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How to become a child of God
- Jacob Ninan
There are many people who come to Jesus, not because they love Him, but because they don't want to go to hell, they want to be healed, get His blessings, etc. God in His great love accepts them at that level (Jn.6:37), but there is a lot more to be done in their life before they get born again and receive acceptance as God's children. But many people who come sincerely to Jesus still do not have a proper experience of being born again and becoming a child of God because they were not told the right way by whoever told them about Jesus. The sad thing is that such people are constantly frustrated because they don't experience what God promises His children.
The process of being born again is a work of the Holy Spirit which goes along with the proper responses from man. When we say salvation is a gift of grace from God and not of works (Ep.2:8), what it simply means is that there is nothing we can do to earn our acceptance before God. But it does not mean that there is nothing we need to do to receive this gift.
The first thing that the Holy Spirit does is to bring us a conviction of our sins. We become aware of our sinfulness, and especially of certain specific sins that trouble our conscience. Then we see the need of salvation. If we do not hear at this time the good news about what Jesus has done to give us this salvation, we may try and try to stop sinning and save ourselves till we come to realise that we just can't manage that. If we hear the gospel that Jesus has taken the punishment in our place we are glad to turn away from our sins and place our faith in Him as our Saviour. This is repentance along with faith in Jesus. On the other hand, those who become weary of trying to save themselves are glad to hear personally that Jesus has come to give us salvation freely (Mt.11:28). We hate ourselves for our sins, turn away from them in our heart and turn to Jesus as our Saviour.
It is when we have repented from our sins and placed our faith in Jesus for salvation that God forgives us our sins (washes us with the blood of Jesus - Is.1:18;1Pe.1:18,19), and causes us to be born again (1Pe.1:23). He gives us a new nature and a new spirit (Ez.36:26,27). At this point we are born again. But then we need to grow. Those who stay stuck in this stage miss many blessings and plans God has for them.
Getting baptised in water after we are born again is the way we testify openly about what God has done for us (the death of the old man and the resurrection into the new life - Ro.6:4,6) and our desire to live blamelessly before Him (1Pe.3:21).
Jesus wants to fill us with power and zeal by baptising us in the Holy Spirit (Mt.3:11). This is what helps us to be His witnesses (Ac.1:8), and grants us spiritual gifts to serve God and others with (1Co.12:4,7).
It's not about escaping from hell and going to heaven. It's about getting into a relationship with God as our Father and living a life that glorifies Him.