Scripture: Acts 16:31
Title: You Must Be Born Again!
This sermon focuses on Being Born Again. It explains why we need to be born again and what God has done so that we could be rescued, redeemed and restored into His Image.
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Teaching and preaching about Jesus can get you into a lot of trouble. Enabling people to be free of demonic slavery can get you into a lot of trouble. At least it did for the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas. We find their story in Acts chapter 16. Paul and Silas had traveled to the city of Philippi and were sharing the Gospel of Jesus when all of a sudden things went upside down.
Immediately following an exorcism in which Paul delivered a young slave girl, the two missionaries found themselves being arrested and thrown into prison. The charge against them was that they were teaching customs that at the time the Roman Government had declared as illegal.
Now, of course that was not true. At the time, the Roman Government did not have any stand against people being freed from demonic control. There was nothing on the “books” that stated that a person had to remain under the control of evil.
What had happened was that the man who owned the girl realized that without her demonic gifting his meal ticket was gone. He didn’t care about this young lady at all. All he cared about was that as long as she was controlled by a certain spirit she was able to make him money by telling people their fortunes.
Now, according to him, she was worthless. Paul had removed her special abilities. He falsely accused Paul and Silas and under mob rule the two found themselves beaten, thrown into prison and their feet put into stocks. Now, remember all of this happened because they had dared to preach Jesus and free someone from an evil influence.
However, it is dangerous to mess with God and God’s people. For in the middle of the night the LORD caused a massive earthquake that opened all the prison doors and caused all the prisoners chains to fall off.
In a matter of some 12 hours a demonic woman had been freed, two missionaries had been arrested, beaten and imprisoned and then an earthquake not only opened the doors but opened the chains of all the prisoners. What an amazing 12 hour period of time.
Realizing that everything was a mess and that his life was potentially at stake the prison warden fell at Paul’s feet seeking help. He knew that if any of the prisoners escaped, he would either have to serve out their sentence at the very least or at the very worst he would be killed.
The question he asks the Apostle Paul is a very serious one:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” – verse 16
Saved from the prisoners? Saved from jail? Saved from potential death? Saved from becoming unemployed? Saved from what?
The Apostle Paul doesn’t talk about Roman Law or how to put the jail back into order but in his heart the jailer’s question leads him to a spiritual answer. Paul knows that deep in this jailer’s heart, he is not concerned about his physical life. This man has been touched by the Power, Presence and Person of the Holy Spirit. This man had come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
“What must I do to be saved?”
This morning, that is what I want to talk to you about.
What must I or rather what must we do to be saved?
Being saved is something that we in the Church appear to talk about a great deal but do we really know what we mean?
Why do we need to be saved in the first place and what are we being saved from?
I. We need Salvation because we humans have sinned – Romans 3:9-12; 23
To know why we need salvation we have to share a background story. The story starts off in the book of Genesis.
Genesis tells us that in the beginning the Lord God Almighty created everything and it was good. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was wrong or sinful. Everything was in order. Everything was good and perfect.
Heaven, God’s home was perfect. In heaven lived all kinds of created beings that God had created. Beings like the seraphim, cherubim, the 24 elders and other heavenly beings. It was all perfect and all things were going well.
Then the Bible says that something went horribly wrong. It started with one of God’s angels, named Morning Star or Lucifer. Lucifer became so impressed with his own beauty, intelligence, power, and position that he began to desire for himself the honor and glory that belonged to God alone. Lucifer didn’t want to serve God. He wanted to replace God. In fact, Lucifer wanted to be God.
Lucifer led a rebellion in Heaven. Lucifer’s rebellion did not last long for no angel is a match for God. God immediately cast down Lucifer and all the other beings that no longer wanted to be with God.
Lucifer’s pride represents the actual beginning of sin/rebellion/evil in creation. Lucifer’s sin and subsequent fall of course proceeded the fall of Adam and Eve. If you want to you can read more about all of this in Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28.
Let’s get back to what was happening on earth.
On earth, the Lord had created all kinds of life; birds, animals, fish, trees and plants. Also, on earth God had created human beings. God had created Adam and Eve. He had made them differently than He had made anything else. Adam and Eve were different in that they had been created in the image of God and were given power and authority over all the earth.
That is to say that they were to reflect God’s own glory and honor on earth. They were to live and rule on earth as God lived and ruled in Heaven. They were to be filled with agape love for God, for themselves and for every other part of creation. They were given the authority to create an earth that would reflect God.
Adam and Eve were given free will. They could choose to follow God and learn and grow in God or they could choose to reject the will of God. At the beginning they choose to follow God and learn from Him. The Bible tells us that each day the LORD would come down and together He would walk with them in the Garden of Eden. In time the LORD wanted Adam and Eve to have children and create a world that would reflect God’s glory.
