Tuesday, December 21, 2021

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This blog is about entering the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Joh 3:3)

Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (Joh 3:5)

Some of the elementary teachings about Christ that are covered here include repentance, faith in God, being born again, new life, water baptism, and foot washing.

Do You Want to Know Jesus? Entering the Kingdom of God You Must Be Born Again
Holy Washings - Part I Holy Washings - Part II All Things Are New!
Born of God Evidence of the Second Birth From Religion to Relationship
The Greatest Event in History

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

You may find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Doulos Training School


Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Greatest Event in the History of Mankind

I'd like to share with you a wonderful presentation produced by my sixteen year old son called Sacrifice of Love: The Greatest Event in the History of Mankind.

You can view his presentation here at this link, which is best viewed in full-screen "slideshow" mode on your computer. After you click the above link, you can switch to full screen mode by either pressing Control + F5 or clicking on the "Slideshow" button above the presentation. In this mode, you will need to advance the slides manually, unless you set it to autoplay as follows: While in this mode, hover over the bottom left corner and click the three dots to open the "options menu". Select "Autoplay" and your choice of advance time. Then click "Play" at the top of that list.

Let me encourage you to view the presentation, and if you don't know Jesus, to follow the steps outlined at the end of it to make that important decision to give your life to the Lord. If you did that after viewing it, please leave a comment or send me a message to let me know. I also want to encourage you, if you did accept Christ, to follow the next steps that are outlined at the end of the presentation.

God loves you with an unfailing love. He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for you, so that you could be saved from hell and spend eternity in heaven with Him. He wants you to have the gift of eternal life today.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16)

Now is the time of God's favor. Today is the day of salvation. You may not have tomorrow. Don't put it off until later. 

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.  

Author's note: You are invited to read Evidence of the Second Birth, From Religion to RelationshipWhere will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Knowing the LordCostly Grace, The Cost of Discipleship, Doulos Training School, By Grace AloneAll Things Are New!, Holy Washings - Part I, and Entering the Kingdom of God. The Home page of this blog also has more articles. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

From Religion to Relationship

Someone has said that the difference between religion and relationship is about eighteen inches, which is the approximate distance between your head and your heart. Certainly it's not enough to have religion or be religious. You need to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in which you repent of your sins, and ask for His forgiveness, trusting Him to save you through His finished work on the cross, and believing that God raised Him from the dead. From that point onward, you no longer live for yourself but for for Him who died for you.

Yet some people who merely have religion without a relationship with the Lord may still be passionate and sincere, and their hearts may be zealous for what they believe. They may be very devout and even fanatical about their beliefs. But they don't know the Lord and have never received the free gift of salvation. They have never been saved by grace through faith.  They don't have the love of God in their hearts.

During the time of Christ there were certain religious parties among the Jews, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. While those who belonged to those parties may have had deeply held beliefs, they did not know the Lord. But some of them came to know Jesus, and these are the ones I would like to highlight today. I'd like to discuss three of them who became followers of Christ, which is from a Greek word that means Messiah or Anointed One.

Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
The first one I would like to mentioned is Joseph of Arimathea, who was a member of the ruling religious council, known as the Sanhedrin. After the crucifixion of Christ, he went to Pilate to ask for Jesus' body. "Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus." (Mar 15:43).

It took a lot of courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. For Pilate had just sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion before an angry mob that demanded he be put to death. It was not popular to be a disciple of Christ, even during the time when Jesus was alive. Scripture says, "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue." (Jn 12:42, NIV).

Once Pilate confirmed that Jesus was indeed dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then "Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb." (Mar 15:46).

The apostle John recorded that he was secretly a disciple of Christ. "After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body." (Joh 19:38).

Just as when Mary had poured the expensive perfume on Jesus, and He acknowledged it as a beautiful thing she did to prepare Him for burial, likewise, when Joseph took the body of Jesus and placed it in a tomb, this also was a beautiful thing.

