For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.Matt 18:11
For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16
The great and compassionate love of God for man would be made manifest in a plan of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. The shedding of His blood would make void the stains of sin and man could once again enjoy his rightful and intended place in the presence of his God and creator.
The Lord's public life was spent preparing His followers to take advantage of the new life being made available by His death. Although Jesus spoke and taught continually concerning the new life or Church age to come, He did not establish the Church in His lifetime but placed this responsibility in the hands of His closest disciples (the twelve Apostles) to be accomplished after His death.
The Lord Jesus taught His followers the essentials necessary to establish
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...Mark 16:16
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.John 3:3
These verses of scripture are quotes of the Lord Jesus and detailed and specific enough to allow a fairly simple and easy analysis of the Lord's requirements to be saved. Although in John 3:3 the exact word "saved" is not used there is no difficulty recognizing that if a person is not "saved" he most certainly will not "see the kingdom of God". In other words to be saved and to see the kingdom of God means exactly the same thing. Having arrived at this conclusion a more simple and brief writing of these verses are possible:
Mark 16:16 Believe and be baptized = Salvation
John 3:3 Be born again = Salvation
The first and most obvious difference between these two statements is the requirement for believing in one and no mention made in the other. The lack of a requirement for belief in John 3:3 can best be explained by looking at the two preceding verses:
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:John 3:1-3
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 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 had already voiced his acceptance and belief in the divine mission of Jesus so there was no need for Jesus to tell him to believe. Keeping this thought in mind a re-writing of these two verses in a more meaningful way is possible:
Mark 16:16 Believe and be baptized = Salvation
John 3: 1-3 Believe and be born again = Salvation
These verses now look very similar and in fact are identical except that one requires baptism and the other a new birth. Since all other conditions are identically the same in both verses, then to be born again must mean to be baptized.
Nicodemus, at the time of his conversation with Jesus, did not have the benefit of this knowledge because he immediately asked Jesus what He meant by His statement that "Ye must be born again":
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?John 3:4 (KJV)
In reply, Jesus not only answered the question but expanded on His original statement of a need to be born again:
5 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.John 3:5 (KJV)
Jesus reiterates His previous statement that a new birth consists of two parts; a natural part (water) and a spiritual part. In other words the re-birth process must consist of a "water" birth and a "spirit" birth. A substitution of the word "baptism" for "birth" (since they are the same) and summarizing the Lord's teaching in these two verses of scripture in a step by step fashion the following procedure appears:
1. Believe - That Jesus came from God (John 3:2)
2. Be Baptized (Born) of water(John 3:5)
3. Be Baptized (Born) of the Spirit(John 3:5)
This then in condensed and summary form presents the essential elements for salvation as taught by the Lord Jesus. Not only has the Lord presented His requirements for salvation but has, by the very
The first two steps are not too difficult to imagine or understand since they are of the visible, natural realm, however, the reference to a spiritual baptism has somewhat the same effect today as in the day of Nicodemus. Is it possible to be baptized by an invisible spirit? The natural mind does not readily accept or understand the things concerning a spiritual nature, however, the words of John the Baptist take on a greater importance as the truth of a spiritual baptism is questioned:
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:Matthew 3:11 (KJV)
This was John's preaching to all those that followed his teachings and contained a definite and emphatic promise of a spiritual baptism to follow his water baptism and was to be administered by the Lord Himself.
What did Jesus teach as being essential to an individual's salvation? The following step by step summary is the answer:
1. BELIEVE - THAT JESUS CAME FROM GOD (John 3:2)
2. BE BAPTISED (BORN) OF WATER(John 3:5)
3. BE BAPTISED (BORN) OF THE SPIRIT(John 3:5)