Note:   It   is   recommended   to   first   read   “3   Types   of   Death   1   Source   of   Life”   (on   UniqueBibleStudies.com)   before   reading this   Bible   study.      “3   Types   of   Death   1   Source   of   Life”   provides   a   “broader   foundation”   for   understanding   spiritual   death and why we need to be born again. The   purpose   of   this   writing   is   to   explain   why   we   cannot   earn   our   way   to   Heaven;   expand   biblical   understanding   of   what it means to be born again, facilitate self-evaluation, and to enhance spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. So, to begin, let’s start with some thought-provoking questions: If someone asked you if you are a Christian…how would you respond?  Think about what you would say. Now   take   a   moment   and   think   about   the   type   of   responses   you’d   get   if   you   randomly   ask   a   number   of   persons   if they   are   a   Christian.      For   those   who   respond   yes,   if   you   ask   them   how   do   they   know   they   are   a   Christian   you   will likely hear different answers such as: 1 . “I was born as a Christian because my family is Christian.” 2 . “I was baptized as an infant.” 3 . “I treat everyone fairly and with respect.” 4 . “I try to follow the 10 Commandments.” 5 . “I attend a church; I’ve read the Bible and I pray.” 6 . “I consider myself a good person.” 7 . “I trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and I strive to follow Him in every area of life.” Based   upon   the   above   responses,   take   a   moment   and   consider   the   perception   of   each   person   and   ask   yourself   the following question: Does this person perceive they are a Christian based upon: Birthright? Works (participating in religious rituals, external behavior or good deeds)? Believing, trusting and following Jesus Christ? Which response do you think more accurately reflects Christianity?  Why? Unfortunately,   the   first   6   responses   represent   the   perception   of   a   large   percentage   of   those   who   say   they   are   Christian.     What’s   more,   the   7th   response   is   radically   different   from   the   first   6.      The   reason   the   last   answer   is   completely   different from   the   others   is   because   of   a   spiritual   and   transformational   event   that   has   occurred   in   the   person’s   life—an   event referred to by Jesus Christ as being born again. Being   a   Christian   is   not   a   birthright;   not   based   upon   religious   rituals;   not   based   upon   our   words;   and   is   not   based   upon good behavior.  It is based upon the heart of each believer, being born again and the work of the Holy Spirt. When   Jesus   met   with   Nicodemus   (a   religious   ruler   of   the   Jews)   Jesus   informed   him   we   must   be   born   again   to   see   the kingdom   of   God.      “Jesus   answered   and   said   to   him,   ‘Most   assuredly,   I   say   to   you,   unless   one   is   born   again,   he   cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ”  John 3:3   Nicodemus   did   not   understand   “born   again”   because   his   perception   (like   many   of   us)   was   within   the   physical   realm.     “Nicodemus   said   to   Him,   ‘How   can   a   man   be   born   when   he   is   old?      Can   he   enter   a   second   time   into   his   mother’s   womb and be born?’ ”  John 3:4 Although   Jesus   lived   in   the   physical   realm,   He   continually   spoke   from   a   spiritual   perspective.      His   miracles,   teachings, parables   and   the   Bible   are   intended   to   enlighten   our   understanding   of   spiritual   realities   and   heavenly   truths.      Being born   again   is   a   spiritual   rebirth—facilitated   by   the   Holy   Spirit—which   transforms   the   heart   and   soul   as   one   yields his/her life to their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. “Jesus   answered,   ‘Most   assuredly,   I   say   to   you,   unless   one   is   born   of   water   and   the   Spirit,   he   cannot   enter   the   kingdom of   God.     That   which   is   born   of   the   flesh   is   flesh,   and   that   which   is   born   of   the   Spirit   is   spirit.      Do   not   marvel   that   I   said   to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ”  John 3:5-7 Ephesians   2:1-10   reveals   the   spiritual   transformation   that   occurs   when   one   is   born   again.      Versus   1-3   expose   the spiritual death that is associated with sin.  Versus 4-10 reveal the new eternal life after being born again. “And   you   He   made   alive,   who   were   dead   in   trespasses   and   sins,   in   which   you   once   walked   according   to   the   course   of this   world,   according   to   the   prince   of   the   power   of   the   air,   the   spirit   who   now   works   in   the   sons   of   disobedience,   among whom   also   we   all   once   conducted   ourselves   in   the   lusts   of   our   flesh,   fulfilling   the   desires   of   the   flesh   and   of   the   mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”  Ephesians 2:1-3 “But   God,   who   is   rich   in   mercy,   because   of   His   great   love   with   which   He   loved   us,   even   when   we   were   dead   in trespasses,   made   us   alive   together   with   Christ   (by   grace   you   have   been   saved),   and   raised   us   up   together,   and   made us   sit   together   in   the   heavenly   places   in   Christ   Jesus,   that   in   the   ages   to   come   He   might   show   the   exceeding   riches   of His   grace   in   His   kindness   toward   us   in   Christ   Jesus.      For   by   grace   you   have   been   saved   through   faith,   and   that   not   of yourselves;   it   is   the   gift   of   God,   not   of   works,   lest   anyone   should   boast.      