Editor’s Notes: Most Christians believe that since we have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we have been reborn, and that when the Lord returns we will be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. But the fact is that we always live in a situation of sinning in the day and confessing at night, so is it true that we have been reborn? What is the rebirth really?
When I first started believing in the Lord, I heard the pastor say, “When we believers are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are then reborn. So from that day, we will be different from our old self and formally become the Lord’s children. And we will be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. Just as the Lord Jesus says in the Bible: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again’ (John 3:5-7).” Hearing these words, I got extremely excited and was then baptized. Thereafter, I always followed the Lord’s words, and preached the Lord’s gospel with full confidence. When I saw that so many people acceptedand were baptized, I felt so happy, believing that we were all reborn, and that in the future, we would definitely attain that which the Lord has promised and enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In the twinkling of an eye, I have believed in the Lord for over 10 years. But somehow, my original faith and love gradually lessened and I was increasingly unable to keep the Lord’s way. I began to covet wealth, became selfish, self-interested, and haggled over every penny. Even when interacting with my brothers and sisters, I also had no patience or tolerance for them and was unable to live in harmony with them. Moreover, I would always reveal my arrogant disposition and put others down to raise myself up, and would even often lie and deceive God, deceive other people. Unknowingly, some questions came into my mind: With such a living out, have I truly been reborn? Why do I feel that my living out today is no different from that of unbelievers? Can I, who often sin, really enter into the kingdom of heaven?
Once, I left a message online to Sister Xiaodong, whom I got acquainted with on Facebook, and told her about my confusion. Before long, she replied:
“Hello, sister! I also used to have this kind of confusion. Until one day I read these words in the Bible: ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). ‘Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed’ (John 8:34-36). I couldn’t help but think: ‘Since God Himself is pure and holy, His kingdom is then holy; as God hates sin, He requires us to be cleansed. So how could we who still commit sins frequently and who are covered in filth be qualified to enter God’s kingdom?’
“Afterward, I read a passage in a book: ‘A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.’ From this passage, I knew that the Lord Jesus’ work was limited to redemption alone. He brought us the way of repentance, taught us to be tolerant and patient, to love others as ourselves and to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind, etc. As long as we are baptized, accept the Lord Jesus’ salvation and come before the Lord to repent and confess our sins, then we can gain His pardon, and enjoy the grace as well as blessings that He bestows upon man. But this doesn’t mean that we do not have sins. Although we outwardly have some good behaviors, such as having tolerance and patience toward others, not assaulting others and not cursing others, our sinful natures remain deeply rooted within us. So, we often reveal our corrupt dispositions—arrogance, conceit, crookedness, cunningness, selfishness, despicableness, and so on. What is even more serious is that we often sin and resist God. Especially when encountering something that does not accord with our notions, we can judge and complain against God; when faced with trials and refinements, we can become full of resentment toward God. We still have the God-resisting nature and our corrupt dispositions have yet to be purified, so how could we count as those who have been reborn?
“Since we have not been reborn by accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation, then what on earth do we need to do to achieve rebirth? The Lord Jesus already prophesied: ‘And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47-48). ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12-13). And a verse in the Bible says, ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28). From the Lord Jesus’ words and this verse, we can see that the Lord will speak when He returns in the last days, bring man more truth, and perform a stage of work of judging and purifying man with His words in order to completely save us from the bondage of sins. Therefore, only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days, by accepting the truth expressed by God as our life and by living according to His words can our corrupt dispositions be cleansed. Only then will we be qualified to enter into God’s kingdom. We can further clarify this issue by reading a passage.”
Sister Xiaodong then sent me a passage, “If one can truly enter into the reality of God’s words from the matters and the words required by Him, then he will be a person perfected by God. It can be said that the work and the words of God are completely effective for this person, that God’s words become his life, he obtains truth, and he can live according to God’s words. After this the nature of his flesh, that is, the foundation of his original existence, will shake and collapse. After one has the words of God as his life he becomes a new person. The words of God become his life; the vision of God’s work, His requirements of man, His revelation of man, and the standards for a true life that God requires man to achieve become his life—he lives according to these words and these truths, and this person becomes perfected by the words of God. He experiences rebirth and becomes a new man through His words.” Following that, she fellowshiped this with me: “From these sentences we can see that only if we pursue the truth, gain many truths from God’s words and have God’s words as our life can we have the ability to triumph over Satan and transcend sin, and only then can we totally cast off our sinful natures and corrupt satanic dispositions. That is when the foundation of our original existence will collapse and we will no longer live by Satan’s life philosophies. The truth will become our new life and we will rely on God’s words in everything we say and do—we will live out the likeness of a real man and be able to honor and bear witness to God, and we will become people who are newly made from God’s words. At that time, we will be able to submit to God, love Him and be compatible with Him. Only this is achieving true rebirth. Like it says in the Bible, ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
From the above fellowshiping, I finally understood. It turned out that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption, and that we have merely been pardoned for our sins by accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation but have never attained purity—our sinful natures remain. As a result, we still unknowingly sin. This means that we have not achieved rebirth. So long as we accept God’s work of judgment in the last days and accept the truth expressed by God as our life, then our corrupt dispositions will be utterly cleansed. This is what it truly means to be reborn. When I realized all this, my heart became so enlightened. Then I began to hit the keyboard and reply to Sister Xiaodong …
» Further reading on Way to Salvation page, or in the recommended articles below: