Christian Churches of God
(Edition 2.0 19960727-20000712)
Most people are aware of the term to be born again in a Christian sense. Most do not understand the process involved and the meaning of the term. Christ delivered the teaching on the subject as recorded by John in John 3:1-21. This paper examines the biblical explanation and exposes alarming differences with that used by most Christian groups.
Most people are aware of the term to be born again in a Christian sense. Most do not understand the process involved and the meaning of the term. Christ delivered the teaching on the subject as recorded by John in John 3:1-21. There are a number of concepts involved in the text which are overlooked in the modern charismatic repetition of the term born again.
John 3:1-21 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." 9 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can this be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." 6 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only [begotten KJV; monogenous only born; incorrectly omitted in the RSV] Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (RSV)
Born again is derived from gennaű (SGD 1080) meaning to procreate of either the father or the mother and figuratively means to regenerate as being born or made or spring, again.
The propositions here are that:
1. No one who is not born again can inherit the Kingdom of God.
The statement here is based upon the premise that flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
1Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (RSV)
Thus, the human in his unrighteous state cannot inherit the Kingdom.
1Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, (RSV) (nor effeminate or abusers of themselves with mankind: KJV).
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)
These are the works of the flesh which are repeated again in different form in Galatians.
Galatians 5:19-26 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The deeds that do inherit the Kingdom of God are stated following this text.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (KJV)
The faith must be pursued in the Spirit. Thus the rebirth must be spiritual. It is not a physical concept, which is why Christ likened it to the wind that could not be seen. The process of inheritance through faith and patience in diligent work is developed in Hebrews 6:12.
Many people who have rejected the mainstream or hierarchical religious systems misapprehend the requirements placed on the elect to work diligently in the faith. The early church was non-hierarchical but it was also organised and diligent, based on work through self-sacrifice and good stewardship. Those who lack a serving mentality, or who have been misused in an hierarchical structure, seek to avoid organised activity through the rejection of an organised structure. This is false doctrine and will be examined separately. Being born again means being born again to the works of the faith in the structure of the church which is the body of Jesus Christ. This structure is non-hierarchical but it is nevertheless organised and disciplined, acting under biblical law. There is a time coming when no man can work (Jn. 9:4) but it is not yet. The duty of a soldier is to organise and fight while ever his nation is at war. Israel will be at war until the return of the Messiah and the subjugation of the nations. Failure to act in the service of God is simply undisciplined self-service.
1Peter 3:8-9 shows the spirit in which this spirit of activity and unity in the church is developed, and the text to verse 21 shows the intent and power.
1Peter 3:8-21 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it [cf Ps. 34:12-16]. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
The concept here of being of one mind has been misused by cults to obtain mindless unquestioning adherence to faulty doctrine. The same concept resulted in the Inquisitions. Have compassion and love as brethren. Railing accusation should not be found among the elect. However, this manner of dealing with people has become a feature of the twentieth century churches. Concepts and truth are never, or rarely, dealt with on any serious basis but rather individuals are attacked and slandered. Rather than deal with what is said, the people are attacked for their attitudes or the way they speak. Keep the tongue from evil and the lips from guile (Ps. 32:2; 34:13; 1Thes. 2:3; 1Pet. 2:1,22; 3:10; Rev. 14:5). Respect of persons is a sin (Jas. 2:1-9). Christ praised the absence of guile at John 1:47.
John 1:45-51 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (KJV)
Here Nathanael expressed a view concerning Nazareth, but he was open in his view. He was able to be persuaded easily by simple proof. Nathanael was given a promise of a calling. The text in 1Peter 3 continues:
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Here the injunction is to be ready to give an answer of the hope within you in meekness and fear. Recently we were challenged to a debate by a Roman Catholic group using this Scripture as the basis for their challenge. They had not been asked for an answer.
Much animosity in modern religion stems from the inability to deal with concepts in an open and honest way. Much offence is taken because the view is that the fundamentalist position of this century is the correct view, when it is demonstrably not that of the previous centuries or the early church. That view was obvious when, at a recent conference, the doctrines of the church over two thousand years were presented. Many took offence because the history did not show that what they were doing in the twentieth century was the constant view. Indeed it was shown to be a recent innovation.
