn’t do to any lack of clarity in scripture. It just needs be remembered that Jesus, Paul and the rest of the disciples were not Platonists. They believed God could act through stuff, even ordinary things that people despised, as he did with Naaman in the River Jordan.
    But to help you deal with your Romans four hang up, I’d like to point out that Baptism isn’t being talked about there, so it probably should not be pitted against the verses that are talking about Baptism. To do that I’ll just point you to another essay I have written.
    ttp://utah-lutheran.blogspot.com/2010/01/to-believe-in-jesus-is-to-believe-jesus.html
    Well I’m out. Oh one might read this book too. http://www.amazon.com/Scriptural-Baptism-Between-Bapstead-Childfont/dp/1592442498/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1285955975&sr=8-3
    I’ve got a weekend to enjoy.

  14. John B

    Hi Bror,

    Indeed, it’s clear that God makes use of physical means, but we differ in our understandings of His revelation about His use of water in baptism.

    And yes, Paul is speaking about circumcision in Romans 4, which he clearly links to new birth and baptism in Colossians 2:11.

    I don’t know if Paul was influenced at all by Plato. (The philosophers in Athens thought that he was advocating foreign gods, the same charge that had been brought against Socrates centuries earlier!) But in speaking of “the circumcision made without hands”, he describes the spiritual circumcision of believers. Maybe just a little bit Platonic here? ;-)

  15. Glen

    I find circumcision to be the most helpful aid in thinking through baptism. There is a sign (circumcision in the flesh) and a reality (circumcision of the heart – not a Platonic but a Mosaic and Pauline concept :) Deut 30:6; Rom 2:29). Those without the reality are *really* uncircumcised (Jer 9:26).

    So then, in a sense there’s just one circumcision but it’s a unity of sign and reality much like the unity of promise and faith. Promises are effective and are spoken of in completely effectual terms. But it’s no sign of gnostic disdain for the physical to say that the promise needs to be united to faith.

  16. Bror Erickson

    Glen,
    I would ask you to unpack that. I would never say that someone is saved apart from faith. Yet I see baptism as a means through which faith is given, one sees this already in the Ezekiel 36 discourse, I will sprinkle you with clean water… I will put my Holy Spirit within you…
    or if one like Acts 2:38-39 in which the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are promised in Baptism.
    And of course we agree that faith is a gift right?
    So to me there is a question as to to what extent faith can be divorced from baptism? The same way I would ask of circumcision in the O.T.
    Of course one can be circumcised and not have faith. Most of the Semitic tribes practiced circumcision, most did not have faith in Yahweh.
    But could Abraham have had faith and rejected the promises given in circumcision? Can a Christian have faith and reject the gifts of Baptism?
    Of course for a time Abraham had faith without circumcision. And faith can be given before one has a chance to be baptized, and yet baptism then acts as both the fruit of faith, and a producer of it. It is a mystery…

  17. Doug

    Romans 4:9-11 clearly indicates that “Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness” before he was circumcised. Verse 11 says, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.”

    This sounds pretty clear-cut to me. Abraham’s FAITH was counted to him as righteousness, while circumcision was a sign of that seal that he had received at the moment of faith. I don’t think that applying this concept of circumcision to water baptism is distorting or reading too deeply into the passage.

    By the way, were Paul and Silas wrong (or only partially correct) when they told the following to the Philippian jailer in order to be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)”? I think if water baptism were a requirement, they would have been a little more up front in mentioning that. Obviously, he and his family were baptized immediately AFTER receiving the Word in their hearts. However, there is no indication from the passage whatsoever that this baptism contributed to or finalized their salvation decision. There’s also no way that this jailer could have known Paul and Silas were referring to water baptism when they used the word “believe.” Paul and Silas would have been giving the man a false message of eternal life if baptism were a requirement.

    I believe that no matter how you look at it, baptism is still ultimately a work. Faith is the ONLY channel through which we can receive the free gift of salvation. This has been made clear to me through numerous passages. Granted, there are a few verses that do baffle me still at times (such as Mark 16:16), but I believe that most of these verses are referring to Baptism of the Holy Spirit (which happens the moment a person believes) rather than water baptism. I’m not interpreting verses like these just to fit my preconceived notions; I’m simply comparing them to other salvation passages that don’t mention the word “baptism” at all. I’m interested to read what others have to say concerning Mark 16:16 though (Again, I’m not a pastor or anything).