For   we   are   His   workmanship,   created   in   Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:4-10 Spiritual Death to Spiritual Life Being   born   again   is   comprised   of   a   transition   from   being   spiritually   dead—to   being   spiritually   alive—as   we   begin   a   new life   living   in   the   unmerited   grace   and   forgiveness   God   gave   us   in   His   Son,   Jesus   Christ.      God’s   forgiveness   for   our   sins (past, present and future) is His spiritual means to crucify our sinful nature, and change our heart and soul. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  Ephesians 2:1 “And   you,   being   dead   in   your   trespasses   and   the   uncircumcision   of   your   flesh,   He   has   made   alive   together   with   Him, having   forgiven   you   all   trespasses,   having   wiped   out   the   handwriting   of   requirements   that   was   against   us,   which   was contrary   to   us.      And   He   has   taken   it   out   of   the   way,   having   nailed   it   to   the   cross.      Having   disarmed   principalities   and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  Colossians 2:13-15 This   table   provides   a   comparison   between   the   characteristics   of   one   who   is   spiritually   dead,   and   the   Holy   Spirit transformed attributes of one who is born again. It   is   very   important   to   note   here   that   no   one   is   perfect—including   those   who   are   born   again.      “For   all   have   sinned   and fall   short   of   the   glory   of   God.”   (Romans   3:23)       In   addition,   all   born-again   Christians   are   at   various   stages   of   spiritual growth   and   maturity   as   they   transition   from   the   left   side   of   the   table   to   the   right   side.      However,   one   key   evidence   that differentiates   a   born-again   Christian   (from   one   who   is   spiritually   dead)   is   found   in   how   a   born-again   Christian   will respond   when   they   sin.      Their   response   is   driven   by   the   desire   and   attitude   of   their   heart,   and   a   continually   growing love for God—which is demonstrated by: Regret and sorrow for their sin because they know it displeases God.  A confession to God of what was done and asking Him for forgiveness. Repentance (will turn away from the sin). God’s   work   in   each   born-again   life   will   not   be   finished   until   we   leave   our   bodies   (which   have   a   sinful   nature),   and   are with   Him   on   the   other   side.      Meanwhile,   it’s   about   doing   our   best   and   trusting   God   to   complete   what   He   began.      But what is even more important: God is more interested in our heart, than He is with what we do, or fail to do.  For   example,   King   David   was   referred   to   by   God   as   a   man   after   His   own   heart   (1   Samuel   13:14).      What’s   more,   God made   a   covenant   with   King   David   that   his   throne   would   last   forever   (2   Samuel   7:16).      However,   as   his   power,   wealth and   kingdom   grew,   King   David   committed   what   many   would   consider   atrocious   and   unforgivable   sins:   adultery   with Bathsheba and killed Bathsheba’s husband to hide his sin (2 Samuel 11). Most   persons   would   find   it   difficult   to   forgive   someone   for   this   type   of   behavior.      However,   “For   the   Lord   does   not   see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 David   realized   what   he   had   done,   confessed   and   repented   of   his   sin,   and   God   forgave   him   (2   Samuel   12).      God   is merciful and is “Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 Born Again = Internal Transformation Those   who   are   born   again   can   testify   to   the   transformation   that   occurs   within   the   heart,   soul   and   spirit…and   to   the absolute truth of the scriptures below. “But   the   natural   man   does   not   receive   the   things   of   the   Spirit   of   God,   for   they   are   foolishness   to   him;   nor   can   he   know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 “For   we   ourselves   were   also   once   foolish,   disobedient,   deceived,   serving   various   lusts   and   pleasures,   living   in   malice and   envy,   hateful   and   hating   one   another.      But   when   the   kindness   and   the   love   of   God   our   Savior   toward   man appeared,   not   by   works   of   righteousness   which   we   have   done,   but   according   to   His   mercy   He   saved   us,   through   the washing   of   regeneration   and   renewing   of   the   Holy   Spirit,   whom   He   poured   out   on   us   abundantly   through   Jesus   Christ our   Savior,   that   having   been   justified   by   His   grace   we   should   become   heirs   according   to   the   hope   of   eternal   life.”      Titus 3:3-7 Born-again Christianity is more than just saying “I’m a Christian.”  Being born again encompasses: Faith in God. A belief that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for your sins. A decision to follow Jesus. Yielding to the Holy Spirit. Turning away from sin. Transformation from within. Are You Born Again? If you are born again, you are a living testament of God’s word and His promises. If you are not born again, consider the following questions: 1 . Do you desire more in your life? 2 . Do you have a “void” deep within your being…and have realized nothing you have tried can fill it? 3 . Is the present path you are living going in the wrong direction? If   you   answer   yes   to   one   or   more   of   the   above   questions…then   make   a   decision   to   give   your   faith,   trust   and   life   to Jesus Christ—as your Savior and Lord—who offered His life as a means for the forgiveness of your sins. Here are some interesting points to consider: 1 . You cannot earn salvation and eternal life by being “good enough.” 