ARE YOU REALLY "SAVED" and "BORN AGAIN?"
(If you don't know what it REALLY means)
Here is a brief video exhortation from Norm Rasmussen regarding becoming born again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2nUVfXURq4
By: Norm Rasmussen
Many people struggle with "feeling saved" in their walk with God because they don't have proper understanding of what God wants them understanding about "being truly saved." We'll address this stumbling block in this writing. Suffice it to say right out of the gate that Satan will mess with us big time if we try to somehow "feel" saved. We are NEVER saved by "feeling" saved. Yet God wants us knowing to the deepest fiber of our being that we truly ARE saved, (IF we ARE) but it takes the right understanding to reach that point. Please keep reading if you are struggling (confused) with this issue.
The question comes up from time to time as to whether or not a person is really "saved," and/or really "born again." Some need to take self-inventory of their spiritual condition, because it is possible that God is warning them that they are not really saved and/or spiritually born again.
Is there a difference between being "saved" and "born again?" No. You can't truly be saved unless you become born again, and you can't truly be born again and not be saved.
The problem or confusion sometimes comes, however, with people who may have prayed "the sinners prayer," (or sometimes referred to as a "prayer of salvation"), attend church regularly and maybe even join a church, for instance ... and there is no obvious Christ-like change being manifested in their life as time passes (commonly known as Godly, Christ-like, Holy Spirit fruit manifesting in their life). Though they may confess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they continue to go on sinning just like before, seeking God's continual forgiveness, but never engaging in true repentance (which means: change! ... not just continually asking for God's forgiveness and leaving it at that) for their criminal acts against God (which is what sin really is, in the highest extent) and/or serious obedience to the commands of the New Testament (The New Covenant).
Trying to keep it simple (though it is not so seemingly simple at all in many cases, I realize), from a balanced Biblical perspective ... the person who does not genuinely manifest any Godly fruit in due season using the New Testament Bible as their measuring device in which to judge their thoughts and actions . . . that person is not saved, neither is that person truly born again. They are only hoping they are. They are self-deceived, sadly.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." -- Matthew 7:21
Over-riding the above . . . God is the sole Judge of who will make it to heaven and those who will not. God knows the heart of each of us, and no mere human can see what God sees, or knows. Yet confusion abounds about this issue, and so I will make my best attempt to try to do the topic some justice that God will not fault me for at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Please allow me to build on hopefully a proper foundation, as we address this topic of being "saved" and "born again," and spiritual issues related to it. My prayer and heart's desire is that the Holy Spirit pours out His grace upon me in doing so, so I do not confuse people anymore than what they already may be.
Salvation (or becoming "saved") is a free gift. Becoming spiritually born again is also a free gift. Both are not something you or I do on our own exclusively. God the Father draws us to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and we submit to that drawing. We don't make a decision to follow Jesus Christ solely on our own ... whereby the Holy Spirit then suddenly just shows up to help us in our spiritual relationship with Christ. It's the other way around. The Father first draws us through the Holy Spirit -- we then begin to submit to His drawing (and experience teaches us this "drawing process" can be over a long period of time for many -- a short period of time for others). We get some understanding from the following scriptures of how this spiritual process works:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." -- John 6:44 (NKJV)
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." -- John 6:63 (NKJV)
"And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." -- John 14:16-17 (NKJV)
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." -- John 16:13-15 (NKJV)
(For an expanded understanding of what really saves a person, you may want to click: Here ).
(For an expanded understanding of what it means to become "born again," you may want to click: Here).
There are some 42 direct or indirect references in the New Testament Bible concerning being "saved." There are some nine direct or indirect references in the New Testament Bible concerning being "born again" or "born of God".
It is important to build on a solid foundation when building a house, Jesus told us in Matthew 7:26. If we build on sand, sooner or later we'll be in trouble. To build a proper foundation on rock-solid ground, one must first understand what God's definition of being "Saved" is. This becomes the first brick in our foundation, and the most important brick! If we build too quickly on this brick, we will get in trouble sooner or later, and our spiritual house will be shaky.
I encourage you to NEVER forget this definition of "SAVED": Delivered from God's punishment for your sins.
It's that simple! To add to this definition . . . or alter it in any way . . . will make the devil's heart very glad. And I mean very glad.
By the definition just given, how then must I meet God's requirement to have His punishment removed from me?
The answer is simple, yet in the beginning, seemingly unbelievable! Simple in definition, because God wants it that way. Seemingly unbelievable, because at first it sounds almost too good to be true!
This is where Satan hisses and spits venom in rage. He wants no one understanding, let alone believing . . . just how good this Good News is about how easy it is to have God's wrath and subsequent punishment (judgment) removed from us for our sins.
When technically does one become "Saved"? When one prays "the sinner's prayer?" When one confesses out loud "that Jesus is their Lord and Savior?" When one "asks Jesus to come into their heart and save them from their sins?" When one simply asks God "for forgiveness?"
You may find this hard to accept, but it's not nearly as important when you made dialogue with God to forgive you of your sins as it was coming to understand why He would even want to forgive you in the first place. Furthermore, it was not nearly as important how or where you went about (or will be, if you haven't yet) asking God to forgive you of your sins as it is understanding that a legal binding contract will be the final word on a matter if opinion differs.
Please allow me to explain. A clearly written legal contract will hold up every time in the courts of the land. A legal contract is the highest form of executing one's will there is on planet Earth. Guess what God has given humanity expressing His highest will? A legal contract. God would not give you and I a means of expressing our highest will about legal matters that is any different than His. Otherwise how could we possibly know what God wants us to know about Him?
What then is God's legal contract to you and I? You probably already know the answer: His Holy Bible. God has spelled out His highest will for you and I by giving us this important document, or spiritually legal contract. Yet to understand this legal document clearly, it takes some effort on our part.
God has His representatives and means to help us understand this legal contract, and Satan has his representatives and means to help us keep from understanding this legal contract. In fact, Satan's representatives and means have been so successful that many people have lived and died on this planet never realizing a legal contract even existed from God on this planet. Yet this author takes the position that not one person will spend eternity in hell without first being given the opportunity to somehow reject the author of God's eternal, legally binding contract. For those who do not know who the author is, His name is Jesus Christ (See: Hebrews 12:2). The Holy Spirit flowed through human beings to pen the words of the Holy Scriptures, but only as God the Father and Jesus Christ guided Him. (See: 2 Timothy 3:16).
There has been a "spiritual courtroom battle" that has raged on day and night since God and Satan (anti-God) went nose to nose over who has claim and right to your and my soul and spirit for eternity. God's legal contract will never pass away. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His legal contract will not. (See: Mark 13:31).
To fully understand God's legal contract, you must understand why His contract had to be written in the first place. Here's the reason behind it:
THE GREATEST TESTIMONY EVER TOLD
God created Adam and Eve. They were the first two people to inhabit this planet as far as we know. God gave them rules on how to live, and a warning on how they would die if they ate the fruit of one particular tree. (We can read this for ourselves in the Old Testament portion of the Holy Bible in the first book of Genesis).
One day, the highest fallen angel, Satan, showed up on the scene and tempted Eve to break the one commandment God said not to break, otherwise she would die. Satan was successful in tricking Eve into doing what God had said not to do because she didn't seek "legal counsel" first from the one whom created the forbidden fruit in the first place.
Adam ate of the forbidden fruit as well not long after.
Immediately God had to allow the sentence of death to be pronounced upon Adam and Eve. The first "manifestation" or "evidence" of the judgment of death pronounced upon them was the separation of intimacy they had with God prior to disobeying or sinning against Him.
What was not readily apparent to them was something of far greater significance. Satan had succeeded in tricking them to "break the contract" they had with God, and it now was "null and void". Satan now became legal ruler of planet Earth, and was now the spiritual Father of Adam and Eve by "default. Worse yet, he was now the spiritual father of every offspring that would come from their loins thereafter.
Your and my greatest of greatest Grandpa and Grandma were Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve. Our bloodline and lineage goes all the way back to them.
Satan had legal claim to every person born after Adam and Eve. He won legal right to rule them, remember, because Adam and Eve willfully broke the contract they had with God to enjoy eternal life -- enjoy unbroken intimacy with God. What is difficult to comprehend for many people is that Satan had legal claim of you and I the moment our father's sperm united with the egg of our mother (see Romans 3:23-24). Satan automatically becomes our spiritual father at birth, and he will remain our spiritual father until we die (and forever throughout eternity!) . . . until we do what Jesus says we must do in His "contract," which is to become spiritually born again (John 3:3).
Not only did Satan have legal claim over you and I, he also won the "legal right" to put his sinful nature in us at the moment of human conception. In other words, because by deceit and cunning trickery, he became our spiritual "father" without our knowing, let alone our personal consent! (Isn't it great serving a master who has control over us without even asking our permission?!).
God still had the right to do what He would with planet earth and the human race, and Satan himself and the rest of the fallen angels assisting Satan, because after all, He created all of them. The Creator always retains that right. History tells us in the Old Testament that the sin condition of mankind got so bad that God flooded planet earth and rid it of all living things except what survived on the boat God had Noah build.
To temporarily deal with man's sinful condition after that, God demanded that innocent blood be shed of the most unblemished animals for those who wanted to have their sins dealt with, or covered. It didn't cause God to totally forgive their sins; it just delayed God's wrath upon them. I say "temporary", because God had a better means of dealing with the sin condition of mankind than the shedding of blood of mere animals. God's better means was beyond the wildest comprehension of every living creature. God would shed His own, innocent blood (click for expanded explanation) . . . in due season!