  18. Bror Erickson

    Doug,
    I’m still at a loss on this doctrine of two baptisms, spirit and water, despite eph s. But you can read about that in my link above. When baptism is mentioned in scripture it always implies water.

  19. Bror Erickson

    Doug that should read despite Ephesians 4, and its confession of one baptism. I am at a loss for where this doctrine of two baptisms come from. Is it the inability to conceive that the Holy Spirit might actually be working through water and the word. Where the word is the Holy Spirit is anyway. Why not working through the water in Baptism then. Peter says if you are baptized you will receive the Holy Spirit, which seems to indicate that baptism there means something other than receiving the Holy Spirit, since then it would be redundant jibberish. Acts 2:38-39 and that was in a sermon, not an anectdotal retelling of a story.
    Baptism is a work of course, the question is whose work? Is it mine? no. John the Baptizer says, HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. And even there He does not mean to imply that water won’t be used, but when water is used the Holy Spirit will be present. Jesus is the one baptizing, he is the one who commissions baptism, he gets the credit. that is why when we are the subject it is always in the passive. It is never get yourself baptized, or baptize yourself, but be baptized. Someone else is doing it. And the Holy Spirit is working through it.
    As for Mark 16:16, well it is a prime example of the relation between baptism and faith. Faith and baptism go hand in hand, but unbelief does not bother to get baptized, and condemns, even if one is baptized but has not faith they are condemned. But that would require one reject their faith and baptism. both of which are gifts.

  20. Doug

    The entire verse of Mark 16:16 reads as follows: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The second part here says that only unbelievers will be damned. I’m being honest here and recognizing my own shortcomings- the first part of the verse did perplex me when I first came across it. I read a lot of different commentaries before arriving at my conclusion. I am interested to see Glen comment on Mark 16:16 though. From what I’ve read, there’s also some debate over the text in Mark 16:9-20 in that it was supposedly omitted from the original text. While I do believe in Biblical inerrancy, that certainly doesn’t mean I understand how every single word in the scriptures is to be interpreted. Nevertheless, I already pointed out numerous salvation passages that fail to mention (or even allude to) baptism as a requirement for salvation (i.e. Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:21-24, Acts 16:31, etc.). Hence, I’m taking the Bible as a whole and concluding that the aforementioned passage can’t be describing water baptism.

    Acts 10:47-48
    “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

    In this passage is seen that the Holy Spirit is given to believers BEFORE water baptism. Hence, water baptism is a resulting act of obedience from faith. It cannot be a salvation requirement.

    Bror, I’m sure you’ve been asked about the thief on the cross numerous times when the debate over baptism comes up. However, I’ve never heard a solid explanation concerning this from those who support baptismal regeneration. Do you believe that Jesus simply made an exception in this case? Or, is there some kind of “grace period” between the moment a person believes and the moment he/she is able to receive water baptism? Whatever the case, it’s clear that the thief was never baptized, but Christ still guaranteed Him a home in heaven the moment He trusted. Also, do you believe that infants who are baptized will be saved (even though they lack an understanding of the gospel message)? What about deathbed converts who pass away before being able to receive water baptism? I know that I trusted Christ as my Savior when I was very young (around 5 or 6). However, I wasn’t baptized until I was 12. According to your theology, I guess that means I was “saved” at the age of 12…is that correct? With all due respect, that just makes no sense and I don’t think there’s a shred of scriptural support to back up that argument. The Bible clearly says that “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” (1 John 5:1).

  21. Si

    Mark 16:16 is a later addition – the in-line note about it’s textual reliability in any modern bible raises question marks on using it as a proof text (I feel that Mark ends at 16:8 and the longer ending is a tack on – I don’t see how we can lose other dubious verses so easily, throwing them down as a footnote, yet keep these ones in the standard print).

    If baptism is always with water, how can Jesus baptise with the Holy Spirit – is the Holy Spirit H20? Someone else might be baptising you with water at the same time, but that doesn’t have to be the case, surely?

