Lesson Two – The New Birth

The New Birth

Lesson Aim:  To show we must be “born again” to be transferred to the kingdom of God “in Christ” and how God will accomplish this only when we have faith in the cross, accept the new covenant and are baptized in water with Jesus for the remission of our sins.


Just as the terms “world” and “in Christ” form a dichotomy, there are several other terms that form mutual exclusive realms.  Some of these can be found in the same scripture and they are fundamental to the study of the new birth.  For example in Colossians 1:13, Paul said, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved son.”  The domain of darkness and the kingdom of His beloved Son are the two mutually exclusive entities.  The victims of the domain of darkness are now being offered the opportunity to be born again as the means of transferring believers to God’s kingdom (John 1:12, 13).  The action verb, delivered, or transferred, suggests the dynamics of the new birth.

Jesus said we must be born again to see the kingdom of God.  The word “born,” as it is found in John 3:3-8, is translated from the Greek word gennao.  It means to beget or bring forth.  The word “again” has been translated from anothen, and it means “from above.”  By making use of Jesus’ revelation and Paul’s dichotomy of realms, we understand a power from above (God), begets people from the domain of darkness and delivers them to the kingdom of His beloved Son now in time.  The Apostle Peter used the Greek word anagennao, translated “born again.”  It means to beget anew.  God begets through the living and abiding word.

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, by the living and abiding word of God.  I Pet. 1:22, 23

Who will God beget from above and anew?  Those who have their souls purified by the blood of Jesus is the correct answer.  Whose souls will God purify?  Sinners who repent is the Bible answer.  The point is there are several closely connected processes taking place in the new birth.  For instance, who can repent?  Only those who have faith in the word of God.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  Rom. 10:17.  The following scripture reverses the process and takes us through the calling and believing processes, and finally back to the word being preached.

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  Rom. 10:14

The new birth processes are as follows:  Preaching or hearing the word of God; faith on the part of the hearer; repentance and baptism in water.  There are no alternate processes offered in the Bible.  What should be preached to produce faith and repentance in a citizen of Satan’s kingdom?  This faith and repentance must be of such quality to put sinners in a position for God to forgive their sins and beget them anew from above into His fellowship.  These are the processes we will discuss in this lesson.  Each process will be discussed separately and then brought together in a summary lesson.  This will reveal the greatest phenomenon of our age.  This revelation is also the answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?”  John 3:4.

The handing down of religious traditions has confused this subject to the point where everyone should make a personal search of the scriptures to arrive at the truth about the processes accomplishing the new birth spoken of in the Bible.  Since this is a long lesson it will be divided into four parts for the convenience of our study.  The topics are as follows:

Part 1.     What must be preached to accomplish a new birth?

Part 2.     Repentance.

Part 3.     The forgiveness of sins.

Part 4.     Summary.

Part I:  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 to have the power to produce a new birth.  First, it must change the sinners’ mind about the low quality of life they are living in the world and high 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) of it before they can change their minds about their present lives.  This means they must develop faith and repent (Acts 17:30).  People will only have faith in what they believe will satisfy their inherent needs (Matt. 6:33).  Hope for satisfaction of some higher needs may suffice (Matt. 6:25; Rom. 2:7).  The other goal of the word preached is to cleanse those who have repented of their sins so they can be free from guilt (I Cor. 1:30; 6:11; Heb. 9:14).

These goals must be accomplished by the gospel preached in the order so stated.  Since faith and repentance is man’s part, we can see how 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 wrote:

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 to produce faith for ones new birth, 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 given to them by 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

When some in the audience understood Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Christ, they ask what they should do about their problem with sin.  Peter demanded repentance.  He then offered baptism in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.  Those who believed and obeyed this form of doctrine were privileged to enjoy the gift of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:17, 18; Acts 5:32: II Cor. 13:14).