Enter the New Testament book of John, Chapter one. The second person of the eternal Godhead, The Word, temporarily left heaven and miraculously got placed inside the egg of Mary - his earthly mother (See: Matthew 1:18). The Holy Spirit was the sperm that united with Mary's egg, and whammo . . . for the first time in all creation . . . a unique species was created! A creature that was fully man, yet a creature that was fully God. (As far as Satan was concerned, this was not just a "unique creature". This God-Man creation would ultimately become his personal monster ... his personal and forever living nightmare!).
EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF CREATION WAS THIS?
Exactly what kind of creature was this? This new creation . . . being fully God, remember . . . did not have His Grandpa Adam's and Grandma Eve's sinful nature imparted to His genetic DNA like every other offspring, because God is incapable of allowing sin to permeate Him or affect Him in any way. Yet because He was also a fully flesh and blood man, He was fully capable of choosing to sin as he grew older, if he desired to do so. Satan had legal claim to do everything in his power to tempt him to. And believe me, Satan tried!
Yet 33 years of Satan trying to get the man-side of Jesus Christ to sin failed 100 out of 100 times, praise God! (See: Hebrews 4:15). So what's the big deal about that? Now God the Father had Himself a perfect sacrifice to be the ultimate unblemished ransom-demand payment He needed to deal with man's sinful condition for all time and eternity! What was so unique about this sacrifice was that it was a human being that had never sinned once in his lifetime! In fact, this God-man -- man-God sacrifice was so perfect . . . so innocent . . . so pure . . . so worthy . . . so costly . . . so priceless . . . it would no longer require killing animals any longer to be temporary substitutes to pacify God's anger in regards to the sins of mankind. One sacrifice would now meet God the Father's every demand to have His eternal wrath and subsequent punishment removed off you and I for all time and eternity!
It has been said that Satan in all the wisdom he used to have before he fell from heaven has been known at times to be the most unwise creature ever to have been created. If only he would have sought the counsel of the author of the "original contract of life" he no doubt would have done everything in his power to keep Jesus Christ from dying on that old rugged cross. Yet Satan wasn't wise enough to seek counsel from His Creator. He did what was in his being to do, which was to attempt to "destroy" that which he could not control.
Satan tried to destroy Jesus Christ alright, by putting him to death, but something far more important was going on inside of Jesus Christ as He hung there on that cross in pain. God the Father was dumping His entire wrath upon Jesus the Word for the past, present and future sins of every person to ever be born on this planet. Eternal punishment for Adam and Eve's sins were being dumped on Jesus, as were yours and mine, as He hung there painfully dying.
Satan was blind to it as he looked on. All he could see was complete, final victory over the human race for the very last time. In Satan's mind, God had tried the best that He could come up with, but it just wasn't good enough. 'God might have more power than me', Satan was thinking to himself, 'but he doesn't have my craftiness or wisdom.'
I can't prove this of course, but I choose to believe the earthquake that is spoken of in Matthew 27:51 in part may have actually been Satan's heart fibrillating from shock and terror! When Satan heard The Son of Man utter those final dying words on the cross, he knew something wasn't quite right. What did He mean . . . 'Father, into your hands I commit My spirit?' (See: Luke 23:46). Does this somehow mean I can't destroy Him afterall?!' Satan thought to himself.
If there was any doubt in Satan's mind, it was completely removed shortly thereafter. The tomb was opened and empty! A sign hung outside the "devil's graveyard": VACANCY FOR ALL ETERNITY!
In the spirit dimension, Jesus the King walked up to Satan, and Satan had to hand the "legal contract for control of humanity" back to Him. Jesus returned the document to its rightful owner when He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Satan was not stripped of his ability to tempt humanity to sin against God after that, and the sin nature of Adam and Eve was not now removed from people born into the world after that. God's sentence of wrath would still abide on every person born into this world, but now it could be completely removed . . . if individuals chose (co-operated with God) to have it removed.
How does one now get the wrath of God removed off themselves for the punishment of their sins? By sacrificing animals the way God demanded in the Old Testament? By having priestly rituals performed every year? By the keeping of rules? Not any longer! God gave humanity a better way; a more sure way; a more lasting and permanent way. A way so easy that at first it seems a way too easy! What way is it?
ANSWER: By doing what the legal contract God has given humanity to do (See: James 1:25). The New Testament is this contract (New covenant dealing with sin between God and mankind for all people.). The Old Testament contract (Old covenant dealing with sin between God and the Jewish people only.) was nullified by God.
[When reading the New Testament "contract", you often read about the subject of Law and Grace. The Apostle Paul was used of the Holy Spirit to address the issue frequently. Law and Grace often confuses new Christians (to Satan's delight!). Keeping it simple ... the Jews were mandated by God to live under God's LAWS (The rest of mankind wasn't). If they had their sins atoned for yearly by the killing of an innocent animal, God delayed judgment for their sins. Plus, they were expected to keep The 10 Commandments, to receive on-going blessings from God. Once Christ died and rose from the grave, the New Covenant was legally in place by God not just for the Jewish people, but for ALL people. Under God's New Covenant for ALL people, to have one's sins forgiven, all they had to do is BELIEVE that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for their past, present and future sins, and that by simply confessing their sins to the Father and asking His forgiveness for sinning, He promised/promises He forgives them.]