Rather than view the truth with objectivity, those of the non-historical position chose to attack the speaker rather than deal with what was said. This happened to a number of speakers whose message, though biblically correct, was unfashionable. The result is often to shoot the messenger. That is the reason the authorities killed the prophets. Those authorities claiming to act for God at the central and highest level, namely at the Temple, killed the prophets. If they did not spare Christ or the apostles, why should we be spared? Christ said:
Luke 13:33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (KJV)
A prophet is not without honour save in his own country (Mat. 13:57; Mk. 6:4; Lk. 4:24; Jn. 4:44). For this reason the sinful killed the prophets, including Messiah who was the greatest of them. Only Jonah was heeded, and that was in Nineveh, in order to stand as witness against Judah. The elect are attacked because of the truth and especially by those claiming to follow the faith. It is the self-righteous who kill the elect and cast them out of the synagogues and churches, thinking they do God a favour (Isa. 66:5). It is the whore that is drunk on the blood of the prophets and saints and the martyrs (Rev. 18:24). It is God who will avenge the elect on her (Rev. 18:20). This whore is the religious system that claims to represent Christ and the prophets and the apostles, yet kills them. The people of this false Christian system, at all levels, accuse the brethren.
1Peter 3:16-21 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: (KJV)
Here baptism was the means of salvation as was the ark in the days of Noah. We are thus put to death in the flesh that we might be made alive by the Spirit, as Christ was put to death and made alive by the Spirit. This process is also one of bearing injustice from those who are not converted. Indeed, because one has sat in the Churches of God in the twentieth century does not mean that one is converted. An extraordinary example, which was only exposed after some time, was a view held by those who purported to be converted, baptised members of the Church of God, which dealt with the conversion and inspiration of the apostles and prophets. It was held that Peter and Paul were not converted and that Paul preached a false gospel, and hence the New Testament books (and also the Prophets) were not inspired Ė only the Torah was inspired. This thought process is the spirit of accusation. It accuses both Peter and Paul and the Churches that they raised. It accuses God and attacks the inspiration of the Old Testament and New Testament texts. The spirit of accusation is not a spirit of conversion or a converted thought process. The head of every man is Christ and the head of Christ is God (1Cor. 11:3). Who are we to judge another manís servant? (Rom. 14:4,12,13). The inheritance of the Kingdom is through overcoming the self as a son of God through faith (Rev. 21:7).
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (KJV)
Being born again is the process of overcoming.
2. No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, Christ Jesus.
The question of rebirth was a great favourite of the mystery cults. The mysteries, from the Celts to the Asians, taught the doctrine of transmigration. The Gnostics taught that you went to heaven on death. That doctrine was denied by the Bible, by Christ and all Christianity. It was seen as a Godless and blasphemous doctrine (see the paper The Soul (No. 92)). Christ is here giving this teaching so that the doctrine of transmigration could not be confused with the doctrine of born again nor could it be incorporated into the Babylonian Soul doctrine. The Gnostics taught that the Soul ascended to heaven via the Milky Way and that the process of descent and ascent was barred by the evil forces. It is impossible to be a Christian and embrace either transmigration or the Soul doctrine.
3. Christ was to be crucified so that those that believe on him would have eternal life.
The process of the crucifixion of Christ was an example of the subjugation of self for the benefit of mankind. This process must be understood in order to understand what is happening in the plan of salvation. God is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (Jn. 4:23). That is, He seeks those people who forgive and fast and pray for their enemies as David did. David was a man after Godís own heart, yet David sinned. There is no relativity to sin, only of compensation for loss through sin. The relativity of sin is a demonic social doctrine found in prisons amongst criminals that seeks to establish a social scale of sins. Such a view is of itself, respect of persons and hence sin (Jas. 2:1-9). Sin is transgression of the law.
1John 3:4-9 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (KJV)
He who has respect of persons sins (Jas. 2:1-9). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
4. God did not send Christ into the world to condemn the world but to redeem those who believe on him.
The process of this belief is of the alteration of human behaviour to obedience towards God and His law-order. This is the obedience to the faith (Rom. 1:5). It was by the obedience of Christ that we are all saved (Rom. 5:19). Our obedience is then unto righteousness (Rom. 6:16-19). The mysteries of God were kept sealed or secret since the world began but are now made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith (Eph. 3:9-13).