"So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there." (Joh 19:40-42)

We know that Joseph was wealthy, for Matthew states: "When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus." (Mat 27:57). He obviously loved Jesus more than his money.

Not only did he see to the burial of Jesus' body, he placed Him in his own, new tomb. "This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away." (Mat 27:58-60). Joseph was one who went from merely having religion to having a relationship with Jesus.

Nicodemus
Jesus speaking with Nicodemus
Then there was Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to visit Jesus at night to ask him questions. The apostle John wrote in his gospel:

"Now 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 have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.'" (Joh 3:1-2)

It's apparent from his comment to Jesus that He was very close to the kingdom of God. 

"Jesus answered and said to 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? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into 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 be amazed that I said to you, "You must be born again." The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'" (Joh 3:3-8)

While he believed that Jesus had come from God and that God was with Him, enabling Him to perform signs and wonders, we don't know if he had yet been born again or had a personal relationship with the Lord. The Lord told him that one must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God. One thing is for sure that he was seeking the Lord and that he eventually became a disciple of Christ.

Although he was a member of the Sanhedrin, he was openly supportive of Jesus in the midst of the council, during a time when they were trying to arrest Him. "Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, 'Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?' They answered him, 'You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.'" (Joh 7:50-52). Although he took flack from the council for what he said in Christ's defense, it didn't stop him from following the Lord.

After the crucifixion, it was Nicodemus who accompanied Joseph of Arimathea in taking the body of Christ down from the cross and placing it in the tomb. "Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight." (Joh 19:39).

So just like his fellow council member Joseph of Arimathea, he was a disciple of Christ and lived his faith out loud. He boldly stepped out of his comfort zone and lovingly saw to it that Jesus received a proper burial after his death on the cross, an act of devotion for which he and Joseph will always be remembered.

Saul of Tarsus
Paul the apostle
The final person I would like to mention is a man named Saul of Tarsus (Turkey). He was a very devout Jew from the party of the Pharisees, which held to the strictest observance of the Law of Moses. He described himself as being "circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless." (Php 3:5-6). In his defense before a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem who had tried to kill him, he said, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today." (Act 22:3)

Prior to coming to know Jesus, he was actually going around persecuting Christians, trying to get them to deny Christ. He said, "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished." (Act 22:4-5)

But one day that all changed when the resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to him personally in a blinding light and spoke to him. He described it like this: "But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' And I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.'" (Act 22:6-8)

That must have come as quite a shock to him to know that this Jesus of Nazareth, whom he thought was dead, was actually alive and well, and that he was Lord. Moreover, it must have also surprised him to suddenly realize that as he had been persecuting the followers of Jesus, he was actually persecuting the Lord Himself. His companions around him watched the scene unfold. "And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'" (Act 22:9-10)

Yet Saul still had one problem -- he remained blinded by the light. "But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'" (Act 22:11-16).

That was the beginning of his relationship with the risen Lord, and he immediately began preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, spreading the gospel throughout the entire known world of his day. He later went on to become known as Paul the apostle, and as he preached, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and performed miracles in Jesus' name. "God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out." (Act 19:11-12)

Paul lived a life of complete devotion and service to Christ. He said, "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Act 20:24). God used him to write half of the New Testament Scriptures. In fact, thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written by him. And to this day those books are still transforming lives around the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul suffered a lot for his faith in Christ, including arrests, beatings, floggings, imprisonment, false accusations, hunger, thirst, sleeplessness, shipwreck, assassination attempts, betrayal, and desertion by his companions. This is further evidence that his faith was genuine. Otherwise there would be no reason for him to convert to Christianity only to experience a life of suffering like that.

Since Paul did not know Jesus personally during the Lord's earthly ministry, the only way that Paul could have gone from merely having religion to having a relationship with the Lord after the crucifixion of Christ was that He had risen from the dead and was alive. The fact that Jesus appeared to him and spoke to him, and the way his life was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of the gospel, and the supernatural signs and wonders that marked his ministry as an apostle, as well as the enduring impact his writings have had throughout the world for the past two thousand years up to this day, is all evidence that Jesus Christ is no longer dead. He is risen! Hallelujah! He is the Living One who was dead and behold He is alive forever more. Paul the apostle had resurrection power in his life and so can you.