2 . Obtaining salvation and eternal life is not based upon what we can do—but upon what Jesus did for us. 3 . Jesus said “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6 Salvation   and   eternal   life   are   a   free   gift—fully   paid   for   by   the   life   and   blood   of   Jesus   Christ   when   He   died   on   the   cross.     There   is   nothing   else   you   can   add…other   than   to   thank   Him   for   what   He   has   done,   give   Him   praise   and   glorify Him…for   He   alone   is   worthy.      Take   a   moment   and   think   about   how   it   will   be   when   we   are   on   the   other   side   and   we   are able to spiritually worship Him—with humble and thankful hearts—as we lift our praises to our Savior and Lord. To reinforce this truth, consider the differences if it was possible to earn entry into Heaven based upon our behavior. If it was possible to earn entry into Heaven…would it negate (void) the crucified death of God’s Son, Jesus? When the person who met the required “standards of behavior” enters into Heaven: o Would they think they are there because of what they did, or because what Jesus Christ did for them? o Who would they think should receive recognition for what was done? o Would there be a sense of entitlement?  “I have the right to be here because I met the required behavior.” “Here’s my list of good deeds…and I want what’s coming to me!” “Wait…I know I was better than this other guy.  Why did he get more rewards than me?” o Can   you   envision   those   who   earned   their   way   to   Heaven   proudly   walking   around   with   their   “badges   of honor”?  (As opposed to those who are saved by grace will lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus.) “For   by   grace   you   have   been   saved   through   faith,   and   that   not   of   yourselves;   it   is   the   gift   of   God,   not   of   works,   lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)  The above scenario and Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals: Why “No flesh should glory in His presence.”  1 Corinthians 1:29 Why we are saved by faith and God’s grace…and not works (which facilitates pride and hardens the heart). There is nothing we can add to what Jesus has already done. The   importance   of   knowing   there   is   only   one   thing   we   can   do   to   receive   eternal   life:   we   must   put   our   complete faith upon what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12 Every   heart   and   soul   who   enters   into   Heaven   will   humbly   and   thankfully   know   they   do   not   deserve   to   be   where they   are…and   they   will   know   they   are   there   because   of   what   Jesus   Christ   did   for   them   on   the   cross…and   they will   know   they   are   eternally   forgiven   for   everything   they   had   done…and   the   love   for   Him   who   saved   them   from eternal   death   will   be   overwhelming…and   they   will   all   weep   in   joyful   praise   as   they   worship   their   Savior   and Lord. Jesus   said   “If   anyone   desires   to   come   after   Me,   let   him   deny   himself,   and   take   up   his   cross,   and   follow   Me.      For whoever   desires   to   save   his   life   will   lose   it,   but   whoever   loses   his   life   for   My   sake   will   find   it.      For   what   profit   is   it   to   a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”  Matthew 16:24-26 Take   a   good   hard   look   at   what’s   going   on   in   the   world   today.      It   will   only   get   worse   as   we   approach   the   last   days.      As such,   now   is   the   time   to   let   go   of   those   things   that   are   standing   between   you   and   God.      Now   is   the   time   to   open   your heart   and   step   forward   in   faith.      Now   is   the   time   to   believe   God   crucified   His   Son,   Jesus   Christ,   as   a   punishment   for   our sins…so that we can be forgiven…and to restore our relationship with the Father. Jesus   said   “For   God   so   loved   the   world   that   He   gave   His   only   begotten   Son,   that   whoever   believes   in   Him   should   not perish   but   have   everlasting   life.      For   God   did   not   send   His   Son   into   the   world   to   condemn   the   world,   but   that   the   world through Him might be saved.”  John  3:16-17 Heavenly   Father,   thank   You   for   loving   us   beyond   anything   we   can   imagine.      Jesus,   my   Savior   and   Lord,   thank   you   for dying   for   our   sins.      Holy   Spirit,   I   ask   that   you   speak   to   the   heart   of   the   person   who   is   reading   these   words…open   the eyes to truth…and save his/her soul from eternal death.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray.  Amen. If   you   are   ready   to   accept   Jesus   Christ   as   your   Savior   and   Lord…all   you   need   to   do   is   pray…from   your   heart.      It’s about   you,   and   God,   and   your   relationship   with   Him.      The   following   prayer   is   an   example,   but   you   may   use   whatever words you are comfortable with.  Plus, pray as if you are speaking to Him…because you are! Holy   God,   I   am   a   sinner.      Jesus,   I   believe   you   died   and   paid   the   price   for   who   I   am   and   what   I   have   done.      I   want   to trust   and   follow   you   as   my   Savior   and   Lord.      Holy   Spirit,   I   invite   you   to   come   into   my   heart   and   life   and   change   me   from within.  