This is the central theme of the conversion of the Spirit. The old self is put to death at baptism and the Spirit is developed in the individual to the conversion of the total being. This process of conversion is a purely spiritual thing. Obedience to the law is a physical thing and the mechanical process of obeying a physical ordinance confers no salvation but it is necessary that the law not be transgressed. The law cannot be properly kept on a physical plane without the Holy Spirit. None of the apostles was converted until Pentecost, even though they followed Christ and obeyed the physical laws. Their conversion was done through the Holy Spirit. Even at the crucifixion, Peter was not converted, according to Christís own testimony.
Luke 22:24-32 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (KJV)
The process of conversion was not understood by the apostles because they had not yet received the Spirit. The desire for power and rank was still with them. Most of so-called orthodox Christianity still think in this way. Christ came as he that serves. The concept of rank and authority is prevalent among the Churches of God in the twentieth century. The distinction between the physical and the spiritual conversion is not properly understood.
Many people are called into the Churches of God because of the Bible message. The more effective the advertising package, the more people are called that are not chosen and are unconverted. They undergo a physical conversion, into a physical group, as did the apostles initially.
The apostles followed the master where he went but did not understand the deeper mysteries of God as he expounded them and they had difficulty comprehending the purpose of the mission of Messiah. In short, they had joined a team but were not spiritually converted. They did not understand the doctrine of the conversion of the Holy Spirit. They had seen Johnís baptism and they had administered the baptism of Christ but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Thus, before Pentecost, there was little distinction at that time between the baptism of John and the one that they themselves administered.
This failure to comprehend the all encompassing saving grace of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the biggest single weakness of the Churches of God in the twentieth century. People can be called out of sin and baptised and, instead of the understanding of the doctrine of the gospel of grace being applied, the sins are re-applied or attributed as though the baptism had never occurred. This thought process is unconverted and fails to comprehend the adequacy of the sacrifice of Christ and the mercy and love of God.
Psalm 103:10-12 †He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (KJV)
Through this inability to understand spiritual conversion and the removal of sin upon repentance, malice and slander and evil enter the body of Christ. Most people who do not comprehend the nature of conversion fail because they themselves have only a physical or superficial conversion. They are like the apostles before Pentecost, and not understanding their weakness they slander and attack others for sins long forgiven and past and yet condone sins among their leadership because of respect of persons. This process is the greatest single cause of evil in the Churches of God and the greatest obstacle to the conversion of the world Ė both Jew and Gentile. Truth is cast to the ground in this process. Often people see sin in others, while there is greater sin in themselves which they ignore.
Matthew 7:1-12 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (KJV)
The distinction here is between two propositions: one of judging rightly, and the other, of not speaking the mysteries to those not called lest they turn on you. Persecution comes of its own accord because the world hates what we say. The Bible is misrepresented because the world hates what it says, yet must pretend to be righteous. The guide for conduct is the second great commandment: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. This follows the first great commandment regarding the love of God with all your mind and heart and soul, and with all your might (Mat. 22:38-40; cf. Deut. 6:5).
The purpose of the elect is as soldiers in a spiritual war.
2Corinthians 10:3-7 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. (KJV)
Only by our obedience can we be in a position to deal with the disobedience of the world at the coming of Jesus Christ. The love of each other is a mark of the elect. Paul condemns the measuring of ourselves to the denigration of others. Nor should we measure ourselves with ourselves and thus commend ourselves at the expense of others (2Cor. 10:12ff.). Our job also is not to glory in other peopleís work but to preach the gospel in other regions (2Cor. 10:16); in other words, to build on new foundations. Those who condemn others and commend themselves are not approved. The Lord judges and approves the work of each of the elect. The repentance and conversion of the elect is absolute. They partake of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4). The power of God works in the individual to glorification (Rom. 8:29-30) through obedience and the sanctification of the individual in the Holy Spirit (2Thes. 2:13; 1Pet. 1:2).
The distinction in the elect is of sin before and after baptism. Sin before baptism through repentance is forgiven on baptism, and is placed as far as the east is from the west. God brings that sin no more to mind, and nor should any converted person. Sin after baptism is forgiven only on repentance, both visible and earnest. Repeated sin grieves the Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and can forfeit the salvation of the member.
Christ nailed the record of our sins to the cross. This record or cheirographon (translated as handwriting) is in fact a legal document as an accounting record or bill of account of our sins. Strong fails to make this point in his Concordance (SGD 5498). This failure to come to grips with the nature of what was nailed to the cross encompasses the totality of Christian error.
