I suppose the English-speaking world has a special opinion about what is rebirth.
Especially in the USA there are a lot of Free Churches embracing the following teaching about rebirth:
For many years, I was an adherent of exactly this teaching because this teaching seems to be supported by the Bible. However, sometimes I asked myself, “do I really have faith?” Who could guarantee that my faith was not pure imagination?
The above statement in bold letters is only true if the word believe is understood rightly.
There is a small problem: some people think the word believe would just mean to think of a certain statement that it is true. Think that the statement “repent and believe in Jesus” is a true statement and get saved. This “faith” will save nobody.
What is the real faith?
Indeed, we cannot grasp by reason what faith really is. Faith is something supernatural. All a natural man can understand from the gospel is the fact that he should approach Jesus Christ and ask him for help. Everything beyond this can be understood solely by the help of the Holy Spirit.
When we read the Bible with open eyes, we will realize that the Holy Spirit was given to people near-term to baptism. It is not important whether the Spirit was given shortly before baptism, during baptism or shortly after baptism. It is just important to realize that the coming of the Spirit is always connected with baptism. Alltogether we can call it “act of salvation”.
In fact, baptism is the rebirth (by the way, the Early Church, Bishop Augustine, Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer had exactly this doctrine). By getting the Holy Spirit we get able to really believe in Christ. After baptism, faith is just a fact in our life as long as we are obedient. After baptism, we are simply obedient, not asking whether we have faith or not. After baptism, it is crucial to be obedient because “solely the believer is obedient and soley the obedient man believes” (this is a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer you can read in his book “The Cost of Discipleship“).
Another way to see or to understand the matter is it to say that God just gives us a new life at baptism (Romans 6). God doesn’t want to give us a ticket for heaven, but he puts us in a new life in Christ. The new life contains both forgiveness and obedience in the power of the Spirit. It is impossible to seperate forgiveness from obedience and obedience from forgiveness. Together they are one unit.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t claim that someone must earn salvation by doing good deeds (wrong Roman Catholic doctrine). Everybody believing he could earn salvation by doing good deeds will get lost.
On the other hand, it is dangerous to think that salvation is possible without living a Christian life. This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”. Every adherent of the “cheap grace” will get lost too.
The “act of salvation” is somewhat an intellectual problem, but if heavenly things would be to understand easily they would not come from heaven.
Don’t mind; here is the intellectual solution:
At baptism, we enter a “new life” which God gives us from above. Please understand this literally. You get a present or gift from above: “new life in Christ, even a new fate”. It is very clear that you cannot require from God to reward you with salvation when you are not ready to live the life He has given you from above. But thank God and of course the salvation is part of the new life. God gives us all so that there is no space for own glory. In heaven we will give all glory to God for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I don’t know whether you have ever made some studies about ecclesiastical history. It is a matter of fact that ever in the history of the Christian Church infants were baptized. I reckon, dear reader, that you will curse me when I tell you that I am an adherent of the doctrine of infant baptism. If you have got right my above article, you should at least start to change your opinion about infant baptism. Otherwise, you are far away from understanding us. God acts at every baptism. God is the invisible Baptist. The Churches just administrate the celebration of baptism, but the present of baptism comes from above and doesn’t depend on the Church at all.
I don’t agree with the content of the quoted “links” at any rate!