For more about Paul, please read A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul.

Making it Personal
We've looked at three devoutly religious Jews who went from merely having religion to having a personal relationship with their Messiah, Jesus Christ. What about you? Perhaps you have been in church all your life, but have you ever been born again? Jesus said that you must be born again. Although you may have lived a devoutly religious life, either as a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, or some other religion, actually you are spiritually dead and do not have eternal life until you repent of your sins and put your faith in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Have you done that yet? Have you surrendered your life to Him and asked Him to come and live inside your heart -- to take control of your whole life? If not, now is the best time to do so. For you may not have tomorrow. Life is short and tomorrow is uncertain.

In the passage about Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, we have the famous verse, "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." (Joh 3:16). Believe in Him today, so that you will not perish but have everlasting life. If you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you won't see life, because the wrath of God remains on you. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36).

I too, was raised as a religious person in my early life, but did not know Jesus personally, until I turned my life over to Him as a young soldier at age nineteen. He set me free and my whole life changed in a wonderful way (see my testimony). Let me invite you to do the same. You will never regret that you did so. The greatest distance in the world may be the eighteen inches between your head and your heart, which is enough to separate you from God's presence eternally. Don't miss heaven by eighteen inches. Make sure you have a personal relationship with the Lord.

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible copyright Lockman Foundation. Apostle Paul painting, c.1627 - c.1629 - Jan Lievens. Nicodemus painting by Crijn Hendricksz. Volmaryn, c. 1601-1645. Joseph of Arimathea by Pietro Perugino.

Authors Note: If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to also read You Must Be Born Again, Knowing the LordHaving the Love of God in Your Heart, Baptized with the SpiritSupernatural Power for All Disciples, Resurrection Outworking in UsA Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul, Persecuted or Popular, Faithful Until Death: The Glory of Martyrdom for ChristHaving a Servant's Heart, Unselfish Hearts, and Pleasing the Lord. More articles like this may be found on the Home Page of this blog. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Evidence of the Second Birth

In my previous article, I explained that in order to see and enter the kingdom of God, you must be born again. Since the expression "born again" may be confusing to some people, I would like to share with you some of the evidence that will be present when a person has been born again.  There are many more evidences besides the ones I am going to discuss, but these are the ones that typically occur at the time when the new birth takes place or shortly afterward. Not everyone experiences every single sign, but those who have been born again should be able to identify a number of these that they have personally experienced.

First, here is our text:

"Now 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 have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.' Jesus answered and said to 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? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into 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 be amazed that I said to you, "You must be born again." The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'" (Joh 3:1-8)

In order to illustrate my point, I will use an analogy from the natural birth of a baby. When we’re born of the Spirit, it’s very much the same as natural birth, except in the spirit. I am not an expert in childbirth, but I was blessed to be present at the birth of each of our five children. Looking back on what I observed, there are truly a number of similarities between that and the spiritual rebirth. 

For those who like simple charts, I will first present it in that format, so you can see it all laid out at once and observe the relationships. Afterward I will explain these further for those who would like more detail.