Be Absolutely CERTAIN To Read The "Small Print" of God's Contract!
Here is the "small print" of God's New Covenant contract:
1) 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized, and you will be saved.' (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:21).
Believe what? (See: John 3:17-18 & 36). Believe that Jesus Christ was all of God before He came down from Heaven where He always was, and took the form of a mere man. Believe that because He was tempted to sin like every other human ever was, or will be, yet He never ONCE gave into those temptations, that qualified Him to be the total and complete sacrifice that would be acceptable to God the Father for all time and eternity. (See: Hebrews 9:27-28; Romans 5:6-10; Romans 5:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 4:12; Romans 6:23).
Saved from what? Saved or delivered from God's eternal wrath upon dying that was upon you and I from birth (Romans 5:8-10). Saved from your and my inability to save ourselves (atone for our sins and/or earn forgiveness for them, in other words)! Saved from your and my inability to somehow "be good enough" to have God's wrath (judgment for our sins) removed from us. Saved from somehow thinking that if we just keep His Old Testament 10 Commandments most of the time, we'll be okay after we die. (Keep in mind, Adam and Eve were not able to have the curse of spiritual and eventual physical death from God removed from them by somehow regurgitating the forbidden fruit they ate! Their keeping the 10 Commandments wouldn't reverse what God spoke to them about what would happen if they sinned, neither would nailing themselves to a tree and dying a painful death. If Adam and Eve couldn't come up with a way to have it removed, how do you and I think we are somehow more special to God that Adam and Eve?).
2) If you will confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
Confess what? Believe in my heart what? Jesus is Lord of what or who? Remember what the definition of "SAVED" is: Delivered from the eternal wrath (or punishment) of God . . . the first and most important building block to be set in place.
Why Some People Get In Trouble
People who question their "Salvation" may not have received sufficient revelation or understanding of eternal Salvation from God's contract (New Covenant -- maybe either wasn't aware of the "small print," or didn't fully understand it), or they entered Salvation for the wrong reason(s). Satan always waits for an opportune time to get someone to question whether they really ever were "saved," or ever were really truly born again, if they did not get the first brick firmly seated in place. (See: Matthew 13:19).
No matter how I might feel . . . no matter what I might believe at a vulnerable moment . . . no matter what someone else thinks about my spiritual condition . . . the "binding spiritual contract says what it says and means what it means!"
The "contract" does not read: 'Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He may or may not Save you' (deliver you of eternal punishment for your sins) depending on what mood He might be in at the time. The contract does not read: 'If you will confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart . . . if you never sin anymore . . . that Jesus is Lord; you will be saved.' (Those who are truly saved were sinners saved by God's grace. After they became saved, in God's sight ... they are saints because God calls them saints who occasionally sin [less and less as they mature in Christ - hopefully - for their own good, because God blesses obedience more than He blesses disobedience, and God DOES want us working diligently with His Spirit to put major to minor sins to death we keep committing].
God's heavenly "contract" nowhere says: You must first be good enough to be Saved from God's wrath (judgment against our sin). Neither does it read that your type of sins, nor the amount or severity of your sins exempts or disqualifies you from what Jesus accomplished on the Cross of Calvary. God's heavenly "contract" does not require your giving of money (tithing) or "church membership" or helping in ministry, to have God's wrath removed from you, neither will the privilege and wisdom of giving of money or church membership or helping in ministry remove God's wrath from you and I. Sowing and repeating has to do with earthly blessings from God and ultimately eternal rewards, NOT Salvation (forgiveness of our sins; hence the removal of God's eternal wrath because of them).
There is only ONE way in God's New Covenant contract that removes God's punishment for the sin and the sin nature we are born with . . . and the sins we commit as we travel through this life: The total and COMPLETE acceptance that ALL of God's wrath is removed from me . . . if I simply take Him at His word by believing that He would not lie to me!
Again - why will He do so? Because of the RANSOM of Jesus Christ, the only person who has never sinned on this planet.
(If you have not read this writing, I encourage you to do yourself a great favor by reading it: The Breastplate Of Righteousness. It will add great clarity and understanding to what really "saves" you).
Satan Has MORE Tricks In His Bag
The question eventually arises: once I have asked the Lord to forgive me of all my past sins, what do I do about the sin I might commit tomorrow? God's New Covenant contract provides our answer:
In 1 John 1:8-9 the contract reads: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
To say that this portion of scripture only applies to our past sins is an incorrect interpretation of the contractual language. If present or future sin is not forgivable by God once we have committed our life to Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul did not know what he was talking about in 1 Corinthians 5:5 nor does the Holy Spirit who inspired Him to write it.
