The message of Jesus Christ is salvation, saving to the whole body, soul, and spirit; He alone can make us whole. However, Jesus said to gain salvation one must be born again. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ~ Jn 3:3
As a minister of the gospel in various ways over the years, I have met many different types of believers. The ones I meet most often are those who claim Christianity but have not had a born-again experience, in other words, they have “received Christ” for salvation but have not denied themselves, picked up their cross daily, and followed Jesus as He told His disciples to do.
Jesus said He must suffer many things, including rejection and then He makes the following statement;
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. - Luke 9:23-24
Losing to Gain
This message is certainly different than the one we often receive on Sunday mornings. All too often people hear a message that goes something like this: If you want to have a happy life and be prosperous and blessed in all you do than raise your hand and say this prayer, “Jesus come into my life and make it new.” So, what does that say to a person new to the gospel? Just what it stated, one can raise their hand and ask Jesus to come into their lives and make it better. People who have a great life in their own opinion are seldom going to ask for a life in Christ, but those in misery often do and when they do, and nothing changes they say something like; “I tried that Jesus thing, and it didn’t work for me.”
There are some sacrifices to be made when coming to salvation through a new birth experience as Jesus explained to Nicodemus. When we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are to be born again and start living a supernatural life in the Spirit. If one is not born again there is no life and no relationship with God; it is only through being born of water and Spirit that we can enter the Kingdom of God. This new birth is a supernatural experience and not one that comes naturally. God must draw people to Him through the Holy Spirit. In spite of what many think God comes to us, not the other way around.
Once an individual is born again their perspective begins to change as they see the kingdom of God, the word becomes clear, and the Holy Spirit’s work of the supernatural start to be experienced and believed. Faith can now be seen in action, supernatural and unexplainable things begin to happen in a follower of Christ’s life and the wonders of God are seen. The born-again experience should take us into the supernatural realm where signs and wonders follow us as we walk by faith according to God’s will. This is a lifestyle in Christ and not just a “saved” mentality.
I love it when new believers are filled with the Holy Spirit because they are so open to the supernatural work of God’s Spirit that they are willing to submit to Him and step out in faith. Newly filled believers are in awe of their experience and often desire to tell other people. We once prayed for a young lady to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and she was, so we asked her to lay hands on a man who needed deliverance, she did, and he was delivered! When my husband and I were baptized with the Holy Spirit, we immediately prayed for a man to receive Holy Spirit with tongues and He did! That sure got us fired up.
One of the reasons Christianity is not experienced like it was at the beginning of the Church age, is because the power of God is not preached. Repentance is not preached. Renunciation of sin is not preached. The new birth is not preached. Today there is a message of salvation that does not say “deny yourself,” but rather it seems to relay a message that “accepts” Jesus in their lifestyle almost as if He is a trophy instead of God. We must preach the whole gospel with fiery passion and power if we are going to see a great awakening and souls saved!
Jesus said there is a way to gain the whole world but lose one’s soul to destruction and loss (Lk 9:25). Just because a person calls themselves a Christian and everything on the outside looks prosperous doesn’t mean that the inside (the soul) of that person has been saved. Too many times a “Christian” determines their salvation by what they have gained or lost since “accepting Christ” into their lives. This belief is unfortunate and quickly pulls a believer back into the world seeking wealth in ways they did not find while trying out that Christian thing. When my husband and I were born again, our lives began to show it immediately. We owned a business and lots of goodies, but we quickly started to lose all of it. We stayed faithful to the Lord and continued to give in tithes and offerings even though we were new to following Christ. It was extremely tough for three years, but God provided along the way in such ways that we walked in supernatural provisions and were in awe daily of His goodness towards us. Our perspective had to shift; we couldn’t look at what we were losing instead we looked at what we gained…. we lost the material things but gained our souls, marriage, and family.
Christianity often comes with tests and trials; even Jesus was tested in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted and gave His life over to God. I have seen countless times individuals who start walking with Jesus, sometimes with passion and zeal, only to fall away because they didn’t want to give up their sin or they got sick, lost their job, or some other tragedy or trauma happened.
Jesus talked about the kind of people who receive the word but do not allow it to produce the fruit as is intended. These are the kind of people that do not have hearts prepared for sacrifice, for they only want what they want when they want it, not desiring to give up anything in return. Jesus gave His life so we could live and abundantly at that. Shouldn’t we at least consider giving something in return for our salvation, grace, and undeserved mercy?
Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for Your grace and mercy in my life. I know I haven’t always shown it, and many times I have been too stubborn to give up sin and the feel-good parts of this world, but I am willing and admit I need Your help. I ask You today for a born-again experience, move my heart from one that takes Your salvation for granted to one that is willing to follow Jesus Christ in all His ways. Help me fully understand how a repentant heart acts, what it looks like to truly turn from the wicked ways of which I have lived. I ask You, Lord Jesus, to make me aware of any presumptuous sin in my heart and to readjust my thinking towards sin that may have hardened in my heart. I look forward to a new life in You, Christ Jesus, as the Holy Spirit leads me into the supernatural realm. In Jesus name, Amen