The Normal Christian Birth

Nicodemus visits Jesus by night John 3:1-8

Below is an overview of how to become a disciple of Jesus ( also known as a Christian) using the outline in David Pawson’s book The Normal Christian Birth.

1. Born Again

We need to give new believers a proper start in life. The way we begin is so important as we will find out.

Must use New Testament language, this leads to New Testament thinking.

Where in the Bible do we get instructions on evangelism and being born again?

  • Gospels too early (Jewish/Christian transition period although can learn so much about how to live as a Christian but not how to become one.)
  • Epistles and Revelation too late (written to Christians)
  • So we look in Acts (In particular chapters 8 & 19)

Three Steps to being Born Again –

1. Repent of your sins towards God. In this step you have to have faith in Jesus Christ as it is He who has paid the price for our sins and thus we no longer will be found guilty of any sin in the court of heaven.

2. Be Baptised in Water.

3. Receive the Holy Spirit or what is normally termed baptised in the Holy Spirit.

All three – Anticipated in the Gospels (by John the Baptist and Jesus) and assumed in the Epistles, Revelation and articulated in Acts.

All three steps are acts of both man and God.

Conversion is mainly what we do (turn around ) – repent. In all of these you need to believe that Jesus died for your sins to set you free. Regeneration is mainly an act of God (being born again) – baptism and receive the Holy Spirit.

1. Repent of Your Sins

Repentance (Mark 1:14-15, Luke 3:1-18, Acts 2:37-39) is the first step to enter the Kingdom of God. Godly sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10) and it can take time and cannot be general. You need to be specific about which sins you are repenting of. These will be sins that are uppermost in your thinking and which you did on and ongoing basis.

There are three stages to repentance:-

  • Thought
  • Word
  • Deed

A. THOUGHT – CHANGING YOUR MIND (Romans 12:2)

We need to think God’s way and not our own way. The more you come to understand God’s holiness, the more you realise your need for repentance.

B. WORDS OF REPENTANCE (1 John 1:9)

We need to confess our sins out loud and name them specifically, be accountable and responsible for them.

We are not the result of what’s been done to us . We are the result of what we’ve done about what’s been done to us . – We are the result of our choices

C. DEEDS OF REPENTANCE (Luke 3:8, Luke 19:8-9, Acts 26:20)

We need to prove our repentance by our deeds by putting the past right where possible. E.g. giving money back that your stole from someone. This all leads to freedom

When helping someone to repent, help them to do three things:-

We need to be serious about where will their present way of life lead them? (Luke 12:4-5)

We were made to worship and have a relationship with God but if we have not repented of our sins they will perish. I.e. They can’t be used for the purpose for which we were made. Hell is God’s incinerator for perished people.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ

To believe in Jesus is to have FAITH in what Jesus did for all mankind.

1. FAITH IS HISTORICAL (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

It is based on facts and not feelings and the truth that Jesus died , was buried and was raised (resurrected with a body) on the third day.

2. FAITH IS PERSONAL (John 6:28-29)

We need to trust and obey what Jesus commanded and to realise that He is Saviour and Lord. (John 14:1 & 15). It needs to be understood that we need to relate personally to Jesus as He is ALIVE! We need to develop a relationship with Jesus by talking to Him and know Him as your/our own friend.

3. FAITH IS VERBAL (Romans 10:9 -13)

Faith should be expressed in words in two ways, by talking to Jesus and talking about Jesus.

4. FAITH IS PRACTICAL (James 2:14-26)

Faith is always something that you do and not just think and say. As James says faith without actions is dead. When did you last believe in Jesus by taking a risk. Trying to live a secure life is a barrier to us acting and living in and by faith.

5. FAITH IS CONTINUAL (Galatians 2:20, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 11))

As believers we do not have just one moment of believing in Jesus when we are born again but a lifetime of faith. We need to trust and go on trusting despite everything that will happen in our lives. When we read believe it normally refers to go on believing. Faith of today saves me today.

How do we help someone into faith by telling the the facts (evidence) and showing them the Gospel in the bible. We can demonstrate the Kingdom by going out and praying for people for healing, casting out demons, baptism and baptising in the Holy Spirit.

Show the deeds of a changed life, by encouraging them to pray in their own words, teaching them to set goals of faith and urging them to go on believing every day.

3. Be Baptised in Water

What is God doing for a believer when they are baptised ?