Natural Spiritual
Naked Nothing hidden (Job 1:21; Heb 4:13)
Bloody or needing a bath Unclean, defiled, kicking in blood (Ez 16:6, NIV; Ro 3:23)
Cleansed, washed with water Cleansed (1 Cor 6:11; 1 Jn 1:7,9; Ps 51:2,10; Ezekiel 36:25,33; Jeremiah 33:8; Zechariah 13:1; Hebrews 9:14; 10:22; Titus 3:5)
Crying Crying (2 Cor 7:10; Mt 26:75; Lk 6:21; Heb 5:7; Jam 4:9)
Cut off from the umbilical cord Cut off from all other sources of life, including the flesh, the world, and the devil (Rom 8:2; Jn 14:6)
Received into the father’s arms with a warm embrace. Comforted. Received into the Father’s arms with a warm embrace (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Safe and secure Safe and secure (Rom 8:31; 10:9-13; Heb 13:6)
Moment in time on a certain day Moment in time on a certain day; spiritual birthday (2 Cor 6:2; Lk 15:11-32; Jn 3:6)
Suddenly Suddenly (Jn 3:8)
Out of darkness of the womb into the light Out of darkness into the light (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Cor 4:6)
Vulnerable to infection, illness, injury Vulnerable to being hurt (2 Cor 6:11-13; 12:9-10; Mt 5:43-46; Jam 5:16)
Totally dependent on parents Totally dependent on the Father (Jn 5:19,30)
New creation, new life New creation, new life (2 Cor 5:17)
Craves milk! Craves pure, spiritual milk! (1 Pe 2:2)
Childlike Childlike, humility (Mt 18:3-4)
Innocent, harmless, free from guilt Innocent, harmless, free from guilt (Mt 10:16; Phil 2:14-15; 1 Jn 5:18)

Hopefully this chart has made the point plain and simple for you. Now let's look at each sign individually for those who are interested.

Naked
When you first come out at birth, you are completely stark naked—nothing hidden. As Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there." (Job 1:21a)

Here’s how it is in the spirit. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, you know God sees all your sin. It’s laid bare, and you are fully exposed. Especially if you bare your heart and tell Him how you have offended Him.

As the Scripture says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Heb 4:13, NIV)

Bloody or needing a bath
When babies come out, they are sometimes covered in blood or with a white cheesy or waxy substance called vernix coating their skin. In any event, they need to get a bath on their birthday.

Likewise, we are all dirty, defiled, and unclean when we come to God. We all start off in that state. "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Isa 64:6).

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23).

“‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” (Eze 16:6, NIV)

Let's be careful not to take this simple analogy too far, lest you misunderstand me. We are unclean and dirty only up to the point when we are born again.

Cleansed, washed with water
Just as babies are washed on the day of their birth, likewise, when we are born again, God cleanses us. He sprinkles clean water on us. When we come to Christ and repent, God washes and sanctifies us! We are washed of iniquity, and cleansed of sin. He gives us a clean heart -- no longer sin-stained, but white as snow.

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols." (Eze 36:25)

"I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me." (Jer 33:8)

"In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity." (Zec 13:1)

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1Co 6:9-11)

"But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1Jn 1:7)

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9)

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin." (Psa 51:2)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psa 51:10)

"How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14)

"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb 10:22)

"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit," (Tit 3:5)

"'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the LORD, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'" (Isa 1:18)

After I was born again, I felt like God had taken the slate with all my sins on it and wiped it completely clean. I had an assurance that I was cleansed, and like a newborn baby, I was starting all over with a clean slate.

Crying
When babies come out, they are known to cry. In the old days, as soon as a baby came out of the womb, doctors used to hold babies upside down by their feet to let the fluids drain out, and slap them to startle them into breathing. The purpose was to get them to start crying forcefully and breathing, and to blow all the mucous secretions out of their air passages, so they could breath clearly. Likewise, when someone is born again, they can have an experience of crying because they are sorry for their sin. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Then there are no regrets.

"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2Co 7:10)

"Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." (Luk 6:21). It is a blessing if you weep now—you’ll laugh later.

"Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom." (Jas 4:9)

Umbilical cord cut off at natural birth
When a baby is born, it is attached to its mother by the umbilical cord. During it's time in the womb, that is how it receives nutrients and oxygen through the blood to sustain its life. But when it is born, that cord is cut and it must eat and breathe on its own. Likewise, when you are born again, all sources of life prior to new birth must be cut off (severed).

