When people asked the apostle Peter what they needed to do to get peace with God, he gave this answer:
- REPENT TO GOD
- BE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS
- RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Peter mentioned these three parts to be born as a child of God. He did not mean that, by doing these actions, people would earn their salvation, but he meant it as a response or confirmation to God’s salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The new birth or birth as a child of God begins with the repentance of sin and turning to God being accompanied by faith in the finished work of Jesus for you. (see GOD’S ACTION)
Then there is the baptism into Christ and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The order of these two is not fixed. We see both sequences occurring in the Bible. (Acts 2 verse 38; 1 John 5 verses 7-8; Acts 8 verses 12-17; Acts 10 verses 43-48)
REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
To repent means: to turn / change. It is a change of thinking about your sins and start to see it as God sees it. Understand and acknowledge that you are guilty of your sins against God and can not change anything yourself.
Repentance also means radically turning 180 degrees away from your own efforts and following God’s way. The way of the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus. His unconditional grace for you.
This repenting is a personal decision that no one else can make for you, not even God. It is God’s will for your life, but He can not force you. He has created man with a free will to voluntarily turn to Him and love Him.
You wouldn’t want love from your child or partner, if they are forced to do so. Then it wouldn’t be genuine love. That’s the way it is with God. He does not force you. He has made His move. Now it’s your turn. He waits patiently until you respond to His mercy and you turn around and trust in Jesus for your salvation. (Ezekiel 18 verse 32)
REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
The gospel means: good news. Which is: the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. He has provided for your salvation, deliverance from sin and healing. Already in this life. He wants you to get peace with Him and He wants to give you eternal life. Whoever you are. He also has you in mind. This is not only good news, but awesome news and ‘almost’ too good to be true! But it is true, because it is impossible for God to lie. Everything He says is true.
To believe means: trusting God, that He does what He has promised. So you have to take Him at His Word. Trust Him that this great news also applies to you! 1 John 4 verses 9-10, John 10 verse 10, Numbers 23 verse 19
God says: By believing, or fully trusting that Jesus has borne your punishment and paid with His blood for you, you are saved and delivered from the power of Satan.
By this faith in Jesus (and His work) you receive His forgiveness of all your sins and you are made right with God. This way God gives you His life and Spirit and you are spiritually born as His child. Then there is a totally new start with Jesus as your Lord. (Ephesians 2 verse 8, Romans 1 verse 17, Colossians 1 verses 13-14, John 1 verses 12-13, 1 John 5 verses 4-5, Romans 5 verse 1)
Dare to take God at His Word for this! God has obligated Himself to keep His Word. He loves it when you trust Him and take Him at His Word, because it gives Him pleasure and miracles will happen. (Hebrews 11 verse 6)
Just as Adam and Eve could choose in the beginning, you can choose now. You can choose to step over your pride, turn away from your own path and acknowledge that you cannot save yourself and need a Savior. You can choose to surrender your life to Christ in faith.
BAPTISM INTO CHRIST
Baptism is: immersion in water after repentance and conversion to God the Father. It is a part of being born as a child of God, the new birth.
The Bible explains it as being united with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus has broken the power of sin through His death and resurrection. But this death and resurrection must also take place in our lives after our conversion.
Dying with Christ (in water) is like a funeral of our old sinful life, as a sinner. And then there is the rising up with Him in the new resurrection life, as a child of God. (Colossians 2 verses 12-14, Romans 6 verses 3-12)
The Bible also describes baptism as a washing away of sins and calls it a baptism for the remission of sins. So baptism is not just a symbol or a ritual for someone who has repented, but it involves much more. It is a breaking with the old sinful life under Satan’s rule and start to live a new life under God’s rule. That is why baptism is not a possible option or suggestion, but an act of obedience. It is a part of the new birth. (Acts 22 verse 16, Acts 2 verse 38)
Because baptism in water is a “washing away of sins” and “forgiveness of sins,” it should take place directly after the repentance and conversion to God. Just like in the Bible. We do not see a long preliminary study time in the Bible. People were baptized immediately after they had come to faith in Jesus. (Acts 2 verses 38-41, Acts 8 verse 12, Acts 8 verses 35-39, Acts 9 verses 10-18, Acts 10 verses 44-48, Acts 16 verses 29-34)
Practice: You can be baptized by a born-again child of God, who also experienced the baptism in Christ. It does not necessarily have to be a specially appointed person or someone who has long been converted. Whether the baptism is done in natural water or in a bath (because it is a cold climate), it does not matter.
And importantly: the convert is baptized to Jesus Christ and not to a particular group or church.
BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Another part of the new birth, being born as a child of God, is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ return to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit for the believers. The Holy Spirit is the Substitute of Jesus. He is a Comforter for us, a Helper and Guide, who leads us in this new life. (Acts 2 verses 1-4, John 14 verses 15-17 + 25-27, John 15 verses 26-27, John 16 verses 7-15)
When you become a child of God, you become a temple of God. This has now been made possible by the substitution work of Jesus. God no longer lives in a temple or building, but wants to live in His children. He lives in them to have fellowship and close contact with them and to help them live a holy life so that they resemble His Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit also leads them to represent Him on this earth, so that others also can be freed from sin and sickness and have peace with God. (Acts 17 verse 24, 1 Corinthians 6 verses 19-20, 2 Corinthians 6 verses 16-18 + 7 verse 1, Romans 8 verses 12-17)
When you are baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit, you receive God’s power to walk in this new life as a justified child of God and to tell the world of Jesus in words and deeds. For without this indwelling of the Holy Spirit we can not lead a victorious Christian life. This baptism with God’s Spirit does not always happen automatically with the conversion or baptism in water. It is often a separate part. (Acts 1 verse 8, Luke 24 verse 49, Acts 8 verses 12-17)
- Ask and receive yourself: when you ask God for His Holy Spirit, He promises to give Him to you. (Luke 11 verses 9-13)
- Receive by laying on of hands: you can be baptized with the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by another born-again Christian. (Acts 8 verses 14-17, Acts 19 verses 5-6)
When the Holy Spirit comes into your life, He comes with everything that He is. He comes with all His gifts and with all His strength. With His indwelling, the Holy Spirit gives you a personal prayer language, an unknown language which is also called tongues. These are sounds that bubble from within you, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to open our mouths and start vocalise those sounds with our voices and let them come out. God will never force you. It is a collaboration with Him. (John 7 verses 37-39, Acts 2 verses 1-4, Acts 10 verses 44-46, Acts 19 verse 6, 1 Corinthians 14 verses 2 + 4 + 39, Judas 1 verse 20)
Being born as a child of God is not the ultimate destination,
but the beginning of a new life, in which you grow every day.
It is a walk in obedience with God until the end.