Thank you, Jesus, for providing a way to restore my relationship with God.  Amen. Your   next   step   is   to   begin   reading   the   Bible.     A   born-again   Christian   will   read   the   Bible   from   a   completely   different   light as   the   Holy   Spirit   reveals   God’s   truth   from   a   spiritual   perspective.      It   is   also   very   important   to   find   a   church   and   interact with fellow believers who are foundationally focused on God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  I often use Bible Gateway to read and research the Bible: https://www.biblegateway.com/ Bible   Gateway   has   different   versions   and   in   different   languages.      My   personal   preference   (in   English)   is   the   New   King James Version. My   favorite   Bible   teacher   is   Chuck   Smith.      Chuck   left   his   physical   body   to   be   with   the   Lord   in   2013.      Fortunately   his Bible   teachings   from   Genesis   to   Revelation   (word-by-word,   verse-by-verse)   were   recorded   and   may   be   heard   on   the following website: https://subsplash.com/twft/media/li/+fjbz8vs I   suggest   starting   with   the   study   of   1   John.      You   will   likely   need   to   download   the   sound   file   for   each   teaching.      I   will often   display   the   corresponding   scripture   from   Bible   Gateway   on   the   screen   as   I   listen   to   Chuck   Smith   teach.      Here   is the link to 1 John:  https://subsplash.com/twft/media/li/+sg5mrzq May God bless you with His joy, His peace and His wisdom as He transforms you from spiritual death into life eternal. Harold D. Thomas
Thought-Provoking Questions The   purpose   of   the   questions   below   is   to   facilitate   a   deeper   understanding   of   the   Bible,   this   Bible   study   content,   and ourselves.      The   questions   may   be   answered   by   each   reader;   or   used   by   a   Bible   study   group   leader   or   church   pastor.     The following questions should be answered or discussed after reading “Managing Anxiety During the Pandemic.” There   are   two   types   of   questions:   lesson   and   opinion.      Lesson   questions   (preceded   by   a   number)   are   provided   an answer.      Opinion   questions   (preceded   by   an   “O”)   are   designed   to   enhance   learning   via   the   determination   of   opinions and/or discovering how the lesson content illuminates our personal lives.  As such, no answers are provided Questions (Do your best to respond to each lesson question before looking at the answer.) 1.   Is it possible for someone to earn their way into Heaven simply because they are a good person?  Explain. 2.   Ephesians 2:4-10 references God’s grace and mercy.  What is the difference between grace and mercy? O   Jesus said we must be born again.  Why? 3.   Can you identify at least three comparative characteristics between a person who is not born again and one who is born again? 4.   How does a born-again Christian “feel” on the inside after they sin?  Explain. a. Do these feelings and response to sin indicate/reflect changes made by the Holy Spirit (on the inside)? b. Why do born-again Christians respond to their sin in this way? 5.   What must one do to become born again? O   Are you born again? O   Thought-provoking question that enhances spiritual insight: Why would God design salvation and entrance into Heaven based upon our faith and His grace…and not based upon “good” behavior? Answers 1.      It   is   not   possible   to   earn   our   way   into   Heaven   by   being   a   good   person.      “For   all   have   sinned   and   fall   short   of   the glory   of   God.”   Romans   3:23   “For   by   grace   you   have   been   saved   through   faith,   and   that   not   of   yourselves;   it   is   the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9  2.  Grace is an unmerited (undeserved) gift.  Mercy is not receiving the punishment we deserve. 3.  See comparative table. 4.  They will feel guilt, regret and sorrow; and will feel “disconnected” from God.  a.   Yes, our negative feelings when we sin is part of our new nature and spirit given by the Holy Spirit. b.      This   negative   experience   is   God’s   way   of   spiritually   chastising   us   when   we   sin.      “My   son,   do   not   despise   the chastening   of   the   Lord,   nor   be   discouraged   when   you   are   rebuked   by   Him;   For   whom   the   Lord   loves   He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”  Hebrews 12:5-6 5.      Prayerfully   give   your   faith,   trust   and   life   to   Jesus   Christ—Savior   and   Lord—who   offered   His   life   as   an   atonement   for our sins—and provide a means to restore a relationship with God. The questions may be viewed and downloaded as a PDF file by clicking on this button.
Note:   It   is   recommended   to   first   read   “3   Types   of   Death   1 Source     of     Life”     (on     UniqueBibleStudies.com)     before reading   this   Bible   study.      “3   Types   of   Death   1   Source   of Life”    provides    a    “broader    foundation”    for    understanding spiritual death and why we need to be born again. The   purpose   of   this   writing   is   to   explain   why   we   cannot earn   our   way   to   Heaven;   expand   biblical   understanding   of what   it   means   to   be   born   again,   facilitate   self-evaluation, and to enhance spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. So,    to    begin,    let’s    start    with    some    thought-provoking questions: If   someone   asked   you   if   you   are   a   Christian…how would   you   respond?      Think   about   what   you   would say. Now    take    a    moment    and    think    about    the    type    of responses   you’d   get   if   you   randomly   ask   a   number   of persons    if    they    are    a    Christian.        