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Abundant Blessings of the Spiritual Reg eneration
Collection of writings concerning the basics of the Christian faith in the light of the Scriptures
Collection of writings concerning the basics of the Christian faith in the light of the Scriptures
Abundant Blessings of the Spiritual Regeneration
Second, extended version © 2011
Henrik J.A Kiviniemi © 2010
“Because of His mercy, God saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” – Titus 3:5-6
All rights reserved in accordance with international copyright laws No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, 2
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without permission in writing from the publisher/author: firstname.lastname@example.org Most of the Scripture quotations are from the King James Version, unless otherwise stated. Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Front cover design by Marko Lind
0.1 Foreword 0.2 Preface to the second, extended edition 1. Why we need God and why we need regeneration? 2. How I found God 3. What does it mean to be born again? 4. What does it mean to be holy? 5. The infilling of the Holy Spirit: Empowering after regeneration 6. Power of the Holy Spirit in believer 7. Transforming the hearts by the power of the Spirit 8. Healing our inner wounds through the fruits of the regeneration 9. What are the benefits of the water baptism? 10. 11. 12. 13. How to become an intimate friend with Jesus Basis of Christian moral values Growing in the Christian integrity and identity What is the Kingdom of God?
Appendix: - My Christological Creed - My worship psalm
- Sinner’s Prayer - Anti-drug exhortation - About the author and contact information
I have gone through many painful and wonderful events in life, which have taken me to this point where I feel ready to represent and testify some of the glories of the Living God. Ever since I was saved, I submitted myself to the service of the Lord. I said to Him: ”Lord Jesus, if you want to save me and heal me, I will serve You in any way You see fit”. And then on the opportunities have appeared. Thanks be the God for the fact that I have learned the profound truth in the words of the Lord: ”The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14b ESV). I feel that the thankful heart of a thankful and saved sinner is something God loves. He likes us to hear us offering thanks to Him with our lips (Hos.14:2). This is not merely praying in secret or not only worshipping and praising in congregation which both are good, but also to do it in such manner by which may reach the unsaved people. Thus it seemed valid to write about the goodness and mercy that had come to me from God. This booklet is not an autobiography though I will present some personal experiences in a general manner. Even so, I have written in order to present the spiritual blessings I have received from the Living and True God, in the light of the Scripture and sound doctrine. 4
It is my sincere belief that by giving yourself entirely into the hands of the merciful Saviour Jesus you may have abundant and exciting life. This work of mine I have intended to be used not only as a witnessing tool for unbelievers, but rather as and exhortation to sincere seekers who have not yet found their peace in the Lord's Spirit, and also to my bornagain brothers and sisters, who may feel the clouds of depression and apathy entering into their spiritual life. Hopefully this humble presentation may serve at least someone in their journey towards the New Jerusalem.
”My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” Psalm 63:5 ESV
Henrik J.A Kiviniemi, Finland, 22th April 2010
0.2 Preface to the second, extended edition
Having received some encouraging reception from people who read this little book of mine, and having in meantime grown in my own understanding, I decided to edit and extend this work slightly to be more precise and thus more helpful. My vision is that this booklet will be a lifelong project and as such, able to grow even as I grow as a person and a disciple of Jesus. I want to underline especially the utmost need for the constant infilling of the Holy Spirit, which is only possible if we have a living relationship with our Lord Jesus. Living relationship with Jesus, in my understanding, is another term for saving faith. It is written, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). If with this work I can be a coworker of God in bringing at least someone into the saving faith in Jesus, my work is not vain. From this hope originates the need to upgrade this booklet and try to make it available to many, particularly to the mission field. I have changed the order of some of the articles and added chapters 1, 5 and 10. I also removed a short chapter named “Relationship between conversion and regeneration” as 5
basically unnecessary repetition of things already said. Some minor changes have been done also to other chapters. Much more could have been done, and I am open to suggestions and critic, and also welcome cowriters to join me in future edition, or translation to other languages (their names mentioned upon request). In the time I am writing this, I am already working on a third edition of this book, which includes chapters about God’s election and the trustworthiness of the Bible. Email me to enquire about the availability of the new editions, as well as possible versions in other languages. (Finnish version, which currently differs slightly from this second, english edition, is available currently). I, the author, can be contacted through email: email@example.com
27th of May 2011, in Finland, Henrik J.A Kiviniemi, B.D.
1. Why we need God and why we need regeneration?
By definition, God is a supernatural being. That means something that surprasses human understanding. Even though atheism seems a triumphing worldview in some academic circles, the fact remains most people in the world believe there is something greater than us. Scientists claim they have even found a gene that make us religious! Whatever the final truth about ”Godgene”, human history and experience shows, that there is a great desire to find an answer to the big questions of existence, purpose of life, what happens after we die and so on. For me, the author, it seems reasonable to come up to conclusion, that everything we see in the nature and universe must have an Intelligent Designer. I hope to find time to write 6
about the reasons why I find JudeoChristian worldview to be both logical and true explanation for our existence. There is a gigantic amount of apologetical Christian literature available to those, who want to check the facts about issues like reliability of the Bible, existence of God and the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth. (I plan to write another book on these subjects sometime in the future. Those interested to learn more about these issues, I invite to enroll to a free Study Course on Bible, or otherwise corresponde with me, the author: firstname.lastname@example.org). Now that we start to search the Scriptures to study the topics of this book, please check everything from your own Bible, as the noble Bereans did (see Acts 17:1011). Remember that everything (including this book), must be weighted on the basis of the Word of God. (If you do not have your own Bible, please contact us email@example.com, so we can do our best to help you to get one!) The most compelling evidence for existence of God and that Jesus of Nazareth is His Son, alive today, is the fact that Jesus saves people even today. Many have been saved from literal peril, even more have been saved spiritually. I have experienced both sides of God’s saving power, of which I will give testimony in below. Now I want to discuss, why we need to be saved at first place. First of all, few disagree that there is, and has always been, a great amount of misery in human life on this earth. This is also why some people refuse to believe in God. Because of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual corruption mankind has fallen into, which we can verify to ourselves by watching the news, we need to be saved. Indeed we need a Saviour. Biblical story tells us, that God is the Creator behind everything. He created all things and all of it was good (see Genesis 1:31). This was the original situation. Then there came sin. Sin means everything that is against and contrary to God’s purposes. What makes sin possible, is the fact God gave to His intelligent, selfconscious creatures a free will to choose whether they wish to obey Him or not. This doesn’t mean God pushes anyone to sin (see James 1:1314). God loves His creatures and wants them to serve Him out of love. First person that choose to serve himself rather than God was an angelic being (non corporeal spirit creature) commonly called Lucifer (see Isaiah 14:12 KJV). He became to be full of pride and wanted to have for himself the worship and admiration that is reserved solely for the God (see Ezekiel 28:1217). Later this rebellious angel became known as Satan, that is an Accuser in Hebrew. 7
Because of this rebellion of Lucifer, sin and suffering entered into the universe. Bible tells us that this renegade angel incited other angels to join his rebellion. These beings became thence forth to be known as demons. Modern science accepts the fact that all men and women alive today are descended on one male and one female. Biblical, JudeoChristian tradition is, that this first couple were known as Adam and Eve (see Genesis 1:27; 2:78). Originally God created them to live in perfect conditions on earth. They were meant to live in a beautiful garden known as Eden (see Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 15). But Satan was envious for God because of the worship these new creatures, human beings gave to God. He wanted human beings to worship and serve him rather than God (see Matthew 4:810, Psalm 106:3638, 1.Corinthians 10:20). It could be, that he was also bitter because of his pride, for his appointment to be a servent of Adam and Eve in the garden he was originally in charge for (see Ezekiel 28:13, Hebrews 1:14). Whichever the final reasons for his rebellion, Satan disguised himself as a serpent (see Genesis 3:1, Revelation 20:2) and seduced Eve, and Adam through her to break the only commandment God had given the first human couple, that they should not eat from a certain tree in the center of the garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:115). Breaking the law of God brought sin into the world and thus death and suffering. Bible tells us of this: ”Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” – Romans 5:12. God could have destroyed the original rebels firsthand, and many people have wondered throughout the ages why He didn’t. There are no easy or final answers to this questions in this world, but there are some things worthy to consider. First, to have a freedom of choise, freedom of will is a first and foremost quality one must have to be an intelligent being that is conscious of it’s existence. God created human beings in His image (see Genesis 1:2627). To be something like God means to be able to make personal decisions and be creative. To be able to love out of their free will, intellingent beings must have an ability to choose not to love God. So it is, that God created angels and men to have an ability to choose whether or not to love and obey Him (see Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15, Proverbs 1:29, Isaiah 7:15). Unfortunately, as we have seen some chose to follow their own ways instead of God’s.
