Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
Mormon teaching is that the new new birth process begins with water baptism by “a legal administrator” i.e. someone holding the LDS priesthood (c/f Mormon Doctrine, page 101, LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie; BOM Alma 7:14, D&C 39:5-6.)
But there was no such thing as a legal administrator for baptism in biblical times. Nor was baptism the means by which believers received the Holy Spirit. Christ made it clear that He was the one who gave the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost And the only requirement was that was that we had to believe on Him (John 7:37-39).
(Ghost and spirit are translated from the same Greek word and have exactly the same meaning. The Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost are one and the same. There is a link to an article on this subject at the end of this page.)
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of a sect that was sometimes referred to as “the separated ones,” as they kept themselves from any kind of impurity forbidden under the Mosaic system. He lived in obedience to their laws and ordinances, was a teacher of religion and served on the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Israel. His life was devoted to worshipping God, holy living and serving the community. Yet Jesus said that he wouldn’t be able to see or enter the Kingdom of God unless he was born again (John 3:3-5). But He wasn’t talking about being born again in a physical sense. He was talking about the beginning of a new, transforming spiritual dimension in Nicodemus’s life that he hadn’t known before.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither
can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV)
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, KJV).
Birth is indicative of new life. Christ spoke to Nicodemus about two births, one of water and the other of the Spirit:
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Then He indicated that the first birth (of water) was of the flesh, i.e. our physical birth, and that the second birth was of the Spirit:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:6-7, KJV)
Everyone (including Nicodemus) was aware that our fleshly birth is through water (embryonic fluid). And Christ was very clear about our need for a second birth, this time through the Spirit.
Peter indicated that the Word of God is an agent of the new birth, when he told Christian believers that they had been born again through the living and abiding Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). This ties up with the teaching that we are saved through faith in Christ, and that saving faith is generated within us through hearing the Word of God:
“So then, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17, KJV)
In the following passage, Peter preached the Word of God to a group of unsaved people. They believed in Christ and were born again in spite of not having been baptized by immersion. Nor had they had hands laid on them. This indicates that neither baptism nor the laying on of hands is essential in order to receive the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost; only faith in Christ.
“And he [Christ] commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost [same Greek word as Holy Spirit] as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. ” (Acts 10:42-48, KJV)
After they had been regenerated Peter commanded them to be baptized (in obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19-20).
Besides the Word of God, the other agent necessary in the new birth is the Spirit. Christ described the new birth as something that is as unpredictable as the wind. He put it like this in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (KJV)
So the new birth comes about through a combination of the Word of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And He Himself gives us the Spirit when we trust in Him.
“If any man is (spiritually) thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him were to receive …” (John 7:37-39, NASB).
We’ll know that we’ve been born again because of the radical change in our lives. Our spiritual blindness will be a thing of the past. Spiritual truths we’d never previously understood will become clear to us. And the Bible will become so meaningful that we’ll want to keep on reading it all the time. We’ll be led and guided by our Saviour and our lives will start bearing spiritual fruit (c/f Galations 5:22). Our priorities will change to such an extent that our lives will never, ever be the same again. And we’ll be able to testify to the reality of 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV).
Paul expressed the implications of the new birth in these terms:
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14, KJV).
Becoming a Christian isn’t possible other than through being spiritually regenerated (born again). And it’s only Christ’s Spirit/Ghost indwelling us that makes us Christians.
“… Now if any man have not the Spirit of
Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9, KJV).
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12, KJV)
The following articles have a bearing on what we have just read:
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