If one word could summarize the Bible, it might be this one. God's whole purpose is that human beings grow into His life. No one can script this spiritual growth process because God does the work in each of us through the Holy Spirit. While God takes the initiative to guide our growth, we also have a responsibility in the matter. God gives us some clear and important principles to learn and incorporate into our lives that facilitate our ability to mature spiritually.
We've identified these below in three groups or stages of spiritual life. The first is the New Birth, the second is the laying of a basic spiritual foundation, and the third is building upon that foundation. We'll lay this page out in clear sections so you can keep track. It is designed as a teaching & study guide so it will contain a good bit of information. We hope you'll use it, and suggest that you work through it slowly enough to meditate on it and digest it as you go.
(1) THE NEW BIRTH
(2) LAYING A BASIC SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
(3) BUILDING ON YOUR FOUNDATION
(1) THE NEW BIRTH
This step is completely essential. Jesus said 'no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again' John 3:3 He continued in the same passage to reinforce that we must be 'born of water and spirit' to enter the Kingdom of God. He emphasized the contrast between spiritual and natural birth, 'flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit' John 3:6. Just as physical birth is the beginning of natural life, the spiritual or 'new' birth is the beginning of spiritual life.
So here is the first question and the first step. Have you been born again? If this concept is new to you, you may not understand what it means. Likewise, if you've heard it all your life, it may be a familiar concept, but one that you've only heard about and never actually experienced.
Let's walk through it then, step by step. If you have any doubt whatsoever that you have experienced this personally, you need to start here. If you have experienced it you will remember the event vividly and have an internal awareness that reinforces it for you.
However much we may want the New Birth, we have to have some measure of understanding for it to happen. As the Bible puts it, we have to 'hear' a message, understand it, and then believe it. There is no clearer place in all the Bible than where Jesus explained it in John 3 . . .
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven -- the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
Read this passage carefully and let it sink in. Simply put, the message is that Jesus is God's Son sent from heaven to be the sacrifice for all the sin of the world. He had no sin, and being God, he had infinite life. Therefore he could completely take on an infinite amount of sin. This includes everybody's sin, even yours and mine. He offers to us his perfect sinlessness in exchange for taking our sin upon himself.
That is a simple enough concept for a child to understand. As a matter of fact Jesus said that we have to become 'like a child' in order to do the very simple act required for the New Birth to happen. And it happens in this way:
REPENT AND BELIEVE
When we realize how seriously we have offended the God who created us and gave us life, it brings grief to us. We need to let that grief lead us to a point of decision --- to be willing to turn away from and forsake all that is wrong and offensive to God. This is what the Bible means by 'repenting'. Along with that, as we turn away from sin, we turn toward something else. What we turn toward is the Son of God, opening our hearts to him, confessing our sin, asking forgiveness and then taking the step of trust. Trust is the moment you see and receive this gift of his clean and righteous life that he wants to give you as you let him take your sins on himself. Our pride will want to stop this, and that's where we have to let ourselves be humble, 'like little children', and reach up and make the exchange. Let him take the bad and you take the gift he's offering. When you do that it will have an internal impact on you because it is the Holy Spirit of God who brings this gift. As he brings it he comes into your spirit and brings your spirit to life. It is an actual spiritual experience. It will be felt in different ways by different people, but it will be felt, it will leave an identifiable sense of change as its mark, and it will begin to produce spiritual desires and feelings as evidence.
You do not need to know any more than this, so don't complicate, obscure or delay the process. Just lift your internal eyes up, look straight at the Lord, repent and receive his gift to you in faith. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and there is no good reason it shouldn't happen right now. Why in the world would anyone WANT to put it off? Listen to the words of Jesus, 'Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.' Revelation 3:20
Do not let needless curiosity distract you at this point. If you do feel, however, that your understanding is just not 'clicking' here, or you seriously have questions that you feel are blocking the way for you, do not hesitate to contact us, and do it while it is fresh on your mind.
SEE THE NEW BIRTH VIDEO HERE
The New Birth is a phenomenal experience. When it happens to you, you will want to talk about it with everyone. That's a good thing, but don't be surprised if some don't understand or get as enthusiastic about it as you are right now. You will definitely want to share it with someone who will understand, so if you know somebody who has been through this step, share your experience with them. We would love to be included in the circle of people you tell. Check the contact page to get to us.
If your heart tells you that you have engaged with the Lord and received this new life, you're ready to move on to the next step, (which is under construction, but we'll have it up here soon) You might want to check out Christianity Explored to get the process of the New Birth from another perspective.