For    those    who respond   yes,   if   you   ask   them   how   do   they   know   they are   a   Christian   you   will   likely   hear   different   answers such as: 1 . “I’m Christian because my family is Christian.” 2 . “I was baptized as an infant.” 3 . “I treat everyone fairly and with respect.” 4 . “I try to follow the 10 Commandments.” 5 . “I attend a church; I’ve read the Bible and I pray.” 6 . “I consider myself a good person.” 7 . “I   trust   in   Jesus   Christ   as   my   Savior   and   Lord   and   I strive to follow Him in every area of life.” Based   upon   the   above   responses,   take   a   moment   and consider   the   perception   of   each   person   and   ask   yourself the   following   question:   Does   this   person   perceive   they   are a Christian based upon: Birthright? Works     (participating     in     religious     rituals,     external behavior or good deeds)? Believing, trusting and following Jesus Christ? Which    response    do    you    think    more    accurately    reflects Christianity?  Why? Unfortunately,     the     first     6     responses     represent     the perception   of   a   large   percentage   of   those   who   say   they are   Christian.      What’s   more,   the   7th   response   is   radically different   from   the   first   6.      The   reason   the   last   answer   is completely    different    from    the    others    is    because    of    a spiritual   and   transformational   event   that   has   occurred   in the   person’s   life—an   event   referred   to   by   Jesus   Christ   as being born again. Being    a    Christian    is    not    a    birthright;    not    based    upon religious   rituals;   not   based   upon   our   words;   and   is   not based   upon   good   behavior.      It   is   based   upon   the   heart   of each   believer,   being   born   again   and   the   work   of   the   Holy Spirt. When   Jesus   met   with   Nicodemus   (a   religious   ruler   of   the Jews)   Jesus   informed   him   we   must   be   born   again   to   see the   kingdom   of   God.      “Jesus   answered   and   said   to   him, ‘Most   assuredly,   I   say   to   you,   unless   one   is   born   again,   he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ”  John 3:3   Nicodemus   did   not   understand   “born   again”   because   his perception   (like   many   of   us)   was   within   the   physical   realm.     “Nicodemus   said   to   Him,   ‘How   can   a   man   be   born   when he   is   old?      Can   he   enter   a   second   time   into   his   mother’s womb and be born?’ ”  John 3:4 Although   Jesus   lived   in   the   physical   realm,   He   continually spoke     from     a     spiritual     perspective.          His     miracles, teachings,     parables     and     the     Bible     are     intended     to enlighten    our    understanding    of    spiritual    realities    and heavenly     truths.          Being     born     again     is     a     spiritual rebirth—facilitated    by    the    Holy    Spirit—which    transforms the   heart   and   soul   as   one   yields   his/her   life   to   their   Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. “Jesus   answered,   ‘Most   assuredly,   I   say   to   you,   unless one   is   born   of   water   and   the   Spirit,   he   cannot   enter   the kingdom   of   God.      That   which   is   born   of   the   flesh   is   flesh, and   that   which   is   born   of   the   Spirit   is   spirit.      Do   not   marvel that   I   said   to   you,   ‘You   must   be   born   again.’   ”      John   3:5-7 Ephesians   2:1-10   reveals   the   spiritual   transformation   that occurs   when   one   is   born   again.      Versus   1-3   expose   the spiritual   death   that   is   associated   with   sin.      Versus   4-10 reveal the new eternal life after being born again. “And   you   He   made   alive,   who   were   dead   in   trespasses and    sins,    in    which    you    once    walked    according    to    the course   of   this   world,   according   to   the   prince   of   the   power of    the    air,    the    spirit    who    now    works    in    the    sons    of disobedience,   among   whom   also   we   all   once   conducted ourselves   in   the   lusts   of   our   flesh,   fulfilling   the   desires   of the   flesh   and   of   the   mind,   and   were   by   nature   children   of wrath, just as the others.”  Ephesians 2:1-3 “But   God,   who   is   rich   in   mercy,   because   of   His   great   love with    which    He    loved    us,    even    when    we    were    dead    in trespasses,   made   us   alive   together   with   Christ   (by   grace you   have   been   saved),   and   raised   us   up   together,   and made    us    sit    together    in    the    heavenly    places    in    Christ Jesus,    that    in    the    ages    to    come    He    might    show    the exceeding   riches   of   His   grace   in   His   kindness   toward   us   in Christ   Jesus.      For   by   grace   you   have   been   saved   through faith,   and   that   not   of   yourselves;   it   is   the   gift   of   God,   not   of works,    lest    anyone    should    boast.        For    we    are    His workmanship,    created    in    Christ    Jesus    for    good    works, which   God   prepared   beforehand   that   we   should   walk   in them.”  Ephesians 2:4-10 Spiritual Death to Spiritual Life Being   born   again   is   comprised   of   a   transition   from   being spiritually   dead—to   being   spiritually   alive—as   we   begin   a new   life   living   in   the   unmerited   grace   and   forgiveness   God gave   us   in   His   Son,   Jesus   Christ.      