Tag Archives: baptism

Born Of Water And The Spirit

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3-5 – Scripture of the Day (March 28, 2014)

Being “born again.”  That’s a term heard a lot in the religious world, always in reference to being saved.  And rightly so, because Jesus makes it very clear in today’s Scripture of the Day that one cannot see or enter the kingdom of God without being born again.  So it stands to reason that when one is “born again,” one is saved.

But what does it really mean to be “born again?”  Nicodemus certainly wondered, and I can’t say that I blame him for asking the question that he asked.  Without elaboration, it certainly seemed like Jesus was talking about the impossible:  a PHYSICAL rebirth.

But of course, upon elaboration Jesus was talking about a SPIRITUAL rebirth.  That is made clear in his words, “…unless one is born of water AND THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (3:5).

What exactly does this spiritual rebirth mean, though?  What does it consist of?  Here’s where the majority of folks in Christendom who talk about being born again usually get vague in their answers.

“It means I asked Jesus into my heart…”

“It means that I put Jesus first…”

“It means that I dedicated my life to Christ…”

Okay…but here’s what I want to know.  What did JESUS say that the spiritual rebirth consisted of?  What does GOD’S WORD say that it means?

I ask only because it is God’s Word, the words of Christ, that will judge my eternal destiny in the end, not the feelings, theories, and musings of my fellow man (John 12:48; Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12; Matt. 7:13).  So what does the BIBLE say?

Elsewhere in the New Testament, very similar, almost identical imagery to John 3:5 is used.  In John, Jesus talked about being “born again” and then clarified that it meant being “born of water and the Spirit.”  Read that, and then turn over to what Paul said to Titus:  “(God) saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION AND RENEWAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” (Tit. 3:5).

“Born again…of water and the Spirit.”

“The washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

“Regeneration” is another way of describing being “born again.”  “Washing” immediately brings “water” to mind.  “The Holy Spirit” and “the Spirit” are obviously referring to the same Being.

So whatever this spiritual rebirth is, it has something to do with being washed with water.  It also has something to do with the Holy Spirit.

The New Testament talks more about “washing” and “water.”  Paul told Christians at Corinth that they were “washed,” and immediately correlated that with them being “sanctified” and “justified”…and then said that all this was done “by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).  Interesting…

Paul also talked about how Christ loves the church, and while doing so said that Jesus gave himself up for the church for a specific purpose:  “that he might sanctify her, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD…” (Eph. 5:25-26).  So that means that people who are in the church are cleansed not only by the Word of God (which came from the Spirit, by the way – 2 Pet. 1:19-21), but also by “the washing of water.”  Interesting…

Look at yesterday’s Scripture of the Day, Acts 22:16.  Here the Christian Ananias told Saul of Tarsus (Paul) at his conversion, “And now why do you wait?  Rise and be baptized AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS, calling on his name.”  So we see here that baptism is correlated with being washed, more specifically being spiritually washed, washing away your sins.  Interesting…

On the day of Pentecost when his listeners asked him what to do, Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” (Acts 2:38).  So we see here that baptism is talked about right alongside of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Baptism and the Holy Spirit have something to do with each other.  Interesting…

Is this some sort of spiritual, metaphorical baptism?  Let’s examine further.  In the New Testament, time and time again people were baptized WITH WATER.  John the Baptist chose to baptize at a particular spot because there was a lot of water there (John 3:23).  Philip baptized the Ethiopian in water (Acts 8:35-38).  Peter talked about water in correlation with baptizing Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:47-48).

And Jesus talked about being born again “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).  What’s the obvious conclusion?  Let’s sum up…

  1. Jesus talked about being born again of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  An obvious spiritual rebirth, but water is involved.
  2. Paul talked about a washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit in reference to being saved.  Another way of saying to be born again by the Spirit, but washing is involved…which implies water.
  3. Paul told Christians that they had been sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit…but also washed as well.  Another implication that water is involved.
  4. Paul talked about how Jesus set the church apart after having cleansed her via the washing of water and the Word.  Obviously a spiritual cleansing via God’s Word…but water is involved.
  5. Peter told his listeners that they needed to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Baptism is mentioned alongside of the Spirit when talking about how to be forgiven of one’s sins, or saved.
  6. Paul was told that he needed to be baptized in order to wash his sins away.  That baptism involved water, as seen in several other instances in the New Testament.