Now, besides that Satan seduced our foreparents and a multitude of the heavenly host to rebel against God, he also claimed that people would serve God only to have personal benefit from Him, and not out of love. In the case of Job, he truly shew his character as an ”accuser of brethren” (see Rev.12:10, Job 1:911). He said that Job, a wealthy man served God only because of the blessings and protection God gave to him, but that he would forfeit his faith if only God would withdrew His protection. In the case of Job Satan was proven wrong. Even more so was he proven wrong in the life of Jesus the Messiah, who never sinned against the God (see 2.Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 2:8) . Now, because of the sin that entered into the world of men, all people are under the curse of sin (see Romans 5:12,17, Genesis 3:1619). God warned Adam of the dire consequenses of disobedience: ”And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” –Genesis 2:1617. Bible underlines the seriousness of sin elsewhere and says that sin brings penalty of death: ”The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” –Ezekiel 18:20. ”the wages of sin is death” –Romans 6:23. I have found there to be three attributes in the death sentence God gave to Adam and Eve for their disobedience. First is the physical death: Adam and Eve would not have needed to die lest they had sinned, because God had created also the Tree of Life whereof they could have had eaten if only did they’d be proven obedient (see Genesis 3:22). Second is the spiritual death: the Spirit of God fled from the sinners and left them spiritually blind and dead (see Ephesians 2:1, 2.Corinthians 1:910; 5:14). Thirdly, there is also a sinister warning of an escatological, second death that is reserved for those who persist in their rebellion against God, and which is executed in the Last Judgement (see Hebrews 10:27, 2.Peter 2:9; 3:7, Revelation 20:6, 1314). In this book we shall concentrate in the spiritual death that is upon mankind. We shall summarize that because mankind is subjected to spiritual death, which was not it’s original state before the Fall, there is a need for spiritual revival, a regeneration. It is implied in the Bible, that Satan also wants people to believe that God is a tyrant, who will not deliver them from the curse God inflicted upon them (see Job 4:1718). There are many faces of this lie: one says we have to earn our own freedom, other maintains there
is no need for deliverance, while some say God simply will not interfere in our lives. This is a lie and in contrarary to the promise God made to our foreparents: ”I will put enmity between thee [the Serpent] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” –Genesis 3:15 [Note that it was woman’s seed and thusly the Messiah Jesus was born of a woman without physical father, see Matthew 1:23]. Later God promised to Abraham that this bruiser of the Serpent’s head would become of his seed: ”In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” – Genesis 22:18. How did Abraham obey God? Because he did not deny his son, but was ready to sacrifice him because of God’s commandment (read Genesis 22:1116). He shew extraordianary faith in the power of God. It is said: ”By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” –Hebrews 11:1719. This was a typology of God the Father and Messiah Jesus. God did not deny His Only begotten Son to be sacrificed for the sins of the world, and the Son willingly obeyed. ”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.” –John 3:16. ”I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. ” –John 10:11, 1718. Abraham shew faith in God answering to Isaac’s question where the sacrifice is: ”My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen.22:8). When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said: ”Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” –John 1:29. So it was God’s plan to raise up a seed from among the mankind, which would be among His chosen people, that came to be Israel. Jesus is the ultimate representator and goal of that seed. Bible says:
”Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” –Galatians 3:16. Why then is it so, that the promised Messiah had to die? Bible tells us that sin of Adam brought death upon us: ”For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” –Romans 5:17 Through Adam we inherit spiritual death. Our innermost being, our spirit if you allow, is in the state of death, and as we shall see in later chapters, God’s Spirit can regenerate it. But there is yet more to be dealt with as we discuss the death of Christ. Satan had claimed that noone would succeed keeping God’s laws. God had given His law to the sons of Israel as a testimony of His will (see the peak of His law, the Decalogue in Exodus 20:119, see also Romans 3:20). Both the New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism maintain, that breaking one commandment of the law is tantamount to breaking the whole law: ”For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” –James 2:10 Now Jesus kept the whole law and died in sinless state: ”For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” –2.Corinthians 5:20 ”And being found in fashion as a man, he [Jesus] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” –Philippians 2:8. Because Jesus kept the law of God, He was proven to be righteous. His obedience proofed Satan’s claims to be without credence. The divine death sentence which belongs to us, was carried by Jesus on our behalf. To make more clear what Jesus did for us and why, consider this: There was a case in Nazi Germany, that there was a Catholic Priest in concentration camp. Now a Jewish man was chosen to be killed, but the priest volunteered to be killed instead of him and thusly was killed. In this the priest imitated Jesus' sacrificial love. Jesus died for us, so that we would not have to be spiritually dead anymore, and that we would escape the terrible fiery perdition and live forever in His glory in the New Heavens and the New Earth as we should have lived lest the Fall had happened. 11
Bible tells us about the work Christ did for us in the Calvary: ”God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” –2.Corinthians 5:19. ”Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” –Romans 3:2225. In His law He gave to children of Israel, God had ordained that the innocent animals would have to be sacrificed instead of the sins of people. Because He had ordained and told in Eden, that those who sin shall die, then it is logical to understand that blood has to be shed to have any hope for the remission from sin. We read: ”And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” –Hebrews 9:22. It became obvious that noone could keep the whole law, because of our inherent sin. But the law is good! This is to make us understand that we simply can’t satisfy God’s justice by our own deeds. So, in a way, the law became a ”curse” that shew our faults. This is how Jesus became also solution for this. ”Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” –Galatians 3:13 ”For Christ is the end [fulfillment] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” –Romans 10:45. There is yet another aspect of the work of Christ in Calvary. By laying up His life, He paid ransom for us. Bible says: ”For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1.Timothy 2:56. Ransom means a corresponding price. Adam is our forefather. He ”sold” us into bondage of sin (see Romans 5:12,17). Adam was created in the image of God and is called a ”son of God” (see Luke 3:38). Now Jesus was an unique, Onlybegotten Son of God even prior His incarnation. But He became a man, was born fully human, just without sin, like
Adam was in Eden prior to his fall. Adam fell, Jesus did not, though He was tempted in every way like the Bible testifies: ”For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but [Jesus] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” –Hebrews 4:15. How did Jesus pay this ransom, the wages of sin? By dying for us. This was prophesied hundreds of year before He was born: ”Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. ” –Isaiah 53:45, 10. Mankind needed a new legal father (in God’s jusitice system) instead of Adam who fell. It was prophesied that the Messiah would be this new father of mankind (see Isaiah 9:6; 53:10). The divine revelation (Bible) gives us more insight on this: ”For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” – 1.Corinthians 15:22, 45 Because Jesus died and is risen from the grave, we are now able to become adopted to His family, the family of Israel and it’s royal Davidic line, but even unto the family of God (see Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5, 1.Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:10)! Bible tells us how gentiles (those who are not of Israel by the physical descendence) are reconsiled to Israel through the Messiah: ”But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” –Ephesians 2:1316. Thusly we have all the spiritual rights of Israel. In the Kingdom of the next Age we will also inherit the earth and be kings and priests in it because we participate in the family of David through Jesus, to whose family was promised perpetual kingship.