  22. Bror Erickson

    Doug,
    The holy spirit can come to us at many times and various ways, Jesus gives the disciples the Holy spirit in John 20, and again the Holy spirit comes to them in Acts chapter 2. Did they not have the Holy Spirit before Acts chapter 2? They obviously had faith, even before John 20, faith being the fruit of the Spirit. One cannot then say that because they already had the spirit the spirit is not also given in Baptism, again read acts 2 and pay attention to 38-39.
    I believe you do believe in the innerrancy of scripture, but you approach it in a way that has to virtually ignore what scripture says about baptism because you think it contradicts other passages that say by Grace through Faith. But then to me this is not at all a problem because I see God applying his grace to us in Baptism. I don’t see it as our work but Christ’s work since he instituted it. Salvation in so many places is attached to Baptism, Baptism and faith and the Holy Spirit are not at odds with each other, don’t make them be.
    As for the thief on the cross. the Biblical position is that someone can indeed be saved without baptism if they die in the faith before they have a chance to be baptized. Of course all that talk is meaningless with the guy on the cross. obviously he has faith at that point and is repentant. He probably was also circumcised. And he dies before Christ institutes Baptism and makes it the rite of initiation in the Christian faith.
    As for Mark 16:16 there are reasons to see it in, and reasons to doubt it. Good arguments on both sides. It doesn’t change anything about baptism if it is in or out, because there are plenty of other verses that talk of baptism and faith saving. Just read 1 peter 3:21.
    john I’d say that you were saved by your faith, and chew the hell out of all those who denied you baptism for so long. I was baptized at 3 hours and have been saved ever since, having faith as a fruit of baptism.

    Si,
    Baptism is always with water, and Jesus is baptising with the Holy Spirit because his Baptism uses water and promises the Holy Spirit, when another person baptizes another person, it is Jesus who is doing the baptism regardless of who pours the water, because it is His institution. Jesus is there in his word, where two or three are gathered in his name.

  23. Bror Erickson

    Doug,
    If you don’t mind me disecting your argument a bit more.
    You write:”In this passage is seen that the Holy Spirit is given to believers BEFORE water baptism. Hence, water baptism is a resulting act of obedience from faith. It cannot be a salvation requirement.”
    Well now that is a leap of logic from my part.
    I don’t argue for one that the Holy Spirit doesn’t come apart from Baptism. The Holy Spirit comes through the word and creates faith. He can also come through water Baptism could he not? Why not?
    The disciples had the Holy Spirit before John 20. Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit in John 20. They had then the Holy Spirit before Acts chapter 2, yet the Holy Spirit came to them there also. So the Holy Spirit is constantly coming to the Christian through the word of God. They never “lose” him, but the Holy Spirit manifests different aspects of grace and gifts on the Christian as needed, constantly feeding the soul as it were. I believe He is also operative in the Lord’s Supper coming to us there.
    The short of it is to say that just because the Holy Spirit came before, does not mean that he is not also operative in Baptism.
    Second, I’m trying to think of where baptism is handled as an act of obedience in scripture. I suppose on some level obedience is in play, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the descriptor of baptism from Scripture. This indeed would turn baptism into our work, and our works would not be required for salvation.
    But is this a biblical definition of Baptism? or is this something we read into it because we, like Namaan, can’t see why God should work through water? Yet the disciples are commanded to make disciples by baptizing. They are told to do something, and they don’t leave it at “baptism of the spirit” but even when they see that the spirit has fallen on the people from preaching the word, they follow it up with baptism where the gift of the Holy Spirit is promised, Acts 2:38-39, and they baptized 3,000 + on that day. that is they applied water and baptized them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. they got a count even. If we see it as God’s work, than can it not save? God saves us right? His works save us right?
    Now there is a relation between faith and baptism. Faith believes Jesus. that is Faith believes what Jesus says, holds on to his promises. If Jesus says that you are saved by believing and being baptized, faith wants to be baptized, not as an act of obedience but for the sake of receiving the gifts. If Jesus says we are justified and sanctified because we have been “washed” then faith wants to be washed. We may not understand how all this happens, but it is what is said and we believe it. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit and Grace through baptism, if but through his apostles whom he charged to speak for him, so then faith does not want to go without baptism.
    Of course unbelief damns, with or without baptism, it doesn’t need to be mentioned in the second part of Mark 16:16. If you don’t believe why would you be baptized?
    And faith can save without baptism, but faith does not want to be apart from baptism, not if it has been instructed properly concerning baptism. So were you saved when you came to faith at 5 or six, I’m not going to argue that you weren’t, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why you weren’t then baptized until 12.
    I’m always at a loss for that. Faith is a gift, and it is also promised in baptism. This is why Christian parents baptize their Children. that someone comes up with an arbitrary age of accountability with some sort of “beleivers baptism” doctrine. They say faith is all that is needed. then why deny baptism to those who obviously believe? What is the point of that? if you made a confession of faith at 5, and no doubt you did, why so long? I’m going to say this isn’t on you, but the pastor has a millstone waiting for him…
    Then despite the fact that Jesus is constantly talking about childlike faith, and infants believing in him, why not baptize infants then? If faith is all that is needed.
    or do we confuse faith with something it is not, and see it not as a gift of the Holy Spirit that anyone can have, or do we see it as our work and confuse it on some level with cognitive assent, and perhaps a commitment to live a Christ like life? doesn’t that make faith our work, something we contribute to our salvation? What then of those who can’t have this cognitive assent, the mentally handicapped, the comatose, maybe even infants. IF faith is all that is needed, are they then lost, because their faith is not the same as what we think of faith?