Is it acceptable to God to keep on continually sinning once we have become "Saved?" I John 3:1-10 gives us sobering words to ponder regarding this very important question:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. [Important editorial note here: There is a huge difference between giving into a temptation to an occasional sin, an practicing a sin on a frequent basis. To sin on occasion is going to happen in the life of every saved child of God if they live long enough on this planet. But when one begins to practice sin on a regular basis ... God wants us to take a serious look at ourselves and soberly question whether we truly desire to give our all to God, or are we just looking for a "fire insurance policy" once we die, and cheap forgiveness before we die?]
Regarding "he cannot sin" in the above biblical passage. Be extremely careful about taking this scripture of passage literally. If Christians don't sin, there is NONE of us that are going to make it to heaven when we die, and that would include the Apostle Paul!
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
THIS above portion of God's Word is about as difficult as it gets in understanding what God expects out of a Christian once they have become "Saved." No one could ever possibly "stay Saved" if one took this scripture LITERALLY word for word just as it reads. Most Christian scholars have translated this portion of scripture to be understood in this context:
Children of God (saved, born again people who are serious about desiring to be pleasing to God) do everything in their power . . . with the help of the Holy Spirit . . . to acknowledge sin in their life and submit to conviction of the Holy Spirit that their sin is grieving God every time they submit to it. Judgment of some kind almost always visits the saved Christian if the sin is constantly practiced, which grieves God all the more.
People who understand that God forgives our sins when we simply ask and trust Him to do so . . . but keep right on falling back into their old sinful ways and possibly even grow cold to Him become prime candidates for God's chastisement and correction (See: Hebrews 12:5-11), so that they will quit sinning and draw closer to Him. God's chastisement is never joyous or fun ... but it serves its purpose quite well, if we embrace it and allow it to motivate us to get right with God if we need to do so.
At this juncture, the devil starts screaming Hebrews 6:4-6 in our ear. For those who are not familiar with this passage of scripture, it reads: For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and THEN have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame (NAS Translation).
The audience God is addressing in this portion of scripture would be those who are knowledgeable of God's Word, born again, "Holy Spirit baptized" Christians who purposely refuse any longer to walk in the closeness with God they once walked in and experienced. Saying it another way . . . one can be eternally secure in knowing that if one truly wants to spend eternity in hell away from the presence of God . . . God will not stand in the way of allowing it to happen. Above everything else, God honors our free will. Nevertheless, a wise Bible scholar always looks to the audience the person was speaking to at the time, and many believe the author of Hebrews was the Apostle Paul. Whoever the author was, he's speaking to Jews. He's telling them: "Do NOT be seduced into going back and seeking to please God by Old Covenant practices and beliefs. If you DO, you may well lose your salvation entirely."
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it speaks of "a great falling away" prior to the anti-Christ being fully revealed. I'm of the camp that believes that what God is addressing here primarily are Christians whose hearts have grown spiritually cold to New Covenant Truth, and essentially grown cold toward God and the advancement of His Kingdom in the lives of others. My thought for their doing so will primarily be because of their anger and bitterness toward God due to hardship - suffering - various forms of persecution - disillusionment. I leave open the great possibility Hebrews 6:4-6 might well be addressing people like this as well.
[Ending it here, however, is unwise, I believe. I personally would consider myself the biggest fool to ever have lived when I stand before God one day and give an account to Him about what I have taught about His Holy Scriptures if I skirt THIS particular point or issue: God forgives ALL sin when we ACKNOWLEDGE our sin to Him and ask His forgiveness. The DANGER comes in when we refuse to BELIEVE or ADMIT TO OURSELVES that our sin IS sin. You can believe what you choose to believe about Hebrews 6:4-6, but I'm going on record as saying that I believe God is also including in it a secondary meaning . . . the warning that I walk on very dangerous ground with Him committing sin that I refuse to admit to Him is sin as is clearly defined in New Testament scripture, and continue to live in it, or practice it with no guilt or intention of repentance (turning from it and asking for help to quit doing it any longer). If you believe that I am deceived about this matter, I ask that you forgive me and pray that God will deliver me of my spiritual blindness].
Why Do Born Again Christians Give In To Sinful Temptations?
Yet on the other hand, people who think that a "Saved, Born Again" Christian will never sin after they have fully committed their lives to Jesus Christ aren't living in New Covenant spiritual reality either. (Important to read: Romans, Chapter 7 and 8).
Here's some thoughts to ponder: If God's people in the Old Covenant were not able to keep from sinning, what makes anyone think that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit makes people in the New covenant that much different?
True - having the fullness of The Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), will enable saved, born again Christians to quit sinning easier than people who lived before the fullness of The Holy Spirit was given, but experience teaches that the Holy Spirit will allow you and I to sin if we really want to whether we had lived in the Old Testament times or the New Testament times. The Holy Spirit honored their free will then, and He will honor our free will now. He was the same then as He is now. He'll help us to quit sinning if we truly want His help, but He won't just automatically volunteer it without our truly desiring it, and sometimes seeking diligently for it.
