New Birth by Obedience to the Gospel

Humanity was in a terribly lost condition when Jesus was born. Man in general had been separated from fellowship with God for thousands of years. Israel was humanity's only hope for eventual redemption and it was in a sorry state of political and religious corruption. Except for his love and promise to their father Abraham Israel was hardly worthy of consideration as God's once designated expression of his will for man. Man was helpless because he had made himself his own savior by his purchase of godhood. Try as he may, he could not push up himself out of the pit created by his own philosophy. By putting on the filthy rags of his own righteousness, he had only further encumbered his efforts to get out.

Into this sad, sick, and dark world of “the blind leading the blind” was born the brightest light of creation: God’s salvation as a baby; born in a barn, wrapped in rags, and laid in a stable no doubt reeking with the stench of manure. Yet God’s light is born - drawing lowly shepherds and wealthy wise men to its inauguration of human expression. It grows until the day of its revealing to Israel when it was heralded by the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, saying "prepare the way of the Lord".

When God's matured manifestation in flesh steps out of the crowd that day into John's watery Jordan cathedral, the wilderness wild man announces him: "Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world". From that day of his baptism, the “salvation of man” began its march from Jordon, to the upper room on his narrow path of false accusation, rejection, and ultimate crucifixion.

On the night of that crucifixion, just before the Sabbath, there was a relieved satisfaction in the courts of the Sanhedrin. Its Sadducee and Pharisee members had finally found reconciliation in their mutual hatred of the exposing light this Jesus had shown on their hypocrisy. Now he was dead by their hand and buried and they could at last sleep in peace.

Yet three days later strange reports of an empty grave faded their smiles and furrowed their brows in anticipation of impending religious calamity. The rumbling rumors of Jesus being spotted here and there grew until the feast day of Pentecost when it suddenly became “a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind”.

Suddenly, the city was alive with movement. Reports were flying around Jerusalem at the speed of fear: reports of a miraculous emergence of the “Christ movement” in the temple area. It was an unquenchable spreading fire of a report of unlearned and ignorant men declaring the works of God in the temple court in numerous tongues and dialects. Meals were abandoned and conversations paused as men grabbed tunics and religious robes, and rushed as one to the epicenter of a force suddenly shaking Jerusalem.

Late arrivals to the crowd of thousands were just in time to recognize a spokesman rising to address the crowd, and one can imagine the following dialogue:

“What is going on? I recognize those people who are speaking in tongues. Those are the ones who followed Jesus. Look at their behavior! They must be drunk. Wait! Who is that man rising with authority to command silence? Why it's that fisherman who had followed Jesus, and then denied he knew the man! And behold others who had followed Jesus are rising with him. What has happened to these men? They were cowards and had been in hiding until now. What is this boldness with which they stare at us in such intimidating fashion? Listen; the crowd has been cowed into silence. Can these be the thousands, who just weeks ago boldly demanded the death of Christ? How can they now be withering beneath the accusing gaze of this ignorant fisherman?”

The murmurs subside, silence reigns, and then the fisherman speaks: "These are not drunken as you suppose. This speaking in tongues is the outpouring of the spirit God promised Israel by the prophet Joel. Jesus of Nazareth was a man sent by God and you have taken him and wickedly crucified him. But God has raised him up and we have once again eaten with him and are witnesses of his resurrection."

The fisherman continues: "Not only has God raised him from the grave; but God has made him Lord and Christ and given him the promise of the Holy Ghost baptism for man. This Holy Ghost baptism is what you are seeing and hearing. Jesus is the one who has poured out upon this miraculous speaking of multiple languages that you are hearing".

Many in the crowd are stepping forward in obvious submission to what is being said. We can imagine the observers wondered:

“What is this? Not only are the people giving heed to this fisherman but our respected elders are stepping forward and the crowd is now very silent. The elders are now speaking for the people! Am I hearing right? They are saying ‘what shall we do?’ Can this be? The devout and learned of Israel are asking an ignorant fisherman what to do? What is the fisherman answering?

Listen to tone of his voice; he is not just answering. He is commanding! ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you too shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost for the promise is to you and to your children! and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’"

The conversation becomes subdued with astonishment:

“Behold this mass movement of our devout Jews and leaders toward these apostles? They are moving forward to kneel that the apostles’ feet. There must be at least three thousand people kneeling in submission to that command to repent and be baptized. What is this? They are now rising in movement toward the pools of the city.”

Now let's leave this scene and go back several years ago to an evening when a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and an elder of Israel came to Jesus wanting to talk with him about his miracles. Jesus didn’t explain his miracle power, but instead told him what he had to do to enter the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus told this high ranking Pharisee master of Israel, "You must be born of WATER AND SPIRIT to enter the kingdom of heaven" we can now see he was saying that you have to be properly baptized in water, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We can see that because that is precisely what we just heard Peter preach to the Jews in our imagined reenactment of the scriptural account of the event.

