About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
In John 3:1 through 6 we read that Jesus spoke of the necessity to be born again. In John 3:16 He spoke of the need to believe in Him. I maintain that being born again by the reception of God's Spirit into your life and believing in Jesus are two separate and distinct actions from two separate and distinct sources. How, then, does that impact us and the doctrine we teach?
In New Testament terms, believing in Jesus means to trust Him with your life because the Greek word "pistis" that is translated as faith and believe in the New Testament means trust. Belief in Jesus is more than mentally acknowledging His existence. Biblically speaking, believing or trusting in Jesus is an action that we do. It's not an action that Jesus does.
New Testament terms, being born again takes place when the Holy Spirit
enters our very beings to live, which transforms us into new creations (2
Corinthians 5:17), thus, the term "born again."
Biblically speaking, the Spirit's entrance into our lives is an
action that God does. It's not
an action that we do.
that believing and receiving are two separate and distinct actions from
two separate and distinct sources, tells me that they can't be the same
action as many think, but do they always take place at the same time in
one's life? My reading of the
Book of Acts tells me that these two actions do not always happen at the
same time in one's life.
Acts 2, those who had already believed, were born again when they received
the Holy Spirit into their lives. The
two actions did not occur at the same time.
To be hermeneutically honest, though, I can't use this example to
back my point because prior to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was not available
to be given to a believer.
Acts 10 we note that certain Gentiles came to belief in Jesus, and
immediately, they were born again by receiving the Holy Spirit into their
lives. In this instance, the
two separate actions happened at the same time.
In Acts 8 and 19, however, we read that some Samaritans and some
Ephesians came to believe in Jesus but it was not until some time later
that they were born again by receiving the Holy Spirit into their lives.
In these cases, the two actions did not occur simultaneously.
conclude that believing in Jesus and receiving His Spirit (being born
again) are two separate and distinct actions from two separate and
distinct sources. Although I
think the Biblical norm is that these two actions take place at the same
time in one's life, for various reasons, the norm is not always the case.
think my distinction between these two actions here is important.
Many people call themselves Christians because they have mentally
adopted belief in Jesus' existence? That
saves no one. Others have
trusted Jesus with their lives, but like the Samaritans and Ephesians in
Acts, have not been born again by receiving the Spirit into their being.
So, like Jesus told Nicodemus, I tell us all.
We must be born again.
be clear, I'm not talking about a second work of grace that Pentecostals
call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, to which I do not adhere.
You can read my book entitled "Revisiting Pentecost" for