Sermon delivered November 2, 1996

by Pastor Donald Gettys

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Salvation by Heredity

How are we saved? I believe we are saved by heredity! Have you ever thought about that? I used to believe that we would be saved if we had enough good works. But that is not true. Some folk believe in salvation by denomination. If your name is on the books of the right church you will be a "shoe in" for heaven. Not true!

We are not born as Christians. When I was born I never heard of Jesus. I didn't even hear of the Sabbath. I was not born a Seventh-day Adventist, let alone a Christian. My physical birth does not make me a child of God. In fact, Jesus make it very clear in the Bible. Notice John 8:44---Jesus called the unconverted the children of the Devil. We are lost from the moment we are born. We are all sinners and have fallen short, Romans 3:23. We are all in line to reap the wages of sin which is eternal death, Romans 6:23. So what is the answer? How do we escape death and how do we obtain eternal life? How do we become saved and obtain eternal life?

JOHN 3:5-- Sincere NICODEMUS had the same question.  Notice what Jesus
John 3:3---"Unless a man is born AGAIN, 
                he cannot see the kingdom of God."
 John 3:5--"Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, 
         unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, 
         he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

If Jesus says I need to be born, then what is my current condition, I am unborn, hopeless. Without Jesus I am a spiritual corpse. Without Jesus I am lost, I'm dead in the water. The egg is no chick by falling from the hen, nor is a man a Christian till he's born again! I need to be made alive spiritually. The sinner is dead in his sins. He has no hope. He must be born again. We must be a new creation.

To better understand the supernatural birth or "new creation" we should look at the first creation. 6000 years ago this earth was dead in the water. In Genesis 1 (by the way, Seventh-day Adventists believe Genesis 1.) we get a glimpse of the steps the Heavenly contractor took in the construction of this world in the first place.

A)- Genesis 1:2 "The earth was formless and empty, Darkness covered the surface of the deep".

B)- 1:2--Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

C)- 1:3-- "God said: let there be light". By the WORD of the Lord were the heavens made- Ps 33:6 He spoke and it stood fast, verse 9.

D)- 1:3-- Light came.

So, can you see how the former creation 6000 years ago and our "new" creation, our new heart, our new birth are very similar?

All that is required from the sinner is a willing submission to God. What did the earth have to do to be created in the first place? All it had to do was to be willing to submit to the hands of the Creator. The dark earth was without form and void but it did not resist the mighty power of God and it was changed into something of beauty and life. We must place ourselves in God's hands and ask Him for the new creation, or new birth.

Do you feel at times that your life is a conglomeration of darkness, and water, and mud, and you're without form and void, and there's no hope? Is your life out of control? If so, you need to be created anew. Friend, do you find yourself in the depths of a murky muddy sin? You need to be born again. If you yell at the kids, or if you have lost control of your home and your life, you need to be born again. And God is willing to do that.

If you are turning more and more to the alcohol or drugs and you feel total despair, you need to be born again. If some habit has you gripped in its miry muddy hands, you need help from above. God's Spirit is now hovering over that messy situation just waiting to recreate in you a brand new life. I believe the Holy Spirit is hovering over every one of us just like He hovered over those waters at creation desiring to re-create within us a new heart.

Soon after AUGUSTINE'S conversion he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy. A prostitute whom he had known intimately called his name but he would not answer. Again she called, "Augustine, It is I." And he kept on walking, and she called again, "Augustine, it is I!" Without slowing down this new Christian said: "Yes, but IT IS NO LONGER I". He was a new man. He didn't do that any more.


Let's go back to Jesus and NICODEMUS in John 3:5. NICODEMUS in verse 4 asked HOW to be born again. Here in verse 5 Jesus gives the nuts and bolts of how it is done: Listen- "I tell you the truth, unless a man is BORN of WATER and the SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." So here's how it happens.

