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Do you know what it means to be "born again" and how it happens?





















Are you willing to count the cost of being a Christian, and recognise the need for continuing help?



















Are you ready to accept the need for a changed lifestyle?














































The Christian life may not be easy so are you prepared for a long-term commitment?





















Texts




















John 3:3














1 Peter 1:23
















2 Corinthians 3:18

















Ephesians 2:8-10











Luke 6:43-45










Matthew 5:3-10







Galatians 5:22,23
















James 1:4

The Way to Eternity

What Must I Do?

2. Receive the Holy Spirit

BE BORN AGAIN

Being born again is also is a requirement of Jesus. He told Nicodemus that he must be born again, not this time in a physical sense, but born of the Spirit. When this happens, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, unites with our human spirit and makes us spiritually alive. The essential first step is a commitment of our life to Jesus, which needs repentance and baptism. As we believe, the Holy Spirit will now live in us, and as we allow will gradually make our lives holy. He will confirm to us that we are now children of God. He will be our teacher so that we come to know all truth. He will share with us his love, peace and joy, and these become the characteristics of our renewed nature as our lives become a walk in the Spirit. We need to understand this, and if it does not seem to be happening we can ask and pray. This is a prayer that God has promised to answer.

Another biblical expression relating to receiving the Holy Spirit is "baptised with the Holy Spirit". This is not the same as being born of the Spirit. It may happen at the same time or it may happen later. It is a picture of an outpouring from above and we are immersed and soaked in the Holy Spirit and filled with his power. Born of the Spirit relates to the Person and the presence of the Holy Spirit, baptised in the Spirit relates to his activities and power.

In 2 Corinthians 1 vv 21 and 22 Paul likens receiving the Holy Spirit to a deposit or down payment on goods, which are then stamped or sealed with the owner's name. We receive God's stamp or seal, showing that we belong to him. It is also the guarantee that he has more to give us.

GO ON BEING FILLED

Other Bible references to receiving the Holy Spirit are being filled or being full of the Holy Spirit. Going on being filled is a process. It goes on continuously for the rest of our lives. This ties in with Paul's idea of a seal and deposit, guaranteeing more to follow. Some references to being filled (as in Ephesians 5 : 18) are to "go on being filled". In another analogy the Holy Spirit is likened to "living water" which flows into us, through us and out of us. It is a continuous flow. The outflowing is the ministry of the Spirit through us to serve the needs of other people. The ministry of the Holy Spirit to us is to transform us into the likeness of Jesus, lifting us from one degree of glory to another in the process of a lifetime. The ministry of the Spirit through us is the gifting enabling us to help others. It is a continuing equipping and empowering for service. We are called to different forms of service, some to evangelism, some to teaching, some to healing and deliverance, and so on. It is important to remember that the gifts of the Spirit are not to glorify ourselves but to bless others. God's calling to service is called the anointing in the Holy Spirit. The image is of the Holy Spirit as oil, as used as in a king's coronation for the setting apart and empowering for a sacred task. God has a purpose for each of our lives, and the anointing therefore is for all of us. The calling to and the equipping for ministry come from God. We need to be available and willing to be used.

SHOW FRUIT

We show fruit by our character and lifestyle of goodness. This is seen in practice by the way we show consideration and helpfulness to other people, and by doing the good deeds which God has designed for us. These good deeds must not be confused with works of self-righteousness, done in the hope of earning salvation. Salvation is God's gift of grace, which we do not deserve and cannot earn. The works which are pleasing to God are those which he plans and works through us, using us as his instruments or channels of his blessing.

John the Baptist used this expression, saying our lives had to show the fruit of repentance. Jesus also talked about fruit, saying that a plant is shown to be good or bad by the nature of its fruit. So it is with us: our fruit is the way we live our lives. He approved the rich young ruler's keeping of the Ten Commandments, but told him that more was needed. He must share his wealth with the poor. He warned his disciples against the desire for material possessions, particularly the love of money. We cannot worship both God and material riches.

Fruit in our lives is produced through obedience to Jesus, as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus laid down some specific requirements. We are to love God and our fellow men (giving the widest interpretation to the word "neighbour"). We are to worship, pray, and break bread together. Our dealings with other people are illustrated in the Sermon on the Mount. These are not things that we force ourselves to do, but they are things which we are enabled to do. They are not legal demands, they are a standard against which we can measure our progress into righteous living as the Holy Spirit works through us.

This working of the Holy Spirit is emphasised by Paul when he talks of the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the attributes of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit brings to fruition in our lives.

PERSEVERE

We need to persevere in our lifestyle of goodness. It is not something that we do for a while, then slip back into our old ways. We have to continue faithfully on the path to which we have been called and to which we have committed ourselves. Jesus said that after we have put our hand to the plough, we must not look back. We must learn to take up our cross daily and follow him. This means a total surrender of our lives to him, whatever the consequences. Paul uses the imagery of the runner in a race, and tells Timothy, "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith". The writer to the Hebrews also uses the analogy of a race to stress the need for perseverance, and says, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised". The word is also used in the letter of James. "Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete". It is used by Peter in his second letter in the linked series of attributes: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, love. So many of the New Testament writers draw our attention to this. God gives us so much, and we must not become complacent. There must be no stopping and no going back.