Got Born Again?
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Act 19:2
As a continuation of the previous post, we will move along to the topic of the indwelling of God’s Spirit, how this happens, how we know when this happens, and what the term “Born Again” means. And thank you for following along in this discussion. And may God impart to you everything He has to offer you. But before we begin there is a story to tell.
The Story of “The Bride”
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Matthew 25:12
The following is a true story. Years ago a young man visited the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and struck up a conversation with a library staff member. During their small talk about frivolous topics, the young man was startled by something in his peripheral vision. That something was what looked like a woman dressed in white moving toward the elevator bank in the left-hand corner of the room. In fact, it looked like a woman dressed in what appeared to be a wedding dress moving into an opening elevator. The young man asked the staff member: “What was that? Was that a woman dressed in a wedding gown?” In the most nonchalant and passionless manner possible, as if rambling off an ISBN number, he replied: “Oh, that’s the bride“.
Then further details ensued: “Yes, we call her “The Bride”, she comes here all the time, dressed in a wedding dress. She takes the elevators to the upper floors of the library, to the “stacks”, the most remote area of the building where most people don’t visit”.
And then the explanation followed: “Years ago, as a young woman, she was stood up by the groom on her wedding day. He never showed up at the church for the marriage ceremony. And you see what it did to her. She lost her mind and never recovered.” The bride. A woman dressed in a white wedding dress, in the Library of Congress, in the middle of a Saturday summer afternoon, walking into an elevator. Wow!
The young man is said to have never forgotten the mental image. The image of a broken woman dressed in a wedding gown walking through a library.
Why mention this story that brings chills when reading it? Because it is the story of the five foolish virgins as recorded in Matthew Chapter 25 in Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins. Why did Jesus tell them “I know you not”? The reason for their rejection was that they did not carry oil in their lanterns and allow its light to “guide them into all truth“. (Psa 119:105; Pro 6:23; Joh 16:13)
The oil is symbolic of God’s Spirit. These virgins somehow and somewhere were not filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost. And as a result of not having oil, it was not the groom, but the bride in this story who stood up her prospective husband – Jesus Christ. When Jesus announced the time of the marriage, five of his future brides failed to show up and he shut the door on them.
Tragic. It’s tragic and frightening to even think about it. But it’s God’s word. And God does not lie. It is a warning to all of us that we all need to be filled, empowered, sealed, and led by God’s Spirit. This story will build the foundation of what follows and connect our previous discussion on accepting and believing in Jesus and what being “born again” means according to the Bible.
What Does Being Born Again Mean?
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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. John 3:5, 7
Nicodemus was perplexed by this man from Galilee that everyone was talking about. Apparently, he heard and likely personally witnessed the miracles following Jesus’ ministry. So, he visited Jesus at night to inquire about the source of his power and this Kingdom of God Jesus was preaching about. In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, he mentions two elements needed to be part of God’s kingdom.
And to get there involved a new birth process that included a birth of water and spirit. As Jesus explained, this experience would be so life-changing that he referred it to as literally being born all over again. Are these two subjects discussed elsewhere in the Bible? If so, are they only for the original believers in the early church? Or are they still pertinent to us in the 21st century? Let’s see.
Born Of The Water – Repentance & Water Baptism
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:47
God always blesses where He places His name. In the Old Testament, the Lord placed his name on and blessed the Tabernacle, the Temple, and a city (Jerusalem). The Lord no longer places His name on and blesses physical structures. Instead, he places His name upon and blesses people, his body on earth, the Body of Christ, and the church He is coming back for. Jesus places his name upon you and blesses you when you are baptized in his name, the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins through water baptism. It is the only name that can save us. (Acts 4:12)
And a bride takes on the name of her husband. The early church always baptized in only one name, the name of Jesus Christ. Here are five instances recorded in the Bible where people were either baptized or instructed to be baptized in Jesus’ name: Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16 (‘calling on’ – to invoke, entitle). Is this not the way the church should baptize believers today?
Where does the role of repentance fit into the equation of being born again? Well, repentance precedes receiving anything from the Lord. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, preached the message of repentance (Mat 3:2, 11; Mar 1:4 & Luk 3:3). And Jesus carried the message onward (Mat 4:17; Mar 1:15, 2:17 & Luk 13:3, 5, 24:47). Is there a need to fully repent before being baptized? Repentance cleans the heart and prepares one to receive the best things God has for us (Mat 9:17; Mar 2:22 & Luk 5:37-39):
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. Acts 2:38
Born Of The Spirit – The Promise of The Father
As referenced in the previous post, Jesus gave his disciples a future promise that a comforter will come that would be “with” them and “in” them (Jhn 14:15-18). And the promise was not only for the disciples but as spoken by Peter on the Day of Pentecost in 33 A.D, to “all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”. (Acts 2:39). Let’s digress here for a moment. Some say that what transpired in the Book of Acts was only for that particular day and for that particular group of believers. It has no relevance for us today.
The digression here is to mention the recent revival at Ashbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky that captivated news media outlets for weeks. A revival in its most simplistic terms is an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon an individual or individuals earnestly seeking all that He has for them. In Ashbury, this outpouring occurred after a large group of assembled people sincerely sought the face of God in heartfelt repentance.