  24. Glen

    Sorry all – I’ve been very busy recently.

    Doug – I don’t think we need to think of baptism as a “work”. In fact I think it’s a sign of Platonic thinking to identify it as a work merely because it involves actions and physical stuff. Physical stuff can be entirely a means of grace and mental/internal stuff can be very worksy. In fact the insistence that certain mental acts should occur at certain points (e.g. that faith precede baptism) can be a very worksy position if you ask me. And all in the name of upholding faith alone!

    The divide is not “external versus internal” but “works versus grace” – and in this debate baptism should not be thought of on the ‘works’ side of things.

    Augustine helped us all by calling it a “word” – a visible word. And so, by parallel, we would never think that Paul was teaching salvation by works when he said “faith comes by *hearing*” (Rom 10:17). But – someone might object – isn’t “hearing” a condition of salvation here! Isn’t “hearing” a work?? No – not at all. The word comes from on high and we simply receive. So it is with the written and spoken word, so it is with the visible words of the sacraments. *Because* its all of grace – therefore baptism.

    I can think of nothing more passive than *being baptised* and when we understand that this is God’s word to the baptised person then I am happy with proclaiming the promises inherent in the act over the child (or adult). Of course the baptised person may reject these promises in unbelief (and so be in a worse state than if they were never given). But the promises are good and right and true and should be pronounced in faith and we just let God do what God is going to do and has promised to do – it’s in His hands. Bror has acknowledged that of course baptised people can be lost and unbaptised people can be saved – that’s not really the issue.

    I think the real issue is where we place the emphasis – on the external word in its givenness or on the internal faith and its reception. What you are hearing from Bror (and to some extent from me) is an insistence on the external-ness of the Word.

    So on Mark 16:16 – attaching ‘be baptised’ to statements of salvation is no more worksy than if it said ‘hear the word and be saved’ – and once we have caveats in place (like the theif on the cross etc etc) I don’t really see a problem with it.

    Bror,

    I’m 100% with you on not wanting to ‘divorce’ faith from baptism. And I’m guessing you’d agree that you wouldn’t want to strictly identify them either. Hence the unity of sign and reality just like the unity of promise and faith. The two need to be combined in a person’s experience (Heb 4:2) but when they are not that doesn’t disqualify the promise.

  25. Doug

    Hi Glen!

    Wouldn’t you consider baptism to be the first step towards becoming a disciple? The way I understand baptism is that it’s an initial act of obedience (which is why I referred to it as a work) and is a requisite for being a disciple (but not a believer). I know that a lot of Bible-believing Christians (particularly those who follow a Lordship salvation theology) tend to make blanket statements that all Christians are disciples and that any backsliding or inability to produce fruit is a sign of false conversion. However, as a proponent of free grace theology, I see a distinction between being a child of God and being His disciple (or pupil). While the new birth (as you mentioned in your sermon) is given freely to anyone who receives Christ, discipleship is a life-long process that involves a lot of hard work on the part of the believer (even though the Holy Spirit is there to guide us along the way). Anyway, my point is that the discipleship process can’t begin until after a believer is baptized. I think you and I agree that baptism has nothing to do with a person’s salvation, but I would have to slightly disagree with you and still consider baptism to be a work.