Up until being born again, a person is feeding on death and sin. But at the new birth, that is all cut off. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Rom 8:2). From that point on, Jesus is the only source of life for that person. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6)

Received into the father’s arms
Once the umbilical cord is cut, the father holds the baby in his arms. The baby is received into the father’s or mother's arms and comforted. Likewise, when you are born again, you are received into the heavenly Father’s arms with a warm embrace. You are accepted in the beloved, chosen and precious in His sight (1 Pe 2:4; Eph 1:6, KJV). You are a child of God and you have peace with God.

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1).

I remember what it was like to hold my newborn babies close in my arms, look into their eyes, and speak softly and tenderly to them. They were so precious to me, and I just wanted to bond with them and build relationship with them. This is what's it's like when you are born again.

Safe and Secure
When a baby is received into its father’s arms, it is safe and secure. Likewise, when you are born again, you will feel secure in God’s love because of Jesus’ sacrifice for you. You can know with an assurance that you are safe. That’s important—that experience of security, because you’ve confessed Jesus is Lord and have believed.  You can confidently say as you rest in the Father’s arms, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)

There's no safer place than being in the Father's arms. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom 8:31)

"That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." (Rom 10:9-13)

Moment in time on a certain day
The born again experience is not something that happens over the course of one's lifetime. Rather, there is a point and moment in time when you’re laboring in prayer and grieving. And that’s when you’re being born again. There is a day of salvation.

"For He says, 'At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.' Behold, now is 'The acceptable time,' behold, now is 'The day of salvation.'" (2Co 6:2)

We see a clear illustration of the born again experience when we read about the return of the prodigal son in Lk 15:11-12.  When he initially returned to his father and repented, that happened on a certain day at a certain moment, and the new birth is similar to that. ""That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (Joh 3:6)

Sudden
When a baby is born, there are of course labor pains and signs that it is going to happen. But when it finally comes out, it happens all of a sudden. Likewise, the new birth is also sudden. You probably can’t predict exactly when it’s going to happen.

Out of darkness into light
Before you are born in the natural, you are in darkness. There is no light inside the womb. But when you come out, you are in the light. Likewise, when you are born again, you come out of darkness into the light.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" (1Pe 2:9).

"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2Co 4:6)

Vulnerable 
All newborn babies are vulnerable. For example, their body temperature could drop or they could get infections. There are a lot of things that could go wrong right after the baby is born. Likewise, when you are born again, you make yourself vulnerable to being hurt.

When we open our hearts up to one another as believers, we make ourselves vulnerable to one another. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange--I speak as to children--open wide to us also." (2Co 6:11-13). We have to open up our hearts to each other.

The new life is marked by weakness. Paul wrote, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2Co 12:9-10).

You’ve got to accept and admit your own weaknesses. When you’re weak, then the Lord is strong. You can’t just keep emphasizing your strengths like the world does.

Another aspect of this is that when you love your enemies, that puts you in a vulnerable position (Mt 5:44). For example, when you bless those who curse you or turn the other cheek. Likewise, when you confess your sins to one another, you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position.Yet we are commanded to do so (James 5:16).

Totally Dependent
When a baby comes out of the womb, it is totally dependent on the father. Likewise, a person is totally dependent on the Father when they are born again. We can do nothing without Him.

"Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.'" (Joh 5:19)

New creation, new life
A newborn baby is a completely new life. Likewise, a newborn believer receives a new life. He or she is a totally new creation. Paul said, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2Co 5:17).

When a baby comes out of the womb, they are seeing everything for the first time. It all seems new and different. Likewise, after I was born again, I began to notice that the grass was greener than I ever realized before. The sky was bluer than it ever seemed before. I could hear the birds singing, and I knew they were praising my Lord. This is what it's like when you receive new life in Christ.

Craving Milk
All newborns crave milk. They are constantly longing for milk and feeding on it. Likewise, when a person has been born again, they will crave pure, spiritual milk (the Word of God). I remember when I was first born again, I would stay up until very late reading and discussing the Word of God with the brother who had led me to Christ. I would read the Scriptures until my eyes were hurting. I craved the milk of the Word.

Peter wrote, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation..." (1Pe 2:2, NIV)

Childlike and Humble
Newborns are never born proud, dignified, sophisticated, or complicated. Likewise, one evidence of being born again is child-likeness. You must become like a little child.

