Before we talk about salvation I want to talk about being born again. The words born again are used only 3 times in the bible; in John 3:3 and 7, and in 1 Peter 1:23. Why must a person be born again? The answer is, because Jesus commanded it. In John 3:7, Jesus is talking and He says to Nicodemus, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again”. By telling him this, He is telling everyone that they must be born again. Let’s look at verse 1 and see who Nicodemus was. He was a man of the Pharisees. They were the most dedicated to knowing what the truths of the scriptures were. They studied them and taught them. I know that Jesus called them a bunch of hypocrites, but Nicodemus was not one of them. In Matthew 23:3, Jesus says to observe what they say, but don’t do what they do. They were waiting and looking for their Messiah just like any other group, but they were looking for a physical one rather than a spiritual one. If you look in John 2: 24-25, you see that Jesus would not commit Himself to the Pharisees because they were not sincere in their belief of Him. That’s why He called them hypocrites. But, He does commit Himself to Nicodemus. In verse 1, Nicodemus was also called a ruler of the Jews. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was a council of 70 elders. Tradition has it that he was 1 of the top 3 leaders of that council. Why all this talk about the man Nicodemus? It is to show us that no matter how high up on the religious ladder a person is, that person needs to be born again, which means to be saved. No one is exempt. In John 3:2, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and says, we know that you are a teacher come from God. They knew this because of all the miracles Jesus had performed. Notice that he says we. Meaning that the Pharisees believed all of those miracles, but would never admit to anyone else that His power came from God. Nicodemus came by night. The reason for that was that if the other Pharisees found out about him meeting with Jesus, they would have had him excommunicated from the group, the council and the temple. Tradition has it that after he helped with the burial of the body of Jesus, that’s exactly what happened to him. Nicodemus was different than the other Pharisees. He wanted to know who Jesus really was. He knew that He came from God. He was sincere in that belief and Jesus knew that. In verse 3, Jesus answers him with, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Jesus is saying to this religious leader, that in his way of religion he could not see nor enter nor possess the kingdom of God because he was not born again. God has a way for a person to enter His kingdom. Any person who thinks that they can enter or possess His kingdom in their own way, is sadly mistaken. Being born again is a requirement. In verse 4, Nicodemus asks Jesus how can this happen; can a person jump back into his mother’s womb after he is old? Nicodemus was not thinking in a spiritual way. He was thinking in the physical way. The new birth is spiritual not physical. That was a problem with the Pharisees and most of Israel. They studied their scriptures and looked at them in a natural or physical way and did not see the spiritual message in them. In verse 5, Jesus answered, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. There is much controversy about ‘born of water’. I believe that born of water means the natural or physical birth of a human being. In verse 4, Nicodemus is talking in a physical sense. In verse 6, Jesus is saying, “That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit”. He is talking in the physical and in the spiritual sense. So why in between these 2 verses would He talk only in the spiritual sense? Nicodemus asks Jesus in the physical sense and Jesus answers him in the physical sense first and then adds the spiritual sense to explain the born again. The kingdom of God is made for human beings and not for animals or fallen angels. Many people believe that born of water has to do with water baptism, but I cannot agree with that. First it would be putting the cart before the horse. Water baptism comes after being born again and secondly it paints a different picture. Baptism pictures the death and burial of the old life and resurrection of the believer into a new life in Christ. Born again pictures that a person is already dead and doesn’t have to die a second time. Baptism is an outward display of something that happened inwardly. Again my belief is that in verse 4, Nicodemus asks about the flesh and in verse 5 Jesus answers about the flesh, (born of water), and secondly, spiritually, (born of Spirit). In verse 6, again Jesus talks about flesh first and Spirit second. In verse 7, Jesus says, “Marvel not”, (meaning, don’t be surprised), “ye must be born again”. The idea of being born again does not come from any man’s thoughts, but from Jesus. He says that if we are not born again, we cannot see the kingdom of God. The other scripture, 1 Peter 1:23, says the same thing. We have to be born again from above by the Spirit of God. Read 1 Peter 1. There is so much in that chapter about Jesus and why we are born again. In order to become a child of God, we have to be born again from above. That’s the only way that we can ever look like our Savior and walk in His steps. We cannot do it in the flesh.