Colossians 2:13-15 †And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV)
The sum total of the bill of account for our sins was death. This was paid and nailed to the cross. It did not do away with the law and the testimony which is the mark of the elect (Isa. 8:20; Rev. 12:17; 14:12). This failure to understand the nature of the sacrifice leads modern Christianity into anti-nomianism and into the failure to understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Prove all things
Only by being born again in water and the Holy Spirit can the individual be redeemed. The failure to understand this process is indicative of a failure to understand the true conversion process. This failure is common in those who have had a physical conversion into an organisation and not into the body of Christ. Such people cast truth to the ground in the interest of the preservation of a physical organisation or cult. The defence of such error in the unconverted is usually accompanied by the attack of personality rather than defence or rejection of biblical truth. The biblical injunction to prove all things (1Thes. 5:21) is distorted. The injunction to prove all things extends to the work of each individual (Gal. 6:4) and indeed themselves (2Cor. 13:5).
Proof must be of that which is good (Rom. 12:2) and also of the sincerity of the love of the elect (2Cor. 8:8). Malice and slander and envy are not evidence of the love of the elect, they are evidence of an unconverted thought process. Sin, which has been repented for years past, is not the business of the brethren. It is in the realm of the love of God. Each individual has to be born again. They must sin no more but they must be allowed to be born again. Their sin must be no more brought to mind. Also the individual against whom sin occurs must be able to forgive. The Lordís prayer commences with the praise of God and the plea for His will and His provision and then proceeds to this injunction.
Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (KJV)
The forgiveness of debts or trespasses is the forgiveness of transgression which is the debt of the cheirographon that was nailed to the cross. We request this because Christ paid for it. Thus we have an obligation to forgive others as we ourselves wish to be forgiven. This is true conversion. The individual who is born again desires to keep the law of God from his or her inner being. The continued attribution of sin to others is an unconverted thought process which carries judgment to the self. This is the biggest single failing of the cult type systems that have been set up in the twentieth century. Factions are formed around individuals and those seekers of power that would attack and destroy others. The spirit in which criticism is made, and more importantly, acknowledged, is often an indicator of the conversion of the people in the group. The converted individual must learn not only to forgive those who attack them but also to acknowledge truth in criticism. The penalty is the erosion of oneís own spiritual power.
Christ forgave those who killed him at the cross and prayed for their forgiveness (Lk. 23:34). So also did Stephen pray for the forgiveness of those who killed him (Acts 7:60). Paul was the official witness to the murder of Stephen and thus took part in that crime among many others (Acts 8:1). Saul had to be forgiven and was in fact renamed Paul because he had committed such violence against the elect. He was forgiven and used of God. Today he would be attacked with malice and slander.
The elect are the sons and daughters of God who are developing holy righteous character. The forgiveness of sin and the love of one another is the key element in this process. Without being born again they cannot be perfected. Each must be allowed to be born again also by the brethren who worship the one true God in Spirit and in Truth.
The process of rebirth is through the down payment or the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14) through Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7).
Ephesians 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (KJV)
The purchased possession is our being. The redemption (which is Godís: Jer. 32:7-8) is the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection (Rom. 8:23). We are sealed until the resurrection which is the day of our redemption (Eph. 4:30). At the resurrection, we become co-heirs with Christ as sons of God in power through the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).
This initial payment is as a mustard seed which grows (Mat. 13:31; Mk. 4:31; Lk. 13:19). This rebirth then is as a child that grows in the truth and in faith (Mat. 17:20; Lk. 17:6). It is a spiritual process and the faith is measured in the same way. Through this process of growth, the elect are perfected in the faith through the offering of Christ (Heb. 10:14). In this perfection the Holy Spirit is also a witness to what Christ has said before.
Hebrews 10:15-18 Whereof the Holy [Spirit] also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (KJV) (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb. 8:8-12).
Every man shall know the Lord from the time when he pours out His Spirit on the nation. Until that time the rebirth is confined to the elect. The elect are spiritually born again and spiritually converted to the laws of God and the perfection of Godly, righteous character. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind (2Tim. 1:7). Each of us should develop the spirit to the best of our gifts and abilities, as we are born again to the glory of God. From this process, over the resurrections, God becomes all in all (Eph. 4:6).
Christian Churches of God
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E-mail: CCG Secretary
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