  26. Bror Erickson

    Doug,
    I know you didn’t direct that last comment at me. But can I ask you a few questions about it?
    Where is baptism referred to as an act of obedience in Scripture?
    Wouldn’t any Believer in Christ want also to be a Disciple? From whence does that distinction come?
    Honestly that is the first I have ever heard of this distinction and it bothers me to the core. It seems to set up unbiblical distinctions among believers, that can only lead to a very unholy and unloving pride.
    I don’t know what “Lordship Salvation” even means. Sorry I’m a Lutheran, and we are often at a loss for many of these distinctions.
    but i think I would go along with saying I support a Free Grace theology, and see all believers as disciples. Yet I see no reason to suspect a persons conversion etc. Because I fail to see fruit in their lives. I tend to think of that as more a failure on my part to really know and love the person to set me up as his judge. I can rebuke a brother for sinning sure, but I’m honest enough to realize I need quite a bit of rebuking myself, and what I and he need more than that is forgiveness, because that is what faith lives on, that is what disciples live on.
    I would also say what ever discipleship process there is starts with faith regardless if that comes with baptism, or before baptism, or even a return to faith after baptism.
    But when the Holy Spirit is involved salvation always has something to do with it. I would not be so cavalier as to say that something Christ and his apostles laid such stress on has nothing to do with salvation. Especially given 1 Peter 3:21, which all but says Baptism saves you. Or 1 Corinthians 6, where baptism is linked to both justification and sanctification.Acts 2:38-39 where baptism is said to work the forgiveness of sins.

  27. Doug

    Hi Bror,

    Just to briefly clear up my last post (and then I’ll be signing off)…

    Those who take a Lordship Salvation approach (I don’t know if you’re familiar with John MacArthur, but he’s big on this) believe that genuine saving faith will ALWAYS result in visible good works (including baptism). They also believe that repitition of any particular sin (which is committed over an undefined period of time) is probably a sign of false conversion. This is because they define salvation as more than simply receiving Jesus and taking God for His Word. It involves a complete and total surrender of the will and mind as well as a commitment to obey God (a failure to turn from one’s sins or produce evidence of a changed life would mean a false conversion). They’re essentially the modern day Puritans. On the other hand, those who advocate Free Grace theology (like Charles Stanley if you’re familiar with him), believe that salvation is nothing more than receiving a free gift. Conversion happens at a particular moment in time (even though a person might not remember that point in time) and is dependent upon an ACT of faith (not continual faith). Those who are baptized with water take the first step towards a long and hard discipleship process. Those who persevere in the end will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), while those who fail to live faithful and holy lives will be ashamed and receive a lower position in heaven. However, those in the latter category will still be allowed to enter heaven since they possess the free gift of eternal life (Eph. 1:13-14).

    Sorry…this is getting to be quite lengthy and too in-depth. Anyway, I essentially believe that baptism according to the Bible is an important sign of the covenant that takes place at conversion (through faith). Furthermore, I believe it’s a necessary step to beginning the hard road in becoming a disciple (see Luke 9:23- even though baptism isn’t mentioned here, this is basically what I’m referring to). I also can understand and respect the position that says baptism is a necessary act of obedience after one is saved, but I believe it’s unbiblical to mention it as any part of the salvation process.

    By the way, I’ve enjoyed these discussions and I’ve learned a lot from you and Glen. On some of these issues, we may just have to agree to disagree. If I’ve ever gotten too excited or offensive on any of my previous posts, please forgive me. God Bless!

    Doug

  28. Bror Erickson

    Doug,
    I haven’t found your posts to be divisive. So far they seem to be honest enquiries. And really I had heard of John MacArthur and no little of what he teaches. Now I am happy to have been in ignorance, same with Charles Stanley.
    We Lutherans get clued in once in a while to what is going on in the reformed world. Often we just shake our heads in disbelief.
    I don’t want you to go or sign off either. As I try to comprehend the baptist mind you have cleared a few things for me. Though i am still bewildered.
    I guess I would just like to ask, and I’m serious about this, Where in scripture? As far as it being an act of obedience?
    A separation of believers and disciples. 9;23 did not cut it for me on that. That is all Christians, we all live a life of repentance, at least we are all supposed to.
    Where with the two baptisms.
    I guess that is my beef with the baptist and reformed position is they just don’t seem to have any scriptural basis to them, and at times seem to contradict scripture.