Physical Israel is also reconciled to their Messiah through His sacrificial death, and eschatologically we anticipate the removal of the veil from their eyes so they will receive Jesus as their Messiah. (Let it be said as a side notice that there is only one New Covenant between God and men, and that Jews and nonJews alike are accepted in it only through faith in Jesus Christ). Resurrection and ascencion of Jesus made the Holy Spirit available for all. Thus after the first Messianic Pentecost countless multitude of people have been regenerated as New Creatures through the ministry of Holy Spirit. To summarize the message I have meant to deliver in this chapter, let us yet briefly make short narrative: God’s plan for salvation is a wholistic plan. God allowed rebellion, because He is Love and does not want to force anyone to serve Him. He has given Satan and mankind time to wander in their own paths. God had a plan for the salvation of mankind through the promised Deliverer, Messiah. First, God saved Noah and his family and gave them outlines of His will in the socalled Noachide (or Rainbow) Covenant. Then God chose Abraham and his son Isaac, and his son Jacob to be a ”vessels” and types for the promised seed. Later God chose David as king of Israel. Of the root of David came Jesus, who was the Son of Man and the Son of God, both in one person. Jesus paid the wages of sin in the cross and was risen from grave on the third day. Through the faith in Jesus we can be absolved from our sins and be reconsiled to God and adopted to His family. In future, Jesus will come back to this earth with His saints establishing His Kingdom and regenerating this planet into original, Edenic condition. Adoption into the family of God opens the divine treasury of spiritual blessings even in this life and everlastingly in the world to come. It is the only solution for the problem of spiritual death, (and indeed to all of our problems). In the next chapter I will give details how I, the author became adopted into God’s family. There is yet questions left. Most are answered in the Holy Bible. Some will be answered, (with the Bible), in the chapters below, all are answered in the Age to come. It is my sincere desire that some would be touched by the Holy Spirit through my ministry and this book.
2. How I found God?
Though I will not go into my life, past and present in full detail at this time, I feel that this book would indeed not be so profound without any testimony in my part. So let us see what happened to me and what I went through to find God. When writing this, I am 27 years young (in 2010). I have known the biblical stories since my childhood in some what religious home. My parents tried their best to raise me as a moral person. I even made a knowing decision to follow Jesus at the age of 12, after reading the New Testament the Gideons gave us at school. Even so, I found the world a very hostile and unjust place to live even at a young age. Like Moses who killed the Egyptian, I chose the wrong methods to fight the numerous faults and injustices of the world. So I rebelled against the rules and laws and eventually found myself being a part of the problem of the world's all evil myself. This was not because I would not believe in God or that He wants men to lead a moral life. It was because I lacked the true knowledge of Him and that I did not know how to truly let Him to live in my heart. I had slowly transformed from a nice and good intended boy into a violent and hateful person. I committed many sorts of crimes, mostly involving physical violence, guns and drugs. I went to prison a few times. I remember that always when I was either in jail or in prison, I sought God and read His Word. Boy did I read it, yes I read the Word Very thoroughly and with the help of many translation and other tools during my imprisonment. Despite that, I did not truly know the Lord and could not submit myself fully to Him. Thus I failed to receive the New Spirit from Him, but had to went through many horrible events in my life. But God in His Omniscience saw my heart's desire and hunger to know Him. He sent His angels many times to save me from certain death. One particular event that made me think about life and it's meaning was after I played ”the Russian Roulette” pointed the revolver with one cartridge inside it at my own head about fifteen times. Last time the cartridge was there, but the bullet just didn't fire! 15
May the reason be whatever, to me it was and still is a clear sing of God's mercy and benevolence to me. This was certainly not the first or last case something like that happened to me, but I save the rest for perhaps to another occasion. So I wandered the world wreaking havoc in my own life and that of others. Then I reached a point when I was utterly exhausted physically and emotionally. I felt I was coming in to end of my life. I was living in a world of constant presence of the death. I knew I had not used the gift of life as it was meant and I felt sorry for it. I did believe already in God and in Jesus, and knew that Bible was the Word of God, but for some reason I had not had the power to give up the sin. Therefore I was very disappointed in myself and in religion. So I just gave up and prayed one night at my own chamber something like this: “Lord Jesus, if you want to save me and give me power to live life as God has meant men to live it, I want to believe You can. I'm giving up everything to You and if You show me mercy, I will serve You on Your conditions the rest of my life”. The next morning I woke up I found my conscience clear as crystal and white as snow. I felt like I had recovered from a lifelong spiritual death. That was the beginning of my life as a New Creature. Hallelujah!
3. What does it mean to be born again?
This is one of the very first issues I faced as a New Creature. The funny thing was, that at first I was so much influenced by “High Church” theology (that is, Christianity that was transformed into a state religion) that I failed to understand I was in fact regenerated by the Spirit. Even though this had happened de facto I did not understand it before certain brother hinted me to look at at John chapter 3. So I did and soon I wrote this article. KEY VERSE: "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3 Here Jesus was speaking to the pharisee named Nicodemus. These words of the Lord Jesus are quite clear. However the interpretation of the issue in Scriptures is varied. As
the true seeker seeks the real truth, instead of picking doctrine there, abandoning one here just on the basis os his or her personal amusement, one of the honest heart ought to seek the God's truth. The issue of Christian rebirth should not be taken lightly, as we read the Lord's words. To be born again means to be assured the entrance and inheritance of the Kingdom of God. It is written: "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Romans 8:1517. Thus we are assured by the Living Spirit of God, who dwells in us, that we are the children of God, when we have been saved, we have taken Jesus Christ as our Savior and given our whole life totally to God. It is also, as we read, the testimony of the Scripture. How then, is one born again? Some say that it happens when the priest sprinkles (or pours) water three times to the forehead of baby child (doctrine of baptismal regeneration). But that custom tends to give suggestion that it is up to parents and priests to assure one of spiritual rebirth. It may even bring people to false sense of being under the mercy of God. Lord said: "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:17,2021 So, if the sprinkling of babies brings the assurance of salvation, then most of the people even today in Christian world ought to bear good fruit. Is it so? What do we see in news? Prisons and brothels are full of people who have been baptized as a child. Does their behavior testify they have been Born Again from above? Surely not. True and genuine rebirth includes things and brings the fruit which is written by Paul: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:12.
How then do we achieve this? Is this salvation by works? The real and factual event of Rebirth takes place, when one truly takes Jesus for his or her personal savior. This includes, as I wrote before, that we give the fullness of ourselves to the LORD. Accepting the atoning work of Christ as a substitute Lamb for our sins makes us righteous before the eyes of God the Father. Thus we also receive the Holy Spirit, when we take Jesus. Rebirth is "from above", it is the miraculous work of God and not of man. We cannot choose to be born again, but ought to expect it, if we give ourselves to Him. God makes us New Men. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made it very clear that it is not something we can achieve through rituals. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Galatians 6:15 Let us now consider what else Jesus said to Nicodemus: ”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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:56 Now, those who overemphasize the sacramental aspect of the baptism may say that here Jesus clearly institutes the sacrament of baptism, by which the rebirth occurs. The context and the whole of the Bible does not allow this kind of interpretation. Jesus also said, as written down by the same apostle John: "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." John 4:10 Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan woman, who was did not yet believe in Him. Thus he used the symbolism of water as that of the truth about salvation trough Him. Jesus is giving us the Living Water, the faith which brings the Spirit of God also to us. Thus it seems normative in the light of the Scriptures that one takes the Christian water baptism after he or she has been Born Again. As such, the baptism serves as an outward sing of the fact one is already saved, and gives assurance of that, as we testify our salvation by the outward act of baptism to ourselves, the church, the world and to the invisible powers. Now, to summarize the work of the Lord, who gives the salvation to us as a free gift, which we can take or abandon let us read:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12,13. By the will of God, we are born again and can call God Abba, our Father. In perfect love there's no fear, like John wrote later on. We are New Creatures in Christ. Thus we are His jointheirs waiting to receive from Him all which He has. This includes a new body at the Day of His Coming (Romans 8:11, 1.Corinthians 15:1454, 1.Thessalonians 4:1317.). This is beautiful and joyful hope of the Christians.