Back to the twenty-first century! Here is a mind numbing observation. You are going to be amazed by this. For mysterious reasons that defy the most basic logic, churches by the thousands rationalize away that simple command Peter gave in response to a simple question: "What must we do?”

The answer to that question is glaringly obvious to those who actually read the bible with eyes open: "Be born of water and spirit."

“Water and spirit” is precisely what Jesus told Nicodemus was needed for salvation. When Jewish leaders wanting salvation asked Peter “what must we do”, did he speak of water and spirit? Of course, he did!

Jesus had previously given that spokesman of Pentecost the “KEYS to the kingdom” and had already told Nicodemus that water and spirit are vital to ENTERING the kingdom” of heaven. (John 3;5)

What do you use keys for? You use keys to ENTER places. In this matter of the kingdom heave “keys” meant keys of knowledge of what to do. "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the KEY of knowledge: ye ENTERED not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." (Luke 11:52)

What keys of knowledge to the kingdom was Jesus referring to when he gave them to Peter? He was giving Peter the knowledge of what to answer on the day of Pentecost when men would say; "what shall we do?"

These “keys of water and spirit baptism” preached on that day by Peter are vital for entering the kingdom of heaven. We can prove this in public debate, or in private discussion. We can prove it from the Bible, as well as early church history. If a man wants to be saved from sin and enter into the kingdom of heaven he must submit to three things Peter required on the day of Pentecost when men said; “What shall we do?”

First , we must first repent. By "repentance", I mean that we have to confess that we are sinners and determine that with the help of God we will forsake sin to follow Christ, and turn away from sin and the world.

Next , we must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the “remission” (washing away) of sins.That is, we must be submerged in water into the identity, or name of Jesus, (his name called over us).

Finally , we must be ready and willing to be filled with the Holy Ghost - which is the very spirit of God.

This then qualifies us to enter into the kingdom of God where we can find those blessing of the family of God which our new birth gives us the right to.

Let’s look closer at the gospel command that Peter gave on the day of Pentecost:

“Repentance” does not need a lot of consideration. It is obvious that if a man is not willing to turn away from sin he can hardly expect to enter into the kingdom of God.

The other components of salvation are more disputed and so we will spend a little more of this text addressing the matter of water and spirit baptism.

First, let’s look at water baptism:

The kingdom of God is “righteousness” and you have to be baptized in order to enter into rightness of the kingdom. This is why when Jesus was being baptized HE said "thus it becometh ‘US’ to fulfill all righteousness". (Matt 3:15)

I have a question for your consideration: Jesus said in Matt 3:15 that baptism is the means by which he and others fulfill all rightness. Since it is clear Jesus himself said that; by what logic would someone seek to avoid baptism as a means of finding God's righteousness?

Yet most religious people today are doing that very thing. Many who claim Christ say that baptism in his name has nothing to do with salvation. They say it is only a saved person’s public testimony about an inward cleansing that has already taken place. But is that what the Bible teaches? Let’s consider the following verses:

(John 3:5) "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."

(Mat 3:14-15) "But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? {15} And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him."

(Mat 28:19) "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

(Mark 16:16) "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

(Acts 2:37-39&41) "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? {38} 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. {39} 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. {39} Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

(Acts 8:12) "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 8:15-16) "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: {16} (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)"

(Acts 8:36-38) "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? {37} And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. {38} And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him."

(Acts 9:17-18) "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. {18} And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."

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

(Acts 16:32-33) "And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. {33} And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway."

(Acts 18:8) "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."

(Acts 19:2-5) "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. {3} And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. {4} Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. {5} When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

(Acts 22:16) "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

(Rom 6:3-5) "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? {4} 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. {5} For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"

(Gal 3:27) "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

(Col 2:12) "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."

(1 Pet 3:21) "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"

Look again at Mark 16:16. Here is a question: What is God’s order concerning baptism.

  • A: You believe, and are saved, and then get baptized. (believe, saved, then baptized)
  • B: You believe, and get baptized, and then you are saved. (believe, baptized, then saved)

If you said “A” is correct you are in line with most churches.

If you said “B: is correct you are in line with Jesus - who says in Mark 16:16 “he that believes and is baptized SHALL be saved.”

My friend on this matter I know the truth. God can save whom he wants to save, and he will, but to have gospel salvation, you must repent of your sins, and be baptized by submersion in water for the remission of those sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the gift that God referred to when he said in (Isa 28:11-12) "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. {12} To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing...."

The Bible makes it clear that we are washed from our sins by the blood of Jesus. So how and when is that blood FIRST applied?

It is true that the Bible says if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins; However, this is written to the church people who have already had the blood applied to their lives.

