What Is the New Birth?
by Lary R. Hale
Today I feel to address what may be the biggest issue facing God’s people in this time. What really does constitute the new birth experience, and who really is in the body of Christ and the kingdom of God? To answer this most accurately we should look at how it happens in action. First however I would like to point out just two scriptures that seal the deal on the new birth and remission of sins, which is one and the same. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11). And the other: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). So it is without refute according to the scriptures that receiving God’s Spirit is the new birth and remission of sins. Now let’s look at a Bible example of HOW people were born again. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:5). So Philip the evangelist went to the Samaritans and preached Christ to them, and according to the next eight verses the Samaritans believed Philip’s preaching and experienced miraculous things as a result (Acts 8:6-13). The scripture says that they were delivered from demons, healed of incurable diseases and lameness, delivered from sorcery, and that they had “great joy” because of these things. Well, I can surely see why they had great joy. They had good reason to have joy. And remember, the Samaritans experienced all of these things through their faith in Jesus by means of Philip’s preaching. And that makes what comes next very, very interesting and vital to the faith of any believer today. The next three verses in this account plainly say that the apostles Peter and John were called for from Jerusalem, to come and pray for these people to RECEIVE the holy Ghost, because they had NOT YET received the Spirit (Acts 8:14-16). Now here are two huge points that are made by this fact: First of all, after having all of these miraculous experiences along with the great joy that followed, how could anyone say that the Samaritan’s had NOT received the holy Ghost? Remember that note, but also it is clearly evident that these people were not yet born again, even though they HAD experienced all of these things by faith in Jesus. We have seen by our two text scriptures that receiving the Spirit is the new birth and remission of sins, and also that the Samaritans had NOT YET received the holy Ghost. Almost every minister or any other believer today would have declared these people born again, and by the traditional “new birth” doctrines today, they would have been. But not so in the Bible, or in the reality of what God calls the new birth. But when Peter and John came, this is what ensued: “Then laid they their hands on them, and they RECEIVED the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17).
Okay, remember what I mentioned about how could anyone say that the Samaritan’s did not already have the Spirit? Well, let’s go back to that now and look at it this way: Who could say that after the apostles prayed for these people, that they now DID have the holy Ghost? The way that they could say that they received the Spirit after Peter and John laid hands on them, was the same exact way that it was known that they DID NOT have the Spirit before that. God provided a supernatural sign to accompany the new birth, and everyone among the early believers knew that, and they also knew what that sign was and is. But when the apostles prayed for them and they received the Spirit, the local sorcerer, whom the scripture had already shown to be intrigued with the miracles wrought by Philip; offered money for the gift of laying HIS hands on people, and seeing the same result that he saw on the SAmaritans. Now understand that this sorcerer had already seen demons visibly cast out of people who were possessed, and he had already seen miraculous diving healing of incurable diseases, and he had seen the lame be made to walk by the power of God. He even saw the people delivered from the power of his sorcery. And at no time did he offer Philip money for those particular manifestations of the Spirit. So what he saw happen to the Samaritans upon being prayed for by Peter and John, was surely beyond and separate from those operations of the Spirit. What he saw and heard was the people being moved by the power of God, and speak with tongues that were foreign to them. That is what happened to everyone who first received the Spirit at Pentecost, and that sign was present with everyone who received the Spirit thereafter. And that is exactly why Luke did not feel it necessary to stipulate that the Samaritans spoke in tongues when the apostles prayed for them. He knew that everyone would readily know that by him saying that they received the holy Ghost. These people did NOT “get saved” before they were baptized with the Spirit, and they did not “confess Jesus,” or “accept him as their personal savior.” Those things were not there, and neither are they in the Bible. Man has added these false “new births” and in the process has perverted the the true new birth to the untold harm of many. The Samaritan’s faith and experiences before receiving the Spirit were real, but that faith had to come to the place for them to be baptized with the holy Ghost before they could be born again and have their sins taken away. Now God is not “the author of confusion” my friend, and according to the Bible he never changes (I Cor. 14:33; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; Jas. 1:17). Neither has his established new birth experience changed, only man has changed it to suit his own purposes. Nevertheless the truth remains that nobody is born again until they are baptized with the Spirit with the accompanying sign of speaking in tongues. And that in effect would begin to change everything in the body of Christ today for the better, if this truth can be embraced by God’s people. Amen.
Original Post at By One Spirit Ministries Facebook page July 29, 2012