Approximately 2,000 years ago, in the area now known as Israel, an obscure carpenter's son named Jesus began preaching about knowing God on a personal basis. He coined the term "born again". He said, "Unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). To be born again is to receive salvation. This booklet will explain briefly who Jesus is, what the kingdom of God is, and why this is relevant to you.
Death is Inevitable
Benjamin Franklin said there are only two things that are sure in life: death and taxes. This present life will end for each of us one day. Some say there is no existence after death, that when we die we no longer feel, think, or are conscious in any way. The Bible says everyone will live forever - some in heaven, some in hell. Both are choices (Deuteronomy 30:19). Everyone has a sense in their heart of eternity, that there is some kind of existence after this life (Ecclesiastes 3:15). The Bible teaches that after the body dies, the spirit of a person continues into the next life (2 Corinthians 5:8). Those choosing heaven will eventually be given a new immortal body (1 Corinthians 15:54). Those choosing hell will experience endless pain and sorrow (Revelation 21:8). God's intent toward humanity is to choose life, and in the ages to come to heap blessings on those that have chosen Life (Ephesians 2:7).
Some believe in reincarnation which is the notion that a person's spirit returns to a new and different human body or an animal after death. The Scripture clearly states that this is not the case: "It is appointed for man once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). The idea of reincarnation is based on performance: doing good in this life gets you into a better life the next time around; living an evil life drops you down to some lower life the next go round. The Gospel is unique among all other religions in that it states explicitly that we cannot be good enough, we cannot perform well enough on our own to receive salvation. The Bible teaches that even our best deeds are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). God's standard of good is absolute perfection. No one is perfect (Romans 3:23). According to the Bible then, reincarnation is not a Godly principle nor a reality.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is God the Son (John 8:58; Colossians 1:17). He became a man in order to reconcile human beings to God the Father (Philippians 2:7). A human being is born into a sinful world and in a sinful state of being (Galatians 1:4, John 3:18). We humans inherited this plague from the first man, Adam, who lived many generations ago (Genesis 5:2). Sin has a legal penalty associated with it: death (Romans 6:23). Whether one commits a "white lie" or a murder, the same penalty of death is exacted (James 2:10). This death takes the form of being incarcerated into hell for eternity (Revelation 20:15). (The severity of punishments there vary according to the deeds of the individual).
The Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:8). Someone might ask, "How can a loving God condemn humans for sinning if they are born into sin and their very nature is to sin?" That is a valid question. The Good News is that God has not left us without recourse from this predicament. God cannot compromise Himself with sin and come down to our level. Yet He loves us even as sinners (Romans 5:8). He sent His Son Jesus to earth to pay the price for our sin. As soon as humans fell into sin by disobedience, God immediately instituted the solution to sin through His Son Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15). He loves us so much that He was willing to be incarnated as a human man and pay the price of sin. Now it is by choice that any man, woman, or child can receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (1 John 2:2, Revelation 22:17). The punishments for sin, therefore, are based on the choice not to receive Jesus' as payment for sin.
Why Did Jesus Claim Exclusive Access to God?
The Bible says, "The only way to the Father is through the Son" (John 14:6). Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). A perfect sacrifice was necessary for God the Father's sense of justice to be satisfied. There was a legal debt of sin that humanity owed God. Jesus willing paid that price for us. Through the blood of Jesus we have access to God the Father (Ephesians 2:13), for life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). All other religions are based on doing good things: by meditating enough, by doing good deeds, etc. God explicitly says we cannot work our way to heaven (Romans 3:27). No other religion speaks of atonement of sins through sacrifice, without which humans cannot enjoy any sort of relationship with God the Father. Salvation is impossible without Jesus. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to humanity by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
The ultimate evidence of Jesus' claim is the resurrection. After having lived a perfect life without sin, He was crucified on a cross and placed into a burial tomb. A Roman guard of four soldiers were left to protect the entrance of the tomb against the possibility of someone stealing the body (Matthew 27:60-66, 28:1-6). After three days, the huge stone that had sealed the tomb was supernaturally rolled away and Jesus emerged in bodily form.
Some have doubted this fact. Question: is it rational to think that two thousand years of western history is based on a myth or a lie? Why didn't anyone back then refute the resurrection? Why couldn't anyone recover the dead body of Jesus if it had been stolen? If God is real, why is it so fantastic to believe that He could raise His own Son from the dead? There is a God, and He is not impotent or indifferent.
What is the Kingdom of God?
Paul said, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then Christians are surely a deceived people (1 Corinthians 15:19). The good news is that Jesus IS ALIVE NOW! He wants us to experience the same resurrection life as He enjoys (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). He wants us to live above sin in this life, and, in the life to come, He wants to shower us with His loving kindness (Ephesians 2:7). We have an adversary to all that Jesus does for us, however. A fallen angel named Lucifer, now called Satan, is bent on killing, stealing, and destroying our lives (John 10:10). His desire is to usurp the throne of God and control humans. He is a master liar (John 8:44). He has no real power (Colossians 2:15). The power that he wields is stolen. But Jesus came that we might have an abundant life. "The kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). The kingdom of God is any place where Jesus is Lord, whether it be in your heart, in heaven, or on the earth.
