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The Daily Word of Righteousness
You Must Be Born Again, #3
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:14-16—NIV)
There are several elements associated with the Divine redemption:
Repentance—turning away from the world and seeking the Kingdom of God.
Faith in Jesus as God's Son.
Forgiveness of sins on the basis of the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.
Receiving the Holy Spirit.
Being born again.
These elements form part of a whole we term "getting saved." They all have to do with receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. They are not identical experiences and sometimes it is useful to examine the features of each of the parts.
It is important also to understand that the order in which the elements of salvation take place may not be the same in each case. In Acts, Chapter Eight we discover the people of Samaria who believed in Jesus and in the Kingdom of God were healed and delivered and were baptized in the name of Christ. But they did not receive the Holy Spirit until a later time (Acts 8:15).
On the other hand, Cornelius and his friends received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water (Acts 10:47).
Because of the pattern of the restoration of doctrine and experience that has taken place since the days of the Protestant Reformers we find that the elements of salvation that normally would be experienced in a relatively short period of time are often spread over months or years.
There are people in what we term "formal" churches who believe Jesus is God's Son but who do not have a personal experience with Him.
There are others who were baptized by sprinkling when babies, and then later are immersed in water because of additional convictions they have gained as adults.
Still others have had a personal experience with Jesus but are unacquainted with the gifts of the Spirit.
The writer does not make a practice of telling people what they do not have but rather of inviting them to share in all the graces of the Lord. It is not the doctrines that are of vital importance, it is in the Divinely given experiences that the Kingdom of God is found.
When discussing the born-again experience we shall not attempt to define who has been born again and who has not been born again. Rather, we desire to alert the reader to the fact that being born again means more than often is assumed.
The Book of Acts does not portray the Apostles as preaching to people that they must be born again. Being born again is not the message of the Gospel. The message of the Gospel is faith toward God, repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and water baptism, with a view to the fact that in the future the heavens and earth will pass away and God will judge all men at the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To be continued.