God Is A God Of Absolutes
Let's go back to the beginning title of this writing. Am I REALLY saved and born again? We are wise to answer that question about ourselves in this light: God's wrath is either removed or it is not (See: Romans 5:8-10; John 3:36) once I do my part. Either He forgives my sins or He doesn't. Either we can take Him at His word in His contract, or we can't. To waver in between -- trying to come up with some supposed "legal loophole" -- is doing no more that playing into the hands and purposes of Satan.
Addressing situations Satan loves to get us into: Can a person lose their Salvation? When that question comes up, ask yourself this: "Can God remove His wrath totally from me BECAUSE of what He accomplished on the Cross of Calvary and then change His mind? If He does, he nullifies His own contract, which makes Him a liar. He has declared in His contract that He cannot lie (See: Titus 1:2).
As we address issues of: 'Once Saved - always Saved; Eternal security; Can a person lose their Salvation; Was I ever REALLY Saved to begin with? . . . remember, Satan has several nicknames that describes his nature and character: 'REALLY?', and 'HAS God?' are two of them. Satan spoke a half-truth to Eve when he quoted back to her what God had said about eating the forbidden fruit, then added the whipped-cream of doubt to cover up his deceit and purpose behind it. He still uses the same tactic today to get us sidetracked. He also is the genius of getting us to ask ourselves a question that has no relevance to stated fact in God's contract to us. He most easily gets away with this primarily for two reasons:
1) We have either not heard (or chose not to believe if we HAVE heard) what ALL of the New Testament contract has to say to us; and/or . . .
2) We are in our infancy in our spiritual born again - spiritual rebirth process spoken of in John 3:3.
What Does It Mean To Become TRULY "Born Again"?
For a concise definition and understanding of being "born again," if you have not already done so, you may want to first click: Here ... before reading further.
Now for a more in-dept look at being "born again," spoken of by Jesus in John 3:3-8:
The spiritual birth and growth by which a person becomes fully aware and appreciative of WHY God the Father provided Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for our sins as documented in New Testament holy scripture, and the determination to OBEY New Testament Holy Scripture with the desired help of the Holy Spirit whereby it will become outwardly evident to others.
Becoming "born again" can be likened to the lifecycle of a beautiful rose (or any other beautiful flower or fruit tree, if you will). The stem of the rose can be likened to the "saved" portion of the plant. The actual blooming of the flower can be likened to the "born again" portion of the plant . . . the most beautiful part to see and smell.
The natural or physical lifecycle of a person starts as a baby. As a newborn infant, we are totally dependent upon older people to take care of our needs. If unmet, a baby will die. As we grow older, we learn to take care of our own needs to survive.
The spiritual "born again" birth teaches us certain parallels about life. You can ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, participate in an altar call, pray a prayer of forgiveness in the privacy of your home watching a Christian broadcast or from our Precious Testimonies website. . . but that doesn't teach you how to get your spiritual needs met. You are dependent on others to help you spiritually until you reach a place where you can essentially take care of yourself (with the aid of the Holy Spirit, of course).
How does one reach this place in their spiritual walk with God? By studying the Word of God, primarily New Testament scripture; understanding what God wants a person to understand about it; then obeying it. "Believers only" of the Word of God can end up in hell! (James 2:19)
"Believers and Doers" of the New Testament Word of God are the ones who will be assured of eternal reward in heaven. God makes it perfectly clear in His heavenly contract who truly is okay with Him and those who are not: "You shall know them by their fruits." (See: Matthew 7:16; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:1-3; Galatians 5:22).
Obviously a young, infant Christian is not going to have most of these "spiritual fruits" manifesting in them as spoken of in Galatians 5:22. It takes time for God to grow these fruits in them, and everyone grows at different times, in different ways. Remember - God didn't make the Grand Canyon in one day, nor the earth in one day.
In the John 3:3, scripture says a person must be born again to see the Kingdom of God. "Seeing" the Kingdom of God is "seeing the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior because of their lost sinful condition."
There is more to the complete spiritual rebirth process than just "seeing" what a person needs to do. "Doing" must follow. One begins "doing" by openly confessing to God (out loud so Satan and his demons can hear you) that you acknowledge what scripture says about you; that you inherited Adam and Eve's sinful nature at birth, and that you want it removed. You ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of any and all sins you have committed, which His contract says He does. Once you've done this, technically you have become "saved." God's wrath for your sins is removed from you.
John 3:5 says to enter the Kingdom of God (not just stand on the outside and look at it, in other words), one must be born of the water and of the spirit. When a person becomes "saved," it can be said that they have stepped ankle deep into the water, which is the most important step.
To be fully immersed in the water, they must begin to feast on the Word of God (New Testament Holy Scripture), and show an increased willingness to obey all of it. Obviously this is a process that happens over time, so one can conclude that there are degrees or stages of being born of the water. (I don't believe this negates our responsibility to be baptized in water, however, if we are able to do so. However, before we split hairs over the "necessity" to be baptized in any way, shape or form, let us always remember the thief on the cross who was promised that he would soon be in paradise with Jesus. The thief neither had the opportunity to read the Word of God, nor be water baptized. Jesus saw the heart of the thief, and knew that was enough for the thief to be qualified for heaven.
