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Born Again?

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again (John 3:7). That pretty much says it all; you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven unless you are born again. But, what does it mean to be born again? By backing up two verses in the same chapter, we find the answer to the question. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Information about the water portion of this verse can be found by following this link to our page explaining Baptism. As for the baptism of the Spirit, we can see that Jesus taught that it was equally important and separate from both water baptism and repentance. In fact being born again of the Spirit is so important that Jesus said we could not enter the kingdom of God without it. Paul reiterated this fact by saying, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). The born again experience is the total culmination of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Spirit In Application

So, how and when does the believer receive the Spirit of God, also known as the Holy Ghost? The gift of the Holy Ghost is a distinct and separate experience from both repentance and baptism. There are several accounts in the Bible about when, where and how people received this gift. The first account is found in Acts Chapter 2. Here is the account in its entirety, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4). Interestingly enough, this is how the church started, right out of the box. Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, and on the Day of Pentecost the endowment fell, and all who received it spoke in tongues. 120 people, to be exact, received this experience, and when everyone around them saw what had taken place they wanted to know how they could receive the same thing. Peter explained that this experience was for everyone, and it is recorded in Acts 2:39, “For the promise is unto you and you children and to all that are afar off.”

Holy Ghost Baptism Accounts

There is debate by some who say that the infilling of the Holy Ghost is not always accompanied by the evidence of other tongues. They use the argument that this miraculous event was merely a way of effectively communicating the message of salvation through Christ. Let’s examine this theory a little closer. First, it is true that there were many Jews present in Jerusalem from many corners of the known world because it was Passover. Note that these men were Jews, some proselytes who no doubt knew the Jewish language, but because they were born in other countries Hebrew was not their first language. We know they understood Hebrew, because when Peter stood up to preach everyone understood what he was saying. We know this because there is no mention of an interpreter.  Secondly, we find that some of those present on that day must have known Hebrew only, because they did not understand the tongues being spoken as the Holy Ghost was being poured out, because they thought the disciples were drunk. Perhaps the most compelling evidence against the “tongues for effective communication theory” is the fact that tongues remained the evidence of Holy Ghost baptism throughout the entire book of Acts, and was a topic of discussion by Paul to the church in his Epistles. You can find these accounts in Acts Chapters 2, 8, 10 and 11, as well as 19. It is interesting to note in Acts 8 that even though tongues is not specifically mentioned, it is implied, because Simon, a magician, offers to pay money for the ability impart this gift to others; no doubt as part of his magical act. He was systematically rebuked by Paul for even suggesting such a foolish and selfish proposition. It is equally important to note that none of the other accounts of Holy Ghost baptism where tongues are mentioned can be identified as an interpretive means of communication.

Do All Speak With Tongues?

Paul asks a very important question to the Corinthians concerning the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12:30, “Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” Within the context of the Scripture, the answer to all of these questions is no, but it should be equally understood that Paul was speaking to the church, who already received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues when they received it. We know this, because this is an Epistle to the Corinthian Church, not to the unbeliever, and Paul was teaching about the gifts of the Spirit, not the gift of the Spirit. There is a difference. In addition, in verse 13 he confirms this as fact by emphasizing that one Spirit, indicating that they all had the Spirit baptism, baptized them all into one body. Some say that the gift of the Spirit is imparted at the time of repentance without evidence and must be taken solely by faith. However, if this were true why did the Ephesian’s need to be re-baptized in order to receive the experience (Acts 19). While a Christian may not speak in tongues in the church for the purpose of interpretation, they all receive the Holy Ghost with this accompaniment. Paul confirms that Speaking in tongues was certainly practiced in the early church, because he proudly proclaims that he spoke in tongues more than most, and thanks God for this blessed prayer language (I Corinthians 14:18). It is important to understand that Paul was teaching the church to follow after love and to use the gifts of the Spirit wisely, not to do away with any particular gift, or to indicate that the Holy Ghost was not evidenced by tongues.

Last Words

Lastly, it is important to know that we do not see accounts of how everyone in the Bible was saved. We know Paul received the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues, but we do not have all the specifics. We know that Peter received the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost, but never once does the Bible mention his baptism in water, nor does it confirm any of the other Apostles’ baptism in water. We know, however, that they were because Peter said it was a part of the plan of salvation. We know that they must have, because Jesus lined up to be baptized of John as an example for all. We know that Paul commanded the Ephesian believers to be rebaptized. Just the same, we know by the example set forth by believers in the Book of Acts that the Holy Ghost is both a separate and necessary part of salvation. Separate from repentance and baptism in Jesus name, and necessary for the believer to be born again. We do not see anywhere in the Bible that says the Holy Ghost was given without evidence, even when Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “receive ye the Holy Ghost,” they did not receive it till they tarried in Jerusalem. I encourage you to fulfill God’s plan in your life by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

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