Many YouTube videos were documenting this event. A person commented on one of those videos that what was taking place in Ashbury was similar to the original outpouring of God’s spirit on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in the Book of Acts. A reply was made to that comment stating that the Book of Acts was nothing more than a historical book, a book of record of the early church and the spiritual happenings in Ashbury was basically emotionalism without a Biblical foundation.
Well, if that is true, then that is true. But as the saying goes: “Someone with an experience is never at the mercy of someone with only an opinion”.
It’s too late to refute the truth. I experienced my own personal Pentecost as a teenager in my last year of high school, backslid for 12 years, and God in His great mercy refilled me with the Holy Ghost at thirty years of age. I personally know many others who have been filled with the Spirit. And not to mention the volumes written about the spirit outpourings at the turn of the 20th century in Topeka, KS (1901), Galena, KS (1903), the Azuza Street revival in Los Angeles, CA (1906), the Philippines, Ethiopia, Russia, China and all over the world. God is still pouring out his spirit on the hungry and on those who sincerely seek after him!
It’s not all snake oil, hocus pocus, works of satan, or some New Age concocted phenomenon. There is a genuine movement of God’s spirit on earth. Yes, the devil will always attempt to pollute, discredit and contaminate every work of God. But God always puts his truth through the fires of testing. The truth is revealed by fire – God’s fire and not false fire. And the fire came in 33 A. D. and the fire continues to fall today:
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 2:2-4
This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that his spirit would be “in” them and “with” them. Which is the infilling of the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost in the heart and spirit of a believer. In the following verse. Jesus states the essential condition that goes beyond just believing in him:
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 7:38-39
What is the condition? The condition is to believe on Jesus according to his word. When one believes on Jesus in complete obedience to the word of God, the Spiritual birth (“rivers of living water“) is available for that believer.
Evidence of Being Born Of The Spirit
We cannot leave this discussion without first touching on this one last subject. Going back to the previous post “Accepting The Lord Jesus Christ As Savior Is Overrated” the main touchpoint was the premise that one “received the spirit” instantaneously upon believing in Jesus. The spirit was imparted during this mental exchange or assent of faith. Well, in fact, the Bible succinctly tells us that there is more to it. Can this assertion be backed up by scripture? It most certainly can.
The Apostle Paul happened upon “believers” in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. He inquired if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. Let’s stop here. Did God have more for these believers? Indeed, he did for the Apostle asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit “since they believed”. How did both the believers and Paul know that they did in fact receive it? It’s recorded right here:
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6
They knew because they spoke in tongues. Here is another instance in the Bible of people receiving the Spirit of God. In this scene, Peter sees a vision of a sheet descending from heaven holding unclean birds and beasts and is instructed to go to Caesarea with a group of men coming to his house and visit a Gentile man named Cornelius. While Peter was speaking and witnessing about Jesus, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household. How did Peter and his companions from Joppa know that these Gentile believers received the Holy Spirit? The Bible tells us how:
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Acts 10:46
Speaking in tongues is the sign God gives someone to assure them that they receive the genuine Spirit of God. Why tongues? Why not turn four shades of pink? Why not have your ears do one-eighties? Please pardon me. God chose the tongue because it is the most uncontrollable and unruly member of the body. James tells us so. (Jas 3:5-8) What is the big deal about that?
The big deal is it shows that GOD IS IN CONTROL AND NOT US! No man can give someone the baptism of the Spirit, it is a supernatural impartation and manifestation from God himself. Receiving the Holy Ghost is a tangible experience. In His mercy, the Lord designed it this way so you can definitely and tangibly be assured you have received it from God and God alone. It is his seal over you for eternal safekeeping. (Eph 1:13-14; Heb 5:9)
The Difference Between Words & Words That Are On Fire
One last thing. if nothing resonated with you here, know this and at least depart with this last takeaway. There is an enemy out to destroy you, your children, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your world. His name is satan (the ‘s’ intentionally in lowercase) or the devil. This enemy cannot be defeated by feeble works of the flesh. Let it be known that there is one thing the devil cannot handle. Do you know what that is? Fire.
The devil cannot handle God’s fire because he fears it. He fears it because that is where he is headed, to a lake of fire prepared by God. (Rev 20:10). This warfare can only be won by the inworking and outworking of God’s Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, and by the Word of God, the Word that is on fire!
Being born again infuses true believers with fire, Holy Ghost fire. And the enemy fears you from having it because it will defeat him, it will strip him, it will shame him, it will shackle him, and it will bring his works of destruction to naught. It’s been said that “if the devil is not rocking your world, could it be you are rocked to sleep?” And God’s fire rocks the devil’s world.
The devil would never die for you. Given the chance, satan would never allow himself to be nailed to a cross, bleed, be shamed, endure agony and humiliation to save you from a death of sin. Why not? Because he is too full of himself (Isa 14:13-14).
But Jesus did. Jesus gave everything and is ready today to make you new again through the new birth. Got born again?
May God Bless You & Keep You In Jesus’ Name!
Happy Easter 2023
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