November 20, 2016

THE GOSPEL

 

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

To be born again means to be changed by God into a new creature.  “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come,” (2 Cor. 5:17).  He is different.  He is saved from God’s righteous judgment.  He is enlightened spiritually to what is right and what is good, and he accepts the truths found in the Bible, which is God’s word, where before he could not (1 Cor. 2:14).  He then seeks to please God and resist sin because this born again change in him makes it possible.  Being born again is also known as regeneration.  Along with this regeneration, God indwells him (John 14:23) and he receives guidance from God’s Spirit through the Scriptures.

Literally, the English phrase “born again” is the Greek “to be born from above.”

In the New American Standard Bible, the phrase “born again” occurs four times:

  •  John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”
    • Greek, born again is γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, gennatha anothen, which is literally “might be born from above.”
  • John 3:7, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
    • Greek, born again is  γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθενgennathanai anothen, which is literally “to be born from above”.
  • 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
    • Greek, “born again” is ἀναγεννήσας,  anagennasas, which is literally “having given birth again.”
  • 1 Pet. 1:23, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.”
    • Greek, born again is ἀναγεγεννημένοιanagegennamenoi, which is literally “having been born again.”

So, again, being born again is the work of God where the sinner is supernaturally changed “from above where God is” and made into a new person — one who trusts in God, seeks God, believes the truths of God, resists sin, and seeks to do good.

The Bible makes it clear that we have all sinned. Romans 3:23 tells us that everyone has sinned and fallen short of measuring up to God’s standards. His standard is perfection (Mt. 5:48), and none of us can match it. But what is sin? The Bible says that it is transgression of the Law of God (1 Jn. 3:4). In other words, it is disobedience to His moral Law, the Ten Commandments. The first time that you ever told a lie made you a liar. The first time you ever took something that didn’t belong to you made you a thief. These are just a few examples. Let’s take just a moment to look at all ten of them (Exodus 20:1-17).

1. You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me. Have you always, every waking moment of your life, loved God more than any other thing or person? When you chase after money, or anything in your life, you replace Him as the most important thing. This includes things that are not bad in and of themselves, but which replace our love for God. At the moment that we love food, our families or our jobs more than we love God we deserve to die and spend eternity in Hell.

2. You Shall Not Make Yourself Any Graven Image. This commandment tells us that we are not allowed to define God, either with our hands or our minds. He is described in the Bible and if we do anything to try to shape Him into anything other than what He has said of Himself, we break this commandment. This includes making idols (representations) with our hands. It also includes making Him out to be less holy, righteous, just, or loving than He really is. Have you redefined God as someone less than He really is?

3. You Shall Not Take The Name Of The Lord Your God In Vain. God tells us that when we use His name casually instead of reverently, we have dishonored His name. Some people go so far as to use His name as a profanity. Instead of using a four-letter filth word to express disgust, they use the name of the God who gave them life and drag it through the mud! This is called blasphemy and is a very serious sin in the eyes of God. Have you ever used God’s name this way?

But that is not the only way you can blaspheme. Another way is to claim that you are a Christian (taking His name to yourself) and then living a life that contradicts what a Christian should be (Gal. 5:22-23). This gives the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme (2 Sam. 12:14). Have you done this?

4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. God wants us to set aside at least one day each week to honor Him in worship. He tells us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in worship. Do you take one day in seven to rest and honor Him?

5. Honor Your Father and Mother. Have you always honored your parents? Have you ever rebelled against them? You might have been blessed with great parents and found it easy to obey them. However, the Bible says that if we break one commandment, we are guilty of breaking all of them (Jas. 2:10).

What is your attitude toward authority? Have you ever rebelled against teachers, employers, law enforcement, or church leadership? If so, you rebel against God because He established those authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; Heb. 13:17; Eph. 6:5-8).

6. You shall Not Kill. We know that it is wrong to kill, but Jesus said that if we hate someone we are a murderer at heart (Mt. 5:22). Have you ever hated anyone? Do you call yourself a Christian, yet hate a believer in Christ? The Bible says that you are a murderer (1 Jn. 3:15).

7. You Shall Not Commit Adultery.
We know that adultery is wrong, but let’s take it one step further. Jesus told us that if we ever look with lust (sexual desire) at someone, then we have already committed adultery in our heart (Mt. 5:28). Have you ever looked with lust?

8. You Shall Not Steal. Have you ever taken anything that did not belong to you? The very first time you did it, you became a thief in God’s sight. If you steal something small, it is still stealing. If you stole it a very long time ago remember that the passing of time does not forgive sins.

9. You Shall Not Lie. Can anyone say that they have never lied? Everyone has done it. But that doesn’t make it less serious. When we lie, we contradict the very character of God, who is Truth (Jn. 14:6). We are all liars as far as God is concerned.