4. What does it mean to be holy?
As the Lord's elect, the Church, or the Ecclesia (calledout ones) is set apart from the world and sin. The very word "kadosh" in Hebrew, which is translated holy, means "set apart". Jesus himself said: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Mat.5:48). Of course we cannot become sinless and thus perfect in every sense of the word. That is why we have to examine what are the prerequisites of becoming holy in the eyes of God. This subject is very closely linked to the whole of salvation. First step to holiness is to become righteous. This is recorded in the Scripture: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" Romans 1:16a Thus God saves us through our faith in Jesus Christ. He sees us holy, because Jesus was holy and sinless. "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 ESV "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [than that of Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12 19
How can we achieve this position in the eyes of God? How can we ”take” Jesus? Bible tells us: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. " Romans 13:14 ESV It is clear that we must clothe ourselves with Lord Jesus. This is not merely calling Him Lord and claiming namely His Lordship. We read this in His words: "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" John 14:21 ESV It is not about our fleshly strength that we can obey God's commandments, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. We receive this power, when we are Born Again. Even so, we have to choose obeying, instead of rebellion. But the power by which this is achieved is given by God. "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receivewith meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:21 ESV “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit." 1.Thessalonians 4:78 It is a testimony of the Holy Spirit in us, that the commandments of God are not burden for us. As New Creatures, we desire to do God's will willingly, out of love. This is said also in the Scripture: "for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes. " Psalm 119:4748 ESV It is an outward sign of testimony about us being saved, when we delight in the LORD's statutes and keep them. Jesus said that they become to us a Law of Love. Thus the world knows we are Lord's, when they see we are holy, setapart from the world. No longer does the flesh rule over us! “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:56 ESV
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." – John 13:3435 ESV
5. Infilling of the Holy Spirit: Empowering after regeneration Now that we have concluded what is to be ”born again”, (i.e to be regenerated) in the chapter above, we will consider another work that the Holy Spirit is willing to do in our hearts. I have achieved understanding from the Scriptures, backed up by experiences, that the infilling, also called baptism of the Holy Spirit is a work distinct of the regeneration. Baptism in the Spirit is a means of God to empower a believer, subsequent to his or her salvation, to the work of God. To present this issue in a short, easily comprehensible and biblical manner, we will thus commend by considering the twelve disciples. They were all saved, born again believers in Jesus. But before their initial baptism in the Spirit they lacked the empowering to work efficiently for the Lord. Peter, for example, was eager to follow Jesus, but when the real thing came, denied Him (see Matthew 26:6975). Shortly before this, Jesus had promised to send a divine Comforter to the disciples (see John 14:16,26) and that He would not come before Jesus Himself would go away (John 16:7). Just prior to His ascencion, Jesus instructed His disciples concerning the coming of the promised power/Comforter: ”And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” Luke 24:49 ”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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:45,8
We see the great in Peter’s profession of faith prior and after his infilling of the Spirit. Let us consider his weakness in the High Priest’s palace: ”Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” – Matthew 26:69 75. Jesus had predicted the weakness of His disciples (Mat.26:31). The Lord knew His disciples did not yet have the power to boldly stand for Him. That is why He instructed them just prior to His ascencion: He ”commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). He had told about the Promise of the Father already many times. Maybe at this point the disciples started to anticipate the Spirit actively. Jesus had said: ”If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13. The Lord Jesus knew that the Spirit would not be poured upon the believers ’til He was on this earth. Many times did He speak of the future outpouring, so that the disciples could anticipate it: ”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 7:3839. Now that He was about to ascend to the heavens of God, He told the disciples wait just for a little while. Then the promise would be fullfilled, and disciples would be filled in the very essence and presence of God YHWH. Of this event we read from the book of Acts: ”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.” – Acts 2:14. Let us now consider the change and impact the Holy Spirit made on Peter. Not very long ago he had denied his Master. Though he was willing to follow his Lord even unto death, he didn’t have the divine empowering to actually achieve that. Now that he had received the infilling, let us see the power that abided in him as he started his apostolic ministry: ”But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, 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. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:1418, 3233, 3641 Now there was the divine power in the words of Peter! People were ”pricked in their heart” and three thousand people were baptized and added to the community of believers. What a difference! What a power! Let us all pray for this same power, so that many would be saved even through our ministry! God is still using His people in the way He used the apostles. We just have to diligently ask Him to infill us and empower us to His ministry. Later on, this power continued in Peter’s ministry and others received the Spirit same way he had received:
”And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. ”Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 10:1516. Let us yet briefly see what apostle Paul wrote, divinely inspired, about the infilling of the Spirit: ”For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1.Cor.12:13 ”And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” – Eph.5:1821 The whole book of Acts is actually a wonderful (and true) record of the work of the Holy Spirit in the building of the early Church of God, through the apostles (emissaries, ambassadors) of Jesus. From it we read about the boldness in which the believers testified of their risen Lord Jesus, defying death and imprisonment. Let us consider Stephen for example: ”And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost… And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” – Acts 6:5a, 810, 5556, 5960 Stephen became the first martyr of the Christian Church. He was so full of the Holy Spirit, that even during his brutal and unjust execution he interceded for his murderers: ”Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”. Not all of us will have to pay the ultimate price of following Jesus. Some of us may. With the Power from on High we can fight the good fight. ”Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.” – 2.Chron.20:15. 24
”Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” – Eph.6:1012, 1719. The gift of the Spirit is reserved for all of us, all that have been regenerated by the power of God. There is much more that could be said about the infilling of the Spirit. I will summarize some issues that usually confuse believers when they consider this subject: The infilling of the Spirit is subsequent and distinct phenomenon from the regeneration. Sometimes the infilling may take place immediately after the regeneration, but never before it. (See Acts 10:4447; 19:46). The infilling of the Spirit is important aspect of the Christian life, but it does not add any extra merit to the salvation that is already achieved by the sovereing grace of God. We receive the Spirit of God in our regeneration, though we may not be yet infillied with Him. We will need the constant infilling, so that we may be spiritually awake to anticipate the return of the Lord(see Matthew 25:112), but the infilling in itself does not add anything to our salvation, which is solely invested on us through faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus. Only this understanding of the subsequent infilling will make the book of Acts make sense to us. With our understanding on the subject of regeneration, combined with the understanding of the subsequent infilling in the Spirit, we will find the Bible a consistent book, especially considering it’s soteriology (that is, the things conserning salvation) and pneumatology (that is, the things conserning the Holy Spirit).
Now that we have “peeked” in the subject of the infilling in the Spirit, let us start praying God, so that He would send His Comforter on us. The Spirit will empower us to follow Jesus, serve and worship God, live a full and meaningful life, thus letting us to reap the fullness of the abundance of the blessings of the regeneration! Holy Spirit is available for us 24/7. Let us desire Him. Let us plea Him for us. Let us live in Him. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” – Acts 17:18a
6. Power of the Holy Spirit in believer
As Christians we have 247 instant access to the most large power source of the Universe. As we were born again and as we are daily renewed and infilled by the Spirit, we have the Almighty God living inside us through His Holy Spirit (see John 14:16). That makes us vessels of the most noble Being in the Universe and beyond! That gives us sweet assurance and inner affirmation of Eternal Life which we already have started to live. Unlike earthly and humanly power sources, the communion with the Spirit does not slow and will not cease by any reason aside if we personally quit the contract with Him. I have prayed many times, “Oh Lord, make me a better vessel to carry You Spirit. Make me able to shine Your Light”. That He does, but we have a free will to let or not let God change and transform us daily more and more into His image. The Spirit works through the Word. He reminds us of the Word of God and never does He tell us anything with is not in accordance with the Bible. But in the Word we have life, because the written Word is all about the Everliving Word the Son! Here lies the secret of the true authority of the believer. Not that we move the Spirit, but that the Spirit reminds us of the Words of God the Father and of the Son. Of this the Lord Jesus said: “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.” (John 14:26). This is closely linked to what Jesus told in the same speech: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.“ (John 14:14). If we live in accordance with the Spirit, we will not ask God to satisfy our selfish desires, but to glorify Himself in us and through us. Jesus continued: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). Also He said in another occasion: ”Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Mat.6:3133 26
Here we have the truth about the earthly “success”. We indeed are promised to be supplied all we need, but surely a born again child of God does not need all the material luxuries that this world seeks. Rather we must direct our heart's deepest desire towards the aims of the Kingdom. When we came to faith and grow in it, the person of the Holy Spirit becomes familiar to us. Our relationship with Him becomes intimate and profound. Indeed I did not understand that the Spirit is a person. I even did not understand that I had a separate part in my being, that is my spirit. Only when the Spirit of God came upon me and began live inside me, did I come aware of these awesome truths fully. Surely a person who does not know personally God, cannot appreciate or truly comprehend His person. Even so, we children of God have an eternity to learn about our God. That is the true power of Him that has saved us!