All believers are now priests (1 Peter 2:9), and can have a washing in water (baptism) and an anointing in oil (filling with Holy Spirit). Baptism brings what you are already in (repentance & faith) to a climax. No such thing as an unbaptised believer in the early church. (Acts 2:37-42, 8:12, 8:36-38, 10:47-48, 16:13-15, 16:32-34, 18:8, 19:4-5, 22:12-16 ). Jesus’ command was : ” Go…. and make disciples…, baptising them …. ” (Matthew 28:19). The Baptise in the bible means = drench, dip, dunk, deluge, soak, sink, swamp, saturate.

Baptism in the New Testament has two meanings :-

A bath for those who are dirty (cleansing) . (1 Peter 3:20-21) A burial for those who are dead . (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-4) It is not a symbol but an event .

Why was it done ?

Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved. John 3:5 You must be born of water and of Spirit. Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of your sins. Acts 22:16 Get up ! Be baptised , and wash your sins away . 1 Peter 3:21 Baptism now saves you. It is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience.Baptism is a deliverance .

We are baptised into Christ’s death, buried with Him and raised with Him. (Romans 6:3-11).  Just as the Israelites were baptised into Moses and out of Pharaoh’s reach when they crossed the Red Sea , so when you are baptised you are delivered from the territory of Satan.

You can say: “Satan, you attended my funeral. You have no more dominion over me .”. Baptism identifies you with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. (Colossians 2:11-12). For a repented believer , water is a means of grace and has a spiritual effect to enable them to live a clean righteous life.

4. Receive The Holy Spirit

Western education is based on Greek philosophy not Hebrew thinking. So we do not understand that physical events can have a spiritual effect. For example, eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge, taking bread & wine in communion, water in baptism.

In New Testament it was normal to receive the Holy Spirit through a physical act – the laying on of hands by anyone. (Acts 19:6)

Every Christian needs two baptisms – in water and in Spirit. (John 3:5) Water baptism deals with the past – leaves you clean and empty. Therefore you need filling with the Holy Spirit for the future.

Receiving the Holy Spirit is a definite experience . (Acts 8:1-17 and 19:1-7) When Jesus on earth, you could receive Him (John 1:11-13). After His ascension no one told to receive Jesus. Jesus replaced on earth with the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), so we must receive the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Spirit is the basis of our assurance of salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14).

OUTWARD EVIDENCE always accompanies filling with the Spirit. Whatever you’re full of will come out of your mouth.(Matthew 12:34). So when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, spontaneous spiritual speech is heard.

HOW TO RECEIVE?

Seek it after repenting , believing and being baptised (Acts 2:37-39). Received by Praying – ” Go on asking ” (Luke 3:21-22 and 11:9-13, Acts 8:15-17). By laying on of hands (Acts 19:6).

Reasons for not receiving the gift after praying and laying on of hands :- Not fully repented. Not acted in faith. Don’t know what to expect. Don’t know how to receive the gift (you don’t know you have a gift till you use it -TRY ! ). Fear – loss of self control ; what will others think.

False teaching – ” Tongues are from Satan “, “Supernatural is not for today”. Evangelical tradition – doesn’t include gifts of the Spirit. Know Holy Scripture (the writings), better than Holy Spirit (the Person).

5. Saved at Last 

Sometimes we need to “unlearn” unbiblical teaching. The typical “sinners prayer” is inadequate as it only covers 1.5 of the 4 steps of New Testament rebirth. Repentance – Should be specific. Must repent towards God. Faith – Must believe in Jesus, not receive Jesus. Baptism in water – not mentioned. Receive the Holy Spirit – not mentioned in the sinners prayer.

So people are often told they are “saved” when they are only half born again. God is in the business of salvaging and restoration (recycling). Salvation is a process. All are being saved .

What is it to be Saved ? Saved from what ?

SAFE FROM HELL (False) SALVAGED FROM SINS (True)

Concerned only with getting you across a line. Salvation is The Way. ( Jesus didn’t command us to get decisions, but to make disciples.).

Jesus must be as Saviour AND Lord.

The good news of Christianity is not that you must live right , but that you can live right. When you repent and believe, God accepts and adopts you (justification), in order that you may live a holy life (sanctification). (2 Timothy 1:6&7)

Process of full Salvation :-

Justification – God accepts and forgives you .

Sanctification – God makes you holy .

Glorification – God gives you a new body in a new heaven and a new earth.

“Once saved always saved ” – Unbiblical

  • Used by people who want to be “safe from hell” .
  • New Testament writers warn us to “go on believing”. 

No one is “safe” till they stand in glory.

© Copyright David Pawson 2013

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