God’s   forgiveness   for our   sins   (past,   present   and   future)   is   His   spiritual   means   to crucify our sinful nature, and change our heart and soul. “And   you   He   made   alive,   who   were   dead   in   trespasses and sins.”  Ephesians 2:1 “And     you,     being     dead     in     your     trespasses     and     the uncircumcision   of   your   flesh,   He   has   made   alive   together with   Him,   having   forgiven   you   all   trespasses,   having   wiped out   the   handwriting   of   requirements   that   was   against   us, which   was   contrary   to   us.      And   He   has   taken   it   out   of   the way,    having    nailed    it    to    the    cross.        Having    disarmed principalities   and   powers,   He   made   a   public   spectacle   of them, triumphing over them in it.”  Colossians 2:13-15 This      table      provides      a      comparison      between      the characteristics   of   one   who   is   spiritually   dead,   and   the   Holy Spirit transformed attributes of one who is born again. It     is     very     important     to     note     here     that     no     one     is perfect—including   those   who   are   born   again.      “For   all   have sinned   and   fall   short   of   the   glory   of   God.”   (Romans   3:23)    In   addition,   all   born-again   Christians   are   at   various   stages of   spiritual   growth   and   maturity   as   they   transition   from   the left   side   of   the   table   to   the   right   side.      However,   one   key evidence   that   differentiates   a   born-again   Christian   (from one   who   is   spiritually   dead)   is   found   in   how   a   born-again Christian   will   respond   when   they   sin.      Their   response   is driven    by    the    desire    and    attitude    of    their    heart,    and    a continually   growing   love   for   God—which   is   demonstrated by: Regret   and   sorrow   for   their   sin   because   they   know   it displeases God.  A   confession   to   God   of   what   was   done   and   asking Him for forgiveness. Repentance (will turn away from the sin). God’s   work   in   each   born-again   life   will   not   be   finished   until we   leave   our   bodies   (which   have   a   sinful   nature),   and   are with   Him   on   the   other   side.      Meanwhile,   it’s   about   doing our   best   and   trusting   God   to   complete   what   He   began.   But   what   is   even   more   important:   God   is   more   interested in our heart, than He is with what we do, or fail to do.  For   example,   King   David   was   referred   to   by   God   as   a   man after   His   own   heart   (1   Samuel   13:14).      What’s   more,   God made   a   covenant   with   King   David   that   his   throne   would last    forever    (2    Samuel    7:16).        However,    as    his    power, wealth    and    kingdom    grew,    King    David    committed    what many    would    consider    atrocious    and    unforgivable    sins: adultery   with   Bathsheba   and   killed   Bathsheba’s   husband to hide his sin (2 Samuel 11). Most   persons   would   find   it   difficult   to   forgive   someone   for this   type   of   behavior.      However,   “For   the   Lord   does   not   see as   man   sees;   for   man   looks   at   the   outward   appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 David   realized   what   he   had   done,   confessed   and   repented of   his   sin,   and   God   forgave   him   (2   Samuel   12).      God   is merciful   and   is   “Not   willing   that   any   should   perish   but   that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 Born Again = Internal Transformation Those   who   are   born   again   can   testify   to   the   transformation that   occurs   within   the   heart,   soul   and   spirit…and   to   the absolute truth of the scriptures below. “But   the   natural   man   does   not   receive   the   things   of   the Spirit   of   God,   for   they   are   foolishness   to   him;   nor   can   he know    them,    because    they    are    spiritually    discerned.”    1 Corinthians 2:14 “For   we   ourselves   were   also   once   foolish,   disobedient, deceived,   serving   various   lusts   and   pleasures,   living   in malice   and   envy,   hateful   and   hating   one   another.      But when   the   kindness   and   the   love   of   God   our   Savior   toward man   appeared,   not   by   works   of   righteousness   which   we have    done,    but    according    to    His    mercy    He    saved    us, through   the   washing   of   regeneration   and   renewing   of   the Holy   Spirit,   whom   He   poured   out   on   us   abundantly   through Jesus   Christ   our   Savior,   that   having   been   justified   by   His grace   we   should   become   heirs   according   to   the   hope   of eternal life.”  Titus 3:3-7 Born-again    Christianity    is    more    than    just    saying    “I’m    a Christian.”  Being born again encompasses: Faith in God. A belief that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for your sins. A decision to follow Jesus. Yielding to the Holy Spirit. Turning away from sin. Tran sformation from within. Are You Born Again? If   you   are   born   again,   you   are   a   living   testament   of   God’s word and His promises. If you are not born again, consider the following questions: 1 . Do you desire more in your life? 2 . Do   you   have   a   “void”   deep   within   your   being…and have realized nothing you have tried can fill it? 3 . Is   the   present   path   you   are   living   going   in   the   wrong direction? If     you     answer     yes     to     one     or     more     of     the     above questions…then   make   a   decision   to   give   your   faith,   trust and   life   to   Jesus   Christ—as   your   Savior   and   Lord—who offered His life as a means for the forgiveness of your sins. Here are some interesting points to consider: 1 . You   cannot   earn   salvation   and   eternal   life   by   being “good enough.” 