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 needed 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.  John, the Baptist, said a sinner’s repentance would be revealed by the fruit he or she produced (Luke 3:8).  In other words, if their behavior did not change in relation to what they repented of, they had not repented from the heart (II Cor. 7:10).  Their baptism would not finalize their new birth (I Pet. 3:21).  When sinners decide they want to have the remission of their sins from God’s memory and their conscience, they must be baptized in water in order to let the blood of Jesus do its work (Acts 8:34-39; Rom. 6:3, 4).  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 hearers understand the kingdom of God with Jesus as king, they can then have faith in this powerful phenomenon and become obedient to their faith (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5, 16:25, 26; I Cor. 4:20).  People do not obey the commands as such, they obey their faith; consequently, sinners can only have faith in what was structured by the message preached, or what they perceive about the kingdom Jesus is now ruling with themselves a citizen.  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 (Heb. 11:1).  They should see themselves in His kingdom in a spiritual growth program for God’s sons and daughters (II Cor. 6:18).  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 the form of doctrine delivered to them.

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 via the apostles and other Spirit filled preachers and teachers.  The message 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). Sinners 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 was advised 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 from sin and death.  When they heard the gospel of the kingdom they did not hesitate to obey.  They knew good intentions were not 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 Jesus Christ 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 throughout 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 heavenly 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; however, 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 or she is one who follows and imitates the 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.”  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 Jesus’ instructions to 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 from Satan’s domain, 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 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?

Part 2: Repentance


Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.  Acts 17:30, 31

The Greek word from which repent is translated in this scripture is metanoeo.  It is the same translation in Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 26:20.  Meta suggests a change and noeo connects this change to the mind; therefore, when we put it all together it means to have another mind.  The gospel message preached has the power to change the hearer’s mind unless, at the time they hear, they are in the condition Paul described in Ephesians 4:17-19.  Since a change of mind is usually manifested by a change of behavior, we will study the changes of behavior of the people who repented in the book of Acts.  Their new behavior should tell us something about what was preached to them.  Paul told King Agrippa the message he received through a heavenly vision demanded “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” Acts 26:20

After the preaching in Acts chapter two, those who repented performed deeds they were not willing to do before they heard the message.  Upon hearing the Person they had killed was God’s Son and how He had ascended to the throne as king over God’s kingdom, they were willing to sell their property and possessions and share with the other believers (Acts 2:45).  The gospel did not contain a commandment to sell their possessions; therefore, their behavior was the result of a changed mind.  If they had not changed their minds about Jesus they would not have been willing to do those deeds.  They had been waiting for the Messiah and now they heard a message proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth was He.  They believed Jesus was the Messiah and the kingdom of God had a divine king and priest (Acts 5:31).  They were willing to accept Him as Lord and do what He said.  They trusted Him more than their possessions.  They were not commanded to sell their property, but their change of mind, their repentance about the value of the life in God’s kingdom caused them to perform those deeds.  Jesus had become the corner stone of their new life (Acts 4:11).  They were now continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching; to fellowship; to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).

Both Peter’s and John’s confidence increased greatly as a result of their new understanding of Jesus and His kingdom (Acts 4:19).  They now understood the kingdom was spiritual.  They knew it would not be restored to Israel of the flesh (Acts 1: 6-8).  Peter’s change in behavior before and after he witnessed the resurrection of Jesus is marvellous to behold.  To see the difference please read Luke 22:54-61 and Acts 4:13-21.  In this account in Acts, Peter now believed in the resurrection of the dead; consequently, he no longer feared death from the Jewish leaders.  The church in Jerusalem manifested this same boldness (Acts 4: 32-35).

Stephen was able to emulate Jesus in his attitude toward those who killed him.  As Stephen was about to die from the blows of the Jews’ stones, he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  Acts 7:60.  A young man named Saul, who, earlier, was ravaging the church, changed to the loving Apostle Paul (Acts 8:3; 14:19).  A eunuch went on his way rejoicing after his conversion to Christ (Acts 8:39).  Dorcas abounded in deeds of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36).  Lydia opened her house to the preachers of God’s word (Acts 16:15).  The church, although persecuted, went about preaching the word (Acts 8:4).  It was a “times of refreshing.”

Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord:  and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you. Acts 3:19, 20

Their behavior was the result of their repentance.  Without repentance they could not return to God; however; after they had a change of mind about true life they could return.  They had repented.  Their deeds were the manifestation of their changed mind.  If we believe the life we are living is as good as, or better than the life in Christ, then we cannot repent.  Felix, the governor, had this problem (Acts 24:25).

The whole message of this life was preached to those in the temple to bring about repentance (Acts 5:20).  Jesus was presented as the prince of life to the same Jews who disowned and killed Him (Acts 3:14, 15).  Prince has been translated from the Greek word, archegos.  It means author, founder, leader or prince.  When the kingdom of God is preached, the life of that kingdom is also preached.  This life is translated from the Greek word, zoe.  When we understand what this word really means, then we will have more insight into what was preached to convert people in Acts of the Apostles.  See Part One, Lesson Three.   A decision to accept the kingdom, and the life therein, is a decision sinners must make before their baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

The beautiful quality of life in the kingdom of God should bring sorrow into the hearts of those who abide in death.  When the children of Satan hear they were created to be children of God, they should be sorrowful about their great loss in life up to this point.  They should also be sorry about the way they were being disrespectful to their loving heavenly Father.  If they are made sorrowful “according to the will of God, this produces a joyful repentance without regret.

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything though us.  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. II Cor. 7:9, 10

Paul had expected the Corinthians had changed their minds about what was not life but he was afraid some had not.

I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.  II Cor. 12:21

The Apostle John told the church they could identify those who had been begotten of God by their behavior.  In his first epistle, he said they were: “Everyone who practices righteousness (2:29); Those who love God (4:7); Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ (5:1); Those who overcome the world (5:4).”  This was the life they lived as Christians because they maintained a repentant attitude.

In summary, repentance, as it relates to the processes of God begetting us to Himself, is a new mind or a changed mind about life.  Our new mind has, as its object, a different type of life in our future, a life with God as our Father.  We are willing to “offer the parts of our body to Him as instruments of righteousness.”  Rom. 6:13.  We were sorrowful about the result of our past lives when we understood God created us to be His children.  This sorrow became a powerful influence for our repentance, a repentance that will not change if our sorrow remains.

We understand repentance does not change our relationship with God, or make right the sins we have committed in the past (Acts 3:19).  Repentance is possible for believers only.  It leads to life (Acts 11:18).  Repentance has to do with our attitude toward the quality of life in God’s kingdom and God’s will for us (II Cor. 7:1; Heb. 6:1).  It is our initial decision to be disciples of Christ, to accept His covenant, to be sanctified in Christ and to be His children in God’s kingdom.  It is a decision to let God add us to the sanctified (Acts 2:47; John 17:19).  Repentance is our response to our faith in a higher life than mere men (I Cor. 3:1-3).

Preachers must proclaim the gospel of life in the kingdom clearly so the lost people can have faith.  Sinners must be obedient to the faith that becomes their faith.  It was indeed a glorious day when the kingdom of God was preached to the Gentiles and not the Jews only, because that includes the rest of us.  Peter stated:

If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’  And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.’  Acts 11:17, 18

 Questions for Discussion

  1. What does God command all people to do?  Why?
  2. Give the basic meaning of the Greek word translated repentance in God’s word.
  3. What does the meaning of the word repent suggest about the message that produces repentance?
  4. How do we know all three thousand people who were baptized in Acts two repented?
  5. How does repentance make Jesus Christ our Lord?
  6. What can keep sinners from repentance?
  7. What brings about repentance that will not be regretted?
  8. What are sinners obedient to in their repentance?  Please explain your answer.
  9. What changes do we see in Peter after he witnessed the resurrection of Jesus?
  10. List the good works two Christian women performed after they repented?

