Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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In his first epistle, John reminded his readers of certain things God required of them in order to be born again (that is, to receive the holy Spirit baptism). These are very simple directives for everyone who wants to receive God’s life and become a member of God’s Family. Everyone who has ever done these three things has received the baptism of life that Jesus gives, or they soon will:
(1) Believe in Jesus.
1John 5:1a — “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”
One must believe in Jesus to be “born again” because the life of God is given only in the name of Jesus (Jn. 14:26). Nobody praying to God in the name of any other but Jesus has ever received the Spirit of God.
(2) Do What Is Right.
1John 2:29b — “Every one who does righteousness is born of him.”
Just before Cornelius was baptized by the Spirit into the family of God, he was told by Peter, “God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34b—35). To be accepted by God into His family, we must “work righteousness”; that is, obey His commandments. Obeying His commandments may be our kind of righteousness, as Moses said, but God requires that kind of righteousness of those who would have His. No one who is disobeying God’s commandments is “hungering and thirsting” for God’s righteousness, and only those who are “hungering and thirsting”, Jesus said, “will be filled” (Mt. 5:6). Jesus told his disciples that if they loved him, they would keep his commandments and that if they did keep his commandments, then he would ask the Father to give them the holy Spirit (Jn. 14:15—16). That is why those who disobey God’s commandments do not receive His Spirit; it is proof that they do not love Jesus.
(3) Love the Family of God.
1John 4:7b — “Everyone who loves is born of God.”
John was speaking here of love for God and His family, not love for the world, for “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father isn’t in him” (1Jn. 2:15). Anyone who loves God loves those who are His (1Jn. 5:1b). And John tells us, “By this, we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1Jn. 5:2—3).
These, then, are the three things that one must do to receive God’s kind of life and be “born again”: Believe in Jesus; obey God’s commandments; and love God’s family. Do those three simple things, and God will baptize you with His life into His eternal kingdom.