The question is not about the ongoing work of the blood after it is applied. The question is: “When then is the blood first applied in the salvation experience of the washing away of our sins?”

The answer is found in the dual work of water and blood as evidenced in these verses:

WATER AND BLOOD - THE WITNESS OF GOD: (1 John 5:8) "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

WATER AND BLOOD - WASHING AWAY OF SINS: (Rev 1:5) ".... Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," (Acts 22:16) "...arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

WATER AND BLOOD - REMISSION OF SINS: (Mat 26:28) "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for manyfor the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) " be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..."

WATER AND BLOOD - SALVATION/REDEMPTION: (1 Pet 1:18-19) "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, ...{19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" (1 Pet 3:21) "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us ..."

WATER AND BLOOD - A CLEAN CONSCIENCE: (Heb 9:14) "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (1 Pet 3:21) "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"

WATER AND BLOOD - JUSTIFICATION:

(Rom 5:9) "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (1 Cor 6:11) "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (note that baptism is always in Jesus name and washes us and that we are washed in the name of Jesus at the same time that we are justified)

WATER AND BLOOD - RIGHTEOUSNESS (RIGHTNESS)

(Rom 3:25) "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;" (Mat 3:14-15) "But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? {15} And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.."

Jesus said you must be born of water and spirit to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s not try to find a reason why Jesus meant something other than that HIS commands of baptism (Mark 16:16) and the Holy Ghost, (John 20:22 ) which are the same commands that Peter gave on the day the church started.

Let’s just accept the fact that Peter knew what the gospel message was that Jesus had given him. Not only did he boldly preach it, but the rest of the apostles stood with him. (Acts 2:14) "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:"

In review:

Jesus had given the apostles the gospel to take to the whole world.

He had made it clear that whoever believed the apostles' gospel would be saved.

He told the apostles to wait until the Holy Ghost came before they began publishing the gospel that He had given them. So they waited in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost.

Then the Holy Ghost came and it was time to start preaching the gospel as he had commanded them “beginning at Jerusalem”. (Luke 24:27)

The first apostle to do this was Peter - whom Jesus had given the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19).

Peter preached the gospel for the first time in Acts 2.

The gospel that Jesus gave his apostles to preach to every human, (and first preached by Peter) was to be both believed and obeyed. (Mark 1:15 & Romans 10:16; II Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17)

The part of the gospel to be believed was: “Jesus died and was buried and rose again”.

The part of the gospel to be obeyed was: “dying with Christ in repentance, being buried with him in water baptism, and rising with him in the life of the Holy Ghost.” "Repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost." That is the part of the apostles’ gospel that should be “obeyed” by those who believe the apostles’ gospel account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that should be “believed”.

This gospel of repentance, baptism, and infilling of the Holy Ghost was the gospel that older classic church history books say was practiced by the early church for the first several hundred years of its history UNTIL THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRINITY DOCTRINE IN THE THIRD CENTURY.(Hastings encyclopedia of religion; Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition; Caney Encyclopedia or religion; Catholic Encyclopedia)

It is both sad and disheartening that men who claim to love Jesus will reject the gospel that Jesus gave the apostles to preach, beginning at Pentecost.

Can you answer these questions?

How can there be can such blatant disregard and contradiction of what the apostles preached on the day the church started?

Why would there be a different gospel now than there was then?

What do you think? If Peter were transported from Pentecost to today and people convicted of their sins asked him “what shall we do”, would his answer be the same?

Then why do other preachers answer that question differently with a different gospel?

Is religious peer pressure really that intense that men will ignore early church history, as well as the clear teaching of the Bible, concerning baptism of the water and spirit?

Are men really willing to rationalize that much to conclude that all a man has to do is believe on the Lord and he will be saved?

I fear that such men will pay a horrible price for refusing to preach the only gospel out of fear it may cost them their religious affiliation, or minister associations, or their followings.

As for New Life Assembly, our position is exactly the same on this matter of new birth salvation that Jesus had which he gave to Nicodemus, Peter, and the rest of the apostles.

We say that “unless a man is born again of water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven”.

We say that Jesus gave Peter and the rest of the apostles the only saving gospel to take to the whole world.

There was not another gospel then, and there is not another gospel now, and there will not be another gospel until the rapture of the church. That gospel is the same now as it was then and that is the gospel that we preach at New Life Assembly.

That gospel is: "Jesus died and was buried and rose again".

If you “believe” the gospel, then you must “obey” the gospel.

You must enter into that salvation by repenting of your sins, being buried with Christ through baptism in Jesus name, and then receiving the eternal life of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus came to bring life and to baptize men with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost and spiritual life are one and the same. This is the position of New Life Assembly.

We have stated the above doctrinal position emphatically: However; we are students and are ready to learn from anyone who can show us that this position is incorrect.

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