7. Transforming the hearts by the power of the Spirit Cradle of life came to earth in human vesture. He took upon Himself the genome of human. Apparently He had to change the genetic formula of man to do this. Thus the Divine merged with the corporeal, beginning the salvatory work of Incarnation. What a wonderful mystery it is that is revealed to us in the Bible! And knowing and believing that Jesus died as a sacrificial Lamb for our sins and then was resurrected and ascended to heaven, now is living eternally and we with Him! After His ascension He sent His Spirit to us to lead us to all truth. We read: ”Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a lifegiving spirit.” (1.Co.15:45). Now, if you believe this and have been regenerated, you can easily imagine yourself as a God's vessel. You are the vessel of the Holy Spirit and therefore also a messenger of God: You are invested with a power and will to proclaim the Good News! Isn't it the greatest privilege imaginable to be a vessel of God and see the most powerful force in the universe to quicken the spiritually dead people? Isn't it the most profound longing one can have, to be an instrument of the Regenerating Spirit and see the Cradle of Life to establish Himself in fellow men and women?
It is my sincere belief that every person who is born again receives the will and power to pass on the lifegiving knowledge of the Gospel. ´ Will you let others to know about the grace you have received? Will you carry the torch of Eternal Light in this world of darkness? Lord said that a city found on a hill cannot remain hidden. So it is with people of God. Our salvation will become manifest! If we only follow the calling we received, we will daily see miracles, small and great in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter. Then and only then we will see the true power of God which moves mountains! Becoming doers of the word and not only hearers shall we partake in the radical process which the Spirit is making in transforming the hearts of all who are willing to receive God's salvation in Jesus Christ, freely because of His grace. We must daily renew our covenant with God and Jesus. That is the secret of success in our spiritual life and it's development. This is the secret longing in the hearts of every living human being.
8. Healing our inner wounds through the fruits of Spiritual regeneration Usually some of our inner wounds are healed when the Spirit of God regenerates us, (that is, when we are saved). So the paranoia, hatred, jealousy and other issues may be healed completely or partially when our personal cosmology and our priorities have transformed from selfcentered to Christcentered. I am not now saying that this is a rule that always follows, but rather it is something I have seen both in my own life and the lives of many others. (At the same time we should not try to put God’s work into patterns. Some people are healed completely, some partially, some instantly, some gradually, while some may not find themselves healed in this Age. Still all of these may be just as spiritual as the other). Before the regeneration had happened, we actually knew only our body and our soul (psykhe), but didn't truly know our spirit. Our spirit is what interacts with God and thirsts God's presence. That is why we didn't know ourselves truly before we came to know the Lord. So it is written "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28a). As our innermost self, our spirit is regenerated, it starts radiating to our psyche and even our bodies. Thus we may be instantly or slowly healed, or both. This cures some of our trauma. Also this affects to the timely consequences of romantic and sexual trauma and
other damage in this area. This helps us to grow spiritually and be vessels to carry the Holy Spirit to others. This all is started in our Regeneration by the Spirit. This is even so a continual, ongoing process also that takes place daily, as we daily take our cross and follow Jesus. Even so, our spiritual regeneration was a onetime event that we confirm daily in our lives. This is pure cure to our wounds, our bad habits and fleshly desires that try to rule us instead of Christ. Many times secular lifemanagement and selfhelp guides center on our problems. Jesus shows us that whatever our problem is, He is the Solution, the Final Solution of God. That is why the true Christianity centers always on the person, work and teachings of Jesus Christ and so it is a solutioncentered "life philosophy" (Actually being rather an Ultimate Manual to success from the Creator of everything). Our new birth to new creatures in Christ is both a onetime phenomenon and also an ongoing process which we must confirm daily, as we lead the Christian life in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we so walk in the glorious light of the glorious Majesty, we may own the comforting words: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans forwelfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." – Jeremiah 29:11 ESV.
9. What are the benefits of the water baptism? As we have seen in the chapter "What does it mean to be born again?", spiritual regeneration does not come at the moment of baptism. Rather, it happens when we acknowledge and accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and personally submit to the will of God (1.Peter 4:2). Faith brings regeneration by the Holy Spirit and also causes the Holy Spirit to indwell us. "Of his own will He begot us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creations." James 1:18 ESV "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:14 ESV
I haven't found anything in the Bible, that allows the interpretation that we are regenerated through the sacrament of baptism in itself. It is true that immediately after the Lord Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16). It seems clear that it had to be a sign of the Father's favor to those who saw it, since surely our Lord as both God and man had to have the Spirit in Him even before baptism. We read in the Gospel according to Luke that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:3135). Also it is believed by many sacramental/liturgical churches and others, that infant baptism brings salvation from the Original Sin. The Holy Scriptures say however, that the blood of Christ gives salvation from sin, original and personal (Revelation 1:5), not the baptism. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7 ESV Baptism means to ask a pure conscience from God (1 Peter 3:21), that is it's "sacramental" dimension. But the actual baptism is outward sign of the salvation which is already achieved through the Holy Spirit as a gift from God which comes to us by faith (Ephesians 2:8). Accordingly then, baptism is an act of obedience to God. As a person becomes a child of God, he or she will have the desire to keep God's commandments out of love and appreciation (John 14:15). It is written: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3 ESV It is a clear commandment of the Lord Jesus, that we baptize believers: "Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: 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." Matthew 28:1920 ESV So it seems obvious that the person who takes Jesus as his or her personal savior, ought to have an appreciative and obedient heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus one will seek to do the Lord's will. As we read in the Scriptures, baptism is one such commandment directly from the Lord. Even though baptism itself does not bring the salvation, it is nevertheless taught by the 30
Lord that we should be baptized and so the actual act of baptism is a sign and testimony of our salvation, both to ourselves and to the world and even to the powers of darkness (Mark 16:16)! It is promised that doing God's will brings also His blessing (Revelation 22:14). And to the born again son or daughter of God, it is natural to want to please our heavenly Father. Obedience itself is the most valuable blessing.
To summarize some of the fundamental benefits of baptism, they are: Pure conscience which God gives us (through the faith in Jesus, which includes keeping his commandments, baptism being one of them) (1.Peter 3:21) Joy which is given by the Holy Spirit for following God's commandments (Romans 15:13) Knowledge that we are saved which thus becomes more affirmed, since it is written so (Mark 16:16) Let us then briefly examine some of the "symbolism" in baptism. Simultaneously it raises the question of the form of the baptism is it by sprinkling or pouring or rather by immersion. It is written in the Scriptures about the meaning of baptism: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4 RSV "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:12 ESV It is clear from the above Scriptures, that this symbolism can be properly achieved only by immersion in water symbolizing our old self buried in Christ's death and raising from the water – symbolizing regeneration in the new life in Christ and promise of the resurrection to immortality. Also, it is interesting to note, that all the baptisms of the New Testament were done in the water, (not only with the water). "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized." John 3:23 ESV (Note: why baptize there, if only a mug full of water would be sufficient?)