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:3-4)

Innocence
Newborn babies are innocent. They are harmless and have never done anything wrong. Likewise, once you have been born of God, you will not continue in sin.

Paul wrote, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world," (Php 2:14-15)

Jesus said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." (Mat 10:16).

John wrote, "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1Jn 5:18)

Soiling Self
One last thing I would like to mention is that babies are known to soil themselves. They are not yet mature enough to go to the toilet when they have to relieve themselves, so they just go right where they are, wherever that may be. This can make quite a mess. Likewise, newborn believers may stumble or fall into sin and make a mess of themselves.

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." (1Jn 2:1-2)

Putting it All Together
By comparing the natural birth to the second, spiritual birth, we can see some basic things that are typically evidence in those who are born again. I hope you can relate to some or most of these things in your own life, if you have been born again. I also hope they will help others who have not been born again to realize they still have yet to experience this. If that's you, and you want to know the Lord Jesus, then please see the final section below on knowing Him.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, except where noted. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV. "Born Again" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: You are invited to read You Must Be Born Again, Born of God, Where will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Knowing the LordCostly Grace, The Cost of Discipleship, Doulos Training School, By Grace AloneAll Things Are New!, Holy Washings - Part I, Entering the Kingdom of God, The Obedience of Faith, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, The Judgment Seat of Christ, and Is Obedience Optional?. The Home page of this blog also has more articles. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Born of God

In my previous article, I explained that You Must Be Born Again to see and enter the kingdom of God. I mainly focused on the passage in John 3, where Jesus explained this to Nicodemus. Now let's look at other Scriptures about being born of God.

Jesus Came Forth from God
First we begin with Jesus our Lord. “Jesus…had come forth from God and was going back to God…” (Joh 13:3). This does not mean He was born again. It simply establishes the fact that He came forth from God. He was God already before He came to earth, according to Scripture, which says that in the beginning "the Word was with God and the Word was God." (Jn 1:3). He did not need to be regenerated, since was the image of the invisible God, the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3)

Jesus said, "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." (Joh 16:28)

Jesus said to them, "…I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” (Joh 8:42).

Therefore, it is clearly established in the Word that Jesus Christ came from God and was sent by Him into the world.

Jesus Came from Heaven Above
Secondly, since the Lord came from the Father Who is in heaven, Jesus came from heaven, hence He is from above. "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (Joh 3:31). This clearly establishes the fact that Jesus is above all. Paul said, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Col 1:16-17).

Jesus was Born of God
Having now established the fact that Jesus was God and came from God in heaven above, this makes it all the more wonderful that He was born of God. John the apostle referred to Him as He who was born of God. He said, "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (1Jn 5:18). John said that Jesus is the child born of God. "…whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.” (1Jn 5:1b). The expression "the child born of Him" uses the singular expression "child", not the plural, so it is obviously talking about Jesus, since it does not say "the children."

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is Born of God
As we just read in John's epistle, whoever loves the Father loves the Child born of Him. Those who put their faith in Him as the Christ are born of God. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…" (1Jn 5:1a). This is an amazing truth! We, too, may be born of God through faith in Christ. This expression "born of God" carries the meaning that one comes forth from God. It happens at the moment the Holy Spirit gives us the second birth. Just as flesh gives birth to flesh, so Spirit gives birth to spirit.

So does that mean that anyone who calls Jesus Lord is born of God? No. Jesus made this very clear when He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Mat 7:21).

Whoever Practices Righteousness is Born of God
John set the standard of living for those who are born of Him, when he said, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” (1Jn 2:29)

No One Who is Born of God Practices Sin
Not only does everyone born of Him practice righteousness, but nobody who is born of God practices sin. “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1Jn 3:9)

Everyone Who Loves is Born of God
Love is the defining characteristic of the person who is truly born of God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1Jn 4:7)

Whatever Is Born of God Overcomes the World
Finally we have this amazing promise of overcoming the world, if we are truly born of God. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.” (1Jn 5:4)

Putting it All Together
Let this be an encouragement to you. If you have repented and put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, you are following the One who came from God the Father in heaven. You will submit your whole life to the lordship of the child born of Him, and you will love and obey Him. He is the One who created you.