What does it mean to be BORN OF WATER??? We apply this to Baptism. But the new birth is more than baptism. Baptism is the outward sign of a new inward experience. Does Baptism create the new birth? Is there magic in the water? Does Baptism give us a new heart? Not quite. Baptism is the public confirmation that an inward change has already taken place. Baptism does not create the new birth.

Baptism is like a wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony does not create Love. Weddings do not initiate love between a man and a woman. A wedding is the public acknowledgment of what has already been developing over many weeks and months of interaction.

Just so, Baptism is a public statement that you and Jesus have fallen in love with each other and you both wish to spend the rest of your lives together. Baptism does not create that love. Baptism is exceedingly important, but baptism does not create the new birth. So what does?

So what is Jesus saying here? Jesus says we need to be born of WATER. What is this water? If it is not totally baptism then what is it? Let the bible answer this.

JAMES 1:18---"He chose to give us BIRTH through the WORD of Truth." Just keep that thought in your mind. I PETER 1:23 "You have been BORN AGAIN...through the living and enduring WORD OF GOD." Now twice the Bible says that we are born through the Word of God. And in PSALM 119:50 Thy WORD hath Quickened me. (brought life)

The awesome power of God's word brought forth creation. You remember, 6,000 year ago, what caused that creation? It was God's Word. He spoke and it happened. God's word today is one of two things that brings about the New BIRTH. The mighty power of the BIBLE. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. It all starts with God's WORD. This world was born from the WORD of God. God spake and it stood fast. There is power in God's Word. We are born and obtain new life when we come into saving contact with the WORD of God.

Jesus said to Nicodemus you must be born of water which is the Word of God. And Baptism is the public demonstration this new birth. Jesus said it will happen through The Power of the WORD and the Power of the SPIRIT. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit.

JOHN 6:63 KJV "It is the SPIRIT that QUICKENETH." NIV-- "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The WORDS I have spoken to you ARE SPIRIT and they are life." In this verse the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are so closely connected they act almost as one. In Psalm 119:50 it says it is the Word of God that quickeneth. So if you put the Spirit and the Word of God together, you're going to be born again. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the powerful Word of God, you're going to be born again. The Holy Spirit will produce the new birth.

The Holy Spirit produces the new Birth. These two work together: The WORD of God & the Holy Spirit. This dynamic Duo, team up to create in us a brand new heart. By spending time with the powerful WORD of God and by inviting His Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart, you become a new person.

Now back to John 3:5--- "Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God." It is vital to be reborn. You can't enter the kingdom of God unless you're born again. God REQUIRES that each of us be born again. Our very nature is sinful to the core. It is natural for us to live a life of sin. In our natural state we would not be happy in heaven.

Suppose I take a gold fish out of my fish bowl and bring it to church on a silver platter and set it here on the communion table among all these lovely things. I surround that fish with pretty music, and bible preaching. It is here among these lovely flowers. Would that fish be happy? No! Neither would a sinner be happy if he were taken to heaven and surrounded with perfect angels and holy things. He would be like a fish out of the water. Sinners who are not born again are dead in the water, in sin.

When most folks read Jesus words here in the Bible about being born again they think Jesus means that they must turn over a new leaf and try hard to reform their life. They believe Jesus is saying they need a change of heart. This is a great falsehood! You can search the Bible from cover to cover and you will not find any talk about a "Change of Heart." What the Bible says is that we need a brand new heart. We don't need to remodel the old heart. We need a whole new one.

We become sons of God. Jesus is our Brother and God is our Father. We are His children. We're a child of the King. We are new creatures. We belong to the family of God. Because we're born again.

GALATIANS 4:7---...."You are no longer a slave, but A SON; and since you are a son, God has made you also an HEIR!" That's how we inherit eternal life. It is salvation by heredity.

We INHERIT eternal life, not because of our good works but because we are a part of the family. Heaven is not for sale, but will be given to those who have been REBORN into God's own family. It comes not by works but by Faith.

HEBREWS 11:7 "By FAITH, Noah when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became HEIR of the righteousness that comes by faith." Noah was saved because he was a son of God. He was an heir, he inherited.