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..." Matthew 3:16a ESV (Note: Jesus came out of the water, it was no pouring or sprinkling) "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip..." Acts 8:36,39a ESV (Note: they came to the spot of natural water, a pond perhaps. They came out of the water) There are also ample evidences that the original Greek word used in the New Testament for baptism, that is "baptizoo", means "to dip in", "to immerse". It is easy to find more information about the exegesis and linguistic evidence, if you do not find this sufficient evidence. Should we then baptize infant children? Scripture says about baptism: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Acts 8:12 ESV (Note: the people heard and obviously understood the Gospel of the Kingdom, and then they were baptized. Little children do not yet understand the Gospel). "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned." Mark 16:16 ESV (Note: this Scripture shows us that faith has to precede the baptism. Also we see that baptism gives us the assurance of salvation) "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Acts 2:41 ESV (Note: Is an infant child gladly receiving the word?) Infants are saved by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to save the world from the punishment due to the Original Sin (Revelation 1:5). Also, little children have not yet committed any personal sins which need to be reconciled with God. "And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." –Mark 10:1314 ESV More so, as Christians we can have even greater assurance that our little children are saved through our faith, since it written: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV 32
Dear brother or sister in Christ. If you have been "baptized" as a child, please consider the Scriptures given above and search your Bible about the topic. Read the Acts of the Apostles with a pure heart and then say you do not need to be immersed, have a Biblical baptism. Yes, you are right thinking that the salvation does not come from works; not by our act of baptism or that we should "play" God by "saving" children by baptism. The author has had many spiritual benefits and Joy of the Spirit after having Biblical baptism by immersion, after first becoming a child of God, adopted to the household of God, family of kings and priests of our God. Examine this issue from your Bible and ask the Lord that He may enlighten your path. If you become aware of the true joy which comes from obedience, you will be glad to get baptized! (If you wish to be baptized you may contact me, the author, and I can baptize you, or I can help you to find a church and/or minister who will baptize you biblically). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
10. How to become an intimate friend with Jesus
”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.” – John 15:1317 When we are regenerated, indeed when we become born again, we are adopted to the family of God (see Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15). Jesus is our brother (see Hebrews 2:11). Much of the growing in the Christian faith and in relationship with our Saviour is actually to achieve a deeper understanding of these facts. Our ”father” Abraham was also called a friend of God. We read: 33
”And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23 Here we find the basis of the relationship: We must believe in God. This is in accordance with another Scripture: ”But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 We must also believe God, believe what He says. Everything Jesus says, is what God says (John 5:30; 7:16; 15:15), that is why Jesus speaks with authority, and calls us His friends ”if we do whatsoever He commands us” (John 15:14). This is rational way even in ”earthly” relationships: If we love someone, we’ll try to please him/her. Of course we don’t earn Jesus’ love by obeying His commandments. On the contrary, the love He invests in us through the Holy Spirit, compells us to love Him back (see John 14:23, 2.Corinthians 5:14). Best way to practice the love of God, and thus grow in our daily relationship with Jesus is to love our brothers and sisters of faith. This is exactly what Jesus Himself told: ”This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 Later on apostle John, under inspiration of the Spirit, expands this thought: ”He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” – 1.John 2:910 ”If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” – 1.John 4:20 By living with this standard of love, we are imitators of Christ. The people you are around with will shape you to their likeness. Likewise, keeping company with Jesus and the Holy Spirit will keep us near God and shape us into their likeness. Scriptures say: ”Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” –Proverbs 27:17 ”He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20 Who is the wisest? Isn’t it Jesus? Bible says: 34
”Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” –Revelation 12:15 And also: ”Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” –1.Timothy 1:17 To walk with divine wisdom, thus growing to appreciate more deeply our personal relationship with Jesus, is to seek the company of others who profess their faith in Him. Bible tells us: ”Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” –Hebrews 10:25 ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 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.” –Colossians 3:1617 In the Biblical, Christian assembly we will ”sharpen” each other spiritually. In the practical daily life, especially in ecclesial life our faith and submission to Jesus are tested in practice. This also is why Jesus gave the office of elders (presbyters) to His church. By submitting to the authority of the elders of a local, biblical church (be it whatever denomination or non), we are following the ordinance of Jesus. The elders/pastors are given us as examples of Christian walk. Bible tells us of them: ”And he [Jesus] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” –Ephesians 4:1112 ”Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” – Hebrews 13:17. ”Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” – 1.Peter 5:5
”And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” –1.Corinthians 12:28
How we treat other people is how we treat Jesus. This is very practical and profound teaching of Jesus. Following this teaching is the best way to grow in our relationship with Him. Jesus said: ”For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” –Matthew 25:3540 Bible continues: ”Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27 ”If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” –James 2:1516 For me it has been practically helpful to grow in my faith to (almost literally) imagine Jesus walking, sitting and eating with me. If I believe in Him, I know He sees everything I do. Why should I behave in way different, than if I would see Him daily with me, with my eyes? It goes almost without saying, that praying and reading the Holy Scriptures is vital to a healty and vivid relationship with God and His Son. Bible testifies of this: ”So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17, American Standard Version ”For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” – Colossians 1:910 36
Jesus, in His Revelation appeals to us: ”Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” –Revelation 3:20 There are also some helpful tools Bible supplies us with, which very effeciently help us to grow in our relationship with Jesus. Let us read these: ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:29 ”Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 22:3740 ”Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 6:12 To summarize the things said, I will list some helpful steps one should take in order to grow in one’s relationship with Jesus: Make it an active, daily habit to pray Read the Word of God, Bible, every day Meditate on the work of Christ, learn to appreciate what He did for you Try to imagine Jesus, in person, with you daily as you do your things Try to see Jesus in every person you know and encounter and treat them accordingly!
Finally, remember, it is all about God’s grace! We cannot force ourselves to love Jesus. We just can beg for His mercy and submit ourselves fully, wholly to Him. Jesus is the one true ”sacrament”! We fulfill His ordinances eagerly, because of the love and the Spirit within us that intices it tenderly. We do not serve our Master with contempt or with feeling of being forced, but out of our own free will.
We want to follow all the ordinances of Christ, including water baptism and communion, and certainly not forgetting His commandment to go and preach the Gospel to all!´ We also want to be known for the love we have for each other (John 13:35) and for all of our fellow human beings. Therefore we follow the Commandement of Love (Mat.22:3740) and the Golden Rule (Mat.6:12). "For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward” 1.Corinthians 9:17a Remember the love Jesus had for Peter, though Peter had failed Him: ”So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” –John 21:1517 In same way Jesus is loving us today and calling us to be His coworkers, distributing His sure word to our fellow people!
11. Basis of Christian moral values All moral values are fundamentally derived from the commandments of God. All scientifical, theological and philosophic theoris will always have some effect to the morals and ethics of mankind. Let's take the darwinism for example. It asserts we are fundamentally not the image of God, but rather animals evolved from slime, apelike creatures etc. This brings with it a moral conclusions; If we're animals, we ought to act and behave like ones! Sexual moral, family values, society's care about the weak... No matter what people say, their ideas actually will effect how they make their decisions! That is no less true with us Christians. If we encounter people, as they would be Jesus, we ourselves give Jesus to them. This is connected to the fact that we should do everything as we'd do it to the Lord. This shapes our moral and makes us more Christlike. Also, by serving others in this manner gives
something out of our innermost self, our spirit and thus we give from ourselves the most true. Here is the beuty of the regenerated heart and mind of a true disciple. We must learn to put our own abitions, comfort and desires to halt at a time and learn to take care of other people. We must not only serve those we like, but also those that we naturally would dislike. Lord said about this: ”And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” – Mt.5:4748 If we put our faith in the thoughts, values and ideals of human beings in any form, be it political, philosophical or religious ideal, we have not on solid ground. Trends and fashions change. What was wrong yesterday may be considered rightful today. But that is not the case with Christians! Our moral values are not our own ideas what we feel right or wrong. We have died to our own fleshly desires and look up to the perfect One and desire to listen the voice of the Good Shepherd to instruct us. We must consider the Bible as a literal Word of God because: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2.Timothy 3:16 ESV Ask yourself, if your faith does not found itself in the Bible, where then? Remember that all false religious and philosophical assertions are based on the Original Lie: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:45 Believing this lie in it's various modern forms may at first seem proper. It may be ”politically correct” even. But eventually it will lead to destruction. All manmade paths to whatever worldly glory, will at the end be the highway to destruction. What's it going to be? Will you choose the narrow way, which may sometimes seem boring or unbearable in the eyes of the flesh? Or will you take the broadway to please yourself on the expense of the happiness of others, will of God and eventually your damnation from His Holy Presence? You can't have both! Therefore it is of utmost and of eternal importance that we found our faith in the sure foundation of Living God; His Word.