The word salvation is used many times in the bible and it has many different meanings. In the Old Testament, in Exodus 14:13, Moses tells the Israelites to stand still and fear not and see the salvation of the Lord. In verses 19-31, the salvation occurs. This is a physical salvation of Israel being saved from the Egyptian army. In 1 Samuel 2:1, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is praising God for her salvation. It was the birth of her son Samuel and no longer feeling the reproach of being barren. Again a physical salvation after the fact. In 1 Samuel 11:13, we see Saul’s victory in his first battle as king. Again, after the fact of Israel’s victory over the Ammonites. In 1 Samuel 19:5, Jonathan speaks to his father Saul, trying to convince him not to kill David and mentions the great salvation of Israel over the Philistines when David slew Goliath. Again, physical salvation after the fact. The Old Testament has more examples of physical salvation, and they are all on the same principle. The New Testament also has more but salvation in the New Testament is spiritual. In Luke 1:69, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied of the Lord as their Messiah, being raised up, even before He was born. In Luke 2:30, Simeon, a devout man in the temple, waiting for the consolation, (Messiah), of Israel, sees Jesus and thanks God for seeing his salvation. In Luke 2:36-38, Anna the prophetess, in seeing Jesus, gave thanks to God and spoke, to all who were there looking for redemption, of Jesus. In Luke 3:6, John the Baptist says, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”. What does John mean by see? It is to gaze with eyes wide open at something remarkable, which points to Jesus on the cross. He, (Jesus), is the salvation that we see in Luke 3:6. In John 4, Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman and in verse 22, He says that salvation is of the Jews. In verse 25, the woman says, “I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: When He is come, He will tell us all things”. In verse 26, Jesus says unto her, “I that speak unto thee am He”. These verses show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ and salvation. In Acts 4:12, Peter says, “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men, where by we must be saved”. If we look at verse 8, Peter is talking and he is filled with the Holy Spirit. In verse 10, he is talking about Jesus Christ. In chapter 3, Peter and John, when they were going into the temple to pray, healed that impotent man and the people were amazed. Peter explained to them that it was done in the name of Jesus. The Jewish leaders picked up Peter and John because they didn’t want them preaching or teaching or healing in the name of Jesus. They could not deny the miracle, but they did not want the name of Jesus to be a part of it, because they did not want the people to look at Jesus as their Messiah. In Acts 13:23, Paul says, “Of this man’s, (David’s), seed, hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour: Jesus“. In verse 26, Paul mentions the stock of Abraham and whosoever, (meaning those other than the Jews), is sent the message of salvation. In verse 47, the Lord sent Paul and Barnabas to be lights to the Gentiles by preaching Jesus, for their salvation. In those days, a person was either a Jew or a Gentile. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, (Gentile)”. The 4 gospels are Jesus Christ, so He is the power and He is also the salvation. I like the way the King James version has 2 words, every one, and not 1 word, ‘everyone’, like the NIV. 2 words are more personal and point to an individual and salvation is on a personal basis, where 1 word points to many. It is always preached and taught that salvation is an individual’s choice. In Romans 10:10, Paul says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Salvation does not come from knowing about what Jesus did on the cross. The world knows that, even though some won’t admit it. It’s not being a church member or coming from a religious family. All those things are head knowledge. It’s heart knowledge that is needed. Head knowledge is physical and heart knowledge is spiritual. It is personally bringing Jesus into an individual’s heart. No one can do it for us. Once we believe in our heart that Jesus is our savior, we receive His righteousness and we witness of Him to God and to others. Remember that Satan knows and believes that Jesus died on that cross, but knowing that does not help him at all. In 1 John 5:1, John says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”. Many people use the word believeth in this verse and take it out of context. In their use of the word believeth, it does not relate or coincide with what the rest of the bible says. They take the word belief and say, ‘I believe’. This is just something said from their mind, not from their heart. When we talk about heart, we are not talking about the pump that is in our chest, but the seat of our emotions. We have to take this verse with Romans 10:10 to make sure that we don’t come up with a false doctrine from 1 verse. There are many more verses that talk about belief, and that’s why Paul says, in 2 Timothy 2:15, study to show thyself approved unto God and rightly dividing the word of truth. In 2 Peter 1:20, Peter says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”. This does not mean that an individual cannot interpret the scripture, but that we cannot take a verse by itself. It has to agree with what the rest of the scriptures say. In 2 Corinthians 6:2, Paul says, “Now is the day of salvation”. Not tomorrow or the next day, it’s right now. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, Paul says, “For God had not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us”. The wrath of God is for all those who do not know Jesus as their savior. It is not for the born again believer. In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul says that salvation is in Christ Jesus. In Hebrews 5:9, the writer says that Jesus became the author of eternal salvation and in 9:26 he says that Jesus put away sin by the death of Himself. In verse 28, He was offered once to bear the sins of many, and for those who look for Him, shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Jesus is no longer on the cross, which was physical. In order to get saved, a person has to go to that cross in a spiritual way. Physically, there is only one cross. Spiritually, there is a cross for every human being. In order to be born again, a person has to go to that cross spiritually and accept Jesus as their personal savior. When that happens, Jesus comes down off that cross and that person gets on that cross. Remember, this is spiritual, not physical. In Philippians 3:10, Paul says, “That I may know Him (Jesus), and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformable unto His death;” In Matthew 16:25, Jesus is saying “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it”. We need to take part in His suffering and death as well as His glory. Whenever salvation was used in the Old Testament, it was mostly used for an event in a person’s life or of the nation Israel. In the New Testament, it is always about Jesus. There are other words like ‘redeem’ used. Titus 2:14 says, “Who gave Himself (Jesus) for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity”. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, we see the word redeemed: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” In Colossians 1:14, Paul says, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”. Ephesians 1:7 says the same thing. All these words of redemption talk about Jesus also. In Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4, Jesus, talking to His disciples, tells them to wait for the promise of the Father. What is this promise? The answer is in John 14:16. He will send them another comforter who will abide with them forever. Verse 26 says that, He is called the Holy Ghost. In John 15:26, Jesus says, “He will testify of Me”. The Holy Spirit’s job is to testify about Jesus. Not only to the believer, but also to every one who has ever been born since the death of Jesus. In Ephesians 1:12-13, Paul says that we, (those of his group who had first trusted in Christ, with those who also had trusted in Christ after they had heard the truth of the gospel and believed), were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. All born again believers are sealed or confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and He indwells all of them. In Ephesians 4:30, Paul says that we are sealed unto the day of our redemption. That takes place at our death, or when the Lord returns for us. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul says “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”. What Paul is saying is that there is nothing a person can do to prepare themselves for salvation. God is the one who does everything and it is a gift from Him that we must receive. The gift is Jesus. That’s God’s way to salvation, and there is no other way. Paul says, in Romans 5:10, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled, (be no longer opposed), to God by the death of His Son”. Before receiving Jesus, we were enemies of God, but Jesus is the bridge between enemy and friend. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”. Jesus is the way to the Father, and no one can get to the Father except through Him. In John 10:9, Jesus says, ” I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved”. Jesus is also the truth. In John 8:32, Jesus says, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. We see in these verses that Jesus is everything. To get saved, there is no work that we can do for it. The only requirement is accepting Jesus personally. Also, to maintain our salvation, there is nothing we can do. That’s God’s job. In Philippians 1:6, Paul says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” In Hebrews 9:12, the writer says that by His, (Jesus), own blood, He obtained eternal salvation for us. In 1 Peter 1:5, Peter says “Who are kept, (guarded), by the power of God through faith unto salvation”. In verse 9, he says, “receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”. These verses tell us that God is the one that guards our salvation unto the end, and that’s what we call eternal security. In John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. God had a plan and it was for Jesus to come down to earth. Not to condemn the world or judge it, but to save it. To do that, He had to die on the cross. God’s plan was for His Son to die on the cross so that the world could be reconciled to God. In John 3:1-21, Jesus is still talking to Nicodemus, and He explains so much to him. In verse 9, Nicodemus asks Jesus, “How can these things be?” In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says, “But the natural man receiveth not, (does not accept), the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Nicodemus was looking at things in a natural way, as a natural man, even though he was one of the religious leaders in Israel. If we look at things in a natural way, we will not see things in the spiritual way, no matter who we are. Nicodemus kept asking and Jesus explained to him in the spiritual way. The same thing is going on today. The Holy Spirit is telling every human being that they must be born again. We don’t know how long He tries to convert each individual, but for those who have not hardened their heart, He will keep on trying to get that person saved. A person can say no to the Holy Spirit for just so long, then their heart is hardened and then it is too late. The moment you are born again, is the moment you receive salvation. Those of us who Know Jesus, (not just know of Him), believe by faith, that salvation of our souls has already taken place, even though it does not actually happen until we die. Now what are we saved from? ‘The wrath of God’. Hell was created for the fallen angels because of their sin. After Adam’s sin, God had to do something to save mankind. Otherwise, all of mankind would have ended up in hell. So, God sent His Son Jesus to take all of our sins to the cross and take away our punishment. That’s God’s love for us. When Jesus walked the earth, He showed love for everyone, but He also showed righteous wrath in casting out all of the moneychangers and sellers of animals and birds in the temple. That event is recorded in 3 gospels: Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46. God’s righteous wrath is against all of those who reject His Son as their savior. If you die in that rejection, your final destination is hell. God is love and He sent His Son for our salvation, and God will reject all who reject Jesus. The gift of God is Jesus. but we have to accept that gift. Remember, our churches cannot save us. Neither can our parents, nor how good we may think we are. It is strictly up to the individual. The belief has to come from the heart and not from the head. Just in case all of these verses of scripture haven’t convinced you of the need for an individual making the choice, let’s look at Philippians 3:3-10. Paul says, in verse 3, have no confidence in the flesh. In verse 4, he says, that if anyone could trust in the flesh it would be him. In verse 5, he says, “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee:” In verse 6, he says, “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”. There is more in the other verses. So if anyone could rely on anything other than Jesus, it was Paul. But he says that Jesus is the only way. In Romans 10:9, Paul says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. Resurrection is very important. Without knowing that He is alive, we would have no hope of our own resurrection. If Jesus were dead, when we died, there would be no hope of heaven. When we talk about knowing Jesus, it is a personal and an intimate relationship with Him. I have written a lot on being born again, because it is so very important to understand. God has made it very simple for us to accept Jesus. Now, how can a person be born again? They have to admit that they are a sinner, and that they need a savior. They need to confess their sins to God, (naming each sin is not necessary), seek His forgiveness and accept the gift of God, Jesus, as their own personal savior. You can say the prayer whichever way you want, and this prayer leads to being born again in Jesus.

Bill Gauthier

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