TITUS 3:4-7 "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous THINGS we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of REBIRTH and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His GRACE, we might become HEIRS having the hope of eternal life."

So how are we saved? By works? NO. We're saved by grace, we become heirs. We INHERIT eternal life. It is salvation by heredity. It is not what we are, but who we belong to. If we are a son or a daughter we Inherit heaven.

WHEN does my boy become my son? On the day he is born! When does my girl become my daughter? On her birthday! When do I become a child of God? On my rebirth-day! When I'm born again, born again!

I JOHN 3:2---"Beloved, NOW we are children of God!" John was not writing to perfect holy saints but to growing early Christians. The moment you believe, trust and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you become His child. God will change your life. You will have new desires.

Arthur was a bad prisoner. As an 11 year old boy he was sent to prison. No prison was capable of breaking his evil behavior. He participated in prison riots, broke a guard's arm and another guard's collar bone and brought about the death of a sheriff. Of his 42 years behind bars, 24 were in solitary confinement.

In an Indiana prison he somehow stole 40 pounds of cyanide with the idea of poisoning the entire prison staff. He spent 31 months in Devil's Island Prison confined in a 5x7 cell, chained by his neck. Arthur was very bad.

But something happened in his life to change all that. One day while in prison in Leavenworth, Kansas a preacher came to visit and brought along his 14 year-old son, TIMMY. As TIMMY followed his dad down the row of cells, he for some reason paused by Arthur's cell and smiled. That made Arthur mad and he began to curse, swear and call TIMMY names. The boy broke down in tears, but he stood his ground. Finally the boy simply said these words to Arthur, "I love you". Then he walked on.

That was the first time in Arthurs whole life anyone had ever told him those words. TIMMY began to write to Arthur. For 7 years the letters kept coming. For 7 years TIMMY prayed for this wicked prisoner. Finally Arthur broke down in tears. He got down on his knees and asked Jesus to give him a new heart. God transformed that hate-filled violent man into a man of love and grace. Arthur's whole life changed. He became a powerful witness for Christ. Eventually he was released. He died some time later of cancer. But his life was a great example of the power that comes into our life when we are born again.

As God's children, tell Him you love Him. One day my little boy came up to me and pulled on my hand to get my attention. He said: Daddy, I love you! A thrill went through my heart. Imagine the joy generated in the kind heart of our heavenly father when we respond to His great love. When we come to Him and say, I Love You, it must be deeply meaningful to Him.

As a Son or Daughter of God you will be given VICTORY. Overcoming is a gift. It is not something we try to do. It is a gift from our Father. HEBREWS 13:20-21 kjv--"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus....make you perfect in every good work to do His will..."

So it is not salvation by backbone or salvation by works, but it is Salvation by Heredity. We are saved because God is our Father. Come to Jesus. Surrender all to Jesus. Accept Him as your Saviour. Love God.

Avoid being a prodigal son. Do not run away from God to the bright lights of sin. Choose to have a daily saving loving relationship with your Heavenly Father. Stay on the path that leads to life. I believe that anyone who dies walking or even STUMBLING on the pathway that leads to heaven will DIE SAVED.

The day you are born again your name is written in God's will. When His estate is divided up you will INHERIT all of heaven. Jesus death makes us partakers of all He owns.

Lindsay Clegg lived in London. He owned an old empty dilapidated warehouse. It was in a sort of bad area of London. Vandals had smashed the windows. Trash was everywhere. Lindsay showed the property to someone who wanted to buy it. He promised to replace the broken windows, and clean up everything. The buyer said: Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I do not want this building, I WANT THE SITE!

That is exactly what God wants. Our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping out a warehouse that is slated for the wrecking ball. When we become a son or daughter of God the old life is over. He will come in and make all things new. All God wants is the site, and permission to build. Too many are trying to REFORM their old life, but God offers REDEMPTION. Give Jesus the Property, and let Him create the new structure.

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