At some point Lucifer, who we call the Devil, tempted Eve to follow His example. He tempted Eve to disobey God under the pretense that if Adam and Eve would disobey God and eat from the Tree of Good and Evil that they would find themselves like God. The Devil told them that by doing this they would no longer be dependent on God but would be totally self-sufficient. It was all a lie.
It is important for us to understand that the Devil had no power over Adam and Eve. He could not make them do anything. He had and has no power over anything holy. He had no power over creation. He was a fallen angel with no power. The only thing he could do was to tempt man and steal his anointed power. When Adam and Eve sinned they in essence gave their authority and power over to evil.
When the Bible says that they (Adam and Eve) came under the power and penalty of sin, death and the grave that’s what this means. Their choice to disobey God had disaster effects. In their disobedience they lost everlasting life, they lost their innocence; they lost their intimate relationship with God, with one another and with all of creation. They lost their dominion over our world and they came under the power and penalty of sin and evil.
Adam and Eve were no longer holy. They were no longer pure. They had fallen. The Spirit of God had departed from them. While their physical bodies and souls did not instantly die, their spirits did. They were dead spiritually. They had no hope for everlasting life.
Furthermore, they could no longer walk and talk with God in the intimate way that they had in the past. They discovered that their flesh was at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). Heaven and everlasting life seemed forever out of their reach.
The Bible tells us that God could no longer allow them to stay in the Garden of Eden. They could no longer be in God’s Perfect Presence. Sin had darkened their minds and their hearts. Sin had caused their bodies to begin to age and decay.
That is what sin does. Sin separates. Sin causes divisions. Sin creates chaos. Sin destroys. Sin steals. Sin murders.
The picture we get of Adam and Eve after their fall is not a pretty or pleasant one. When they chose to sin against God they lost everything good and holy. The world that God had made for them was no longer theirs to control. The fellowship that they had been made to share with God was broken. The fellowship that they were to enjoy with one another and with all of creation was broken.
Listening to the Devil’s lies and obeying his lies had broken, devalued and deformed everything.
The story we read in Genesis chapter three is a horrible one. It is one of a Paradise being lost. It is the story of what happens when humans allow evil and sin to ruin their lives.
Thankfully, that is not the end of the story as we shall see. But what is true is that every one of us today finds ourselves a part of this story. We find ourselves in the same condition as Adam and Eve – “we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. We have inherited a sin nature that the Bible says will keep us away from God and enjoying everlasting life. If we don’t experience a radical spiritual transformation then there is no hope for us. Our only eternal destination is Hell.
It is usually here where some people start having some issues. Some people believe that the Bible is wrong. They believe that the story of Adam and Eve is just a myth or an allegory. It is just another story that tries its best to explain the human condition.
They believe that neither Heaven or Hell exist. They believe that we human beings simply live and die and that is all. They believe that there is no everlasting life and there is no judgment.
Others believe that a person’s sin really doesn’t matter. That if there is a God then that same God will just forgive everyone of everything so it doesn’t matter. They believe that as long as you live an okay life than all will be well. Eat, drink and be merry is their motto.
We need to know that those people are wrong and holding such views makes them foolish in the eyes of God and their opinions and teachings highly dangerous. The Devil is still at work spreading lies and they have believed some of the worst of them.
The truth is this:
+The Bible is the Word of God
+God is Good – He is Always Good
+The Devil is Real – Evil is Real – Evil Lies, Steals, Murders and Destroys
+Adam and Eve were the first people created and they were created in the image of God – pure, innocent and perfect.
+Adam and Eve rebelled against God – they disobeyed God and as a result became broken, fallen creatures who became enslaved to the flesh and sin.
+They lost their innocence, their intimate relationship with God and with one another
+All of creation was affected by their sin and is still being affected by sin
If you stop at Genesis 3:7 then all is lost and there is no hope. There is no hope for humanity and there is no hope for creation. The only future left is one in which the Devil reigns and that future leads to Hell and everlasting damnation.
But thankfully, God already had the plan of salvation in place.
God knew that Adam and Eve would fall. God did not cause the fall nor did God make Adam and Eve fall but God did have a wonderful plan for every human to be rescued, redeemed and restored. Let’s look at that plan.
II. God’s Plan of Salvation
God could have rejected humanity and condemned the human race to everlasting damnation but He didn’t. God set a four step salvation plan in place.
A. God became Man- Jesus Christ of Nazareth
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” - John 1:1-4 (NLT)
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” – John 1:14 (NLT)
This first step is amazing. God literally became man. God became flesh and blood. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He was born in the town of Bethlehem. He was raised in the town of Nazareth and learned the skills of being a stone mason/carpenter.
Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God took on humanity. For 33 ½ years Jesus lived on this earth. He was limited by time and space. He experienced human emotions, human feelings and human sorrow/pain. He experienced temptation and trials. He experienced everything any human being experiences.
“Though Jesus was God, Jesus did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, Jesus gave up His divine privileges; Jesus took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” - Philippians 2:6-7a
Jesus was both Divine and Human. We read His story in the Gospels. Jesus showed us firsthand what it means to be truly human. Jesus lived out the life that Adam and Eve and the rest of humanity was supposed to live out. He lived out a life of being in a perfect relationship with God, with Himself and with all of creation.
If you ever want to understand how Adam and Eve were to enjoy life, one another and the rest of creation then read, study and meditate on the life of Jesus.
This was step one – God becoming Human.
B. Jesus Died on the Cross for Our Sins
“When Jesus appeared in human form, Jesus humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:7b-8
Jesus came to our earth to fulfill a mission. That mission was to rescue mankind, redeem mankind and restore mankind. Jesus came to die for our sins. Jesus came to pay the penalty of sin and break the power of sin. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
John 1:29 tells us this from the mouth of John the Baptist – “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
The Bible is clear that the wages of sin is death. The only way for the penalty of sin to be paid was by death. That death was to be ours. It was to be each man, woman and child ever to be born.
But God came down and died for all of us. In Jesus the penalty of sin was paid (Colossians 2:14-15). Even as the First Adam brought death into the world, Jesus, the Second Adam brought everlasting life. (1 Corinthians 15:56)
"For this is how God loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him." - John 3:16-17
“God is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7)
Jesus dying for our sins was the Second Step of God’s Salvation Plan
C. Jesus Christ rose from the Dead
This 3rd step is not only important but out of this world. This was not a resuscitation. Let me repeat that statement. Jesus rising from the dead was not a resuscitation. This was not someone like Lazarus or the young boy in Elisha’s story that died and came back in the same body and eventually had to die again.
This was something new. This was something that had never happened before. Jesus, the Son of God died. His physical body was put into a tomb. Jesus was completely dead. He was not faking death nor was he in some type of coma. He was dead. Period. He had died on the cross for our sins.
And through the power of God was brought back to life in a completely new body. He walked out of that tomb as the Second Adam. He walked out of that tomb as the first fruit of the Resurrection. I don’t fully understand it I admit. I don’t think any human who is honest does understand it fully.
What I do know is that on the 3rd day Jesus rose again from the dead. His resurrected body was different. He was different. He could do things that he could not do before His death.
The angel at the tomb said it best:
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ - Luke 24:6-7
Jesus had come as a man. He had died on the cross. And He had been raised from the dead.
The Apostle Paul tells us about Jesus’ Resurrection:
“That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Eph. 1:18-21
Today, we know that Jesus is Alive. We know that He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. We know that Jesus has paid the price for our sins and that He has broken the power of sin.
And because of that, we have the fourth step of Salvation:
D. In Christ, we can be rescued, redeemed and restored
Adam and Eve’s sin broke everything. It brought sin, death, hell and the grave to our world. In the flesh it looked like everything was finished.
But in Jesus everything changed. His incarnation, His ministry, His Death and Resurrection changed everything.
Today, in Christ we can be born again through the power and presence of His Holy Spirit. We can be freed from both the penalty and the power of sin. We can transformed and ready to live on the New Heaven and New Earth.
In Jesus we can live a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life. We can live a life that is filled with anointing, blessings and favor. We can live a life that is full of love, joy and peace.
In Jesus we can be Born Again. Our spirits which once were dead can come alive. We can live a whole new existence. We can live an existence that allows us to live above the penalty and power of sin.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
This morning, each and every one us needs to be rescued and redeemed. We have all sinned and every one of us has fallen short of the glory of God. We are all under the power and penalty of sin and sin leads to death, physical and spiritual. Without the LORD we have no future and no hope.
But with Jesus we can have hope and a bright future. With Jesus we can experience a New Birth. With Jesus we can be redeemed and restored into the image of God. With Jesus and through the Person, Power and Presence of His Holy Spirit our whole existence can be transformed.
This morning, have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins?
Have you been Born Again?
Have you allowed His Holy Spirit to come into your life?
If you haven’t, you can pray a simple prayer like this one:
Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. I turn to you and open up my heart, my mind and my soul to you. I ask you to remove my sin and come into my heart. I ask for the infilling presence of Your Holy Spirit. I make you My Savior and Lord. Thank-you Jesus for saving me and now Lord I will commit my life to You.