  29. John B

    Hi Bror,

    Much like the Lutheran incredulity that you describe, I’m incredulous when you regard the teaching of John MacArthur and Charles Stanley as a glimpse into “the reformed world”. MacArthur is the pastor of a nondenominational, baptistic, dispensationalist church. Charles Stanley is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Both of these men are popular preachers with longtime, large, international media ministries. Both men are products of the Baptist tradition and heritage, and are no more representative of the historical Reformed faith than they are of Lutheranism. This is not to criticize them, but simply to recognize the realities of church history.

    There are many contemporary media preachers, but I don’t think that they provide us with a useful avenue for insight into historical theology. For that we need to keep our partisanship in check and return to the actual historical sources, in this case looking at how Catholics, Orthodox, Reformed, Lutherans, Baptists and others have articulated their own understandings of baptism, without us speaking for them. You will find that all of these traditions have a Scriptural basis for their beliefs, and none of them set out to contradict Scripture.

  30. Bror Erickson

    John B,
    I do know of some baptists that consider themselves reformed.
    Lutherans, though, tend to think of everyone who have taken Zwingli’s and Calvin’s lower view of the sacraments. Even if one might distinguish between Arminian and Reformed.

  31. John B

    Hi Bror,

    Yes, some Baptists do. Although I’ve never met any paedobaptist Baptists! So on the topic at hand I think that the difference in the traditions is undeniable. I also know lots of Lutherans who consider themselves to be in full communion with Presbyterians, Reformed, Episcopalians, Methodists, and the United Church of Christ.

    But yes, some other Lutherans do tend to deny that the Reformed view of the sacraments is substantively anything other than how Zwingli articulated it.

    The solution for all this confusion?

    Ad fontes! Ad fontes!

  32. Jay Kappel

    Glen, Wonderful job communicating the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your faithfulness to the message even though today that message really is as offensive as it ever was.

    In Christ alone my hope is found!

  33. Glen

    Thanks Jay :)

  34. Pingback: New Birth is In Christ | Christ the Truth

  35. Taulant Bytyqi

    Si Hollett, You are very right. I am a follow of Christ almost 3 years now. When I received The Holy Spirit(born again) I was not a Christian and I never was Baptist in my life. I come from a Muslim background. At that time I had heard about Jesus Christ but never fully understood Christianity As well at that time I had quite some tribulation in my life (I was gambling, failed in my goals, I started to get drunk a lot etc…) nothing was going right… but I was always since a little child in search for God. (You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart- Jeremiah 29:13). And one day a friend of mine gave me a small book, the book is called (Dinner with a Perfect Stranger). It is a very simple written book and at that time I had so many question about God and the meaning of Life(I was even questioning if God exist, I was in pain I was falling in the cycle of despair). And that little book gave me most of the answers. And it lead me to The Holy Bible where I found the Truth about God. That night I read that little book all night, I couldn’t stop. And reading through the book I saw my self in tears. But the tears were not tears of pain but tears of Joy. I know that night I imagine Jesus! I imagine him in the Cross. I imagine him with his plain robes (questioning myself could he be the Truth). But it was hard at that time for me to understand that Jesus was God. As well it took time for me to accept him as my Lord and guider (coming from a Muslim background). But that night everything changed for me. 1)My hard heart was soften(My Pride was gone and it was replaced with Humble’ty). 2)I felt an unspeakable Joy that I could not explain why I was having(I saw my self in tears of joy). I think the reason why I had that Joy is because the Holy Spirit entered into me. I still time to time feel that unexplained joy. And 3) I saw (I understood, and still understand) things in a better way. Or let’s say; I perceived things in an higher consciences. I could UNDERSTAND What life was about. That night my Heart, Spirit and Mind changed forever. “I was BORN AGAIN through the grace of GOD.”

  36. Darcy

    Your preaching helps me understand “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    One of the most difficult battles of my flesh is comparing myself to better flesh. I never seem to measure up.

    Strange how works keeps me from enjoying Christ.

    Keep on keeping on!

  37. youtube.com

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