Here are some some insightful scripture passages to support my statements above:
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." -- John 17:17
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. -- 1 Peter 1:22-23 NKJV
Another passage of scripture confirming the above two scripture passages is found in Ephesians 5:25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Being born of the spirit speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit (the One Jesus sent from the Father after His resurrection for all His followers, John 14:16-18) in one's life. It can likewise be said that when one has become "saved," one has stepped ankle deep into the spirit ("My words are spirit, and they are life" - - John 6:63).
To be fully immersed in the spirit, one not only needs to desire to be fully immersed in the water, but show an active willingness to make the Holy Spirit one's closest friend. To make the Holy Spirit one's closest friend means to make Jesus Christ one's closest friend. To make the Holy Spirit one's closest friend means to make the Father one's closest friend (John 14:20-23). The three distinct persons of the Godhead are inseparable. You can't be friends with one of them without becoming intimate with all three. Obviously the awareness and quality of this intimacy that is available to all Christians usually happens over time as well, so one can conclude that there are equally degrees or stages of being born of the spirit, as there is the water. (To "formulate" these issues can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings, in my opinion.)
One can ask: "Can a person be "saved" yet not fully "born again?" I choose to assume so. Again: The thief on the cross received "salvation," or was "saved," when he humbled himself to Jesus in his dying moments on earth. Jesus assured him that he would be with Him in paradise, which is how we can know that he was "saved." (Luke 23:43). But did he have time to hear and fully obey God's Word? First of all, New Testament scripture had not even be recorded on paper as we have access to it today, so there was no way he could meet our above definition of entering into the water and the spirit to the fullest extent. But by the definition given, he did the most important part of the born again process. He stepped into the water, by outwardly showing his willingness to do whatever Jesus asked him to do at that moment. God saw his heart, and that was all that mattered.
From that day until now, many have stepped into the water of eternal life by turning their lives over to Jesus Christ just prior to dying. Yes - only God can see their heart and know the sincerity of their actions, but by definition, they have done or taken the most important step in the born again spiritual rebirth process.
Going back to the life cycle of a rose...It takes a seed planted in the ground at a proper depth before a stem can grow. The stem will not grow healthy and strong out of the ground without proper temperature, moisture and nutrients. The rose that will eventually grow out of that stem will be beautiful to smell and look at, but it will never manifest itself unless the stem is carefully nurtured and cared for. Some of us start growing our "rose stem" early in life. Others like myself started later in life. Some will start their "stem" growing just prior to death. We have little awareness of what God has in place for those in heaven after death who start their "stem" growing just prior to dying on earth, but I suspect the dying thief on the cross will have all the answers on the other side for them.
Another way of understanding the difference of the initial entering of the water and the spirit verses being fully immersed is likened to something we hear commonly in Christian circles:
"There is a big difference between letting Jesus Christ be one's Savior vs. letting Him become one's Lord. Many have and will ask Jesus to forgive them for their sins and become their Savior, and simply leave it there. To allow Him to become one's Lord requires selling out, surrendering fully and completely to Him. One is fooling themselves in thinking they are completely surrendering to Him by not selling out completely to His Word, (New Covenant Holy Scriptures)."
In conclusion, let us recap these vitally important truths about God. Scripture says that we are spiritually separated from Him upon our birth into this world. Scripture says that we are born into sin. Scripture says that the ONLY way we can be reunited or reconciled with God is to accept the provision He gave to reconcile each of us back to Him in New Covenant Holy Scripture. To say that we don't need what He has provided for us to be reconciled back to Him in right standing, or that we don't believe New Testament Holy Scripture can be trusted to mean what it says it means (and/or try to make it say something it isn't saying), is saying to God that you or I know more about God than He knows about Himself and the condition of humanity and our eternal fate. Why would God want someone to be with Him for eternity that thinks they know more than He does?
Afterall . . . who created whom?
This may be overdoing it somewhat, but I'd rather overdue this topic instead of "under-doing" it. Here are a couple of inspired paragraphs taken from another Christian website:
"If you are a true believer, your life will demonstrate it and the Bible tells us that over and over again. For us Christians, I believe that in our zeal to stem the cults, we emphasize faith and do not put like proper emphasis on the evidences of saving faith which is a life of holiness. I can say, "I really want to go to Harvard." But if I skip school, don't do my homework, and go to sleep in class, do I really want to go? NO WAY! Anybody could see that because my actions betray my confession. It is no different in confessing Jesus. People say, "I believe Jesus is Lord," yet they curse without abandon, don't go to church, love everything this wicked world has to offer, don't feel convicted of sin, and are uninterested in the things of God. Does this person believe to the saving of the soul? Good chance that the answer is no. Is this a matter of trying to be God and determine who will make it in? No! It is a question of life and death and telling people the truth!