Part 3:  Forgiveness of Sins


Jesus came into the world to set all things in order and on course for “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things upon the earth.”  Eph. 1:10.  He preached the kingdom of God and Himself as the final sin offering.  He trained the apostles to preach the same message.  Just before His death, He told them:

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  John 16:12, 13

On the first Pentecost after Jesus returned to heaven, Peter spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit to the Jews who were in Jerusalem to worship God according to the Law of Moses; however, the “first covenant” had fulfilled its usefulness.  It had become the “old covenant.”  Heb. 8:6, 7.  Paul said, Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  Gal. 3:24.

God had administered the “man dimension” of His kingdom by the Law He gave to Moses at Sinai because He had not found enough Israelites with sufficient faith.  Jesus is presently administering as head over the church according to our faith (Heb. 3:6; 4:2).  Since Christians are still “in Adam,” thus the reference the “man dimension” of His heavenly kingdom.  Of course, there is only one kingdom and Christians are “heavenly things” themselves and citizens of God’s kingdom (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:23).  Please consider the following scriptures:

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.  Acts 13:38, 39

That the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.  Acts 26:23

The “door of faith” swung wide open when Jesus became king over God’s kingdom, even as wide as it was before God found it necessary to call Abraham.  Thus all nations are now being called by the gospel (Acts 14:27).  The faithless sinners have no program from God except the call of the gospel (II Thess. 2:14).  There are a variety of messages offered by preachers in the, quote, “Christian religion” about the new birth.  There is only one revealed in God’s word.  The Apostle Peter got his sermon right the first time.  He preached it right because he was guided by the Holy Spirit.  This message was never changed throughout the Bible

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.’  Acts 2:38


The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.  Matt. 13:44

Preachers and teachers of God’s word must present the kingdom of heaven in all its glory, so the hearers can catch a view of the kingdom of God by faith.  When sinners see the life in the kingdom, they will understand they have a serious problem with sin.  If they do not believe they have a problem with sin, they have not understood the correct message of the kingdom, or perhaps they have not believed it.  The “evil one” may snatch it away, thus they become number one soil in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 13:18, 19).  When they change their minds about sin and when they want God’s law of life impressed upon their hearts and minds, God is ready to remove their sins according to His new covenant (Heb. 8:10-12).  John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:29Jesus is willing to take care of all alien sinners’ problems with sin and death, if they will receive Him.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:11-13

There is only one position open to mankind in God’s eternal kingdom.  It is the exalted and glorious position of a son of God but first sinners in the world realm must pass out of death and into life by getting their sins removed by God’s grace (John 5:24).  It is one of the processes in a series of processes involve in accomplishing the new birth.  Jesus explained one reason why sin must be removed in the following scripture:

Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.’  John 8:34-36

Slaves of sin can never hope to be God’s children because the proposition is, “You shall be holy, for I am Holy.”  I Pet. 1:16.  The gospel call is clear, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  Mark 16:16.  Peter said, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of the dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  I Pet. 3: 21.

In this lesson we will understand exactly what happens in baptism.  It is the final process of the new birth because it is the only process in which God forgives the sins of a sinner outside Christ.  “Born again” means God will beget a sinner from above.  The point we want to understand is, what must happened in order for God to beget a sinner.

To properly appreciate what is being remitted in baptism, we want to be reminded how God is aware of the life of all people, even our secrets (Rom. 2:16; I Cor. 4:5).  He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27).  Even the very hairs of our head are all numbered (Matt. 10:30).  What God knows about a sinner is enough to make any one desired to be healed (Rom. 3:10ff).  When God forgives sins He removes this part of a sinner’s past life from His mind.  This was not the situation before Jesus was sacrificed (Rom. 3:25, 26; Heb. 9:15; 11:39, 40).

For Christians, this is the only kind of forgiveness God offers in these last days of time; consequently, with God, it is always forgive and forget.  The Greek word apesis means a sending away.  It has been translated forgiveness (NAS) and remission (KJV).  From God’s point of view of what happens in baptism; He will remember Christians’ sins no more (Heb. 10:17).  He will not any longer count our trespasses against us (II Cor. 5:19).  Christians sins are wiped away (Acts 3:19).  His or her previous sins are removed from the mind of God; therefore, we can enjoy a guilt free conscience (Heb. 10:1-4).