Although Jesus was born of God, He was not regenerated, since He was God throughout eternity without sin. But He was born of God in the sense that He came forth from God out of heaven into the earth, where He was made in the likeness of men, and was found in appearance as a man.  Although He existed throughout eternity, His birth took place when He came from heaven into this world in human form.

The new birth for those who believe in Him is an amazing reality, because at the moment of regeneration, the Spirit gives birth to spirit, and a new creation is born. The person you once were is dead and gone. The new person is born, who is made after the image of the Man from heaven. The Lord Jesus comes and takes up residence inside that person's heart (Jn 14:20,23; 2 Cor 13:5).

The one who is born of God does not practice sin any more, but practices righteousness. The one who is born of God loves. And rather than being worldly, the one who is born of God overcomes the world. I hope this has helped you to understand and better appreciate what it truly means to be born of God.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "Born Again" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: You are invited to read You Must Be Born Again, Evidence of the Second Birth, Where will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Costly Grace, The Cost of Discipleship, Doulos Training School, By Grace AloneAll Things Are New!, Holy Washings - Part I, Entering the Kingdom of God, The Obedience of Faith, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, The Judgment Seat of Christ, Is Obedience Optional?, and Led by the Spirit. The Home page of this blog also has more articles. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You Must Be Born Again

I’d like to discuss the requirement to be born again in order to make it to heaven.  Many people have had some kind of religious experience, but they have not been born again. Some people have been in church since they were children, but they have never been born again. If you were to take a survey in most churches around the world, asking people if they have been born again, I suppose very few would honestly be able to say they have been. So to begin, let’s see what the Lord Jesus Christ said about being born again.

He told Nicodemus, who was a religious leader of his day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (Joh 3:3).  That means you cannot see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.

Then He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  (Joh 3:5). That means you cannot enter the kingdom of God unless you experience this second birth, which is one of water and the Spirit.  This is simply another way of saying that you must have a new birth of the Spirit of God, and that it is not enough to be born naturally as all humans are.  When He referred to being born of water, He was speaking about water baptism.

He also said, "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'” (Joh 3:6-7). That means it is absolutely necessary to be born again, since He used the word “must”.  It’s not an option but an obligation.

How to Be Born Again
But how can a person be born again?  Nicodemus wondered the same thing. He asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" (Joh 3:4). The Lord explained to him that He, the Son of Man, would be lifted up on a cross.

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (Joh 3:14-15)

That was a reference to His role as the Messiah, or Christ, as I explained in my article, The Son of Man. And He was referring to His sacrificial death by crucifixion in the place of sinners, so that they could have eternal life.

You see, when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and they were in the wilderness, some of them were bitten by snakes and died, because of their sin. So God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole for people to see.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.’ And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Num 21:8-9)

Jesus explained to Nicodemus the similarity between the bronze serpent and Himself. It was a type or picture of Christ. In the same way as the Israelites were saved from death by looking upon the bronze serpent fixed to a raised pole, so anyone who would look upon Jesus Christ nailed to a cross and lifted up, would have eternal life.

Jesus continued, "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.  (Joh 3:16).  This means that God loves you so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, so that if you would believe in Him, you would not perish, but have eternal life. He said, “whoever believes in Him,” and that includes anyone.  It’s good news, because if it were not for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we would all perish in hell.  That’s because we have all sinned and fallen (Rom 3:23).  Nobody has lived up to God’s perfect, glorious standard. Paul called that “falling short of His glory”.

It’s wonderful to know that we can be saved from the terrible fires of hell by believing in Jesus.  But it’s not enough just to know it; you need to do it. You need to personally repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus alone to save you. Look to Him as the Israelites looked upon that bronze serpent. Without Him you will surely perish. He died on the cross for you, and God raised Him from the dead on the third day! He is alive forever. Will you trust Him to save you?