Why Choose Jesus?
The world measures success by self-achievement, by the accumulation of power, and by material things. The Scripture says that a man's life consists not in the abundance of his or her possessions (Luke 12:15). Jesus said, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). We all have a God-like void in our hearts that only God can fill and which nothing else can. We will never experience success by seeking the approval of others, by the accumulation of wealth and power. Insecurity stems from basing our security on anything or anyone else but God. God offers us eternal security in Him through Jesus Christ. The measure of success, in the eyes of God, is to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. God is not against wealth, riches and power; He is against them taking His place. Without the Spirit of God working inside a human, these things will ultimately deceive the individual.
Someone might say, "I don't need Jesus. I talk to God all the time without Him". Acknowledging God's existence is not enough (James 2:19). Even communicating with Him does not bring you into a covenant relationship with Him. Jesus said, "Unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3), and, "Unless you repent you will perish" (Luke 13:3). To repent involves: believing that God is holy, that His standard is perfection, and that you can't possibly meet that standard on your own - you need His help! Admit that you have sinned according to His standard and therefore stand guilty of sin before Him; believe that Jesus is the only way to be born again and that He paid the price for your sin; and to allow Him to give you His Spirit and the ability to live a new life. This new life of a Christian is not without trouble (John 16:33), but it seeks to live by His direction as Lord and Master. To acknowledge Him only as God the Savior is not enough. He must be Lord and Master also.
How Can I Be Born Again?
The Bible says, that if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will experience salvation (Romans 10:9,10). Someone might ask, "Maybe God doesn't want me; after all, I've done some pretty horrible things". I have Good News for you! Jesus died for your sins while you were still in your sins, before you even committed them (Romans 5:8)! Despite our sins, God said, whoever would call on Him would be saved (Romans 10:13). Are you a "whoever"? Then you are eligible! God's sacrifice on the cross triumphed over any and all sins you or anyone else has ever committed.
If you desire to be born again, say this prayer out loud: "Father God, I see from the Bible that you love me, that You gave yourself for me, that You provided a way out of sin and death for me. But I also see that I am guilty of sin before You without Jesus; that if I were to die right now, I would go to hell. Father, I now accept Your free gift of righteousness by the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ. I receive Him now into my life as Lord and Savior. I ask You to forgive me of my sins. Thank you Jesus. Come into my life; be my God. Amen."
If you prayed that prayer and meant it in your heart, you are born again! Praise God! The Bible says the angels of God are rejoicing right now because of your decision and act of faith (Luke 15:10). You may not feel any different but you are different. Your feelings and thoughts are part of your mind; the part of you that is born again is your spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). As a child of God (John 1:12) God is also interested in changing your thinking and emotions as well (Romans 12:2).
What Do I Do Now?
There are three things that you must do. First, you must pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Praying is nothing more than speaking to God. Prayer is a privilege we enjoy as part of the new relationship we have with our Maker. Relationships are maintained by speaking to one another. Prayer is also necessary to receive the many other promises involved in changing our souls and bodies in this life (1 Peter 1:3,4). Pray in the name or authority of Jesus (John 16:23).
The second thing we must do is read the Bible. Jesus said, "My words they are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). Jesus is the Personification of the Word (John 1:1,14; Revelation 19:13). He said the Bible is Truth (John 17:17). As we read the Bible, we begin to change more and more into His likeness and image (Romans 12:2). The Bible was written by men of old inspired by God (2 Peter 1:20,21). It is no ordinary book. It is Life itself. As we actually DO what it says, the kingdom of God will manifest itself in our lives and change us in a fundamental way.
The third thing you must do is join in Christian relationship (Hebrews 10:25). God says, He has set everyone in some church (1 Corinthians 12:18). Ask God what church He would like you to go to and then visit churches in your area. As you search for your church, listen to your heart - this is where you will sense"life" or "death", that is, a sense of aliveness or a sense of deadness. Wherever Jesus is, there is Life (John 14:6); wherever He's not, there is a deadness. The church God has for you will be alive: it will seem like home, yet it will challenge you. Go to a church that teaches the Bible and teaches the entirety of its contents.
Get involved with your church. Don't be a bystander, be a participant. That's the best way to get to know people. If your church offers a new believers course, take it! Participate in any activity that teaches the Word. The Scripture says we should devour it like a new born babe desires milk (1 Peter 2:2). If there is someone in your church that you respect and look up to, see if you can't be mentored by them. Ask them questions, seek their advise, let them show you things in the Word.
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