Therefore, being born again of water and the Spirit in order to be saved and enter heaven means that one is baptized.  There’s no other conclusion one can come to that takes into account all of the biblical data.

Have you TRULY been born again?  Have you been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ?


Rise And Be Baptized And Wash Away Your Sins

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Acts 22:16 – Scripture of the Day (March 27, 2014)

It amazes me how people who say they follow the Bible can so blatantly deny the necessity of baptism (baptizo, immersion) for salvation and forgiveness of sins.  The truth is so plainly stated in so many verses (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:38), including today’s Scripture of the Day.

Just looking at this sentence by itself, without considering the context, makes it plain that one’s sins will not be forgiven unless one is baptized.  However, that fact is made even more plain when one takes into account the context.

The apostle Paul is recounting his conversion in Damascus as Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1ff).  You will recall that he went to Damascus as an enemy of the Way, looking to arrest any followers of Christ (9:1-2).  As he approached Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him and he heard a voice asking him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (9:3-4)  This voice belonged to Jesus, who told Saul to “rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do” (9:5-6).

A lot of people say that Saul was converted and forgiven on that road when Jesus talked to him and he “saw the light.”  However, that is not true.  The reason we know it is not true is by reading further into the text.  Blinded after the conversation with Jesus, Saul was led by his companions into Damascus and for the next three days he fasted (9:8-9).  Meanwhile, a disciple in Damascus named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord told him to visit Saul, lay his hands on him, and miraculously restore his sight (9:10-12).  Despite his misgivings, Ananias obeyed the Lord and restored Saul’s sight (9:13-18a).

Notice what happened next.  After Saul’s sight was given back to him, what did he do?  The text says, “Then he rose and was baptized…” (9:18b).  Why?

Years later in chapter 22, Paul tells us why he was baptized.  It is because Ananias told him, “And now why do you wait?  Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (22:16).  This is significant for three reasons:

  1. The Lord had told Saul that he would “be told what you are to do” once he had gone into the city (9:6).  Ananias told him what to do: be baptized (22:16).
  2. Even though it was obvious that Saul believed in Jesus as Lord (9:4-6) and showed signs of repentance via his fasting (9:9), his sins were still not forgiven.  Otherwise, why would Ananias talk of them being washed away by his baptism (22:16)?  It was only after he was baptized that his sins were washed away.  This shows that faith, by itself, does not save, and neither does repentance.  Baptism is also necessary.
  3. Earlier in Acts, Peter quoted Joel as saying, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; cf. Joel 2:32).  What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?  Obviously more than simply calling him “Lord,” because Jesus said that alone would not be enough (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).  Ananias tells us what calling on the name of the Lord means in Acts 22:16:  being baptized.  With this in mind, compare Acts 2:21 with Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21.

Have you called upon his name?  Have your sins been washed away?  Have you been baptized into Christ, into his body which is the church of Christ?  (Rom. 6:1-5; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4-5; 5:23)

All Authority In Heaven And On Earth Has Been Given To Me

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Matthew 28:18 – Scripture of the Day (March 19, 2014)

This was the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy made centuries earlier (Dan. 7:13-14), and was the basis for Peter’s statement made days later on Pentecost:  “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).  Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews also proclaimed the ultimate authority of Christ.  Listen…

For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.  (1 Cor. 15:27a)

That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.  (Eph. 1:20-23)

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  (Phil. 2:9-10)

And you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.  (Col. 2:10)

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  (1 Pet. 3:21-22)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things… (Heb. 1:1-2)

You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.  Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control… (Heb. 2:7-8a)

Isn’t it interesting how so many who claim to follow Christ choose to unrepentantly disobey him and rebel against his commands and teachings?

For example, most of the professed followers of Christ in Christendom deny that one has to be baptized in order to be saved…even though that was a command Jesus gave right after declaring he had all authority (Matt. 28:18-19), and even though Peter declared in the above quote both that baptism saves and that Jesus had authorities and powers subject to him (1 Pet. 3:21-22).

What did Jesus say? 

Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not do what I tell you?  (Luke 6:46)

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?”  And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  (Matt. 7:21-23)

Isn’t it interesting how we want Jesus to be our Savior…and we CALL him our Lord…but we like to pick and choose which of his commands to obey?  Regardless of what we say to ourselves to fool ourselves, Jesus IS Lord.  He HAS all authority.  If we go to heaven, it will be both by his grace and because we penitently obey ALL of what he has told us to do.