When God wipes this part of the repentant person’s past life away from His memory, then, and then only, the person who is born again enjoys a clean conscience.  This is the reason the Holy Spirit will now fellowship Christians continuously (John 7:37-39; Acts 2:38; II Cor. 13:14).  He or she now views themselves as God views them.  Since God is now looking upon Christians without any sin, Paul said, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”  Rom. 6:6, 7.  Please read Col. 2:9-15 for a clear view of the spiritual circumcision that happens under the water in a baptism.  Sinners are healed (I Pet. 2:24).  We are free from the power of sin and death (Rom. 5:21).  Christians are new creatures because God has removed our sins and now we look at ourselves free from our old body of sin (II Cor. 5:17).  Everything about ourselves is new because we no longer have the same appearance to God or ourselves.  Before we entered into baptism, we changed our minds about the kind of life we wanted to live, the kind of people we wanted to be and now we have been baptized for the forgiveness, or remission, of our sins.  We are new creatures in God’s view and our own.  We have passed out of death and into life!

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Cor. 5:17

The above is the result of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 19:5).  Ananias said to Saul of Tarsus, “And now why do you delay?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”  Acts 22:16.

Now let us explore the spiritual mechanics in baptism for the remission of sins.  Just as there are certain persons and equipment in the hospital operating room in order to perform an operation for a malignant tumor, so it is in the forgiveness of sins.  If we visited an operating room at the time of surgery we would expect to see certain persons present every time and so it is with the remission of sins.  God will always be there.  Jesus will always be present and so will the Holy Spirit.  So what else must be available in this operation to remove sin?

John said, “For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three are in agreement.”  I John 5:8.  Before any one had been born again Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  John 3:5.  While eating the Passover with His disciples the night before He died Jesus took a cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant which is to be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matt. 26:27, 28.  We can now add the blood of Jesus to our list of necessary items.  All we need now is the repentant sinner and perhaps someone to assist in the immersion of him or her in water.

If we had been on the road to Gaza from Jerusalem at a certain point in time we would have had it all put together before our eyes.  This is what we would have seen with our physical eyes.

And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look!  Water!  What prevents me from being baptized?’  (And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’  And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’)  And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.  Acts 8:36-39 

According to W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word used in this scripture translated “baptized” is from the Greek word baptizo.  To baptize, primarily a frequentative form of bapto, to dip, was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another, etc.  The mode of baptism used in the Bible is the dipping of people in water to the point of total immersion.  If we want to follow the Biblical form of baptism we will practice immersion.

Some, quote, “Christian churches” deny the need of this form.  They may say literal baptism is salvation by works; however, the same churches may be careful to follow the Bible form in the Lord’s Supper and call it an act of faith.  The fact is the Christian religious world has been distracted by the “doctrines of men” on baptism.  If we were trying to hold to the Bible form only in the act of baptism, then a “works accusation” might be valid; however, it is what spiritually happens underneath the water we must come to understand and appreciate.

The question of utmost importance is what happens underneath the water in baptism.  This can be seen by our study of the scriptures and through our “eye of faith.”  We must understand, although it is a spiritual activity, things still happen in an orderly manner.  It is not one of those cases where “now you see it, now you don’t.”  Each divine Person plays their role just as the people do in the performance of surgery.

The Holy Spirit is the truth and He bears witness (I John 5:7).  This truth is revealed in God’s word and it produces faith.  Our faith in “what is happening in the water” is what causes this great work of God (Col. 2:12).  Baptism is a work, but it is a work of God, if everything happens according to the Bible.  The truth about what is happening in the water is clearly revealed in Romans 6:3-11 and Col. 2:9-14.  Please read each of these scriptures carefully to see the sinner’s attachment to Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection.  It all happens to the sinner in the water.  This is the gospel for the alien sinner (I Cor. 15:1-5).