”The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 ESV
12. Growing in the Christian integrity and identity
There is truly majestic and powerful symbolism in the Word of God concerning His people. God sees His children as something special and values His Church (the called out ones) above everything He created. That is why He became a man and gave His life for us (John 3:16; 10:11). Now, what does it really mean to be a Christian? To really be a true Christian, means that we have taken Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The Lordship of Jesus must be full and profound, covering our whole life. The fullness of Jesus being our Master and King is the only way He will save us from our sins. So we have taken Jesus as our Lord. That makes us His disciples. The discipleship of Jesus gives us a membership in His spiritual body, the Church. Before we knew Jesus, we did not know our own true self, our spirit. God's Spirit, that the wholeness of God and Jesus, awakened our spirit and made it born again. That gave us a new and true identity. Also, we must remain God's children and not emancipate ourselves from this true family of ours. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” Colossians 2:6 If we neglect our spiritual life and abandon the High Calling, the Lord will find us waterless wells and unfruitful trees, servants who have buried their talent. Because we hang on the only anchor of our faith, Lord Jesus, God will deliver us from falling away from His grace. As we daily take up our cross and die to our selfish desires, we will by the power of the Regenerating Spirit bring forth the good fruit of the Spirit (see Matthew 12:33). "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” – Galatians 5:22.
The compound unity of the Christian Church, or the true calledout ones lies in that we share and form the True Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Living God. Like the Father, the Word and the Spirit form a compound unity, so are we formed as one body, through the power of God (see John 17:11,22). We have Living God dwelling in our body and spirit He is the Spirit of God, also called "the Holy Ghost" and "Defender". It is the secret of our integrity and our privilage to serve God who first loved us (see 1.John 4:19). We are called to the discipleship of Jesus, we are sent to preach the Gospel, we are called to give our very all to Jesus. We are made brothers of the Lord Jesus (Mark 3:35) and children of God. As it is written of us: "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” –Hebrews 2:11. Thus we need to become a holy nation, a spiritual nation of God. We have to lead a life of holiness, which we can achieve only by the Spirit of God. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" – Ephesians 1:45 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" 1.Corinthians 6:19 "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2.Corinthians 6:16 The Church of God is Holy, so one claiming a membership in that true spiritual Body must bring forth fruits of the Spirit. Although we cannot be good or even to do good (in a long run) by our own strength, we need to choose to obey God's will in our lives. As we can see from the Scripture, and as the Spirit inside us testifies, we are truly blessed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We have taken His righteousness upon us (Romans 3:14). Thus He has adopted us to the household of the Living God. Thus we may, without fear refer to God as our Father (Abba) (Gal.4:6). Thus we also may call upon God by His Holy Name (haShem), which is YHWH (probably spelled Yahweh), and which includes in the name of our Lord Jesus (Yehoshua,“Yahweh is Salvation”). Let us now see few verses from the Scriptures, from the Epistle to Romans about this:
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." – Romans 8:15 We enter into an intimate spiritual relationship with God. It is kind of a symbiosis of two lifeforms existing in us. One is our self, and the other is the True God who abides in us through His Holy Spirit. It is not a mere theory, but YHWH God gives us a vivid testimony of this, through His Word and through His Spirit, as Paul continues in his epistle to Romans: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" – Romans 8:16 With us been adopted to the Household of God, it brings about all the birthrights of the son and daughter of the King of Kings. As we become the children of God the Father by reconciliation through the Blood of Christ, we become brothers (and sisters) of God's Only Begotten Son. This true Christian identity of our, is that we belong to God's Royal House. We are the jointheirs of Christ and shall rule with Him us becoming like Him in every unimaginable way (see Philippians 3:21, 1.John 3:2, Revelation 5:911). "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." – Romans 8:17 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" 1.Peter 2:9 With great privilege comes great responsibility. Jesus said that not everyone who says to him 'Lord, Lord' shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom is reserved for the true children. There may be people who pretend to belong to God's congregation of saints. To them the Lord says: "Get away from me, I never knew you." (Mat.7:21). Before we took Jesus our Lord, God's commandments seemed hard for us. Now they are our joy and our true food and fuel. As the Lord said: "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4b). The Spirit of adoption has transformed our spirit into more obedient and glad, more thankful and loving. There lies the true beauty and integrity of Christians, that we love God our Father and each other. We have right to own all God's promises as His children. Accepting
this fact in all humility fit for obedient children, we will despite out of our spirit all the integrity that we rightfully possess. The secret of our true identity lies in the fact that we are a whole new sort of creation, made by God, who elected this body of people before the ages (see Ephesians 1:45). Of this it is written: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 1.Corinthians 5:17. Almighty God has power and will to make as even bastions and strongholds of His Word. When we receive from Him our daily spiritual bread and carry our crosses in His footsteps, He will make us worthy vessels to carry the light of the truth. We have as our Lord the truthful and faithful God the Word, He even has the will to give us everything He has. But we have to become servants of Him and of each other. Lord will teach us all the humility He manifested when He walked this Earth. Only by selfdenial and lack of egocentric motivation will we truly realize the wonderful hope and freedom which we may have in Christ. As we deny ourselves and follow Jesus humbly and truly, the fruit of the Spirit will proceed. As the Word proceeds from the Father, so do the good works of faith and praise of gratitude come forth from us. Verily is the miracle of regeneration and true conversion the basis and reason for our worship and praise. As heirs, we may come to the presence of God with due reverence and joy. Could there be any better identity and basis for the purpose of integral life, than having the Living God living in our heart and speaking to us? That is what happened when we were regenerated and when we daily carry our crosses! All this glory and wonder came to us, because of God's grace. Our part was to choose to accept this gift and bring our lives, our hopes, fears, sins...everything in us, to the merciful God, who is merciful (especially) through His Son. We did as it is written: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. Let all of us who are in Christ, always trust our God, who is our Father and our Redeemer and Sanctifier.May we walk always from light to light!
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." 2.Corinthians 13:14
13. What is the Kingdom of God?
It is very refreshing to be guided by the Spirit in truth in all matters. So is it also with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Some may wonder what does it has to do with the Regeneration, but I am convinced it has to do much. Jesus said that if we are born again, we may then and only then enter this kingdom (see John 3:3). So, when we were regenerated, we were adopted into the family of God and that means also we have the Earth as our inheritance. This is the secret of the Kingdom. Jesus promised to His twelve apostles: “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matthew 19:28 The Kingdom (Malkuth in Hebrew) was something Jesus preached about a lot. Many people want us to believe that the church, past and/or present is the kingdom. Or that it is only a state of mind. But let us see what the Scriptures has to say about the subject. You may remember the golden statue in the book of Daniel that the Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream. The different parts of the statue were the different kingdoms some already there at Daniel's time and recognized by him by the inspiration of the Spirit. The last world power is being established by God and is described as follows: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Daniel 2:44.
This does not convince all that the Kingdom will be literal. But how then are we to understand these words of the Lord:“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Mat.5:5)? Some say that this applies only to our earthly lives. But if we seek the Psalm Jesus was referring to we found these words: “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” (Psalm 37:29). Some say that the world (or the mankind) will be utterly destroyed and that the Church is in heaven during the Millenium or the eternity. But let us see what God promised after He destroyed the antedeluvian world except Noah and his family. “...I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” – Genesis 8:21 If we let the Lord open our eyes, we may understand the blessed hope we have in a renewed, regenerated planet, ruled by King Jesus! For Him it was clear issue and that is why He said: “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.“ – Mark 14:25 When will this happen? Lord said: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,which the Father hath put in his own power. 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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:68 So it was not God's intention to build the Kingdom at the first coming, but at the second. Jesus spoke about this also in other occasions which you can see for example in Matthew chapter 24. Well, how can we be sure that the Kingdom is literal and really on Earth rather than in heaven? Have you ever considered where would Adam and Eve have lived lest they had sinned? God made them to live on Earth and that is why it is written:
“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.“ Psalm 115:16 “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.“ – Isaiah 45:18 As we have seen in the chapter “Growing in the Christian integrity and identity” we will be coheirs of Christ. Let's see briefly a Scripture from Revelation about this: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Rev.5:910 We may understand more of this if we look what Paul wrote about this, that the dead will be with the Lord truly only after the resurrection of the body: ”But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive an d remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1.Thesalonians 4:1317 So, in the resurrection of the body, we become Christlike also physically. We get similar bodies Jesus had after He rose from the grave. ”Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1.Corinthians15:5154 But how am I sure that the Lord will be literally on Earth? Because of the following Scriptures:
“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east ...” Zechariah 15:14 (Note that the text clearly speaks about literal attack against Israel, so it cannot be symbolic in this context). ”And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son”. – Revelation 21:37 Oh how amazing and gracious wonders and glories are waiting for us! That is the Gospel of the Kingdom we're supposed to preach to all nations! That is the wonderful grand finale to all the agonies and fears of the world. That is the final Regeneration of the Universe and it's inhabitants given to us by gracious and True Lord Jesus! Six thousand years of sin will end in a Millenia of sabbathrest for the Earth and to those faithful among humanity. There would be much more to write about the Kingdom. This I will save to another occasion and trust that this short presentation may incite reader to study the subject more from his or her Bible. One thing is, that as we are Regenerated, we already are citizens and heirs of the Kingdom, but not reigning royal priests in office. However, as the Spirit of God was present in the Creation, He is now in our hearts and thus we have share in the creative power, the most dynamic power in the Universe! And this is just the beginning for we will get all the promises of God literally in the (Millenial) Kingdom and after it!