"Saving faith will manifest itself in good works. Just read James, Hebrews, I John, Romans--the gospels. If no change occurs in a person's life, we have plenty of scriptures to let us know that there is a VERY good chance true conversion never took place to begin with. Works do not save, but a saving faith will cause good works. Another analogy--apples do not make an apple tree an apple tree. Before any fruit appeared it was an apple tree. With time, sunshine, water and other factors, the precious fruit comes forth. Same thing with a saved person. They have Jesus Christ within. With the Word of God, working of the Holy Ghost, the brethren and time, good works will come forth like fine treasure hidden from within an earthen vessel."
Here are two other writings by Norm Rasmussen on the topic of Salvation that you may be interested in reading: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/MEncouragerArchives/SalvationIssues.htm
Wherever you are in your spiritual life, I would now like to encourage you to read a timely article written by David Wilkerson, titled: Without Fault Before the Throne of God
Here are a couple of links that addresses questions such as:
Can a believer lose their Salvation?
Must a believer never sin, once they are born again, otherwise they will lose their Salvation?
Does sin cause a born again believer to lose their Salvation?
Christian Security Can You Lose Your Salvation? Dealing With Guilt
If you would like to read Norm's born again testimony, you can click on this link: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/L-N/Norm.htm
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
We truly thank each of you who forward these testimonials and ministry writings (and videos) to others to give them greater awareness. Especially to prisoners! The part the Holy Spirit has you play is vital in helping win lost souls and encouraging and helping believers grow in their relationship with the Lord, and we can never thank you enough for your help on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.If you would like to unite with God in what He is doing through this outreach and desires to keep on doing ... which is primarily to help reach lost souls ... your on-going Holy Spirit directed prayers for us are the most important contribution to God you could make on behalf of this evangelistic outreach. That's not just "religious hockem raw-raw sisboomba canned hype request - plea" saints -- we couldn't be more serious! The attacks upon us personally and against this ministry are not going to stop because Satan does NOT want ministries like this one encouraging born again believers to let God use their testimonies ... especially on the Internet. Video testimonies probably more than written, but God will use anything you give Him to use! You prayer warriors ... we believe our call is not just to publish testimonies as we've done in the past, but to help be a catalyst to motive OTHER believers to essentially duplicate what we are doing so that God has MANY outreach ministries publishing Jesus glorifying testimonies and keeping the gospel message of the cross ever before our audiences. Yet please realize something: PLEASE! Born again Christians are getting hammered by the devil to NOT write out and/or put their born again testimony on the Internet. We must NOT let Satan get away with this! So please, prayer warriors, keep praying that God motivates born again believers to write out and videotape their born again testimonies and get them up on the Internet for God to use. Appreciative born again testimonies glorifying Jesus Christ is the second most threatening thing to Satan there IS in reaching lost souls until Jesus returns. The first most threatening thing is that the Body of Christ would give themselves regularly to united CITY-WIDE PRAYER - bar none. When Jesus said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer"... he didn't say it was to be a house exclusively of preaching; teaching; testifying; praising, worshipping or anything else house, did He? We are God's house - God's living temple. His abode is inside born again believers. God unites with His saints through the intimacy of PRAYER (Conversation with our Creator) to accomplish His will on this planet, and when the Body of Christ begins to fully understand His wisdom of the Church placing UNIFED PRAYER at the very top of the weapons God has given us to battle evil, we will not fully grasp what God wants us understanding in regarding to: "Until we all come into the unity of the faith." Doctrinally agreeing on the same things is NOT going to happen, so that is not the "unity" God is talking about. If true Born Again believers can't agree that our individual prayer AND our united corporate prayer (not leaving this out of the battle equation as currently is on a global scale) is our primary weapon to fight Satan, then we've missed everything there is regarding coming "into the unity of the faith"! What "faith" is God talking about here, we need to ask ourselves. Answer: Faith (believing) that the unified prayers of God's people - you and I - is the greatest weapon and the most effective use of this weapon God has given His world wide Church - us individual members of the Body of Christ - to release His will into the affairs of mankind. This needs to be repeated to help try to make it sink in deeply: United - unselfish - Holy Spirit guided, persistent prayer (not backing off until the Holy Spirit gives release to do so) is the very most threatening thing to Satan there IS. He KNOWS He is totally powerless against God when God decides to do something ... but Satan more than anyone else in the demonic spirit realm fully understands that if he can keep the Body of Christ from regularly being engaged in united CORPORATE PRAYER against his evil schemes ... he will continue to make advances and the Church will continue to diminish in influence and God may well delay the return of Christ BECAUSE of it with a great deal of unnecessary persecution of believers! God has sovereignly ordained the Body of Christ to work in united harmony with Him to execute His will on this planet, and Satan makes that his number one priority to try to keep from happening in any major way. Are we going to let him keep doing that, saints?! Precious Testimonies is help supported by the gifts of our readers and video viewers. 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