New Life in Christ as LORD
I would also like to explain what it means to believe in Him. It’s not simply agreeing that He’s the Savior of the world or that He died on the cross. It means you must undergo a radical conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit. God will change your whole life. It begins the moment you repent of all your sins, confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. You must surrender your whole life to Him, and ask Him to come live inside your heart to be your Lord and Savior. Once you do that, He will begin to transform you into His own image by the power of the Spirit.

Some people stop at John 3:16 and don’t go any further. But I’d like to quote the remaining verses in that passage, since they explain to us about the person who truly believes in Jesus with saving faith.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." (Joh 3:17-21)

The Lord contrasted those who believe in Him with those who do not. On the one hand, he who believes in Him and is born again is not judged. He comes into the Light, so that it may be plainly seen that his deeds have been done in the sight of God. He practices the truth. Notice the emphasis on the deeds and the practice of one who believes in Jesus. That’s what Jesus meant in John 3:16 by believing in Him and having eternal life. If a person claims to believe in Him, yet his life is not changed, then He does not know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord described such a person in exact opposite terms from the way He described the one who truly believes in Him. The one who does not believe in Jesus has been judged already. He still loves the darkness rather than the Light, for his deeds are evil. Since he does evil, it shows that he hates the Light. He does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Once again, notice the emphasis on the deeds of the one who does not believe. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a person says they believe in Jesus as their Savior, if their life has not been changed. If one continues to practice evil, after he has believed in Jesus, then he still loves the darkness rather than the Light. He has rejected the Light. If he fears that his deeds will be exposed, then he reveals that actually his deeds are evil.

It doesn't matter what such a person says with his mouth about Jesus, if his deeds are still evil. He must turn from the darkness to the Light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he has done has been done in the sight of God. Even though he may claim to believe in Jesus, if he does not obey the Lord, he still stands condemned. He will not see life, since the wrath of God remains on him. That is what the apostle John meant when he wrote at the end of the third chapter of his gospel, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36, NASB).

The original Greek word for the expression "does not obey" in John 3:36 is "apeitheo", which means "disobedient, or obey not." That word "apeitheo" comes from another word that means "disobedient", so the gospel explicitly warns us against disobeying the Lord. The word may also be used to mean "to disbelieve (wilfully and perversely), not believe, or unbelieving." (Strongs).

Likewise, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Mat 7:21).  Notice the requirement that one must do the will of the Lord’s Father in heaven in order to enter the kingdom of God. The emphasis again is on what a person does. The Lord laid stress on one’s deeds. Put that together with what Jesus told Nicodemus that you must be born again to enter the kingdom, and you will clearly see that they are one and the same. A person who is born again must do the will of God, and his faith must be accompanied by action.  It’s not enough to call Jesus “Lord.”

Jesus said, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'” (Mat 7:22-23). The same emphasis here is on one’s deeds. Those who practice lawlessness do not enter the kingdom of God. They do not enter heaven. The Lord will tell them to depart from Him and say He never knew them, even though they call Him Lord. It all goes back to their deeds.

Some people like to think that because we are saved by grace that there are no rules to follow. Well, I have news for those people. The apostle Paul said that Jesus became the source of salvation for all who obey Him. (Heb 5:9). There are still commandments that we must obey. So when you make Jesus your Lord, you agree that He will be the Master of your life and He will determine what you may and may not do. Always remember that as you walk out your faith, once you have first been born again.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "All God's Children" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: You are invited to read Evidence of the Second Birth, From Religion to RelationshipWhere will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Knowing the LordCostly Grace, The Cost of Discipleship, Doulos Training School, By Grace AloneAll Things Are New!, Holy Washings - Part I, Entering the Kingdom of God, The Obedience of Faith, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, The Judgment Seat of Christ, and Is Obedience Optional?. The Home page of this blog also has more articles. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.