My Christological Creed To some it may seem strange to add this theological presentation here, but to me it was an important part of the work of the Spirit. Like it was promised, the Spirit guided me to see who and what Jesus is and how He is related to the Father – things which were not always clear to me before I was born again. After my regeneration I felt an inner urge to put my newly enlightened understanding into words which now follow. This is also given here for the discernment of those who might question the detail of my faith in Christ (my Christology), and hopefully for the benefit of the brethren. I believe in One God (YHWH Echad Elohim), the Father (ABBA), origin of all things, from whom the Word (Logos) has His origin, from the days of old from eternity. From everlasting is He an utterance of the Father (Gn.1:1, Jn.1:1), Light from Light, God from God. Of the same substance, as born not created (Ps.2:7), because it is written "Trough Him all things were created" (Col.1:16). And I believe in the Holy Spirit, who is the person of the Love of God. He emanates from the Father and through the Son. He is not created, being the Spirit of God, He is not separate from the Father. So as the Father is the Origin of the Son and of the Spirit, He is, at is written "the head of Christ" (1.Co.11:3), But as the Son is born and the Spirit is radiating from the Father, they are not created beings, but share the substance of the Godhead and are thus truly God. As it is written, "God is Spirit" (Jn.4:23) and "Word was God" (Jn.1:1) and that "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col.2:9), they are all the LORD God (YHWH ELOHIM) –
it is also written of the Word, that "He is the Angel of His Presense" (Ex.3:2, Is.63:9) and "Angel in whom My Name Is" (Ex.23:21). Even so, it is written that "Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Heb.1:4). As the spirit of man is the man, so the Spirit of God is truly God,Also thus is the son of man a man, so is Son of God the God As it is written, "In the beginning was Word and Word was God" (Jn.1:1) and "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; But thou art the same, and thy years will never end." (Hb.1:1013). Father is Ancient of Days (ATIK YOMIN) (Dn.7:9), Son is the Firstborn God and Word (Monogenes Theos, Logos) and the Spirit is the Comforter (Ruach HaKodesh, Paracletos). All of them are worthy to receive the due honor and worship of men, as they are all the LORD (YHWH), even as the Father is the head and origin of the Godhead (Elohim).
My Worship Psalm Very soon after I was born again, I started to internal urge to praise God. This was something totally new to me. I found it natural to pray constantly and worship God every way I could. I received the purified lips from the Lord by which He made me able to offer thanks to Him. Next I offer a Psalmlike poem I wrote very soon I was born again. I wrote it originally in my native Finnish, so the translation may lack some of the artistic values (if there are any) of the original but nevertheless carry the Joy of the Spirit I received. My soul truly rejoices of Your goodness, oh Lord. You saved me from the traps of death, and delivered me to the fullness of freedom. That is why Your laws and statutes have become very dear to me. Today You are my King. I want to build your Kingdom, and to praise your name in the town square. I desire to walk in the halls of your House, and to rest in it's colonnades. You cut in half the separating curtain, Thus I can come in joy and gladness to the Holy of Holiest. 49
Verily have You given me my daily breath, For You gave Yourself as a gift to me, Oh Bread of Life. Oh Living God, my spirit thirsts the Living Water. Give us the lifegiving Spring Rain of your Spirit. Let the harvest of Your blessings bloom lush in our midst. Give strength to my spirit, that I could endure the brightness of Your greatness, and your Everlasting Presence. Make me more abiding vessel to Your holy cause. Your love wells in my heart as a spring, Let it grow to a great water fall! Even though I am a sinstained dust, You bore me anew. And You gave me power to become your child and heir of your promises. Let humility increase in me. Endow me in spiritual warfare, so I can fight the good fight of faith. Only did you not clear obstacles in my way, but abundantly gave me only best. You adopted me to your Royal Priesthood, oh High Priest, and made me housekeeper of your Word. To many I have become an object of amazement, but You are my stronghold. That is why I want to offer You thanksgiving, praise your Holy Name, and worship You oh Living God, Adonai Yahweh Elohim, Hallelujah Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh. Amen.
If you want, after reading this book (or otherwise), give your life to God through His onlybegotten Son Jesus, and accept Jesus as your personal Saviour, you can do thus by saying the following prayer with earnest heart.
“Dear God, I know I need You in my life, I have sinned against you with actions, words and thoughts, But now I want to appeal to the precious blood of Your Son Jesus For the remission of my sins, all of them. I want to take Your Son Jesus from this moment onward to be my personal Saviour. Please Lord Jesus, accept me as your disciple and give me power to become a child of God. Teach me to walk in Your footsteps. Thank You that You love me God, and that You show me Your love even more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
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About the author and contact information
I, the author Henrik J.A Kiviniemi am born 1983 and live in Finland. I am married. From the beginning of this year (2011) I hold a Bachelor of Divinity decree from Maranatha Theological Seminary and am continuing my studies there and also in university. I am also a director of Maranatha Theological Seminary – Europe, a free Bible seminary. I am currently active in my local Biblebelieving church, am writing and doing research and leading a Bible study group. I have a desire to go to missionary work in the future, lest the Lord comes before it is possible. I work for God interdenominationally.. I am called by God to do His work which ever way I can. I accept donations for advancement of the printing and translation of this book. Volunteer contributions can be send to my bank account (FI9780002612547645) or by another media which you can inquire by email. I am available for churches, schools and other organizations to give speeches, testimonies and sermons, assist in ministry, assist in mission etc. Also, if you wish more material, wish to enquire new editions of this book, be baptized, have pastoral discussion, have more info about our Bible school or of other issue, do not hesitate to email me: email@example.com
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May you be blessed in the name of Jesus!
Brother Henrik J.A Kiviniemi
Have you ever wondered what is the purpose of life?
If there is a God, why we need Him? What is the role of Jesus in all this? What is this ”being born-again” so many professing Christians always talk about? Can even criminals, alcoholics, drug-addicts, prisoners and other people on the margins of society find grace and even rehabilitate to society? This book tries to help you to find answers for these questions in a loving way. The author believes that everyone and everything (including society and this planet) needs a regeneration that is only available from the Heavenly Power that designed everything. If you are a Christian and have experienced the spiritual regeneration, you still find a lot of insight within the pages of this book, as it covers many topics about further growth in the faith and build a more profound relationship with Jesus through the constant infilling of the Spirit.
It also encourages every believer to consider increasing their efforts to be a faithful witnesses of Jesus and reach out to those who yet do not know Jesus personally. This book contains a series of Bible-studies, testimonies and exhortations from a young Christian writer and witness who has own experience about rising up from difficult conditions, and who has read his Bible and is currently continuing his formal Biblical Studies. What other people say about this book: ”From violence to victory in JESUS; for self and society: by experiencing the miracle power of GOD’s Love through deliveranca and knowledge from the HOLY BIBLE. Henrik is blessed to share this knowledge, which is joyfully presented to The searching heart, troubled mind and sad spirit. More than just receiving a blessing from reading Henrik’s book: Apply the WONDERFUL-POWERFUL-TRUTH of GOD’s word. After 57 years of walking with Jesus, I feel like 23 at age 73. I know how to Find the deeper joys in life: and Henrik’s book has been one of them.” -David Olsen
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