The blood of Jesus is the only item that will give a faithful repentant sinner the remission of sins (Heb. 9:22; 10:1-10).  This is Jesus’ role underneath the water.  The Holy Spirit revealed the truth that must be obeyed.  Faith in the blood of Jesus moves God to forgive the sinner’s past sins; that is, remove his old man of sin.  This is God’s role and when this happens the old man is done away.  This is what happens while the repentant sinner is immersed in water in the baptismal process of the new birth.  Why try to separate the form from the process?  Let us simply be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s instructions in the word of God.

Some say that faith in the blood of Jesus is all that is necessary to have the remission of sins; but it should also be noted that Jesus said “the truth will make you free.”  John 8:32.  The Holy Spirit’s record in the book of Acts of the Apostles reveals how every time the cross was preached, those who believed wanted to be baptized immediately in water.  This applied to the jailer who was told to believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved (Acts 16:30-34).  Why did they want to get into the water?  Because no one has received the freedom of sins until after they have died with Jesus and no one has been made alive to God until they have remission of sins (Rom. 6:7).  Paul said, “Even so consider your selves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Rom. 6:11. 

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is the only position open to mankind in God’s eternal kingdom?
  2. How do we know the Apostle Peter got his message right the first time?
  3. What was Peter’s message as it is recorded in Acts, chapter two?
  4. What word best sums up the only program of God for the faithless sinner?
  5. What happens in the mind of God as a faithful repentant sinner is baptized?
  6. What should happen in the way we regard ourselves as a result of the correct answer to question five?
  7. How much does God know about everyone?
  8. How can the activity in an operating room during surgery be compared the activity in baptism?
  9. Who are the persons who are always present during a baptism and what do they do?
  10. Give the form and the process of baptism.

Part 4:  The New Birth in Summary


Nicodemus was a learned person both in secular and spiritual matters.  He was a ruler of the Jews, faithful to the Law of Moses and a believer in Jesus Christ (John 3:1; 7:50, 51; 19:39).  However, he was not well enough informed to comprehend Jesus’ statement when He said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3).

To understand the processes accomplishing a new birth we must first understand the kingdom of God as it relates to mankind.  We must understand we were created to ultimately inherit this kingdom as God’s sons (Luke 12:32; Gal. 4:7).  We need to perceive of the concept of the two realms now available to mankind on earth.  A mature person has been born only once is in the world realm; however, this is not where we will find God’s kingdom with Christ as king (John 18:36).  Satan rules the world (Matt. 13:38, 39; John 14:30).

Also, we must comprehend the significance of the resurrection of Jesus as it relates to the “in Christ” realm in order to understand how “His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  I Pet. 1:3.  Jesus died for our transgressions but He was raised because of our justification (Rom 4:25).  The resurrected Christ serves as our priest and king over a peaceful “no condemnation” realm identified as “in Christ.”  See Rom. 5:1, 2; 8:1, 2; Heb. 8:1, 2.

Christians are the people who have been called out of the world realm and into Christ.  We are the church of Christ.  The root meaning of the word church is the “called out.”  Christians are the people called out by Christ.  We must understand the church in this context in order to comprehend its relationship to the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 1:20-23).  To be “in Christ” means to be a member of His body.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit.  I Cor. 12:13

The basis for the new birth is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For the alien sinner, this is the gospel – the good news (I Cor. 15:1-5).  We proceed from spiritual death to spiritual life as we move with Jesus through all three events (John 5:24).  Finally, this brings us to God’s kingdom in Christ.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.  I Peter 3:18

For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  Col. 1:13

And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:6

The gospel is preached.  It is God’s power to save sinners for His kingdom as sons (Rom. 1:16, 17; I Pet. 2:24).  When, and if, it produces faith in the believers in the events of the cross and the kingdom of God “in Christ,” their faith becomes their motivating force (Rom. 10:17).  It moves alien sinners to change their minds about their quality of life in the world.  They now desire the life of adopted sons in Christ (Eph. 1:5).  This is called repentance and it can happen only after faith is produced by the gospel about the kingdom of God and the new covenant.

Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19

While in the processes of the new birth, this same faith continues to move the repentant sinner into the waters of baptism.  The gospel, the apostles and others who were guided by the Holy Spirit preached, produces faith in the minds and hearts of sinners.  Their faith put the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in action for them in the waters of baptism.  As these faithful sinners are being baptized, they believe their old selves are dying with Jesus, being buried with Jesus and their new selves are being resurrected with Jesus, and they are.  If their faith does not put Jesus in the water with them, nothing will happen, except they will get wet.  Paul said, a sinner is “buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  Col. 2:12.  Sinners’ works cannot save them.  Their faith motivates God to make them alive with Him.  The work of God is a wonder to behold (Col. 2:13).  Paul said it happened in baptism in Col. 2:9-14 and in the following scripture.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Rom. 6:3-7

Paul was one preacher who had practiced what he was told by the preacher God sent to him.  He later preached the gospel that produced the faith he, himself, had obeyed (Acts 22:16).  He understood it was the only way he could have the remission of sins so he could be begotten from above, that is, born again.  Baptism was the way Paul was crucified with Christ and clothed with Christ (Gal. 2:20; 3:27).  Even a Gentile can become a part of Abraham’s family by a “faith motivated baptism.”  Abraham’s family is God’s kingdom on earth (Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 4:16).  When our faith puts Jesus Christ and the events of the cross in action in the waters of baptism, it can be said that “baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  I Pet. 3:21.

There is another concept we must understand if we will appreciate the phenomenon of activity within the processes of “being begotten by God.”  We must understand the concept of the inner-outer man because what happens before, during and after baptism happens to the inner man, the self (II Cor. 4:16).  As Peter said, “Baptism is not for the cleansing of the flesh.”  Repentant sinners have their spirits made alive to God when God remembers their sins no more.  According to the following scriptures, the inner man, or the spirit of man, is alive to righteousness after the new birth is completed.

And He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  I Peter 2:24

And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  Rom. 8:10

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  II Cor. 5:21

The new self is now in Christ, but the outer man is still earthy – in Adam (I Cor. 15:48).  The body with the spirit still in it is known as the outer man.  Our bodies must be brought into subjection to our inner man with the help the Holy Spirit “in Christ.”  Rom. 6:13; 8:12, 13.  The body will not be saved from physical death; its hope is in the resurrection (I Cor. 15:22).  When Jesus comes again there will be a making alive of the outer man in spiritual form (I Cor. 15:42-44).

If Nicodemus had been blessed with all the information we now have in God’s word, he too could have understood what Jesus meant when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  John 3:5.   But at that point no one had been born again because Jesus had not died; however, after His death on the cross many people have accepted the teachings of God’s word and have been born of the water and the spirit.  This is the truth about the new birth and it is simple; however, this truth must be obeyed.  Please consider the following.

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.  I Peter 1:22, 23

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.  Acts 2:38

This accomplishes exactly what the phrase “born again” means.  It means begotten from above or as we read, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  Acts 2:47.  “Being saved” from sin and “born again,” is the same process.  Neither of these can happen without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it does not happen for any one personally until they have joined Jesus in this very physical, but very spiritual event.  God has provided baptism in water as the only way to join Jesus in the events of the cross.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.  Rom. 6:8 

Questions for Discussion

  1. How much do alien sinners need to understand to let God accomplish their new births?
  2. What did God provide as a basis for our new birth?
  3. What is the motivating force that moves a sinner through the processes of the new birth?
  4. List the processes needed to be accomplished in a new birth.
  5. In what sense is baptism a work?
  6. What did Paul practice?
  7. How does our conception of the inner-outer man help us to understand the spiritual activity in baptism?
  8. Why was it difficult for Nicodemus to understand Jesus’ statement about the new birth?
  9. What does “born again” mean?
  10. Why must sinners be baptized in water to be saved?

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