2 . Obtaining   salvation   and   eternal   life   is   not   based   upon what we can do—but upon what Jesus did for us. 3 . Jesus    said    “No    one    comes    to    the    Father    except through Me.”  John 14:6 Salvation   and   eternal   life   are   a   free   gift—fully   paid   for   by the   life   and   blood   of   Jesus   Christ   when   He   died   on   the cross.      There   is   nothing   else   you   can   add…other   than   to thank   Him   for   what   He   has   done,   give   Him   praise   and glorify   Him…for   He   alone   is   worthy.      Take   a   moment   and think   about   how   it   will   be   when   we   are   on   the   other   side and   we   are   able   to   spiritually   worship   Him—with   humble and   thankful   hearts—as   we   lift   our   praises   to   our   Savior and Lord. To   reinforce   this   truth,   consider   the   differences   if   it   was possible    to    earn    entry    into    Heaven    based    upon    our behavior. If   it   was   possible   to   earn   entry   into   Heaven…would   it negate    (void)    the    crucified    death    of    God’s    Son, Jesus? When   the   person   who   met   the   required   “standards   of behavior” enters into Heaven: o Would   they   think   they   are   there   because   of   what they   did,   or   because   what   Jesus   Christ   did   for them? o Who   would   they   think   should   receive   recognition for what was done? o Would there be a sense of entitlement?  “I   have   the   right   to   be   here   because   I   met   the required behavior.” “Here’s    my    list    of    good    deeds…and    I    want what’s coming to me!” “Wait…I   know   I   was   better   than   this   other   guy.   Why did he get more rewards than me?” o Can   you   envision   those   who   earned   their   way   to Heaven   proudly   walking   around   with   their   “badges of   honor”?      (As   opposed   to   those   who   are   saved by grace will lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus.) “For   by   grace   you   have   been   saved   through   faith,   and   that not   of   yourselves;   it   is   the   gift   of   God,   not   of   works,   lest anyone    should    boast.”    (Ephesians    2:8-9)        The    above scenario and Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals: Why    “No    flesh    should    glory    in    His    presence.”        1 Corinthians 1:29 Why   we   are   saved   by   faith   and   God’s   grace…and   not works (which facilitates pride and hardens the heart). There    is    nothing    we    can    add    to    what    Jesus    has already done. The   importance   of   knowing   there   is   only   one   thing   we can    do    to    receive    eternal    life:    we    must    put    our complete   faith   upon   what   God   has   done   for   us   in Jesus Christ. “There   is   no   other   name   under   heaven   given   among   men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12 Every    heart    and    soul    who    enters    into    Heaven    will humbly   and   thankfully   know   they   do   not   deserve   to   be where    they    are…and    they    will    know    they    are    there because    of    what    Jesus    Christ    did    for    them    on    the cross…and   they   will   know   they   are   eternally   forgiven for   everything   they   had   done…and   the   love   for   Him who      saved      them      from      eternal      death      will      be overwhelming…and   they   will   all   weep   in   joyful   praise as they worship their Savior and Lord. Jesus   said   “If   anyone   desires   to   come   after   Me,   let   him deny   himself,   and   take   up   his   cross,   and   follow   Me.      For whoever   desires   to   save   his   life   will   lose   it,   but   whoever loses   his   life   for   My   sake   will   find   it.      For   what   profit   is   it   to a   man   if   he   gains   the   whole   world,   and   loses   his   own soul?”  Matthew 16:24-26 Take   a   good   hard   look   at   what’s   going   on   in   the   world today.      It   will   only   get   worse   as   we   approach   the   last   days.     As   such,   now   is   the   time   to   let   go   of   those   things   that   are standing   between   you   and   God.      Now   is   the   time   to   open your   heart   and   step   forward   in   faith.      Now   is   the   time   to believe    God    crucified    His    Son,    Jesus    Christ,    as    a punishment   for   our   sins…so   that   we   can   be   forgiven…and to restore our relationship with the Father. Jesus   said   “For   God   so   loved   the   world   that   He   gave   His only   begotten   Son,   that   whoever   believes   in   Him   should not   perish   but   have   everlasting   life.      For   God   did   not   send His   Son   into   the   world   to   condemn   the   world,   but   that   the world through Him might be saved.”  John 3:16-17 Heavenly   Father,   thank   You   for   loving   us   beyond   anything we   can   imagine.      Jesus,   my   Savior   and   Lord,   thank   you   for dying   for   our   sins.      Holy   Spirit,   I   ask   that   you   speak   to   the heart   of   the   person   who   is   reading   these   words…open   the eyes   to   truth…and   save   his/her   soul   from   eternal   death.   In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray.  Amen. If   you   are   ready   to   accept   Jesus   Christ   as   your   Savior   and Lord…all   you   need   to   do   is   pray…from   your   heart.      It’s about   you,   and   God,   and   your   relationship   with   Him.      