Lesson Two, Part 1 – What must be Preached to Accomplish a New Birth

Part 1:  What Must Be Preached To Accomplish A New Birth


To answer the question in the title, we will ask another.  What must the message of the preacher accomplish?  Actually, it must attain two goals, if it will have the power to effect a new birth.  First, it must change the sinners’ mind about the value of the quality of life they are living in the world, so they will accept the quality of life in God’s kingdom.  They must be able to perceive the reality of the functional kingdom of God and the life (ZOE) in it before they can change their minds about their present lives.  This means they must have an opportunity to develop faith and repent (Acts 17:30).  The other goal of the word preached is to cleanse those who have repented of their sins (I Cor. 6:11).

These goals must be accomplished in the order stated.  Since faith and repentance is man’s part, we can see that even though we preach the true gospel, it can be rendered powerless by the hearers (Heb. 4:2; I Thess. 2:13).   The apostle Paul said the gospel is God’s power to save a sinner.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to  the Greek.  Rom. 1:16

As we search the scriptures for the message they preached in the beginning of the Christian age, we will want to keep both goals in mind, that is repentance and baptism.  Since the message is to be preached to sinners who are alienated from God, we will want to make sure of the context from which we choose the message to preach.  The book of Acts has many examples of the gospel being preached to those in the world realm.  Previous to the events of Acts, chapter two, we have no record of anyone having been born again.  Abraham, Moses, Nicodemus, no not even the thief on the cross had the necessary cleansing before Jesus’ blood was shed.

The first message preached by the apostles, who were under the direction of the Holy Spirit,  placed the resurrected Christ on the throne of God’s kingdom as prophesied by David.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.  Acts 2:36

The same message preached that day demanded repentance and offered baptism for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus.

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”  Acts 2:38, 39

Before God would add them to the number of those “in Christ” or subtract them from the number in the world realm under Satan’s power, they had to respond to the message preached (Acts 2:47).  They had to decide what they would do with Jesus Christ as Lord and with Jesus Christ as their sin offering.  When sinners decide to stop following Satan and let Jesus be their Lord, they have repented.  When sinners decide they want to have the remission of their sins from God’s memory they must be baptized in water in order to let the blood of Jesus do its work.  Both of these goals were the thrust of the gospel message preached throughout the book of Acts.

Faith was produced only by the message preached; therefore, the message had to be proclaimed in an understandable way.  After the hearers understand the kingdom, they can then have faith in it and become obedient to their faith (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5, 16:25, 26).  People do not obey the commands as such, but they obey their faith; consequently, sinners can only have faith in what was structured by the message preached, or what they perceived.  Since faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, sinners should see the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ as king.  They should see themselves in His kingdom in a spiritual growth program.  Also, they should see a way to receive the removing of their sins from the mind of God and guilt from their consciences by a simple immersion in water.  When the message was preached on the first Pentecost after Jesus returned to heaven, all of the hearers did not have faith, but three thousand did.  They became obedient from the heart to that form of doctrine which was delivered (Rom. 6:17).

What happened in Acts chapter two was repeated throughout the book of Acts.  It was a time of direct divine guidance by the Holy Spirit.  The message which was preached always offered the hearers life in God’s kingdom as adopted children and Jesus as their only sin offering (Acts 5:20; 8:12, 35; 15:7-9).  As a result, those who believed always repented and were baptized (Acts 3:19; 8:35, 36; 16:15, 31-33). The point to remember is that we cannot have one without the other and repentance comes first, that is, we must accept the way of life in the kingdom before we can have the remission of sins.  Belief and repentance will not attain the forgiveness of sins.  Even the apostle Paul had to be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 22:16).

The correct message will accomplish a new birth when it is sown in good soil (Luke 8:11ff).  A good heart with a wrong or incomplete message does not accomplish a new birth; therefore, the Holy Spirit will not work with those who have not been born again.  See Acts 19:1-7 to learn about a group who had not heard the complete message about salvation.  When they heard the gospel of the kingdom they did not hesitate to obey.  They knew that good intentions were not good enough to attain their new birth.

When the kingdom was preached by the preachers in Acts, we should take note that they were careful to connect it to God’s kingdom with Israel.  They did this by properly relating Jesus to Abraham, Moses, and David as in Acts chapter three.  They did not connect Him to physical Jerusalem, but to the heavenly Jerusalem.  Review Paul’s allegory to the Galatians in Gal. 4:21-31 and Peter’s sermon in Acts 3:11-26.  When we understand these scriptures and what Paul said to the Romans in chapter eleven we will understand the continuity of the man-dimension of God’s kingdom through out the Bible.  Consequently, when Jesus said the kingdom would come during the lifetime of the apostles, He meant the man-dimension with Him as the divine king (Mark 9:1).

In the Old Testament we find God serving as king over the man-dimension of His kingdom; however, Solomon, at one point in history, was king over this same dimension (I Sam. 8:7; I Chron. 28:5).  Now we see Jesus Christ as king, but it is still God’s kingdom.  Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth as king and He is reclaiming God’s people from Satan’s kingdom in the world (John 12:31).  Jesus’ kingdom is not of the world realm, but the lost in the world are the source of His citizens (John 18:36, 37).  The commission Jesus gave to the apostles before He took His seat as king at God’s right hand was to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).  A disciple is a learner, he is one who follows and imitates his teacher.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  Mark 16:15, 16

In Luke 24:47 we read, “… that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  And in Galatians 1:8 we read, “But even though we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”  Is it possible that in our generation Satan has more preachers working for him than Jesus Christ who gave the commission?  (II Cor. 11:12-15).  The false prophets claim to preach Jesus, but they reject His commission.  They will not baptize for the remission of sins.  The apostle Paul is a good example for all preachers.  He preached what he saw and heard, and he obeyed what he saw and heard (Acts 22:14-16).

The question is often asked, “How much does an alien sinner need to hear preached before he or she can have the proper faith to obey and be born again?”  Perhaps we will be more enlightened on this subject as we make a more thorough study of repentance and baptism for remission of sins.  Our next study will be about repentance.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does the word “dichotomy” mean?
  2. What is the only way out of the domain of darkness?
  3. What is the literal meaning of the Greek words from which born again was translated in John 3:3?
  4. What kind of people will God beget according to Peter?
  5. What are the processes of the new birth?
  6. How many goals must be considered when we preach to accomplish a new birth?
  7. What must be preached to bring an alien sinner to repentance?
  8. What must be preached to cause sinners to be baptized?
  9. What is man’s part in the new birth?
  10. What type of people heard the kingdom preached in the book of Acts?
  11. When were the first people born again?
  12. What produces faith?
  13. What is repentance?
  14. What is the responsibility of the preacher?
  15. Why did the preachers in Acts connect their message to the characters of the Old Testament?
  16. What is the commission that Jesus gave to His disciples before He returned to heaven?
  17. What prevented the people at Ephesus, initially, from receiving the Holy Spirit’s help?
  18. When is a preacher a worker for Satan?

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