Saturday, December 19, 2009

Born Again

What does it really mean to be born again? Why must we be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God? Is there a clear understanding of this truth in the bible?

In this bible study we will take a fresh look at being born again, and what Jesus said we must all do in order to enter the kingdom of God.

I will start this study by quoting 1st Timothy 3:16-17
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

If you believe this scripture to be true then you believe that every scripture from Genesis to Revelation was given to the writer by inspiration of God and the teachings that are contained in the bible will profit you. You will be open and willing to be reproved, corrected, and instructed, by the Word of God. You may disagree with the interpretation of the scripture, but to disagree with the scriptures would mean you don’t believe 1st Timothy 3:16-17.

John 3:1-8

“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

First we see the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night, afraid to be seen talking to Jesus openly for fear of his religious peers. We also learn that the Pharisee’s knew that Jesus was a teacher who was sent by God because they could not deny the miracles that God did through Him to confirm His ministry and to show the world that He was approved of God.

Notice that Jesus didn’t speak about the miracles that were being done; He instead chose to tell Nicodemus what was more important than the signs and wonders. Jesus was concerned about the soul of Nicodemus and every other soul that would desire to enter into the kingdom of God. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Jesus was so adamant about this He said it three times! He told Nicodemus, and He tells us today we MUST be born again.

Do you believe the words of Jesus? Do you think He was just saying that to Nicodemus?

We can also see from the scriptures that Nicodemus did not understand the words of Jesus because his mind was not spiritual, but carnal, and of course Jesus knew that. The words Jesus spoke were spiritual, as given from above by the Father, and He only spoke what He heard from heaven. (John 12:48-50)
Jesus tells Nicodemus you need two things in order to be born again; water AND Spirit. You cannot have one without the other; you must have both to enter into the kingdom of God. How was Jesus able to tell this truth to Nicodemus? Because He did it Himself and knew exactly what one had to do in order to please the Father.

Look at Matthew 3:13-17

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was immersed in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and when He came up from the water the Spirit of God came upon Him. This righteous act pleased the Father and Jesus went on to start His ministry now empowered by the Holy Spirit. This was the precursor for the day of Pentecost when the Spirit would be poured out upon the apostles and disciples in the upper room.

God also gave this vision and physical manifestation of the Spirit to John so that He would know that Jesus was the Son of God. He set the example that we are to follow today in order to be born again.

John 1:32-34

“And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus also spoke to His apostles about this after His resurrection from the dead. The apostles and disciples had already been baptized in water by John but they were missing the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Then we see the fulfillment of this prophetic word days later in Acts 2:1-4
“When the Day of Pentecost had 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Like John saw the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus, so did all the believer’s on the day of Pentecost. How else would they have known they were being baptized with the Holy Spirit if they did not have any evidence?

It is no different for us today, we will KNOW that we have received the Holy Spirit of God because there will be some kind of physical manifestation. Whether it’s tongues, prophesying, or magnifying God; when the Spirit of God is poured out upon our flesh there will be evidence that we have been clothed with power from on high.

This is how the apostles themselves were able to know if a believer received the Holy Spirit. Look at Acts 10:44-47
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Day of Pentecost)

Now we know what it means to be born of water and Spirit! Now we know what it means to be Born Again!

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? (Acts 19:1-7) If not, ask the Lord to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and He will.

God Bless You,
Tyrone D Palmer, your servant and apostle of Christ

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cultural Christianity Vs Biblical Christianity

Was Jesus culturally relevant to the 1st century world? Did He teach His disciples to fit in with the world? Was Jesus concerned about what the world thought of Him? Did the 1st century apostles and believer’s compromise their faith and the gospel message to save the lost?

In this bible study we will take a look at the teachings of Christ and the inspired scriptures to answer these questions. If we are to be the bride of Christ, who will be spotless and unblemished; made ready for the Bridegroom, we need to know exactly what God says we must do to enter His kingdom.

Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:18-19
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

If Jesus was culturally relevant to the 1st century world wouldn’t they have loved Him and accepted Him as their own? Yet we know He was hated and crucified by those He came to save.

Look at what John 1:10 says:

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

To say that Jesus was culturally relevant in His time is saying that He was in agreement with religious pride, unbelief, and idol worship. All of which were very prevalent in the culture during the ministry of Christ. Many talk about how loving and tolerant Jesus was and how He didn’t condemn anybody. It’s true He did not condemn, He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it, He didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, but He did speak out against sin.

John 15:22
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”

If Jesus was relevant to the culture of the 1st century world, He would not have been crucified and He would have failed in the work that God sent Him to do. Because He would have been more concerned about what people thought about Him, and not offending anyone. He would have been trying to fit in with the world and please people instead of pleasing the Father. He would have tried to be friends with the world and compromise His faith. In fact Jesus was so un-relevant and separated from the culture of His day even many of His disciples who followed Him left Him.

John 6:60-66
“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

Jesus said plainly that He was not of this world and neither were His disciples because He had chosen them out of the world.

John 17:14-16
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

If Jesus came back to earth right now and wanted to become relevant to this American culture today, what would He be doing?

The truth is that the gospel message of the kingdom of God and how to enter in will never change regardless of the culture, or the century. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Here is what Paul told the Roman believer’s:

Romans 12:1-2
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

How many professing Christians look and act-like those in the world? Where is the holiness? Where are the fruits of the Spirit? What is the difference between sinners and saints today?

We know that the 1st century church never compromised their faith to fit in with the world or to please man. In fact they suffered persecution and death for their belief in Christ, if Christians today would start to stand up for righteousness and holiness in this culture today, they would face the same thing!

Hebrews 11:37-38
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

Paul also told the Ephesian church:

Ephesians 5:8-11
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

How many professing Christians are speaking out and exposing works of darkness?

Sin, repentance, holiness, righteousness and the coming judgment are not being addressed much in the body of Christ today, and the church has become lukewarm and Laodicean. Some say I am so blessed because I have a nice house, a nice car, a big screen T.V., all the food I can eat, I don’t need anything. Yet their soul is naked, blind, poor, and wretched. (Revelation 3:15-19)
Are you a cultural Christian or are you a biblical Christian? Are you holding to the teachings of Christ, or are you just hearing and not doing? There is a BIG difference between the two, and the Judge Jesus Christ Himself will make this clear on Judgment day.

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Today is the day of your salvation, the Lord is standing at the door and time is short. I pray that these words of God will spur you on towards a sincere devotion to bible study, prayer, and obedience.

Love In Christ,
Tyrone D Palmer, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