The following   prayer   is   an   example,   but   you   may   use   whatever words   you   are   comfortable   with.      Plus,   pray   as   if   you   are speaking to Him…because you are! Holy   God,   I   am   a   sinner.      Jesus,   I   believe   you   died   and paid   the   price   for   who   I   am   and   what   I   have   done.      I   want to   trust   and   follow   you   as   my   Savior   and   Lord.      Holy   Spirit, I   invite   you   to   come   into   my   heart   and   life   and   change   me from   within.      Thank   you,   Jesus,   for   providing   a   way   to restore my relationship with God.  Amen. Your   next   step   is   to   begin   reading   the   Bible.     A   born-again Christian   will   read   the   Bible   from   a   completely   different light   as   the   Holy   Spirit   reveals   God’s   truth   from   a   spiritual perspective.      It   is   also   very   important   to   find   a   church   and interact    with    fellow    believers    who    are    foundationally focused on God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  I   often   use   Bible   Gateway   to   read   and   research   the   Bible: https://www.biblegateway.com/        Bible       Gateway       has different   versions   and   in   different   languages.      My   personal preference (in English) is the New King James Version. My   favorite   Bible   teacher   is   Chuck   Smith.      Chuck   left   his physical   body   to   be   with   the   Lord   in   2013.      Fortunately   his Bible    teachings    from    Genesis    to    Revelation    (word-by- word,   verse-by-verse)   were   recorded   and   may   be   heard on https://subsplash.com/twft/media/li/+fjbz8vs I   suggest   starting   with   the   study   of   1   John.      You   will   likely need   to   download   the   sound   file   for   each   teaching.      I   will often    display    the    corresponding    scripture    from    Bible Gateway   on   the   screen   as   I   listen   to   Chuck   Smith   teach. https://subsplash.com/twft/media/li/+sg5mrzq May    God    bless    you    with    His    joy,    His    peace    and    His wisdom   as   He   transforms   you   from   spiritua l   death   into   life eternal. Harold D. Thomas
Thought-Provoking Questions The    purpose    of    the    questions    below    is    to    facilitate    a deeper    understanding    of    the    Bible,    this    Bible    study content,   and   ourselves.      The   questions   may   be   answered by   each   reader;   or   used   by   a   Bible   study   group   leader   or church    pastor.        The    following    questions    should    be answered   or   discussed   after   reading   “Managing   Anxiety During the Pandemic.” There   are   two   types   of   questions:   lesson   and   opinion.     Lesson   questions   (preceded   by   a   number)   are   provided an   answer.      Opinion   questions   (preceded   by   an   “O”)   are designed   to   enhance   learning   via   the   determination   of opinions    and/or    discovering    how    the    lesson    content illuminates   our   personal   lives.      As   such,   no   answers   are provided Questions    (Do    your    best    to    respond    to    each    lesson question before looking at the answer.) 1.    Is    it    possible    for    someone    to    earn    their    way    into Heaven    simply    because    they    are    a    good    person?    Explain. 2.   Ephesians   2:4-10   references   God’s   grace   and   mercy.     What is the difference between grace and mercy? O  Jesus said we must be born again.  Why? 3.   Can   you   identify   at   least   3   comparative   characteristics between   a   person   who   is   not   born   again   and   one   who is born again? 4.   How   does   a   born-again   Christian   “feel”   on   the   inside after they sin?  Explain. a.   Do   these   feelings   and   response   to   sin   indicate   or reflect    changes    made    by    the    Holy    Spirit    (on    the inside)? b.   Why   do   born-again   Christians   respond   to   their   sin   in this way? 5.  What must one do to become born again? O  Are you born again? O    Thought-provoking    question    that    enhances    spiritual insight:   Why   would   God   design   salvation   and   entrance into   Heaven   based   upon   our   faith   and   His   grace…and not based upon “good” behavior? Answers 1.   It   is   not   possible   to   earn   our   way   into   Heaven   by   being a   good   person.      “For   all   have   sinned   and   fall   short   of the   glory   of   God.”   Romans   3:23   “For   by   grace   you have    been    saved    through    faith,    and    that    not    of yourselves;    it    is    the    gift    of    God,    not    of    works,    lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9  2.   Grace   is   an   unmerited   (undeserved)   gift.      Mercy   is   not receiving the punishment we deserve. 3.  See comparative table. 4.   They   will   feel   guilt,   regret   and   sorrow;   and   will   feel “disconnected” from God.  a.      Yes,   our   negative   feelings   when   we   sin   is   part   of our new nature and spirit given by the Holy Spirit. b.      This   negative   experience   is   God’s   way   of   spiritually chastising    us    when    we    sin.        “My    son,    do    not despise     the     chastening     of     the     Lord,     nor     be discouraged   when   you   are   rebuked   by   Him;   For whom   the   Lord   loves   He   chastens,   and   scourges every son whom He receives.”  Hebrews 12:5-6 5.    Prayerfully    give    your    faith,    trust    and    life    to    Jesus Christ—Savior   and   Lord—who   offered   His   life   as   an atonement    for    our    sins—and    provide    a    means    to restore a relationship with God. The questions may be viewed and downloaded as a PDF file by clicking on this button.