10. You Shall Not Covet. This means that you should not jealously desire something that does not belong to you. This is a strong motivator in our materialistic culture. Are you motivated by greed? Are you more concerned for material things than the things of God?

Can you see, as you examine yourself by the Law of God, that we are all guilty? Let’s look at what the Bible says will happen to those who break His laws. Revelation 21:8 says, “All liars will have their part in the lake of fire (hell).” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that no thief or adulterer will enter heaven. This text also says that idolaters and murderers will not enter heaven. The Bible also tells us that God ‘will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.’

Galatians 3:10 says that all who do not obey the Law are cursed! Friend, by these standards, you are in big trouble. Judgment day is soon coming (Heb. 9:27)! He’s coming to judge the world by His standard of righteousness (Acts 17:30-31), not ours. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life (Heb. 4:15). He is God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1). The Bible says that He literally “became sin for us” that we might become “the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). You cannot stand before God in your own righteousness. That kind of righteousness is repulsive to God (Is. 64:6)! He offers those who will come to Him His own righteousness so that you will be clothed in it on the day of judgment, and not in your own. An exchange must take place; you must somehow lose your sins and gain His righteousness. Romans 5:8-9 tells us that “God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then being justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” He paid your ‘court fine’ so that you could go free. This is wonderful news.

So, how do you receive this new life? Acts 17:31 says, “God commands all men to repent (turn from all you know to be sin) because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.” Friend, that day is closer than you think! You need to not only repent, but also to place your faith and trust in Jesus to save you.

Faith is not believing in a creed or believing in things that aren’t real, like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Biblical, saving faith is trusting in Someone who is trustworthy. Jesus is trustworthy. Abandon yourself to Him for He is the only One who can save you. All other ground is sinking sand.

If you want to get right with God, go to Him in your own words and cry out to Him for mercy. Tell Him what you have done against Him, how you have broken His Law. Turn from those sins and abandon yourself to what Christ has done for you. Commit to following Him as Lord, or Master of your life. If you need help praying to trust Christ, we suggest using Psalm 51 as a guideline. Open your Bible there and pray it to God.

(thanks to OneMillionTracts.com for this)

The Character of God

The Holiness of God

  • “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” –Habakkuk 1:13
  • “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” –Isaiah 59:2

The Justice of God

  • “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face” –Psalm 11:7
  • “But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness” –Isaiah 5:16
  • “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready” –Psalm 7:11-12

The Depravity & Condemnation of Man

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” –Romans 3:23
  • “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” –Isaiah 64:6
  • “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ACCURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM” –Galatians 3:10

The Great Dilemma

  • “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” –Proverbs 17:15
  • “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” –Genesis 18:25

God’s Action

While maintaining His holiness and justice, the Bible also affirms that God is love, and that in love He has responded to the plight of man.

Motivated by Love

  • “God is love. By this the love of God is manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” –1 John 4:8-10

The Cross of Christ

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” –Romans 3:23-26

The Resurrection

  • “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” –Romans 4:25

Man’s Response

Repentance begins with a recognition and confession that what God says about us is true that we have sinned.

  • “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” –Psalm 51:3-4

A genuine recognition of our sinfulness and guilt will also lead to genuine sorrow, shame and even hatred for what we have done.

  • “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” –Romans 7:15
  • “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?” –Romans 7:24

Apparent sincerity of confession alone is never definite evidence of genuine repentance. It must be accompanied by a turning away from sin.

  • “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil” –Isaiah 1:16
  • “therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” –Matthew 3:10

Faith Defined

  • “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” –Hebrews 11:1
  • “and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” –Romans 4:21

Faith Based on The Promises of God

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” –John 3:16
  • “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” –Acts 16:31

Example of a Believer

  • “worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” –Philippians 3:3

The Basis of Genuine Assurance

  • True conversion: A true Christian is a new creation and will live a life that reflects God’s radical work of re-creation in his/her life. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” –2 Corinthians 5:17
  • “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they” –Matthew 7:16
  • Assurance is based upon self-examination in the light of Scripture. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test?” –2 Corinthians 13:5
  • “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” –1 John 5:13

Test of Biblical Assurance

1 John 1:5-7 (Walking in the Light), 1 John 1:8-10 (Confession of Sin), 1 John 2:3-4 (Obedience), 1 John 2:9-11 (Love for the Brethren), 1 John 2:15-17 (Hatred for the World), 1 John 2:24-25(Perseverance in Doctrine), 1 John 3:10 (Righteousness), 1 John 4:13 (Spirit’s Testimony), Hebrews 12:5-8 (Discipline)

Download this information in PDF format. (Thanks to Heartcry Missionary Society)

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