Oh Hear our Voices, Oh Lord we give You thanks
ERE ON EARTH, the Church is called as the house of God and is being introduced as God’s kingdom (I Tim. 3:15). Since the Church is a kingdom, it is necessary that a man enters it and be a part of it, according to the Bible. In St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians in chapter 1, verses 9 and 2, it says–
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And then in verse 2:
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
In these verses, God wants and commands the people to enter His kingdom. However, the hypocrites, scribes and Pharisees did not only refuse to enter in His kingdom; they also prevented others from entering it. In Matthew 23:13, this is what is written–
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
Do you know that there are means by which a man could enter the kingdom of God? We can find it in John 3:3-5. These verses are fondly used by the members of the so-called “Born Again” Christian groups, who claim that church and religion are no longer needed. In these verses, we it reads–
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
It is very important for a person to enter the kingdom of God. But before one can enter this kingdom, a person must be born again. Apparently, these so-called “Born Again” groups derived its name from these verses. We deemed this as a very obvious misunderstanding of the context of the Bible. Being “born again” is not a name but a condition and a state of being that must be attained before a person can enter the kingdom of God.
To attain salvation, a person should first enter the kingdom of God. It is also for this reason why no person could claim that the Church is no longer needed because this would, in effect mean that the kingdom of God is no longer needed! But, how will it be possible for a person to be born again? He must be born of water and of the spirit! On the other hand, what does being “born of water and of the Spirit” mean? In Titus 3:5, this is what is written–
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
In other words, being “born again” refers to the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, let us find out how the Bible interprets the “washing of regeneration,” which in turn, corresponds to being “born again.” In Acts 22:16, it said:
“And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
According to the Bible, the “washing” refers to “baptism.” Therefore, being “born again” commences with being born of water and of the spirit. And biblically speaking, it refers to baptism. Man must be immersed in water; and having imbibed the words and teachings of God, he will be cleansed from his sins.
Today, those who claim that they are “born again,” do not even perform baptism. They do not baptize their members. These deceivers are all in a hurry to collect tithes from their members. For them, all you have to do is raise your hand. Or, sometimes, you may just need a contact point where you can lay your hands on a radio or television set. You will be asked to accept Christ, and presto, you are already “born again.” That is a blatant deception of many shameless preachers in our time.
And why are we saying that these preachers are bold and shameless? It is because the Bible itself confirms that, there are, indeed, shameless people. Ecclesiastes 8:1 says–
“Who is as the wise man? And who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.”
If a person knows the art of acting, the Bible said: “the boldness of his face shall be changed.” Undeniably, there are preachers who are really bold and shameless, and they propagate teachings that do not conform to what the Bible teaches.
Being “born again” is not attained by simply raising one’s hands. To be born again, you have to undergo a process that is prescribed by the Bible—that you must be born of water and of Spirit through baptism. The agent used in baptism for the cleansing of sins, is WATER, coupled with the power of God, and the SPIRIT which refers to the word of God.
To prove that these things are the ones being referred to, let us find out what Ephesians 5:26-27 says–
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Water plus the Word! Those who misinterpreted these verses said that, water is also the word. That is wrong! The water refers to the literal water, accompanied by the Word—water and Spirit, inasmuch as the Word is the Spirit! And we will be able to prove this in John 6:63, which says–
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
That is why, what St. Paul said was right, “cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Therefore, being born again is a state, or condition, in life. It applies to people who have received baptism. “Born again” is not a name! The correct manner of addressing this person is by calling him a CHRISTIAN. A Christian is a person who has undergone the process that Christ, Himself, taught. And that is being born again of water and of spirit. This is the same reason why, joining together the words “born again” and “Christian” is a gross ignorance of the Bible. Why? If a person is considered a Christian, it is understood that he had been born again. And when we say that a person is born again, it is understood that he is a Christian.
Now, why are we discussing this matter? Because there is an intention why one should be born again, or go thru baptism. It is done so that one can enter the kingdom of heaven. John 3:5 says–
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
What is the kingdom of God that is entered by those who had been born of water and of spirit? Earlier, we mentioned that the kingdom of God on earth is the Church. And to prove that there is really a kingdom of God right here on earth, let us read Matthew 6:9-10, which reads:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Actually, this is a very popular prayer and song among our fellows. According to the prayer that was taught by our Lord Jesus Christ: “Thy kingdom come;” and when His kingdom comes, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Our Lord commanded the Apostles to pray in that manner. But the question now is: has this prayer been realized? Had the kingdom of God come? You see, until now, many people still recite this prayer as if the kingdom of God has not yet come. Let us find out from the Bible if God already answered this prayer. This is what Matthew 6:33 says–
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
In other words, the kingdom of God is already here on earth because God is commanding us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. God will never command us to seek for these if we are not going to find any, here on earth. In the first place, God made a promise to those who will search for these. Matthew 7:7-8 says–
“Ask, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Therefore, when God said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” He, at the same time, gave a guarantee that it will be found by whoever seeks for it. But where can it be found? The assurance that the Bible gave is that, it can be found here on earth. This is the reason why we can be sure that there is a kingdom here on earth. Now, let us find out which is being referred to as the kingdom of God, which should be entered? Let us read what Colossians 3:15 says–
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
The body that Christ heads is the Church. Ephesians 1:21-22 gives us the confirmation–
“For above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”
Where is Christ ruling over? It is in the CHURCH, and not in what they call as “ministries,” or “international crusade!” The Church is the kingdom of God here on earth, and it is where people are enjoined to get in. That is why it is a big lie to claim that it is no longer important because the Church which was built in the first century is the realization of the prayer that Jesus Christ taught the Apostles. What is saddening is that, they have replaced that church with what they call “fellowships,” “ministries,” and “crusades.” They do not want to join the Church, and they also hinder others who want to get inside. The proof that the Church has an inner part is written in Matthew 25:30, which says:
“And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It is outside the Church that the unprofitable servants are thrown. But, who are these unprofitable servants? I Corinthians 5:12-13 says:
“For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge that that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
The unprofitable slaves refer to the wicked persons, and their destination is the darkness outside the Church. Here, we have proven that there is an outer and an inner portion of the church. If we want to be saved, we have to get inside the Church, because the Church is the kingdom wherein God reigns. And for us to get inside the Church, we have to be baptized, or be born of water and spirit.