We ask ourselves often the question – What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be really born again? Well here is the definition of that. And there’s a lot of confusion about it. There are a lot of people, as we know, claiming to be born again today that it’s very obvious don’t know the meaning of it.
A lot of confusion about what it means to be a Christian. What it means to have Christ. What it means to be born again.
Ephesians 2:1-10(HCSB)1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This ought to eliminate any doubt and any question. Cause it’s here.
Now remember that the book of Ephesians is concerned with what it means to be in Christ. What it means to be one with Jesus Christ.
Water baptism symbolizes the believer’s total trust in, and total reliance on, the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a commitment to live obediently to Him. Water baptism is not an entrance into Christianity. Instead we are baptized because our Lord commanded it and because we obey Him.
Matthew 28:19 (ESV)“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
Before we are baptized, we must come to believe that we are sinners in need of salvation Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Hamartia means missing the mark. Now watch, this is the real true biblical definition of sin. Sin is a failure to hit God’s target.
Well, you say, – what’s God’s target? Here it is, listen, “For all have sinned and Fall short of the…what?…glory of God.” Sin is a failure to glorify God, Romans 1:21-25(HCSB)21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. When they knew God they…what?…glorified Him not as God.That is sin. Sin is coming short of glorifying God. It does not mean when we say a person is a sinner, it does not mean that they’re all the same level of vile, rotten, degraded, corrupt, decaying sinners. You could have 20 dead corpses and they could all have varying degrees of decay, they’d all be dead but different degrees of decay. And so it is in human history and human kind, all are dead but there are variances in the decadent, in the decaying of what is left. But sin is a question of…not a question of decay ultimately, it is a question of falling short of something.
In other words, now listen to this, we all understand that a – robber is a sinner, and a murderer is a sinner and a rapist is a sinner and a liar is a sinner and so forth and so forth and so forth. We’re all clued in on that. But listen to me, sin has much more to do with what you don’t do than what you do do. You got that? Sin is really not an issue of what you do, but of what you fail to do. It is that you fail to come to the glory of God.
Charles Spurgeon stated the following…
Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.
The pig is released, which side is he going to run to?
To the slop side of course!
Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.
Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?
The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.
Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.
This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.
Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.
When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.
The rite of baptism expresses the commitment of the believer to die to the old, sinful way of life and be reborn to a new life in Christ.
Romans 6:4–8(HCSB)4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death and resurrection, portraying symbolically the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the ways of the world, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24(HCSB)24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that please God.
Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something optional in the Christian life. It is the reality of the new birth; no one can come to Christ unless he is willing to see his old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in obedience to Him. Jesus describes lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new as those whom He will spit out. Revelation 3:15–16(HCSB)15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. That lukewarm condition characterized the church of Laodicea as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ. Death to self is not an option for Christians; it is a choice that leads to eternal life.
We must also believe that Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was resurrected to assure our place in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4(HCSB)Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, We then turn to Jesus, asking Him to forgive our sins and to be our Lord and Savior, and the moment we do that we are born again, our eternal salvation is guaranteed, and we begin to die to ourselves and live for Christ
1 Peter 1:3–5(HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. At this time we are qualified to be scripturally baptized.
The fact that baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation is best seen in the example of a saved man who was not baptized in water, the criminal on the cross
Luke 23:39–43(HCSB)39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
This self-confessed sinner came to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord while dying on a cross next to Him, and he asked for salvation and was forgiven of his sins. Although he never experienced water baptism, at that moment he was baptized into Christ’s death, and he then was raised to life by the power of Christ’s word.
Christians have been commanded to be baptized, and we should do so out of obedience to, and love for, our Lord Christ Jesus.
John 14:15(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. Water baptism by immersion is the biblical method of baptism because of its symbolic representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
We let ourselves be completely immersed in the water. The Greek word for baptism is Baptizmo which means immersed or immersion. This symbolizes burial with our Lord; we are baptized into His death on the cross and are no longer slaves to self or sin. When we are raised out of the water, we are symbolically resurrected—raised to our new life in Christ to be with Him forever, born into the family of our loving God
Romans 8:16(HCSB)16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.