In early August I sent out an email with some questions / comments about “How Does Jesus Say We Are Saved?”. I received many great responses via email – here are those responses, and my replies to them. Feel free to browse through this & see if you can make any sense of it J.

DV – Nancy Pearcy’s great Book, “Total Truth” has a bit to say about evangelical’s love affair with this text too (Nicodemus in John 3 ) and how it’s become the foundation of a movement.

DA replies – I haven’t seen this book, but it looks interesting …. I’ll put it on my must-read-sometime list

TW – an interesting question I have asked myself is how are people born again pre-Calvary?
DA replies – Good question. I figure that they had salvation through faith in something (a process – Calvary) that God would provide in the future

Fraz – I think the formula is easier to deal with than the call to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”. I see the word perfect and the concept of compassion as identical. I don’t think the church yet loves it’s neighbours “as I have loved you”. Born again makes a club. Compassion makes a terrible loving challenge. Even to ‘bad’ folks… in fact especially really.

JM – I WOULD AGREE WITH YOUR CONCERNS about what is ‘salvation’.
I have until recently been attending a Baptist church with many elderly people, where they are being taught by their new pastor, that if they do not know the day and hour of their conversion they are not saved, and if you do not go forward at the pastor’s altar calls you are a backslider, and if you have any difficulties in your life you aren”t saved, and if you are saved then Satan can’t touch you so if you have dramas in your life like sickness it is because you aren’t saved. People are taught that if you are having a season of trouble it is because you aren’t saved, and anyone who has ups and downs in their life they are not saved. This has greatly stressed many of the elderly who repeatedly go forward at altar calls to ‘get properly saved’, even ex-Bible School students. There are quite a number of people with mental illness in the church, and they are becoming very condemned, shamed, and depressed, and even suicidal, as a result of the teaching. The pastor is unrepentant when challenged on the effects of his preaching. I told him I thought he had ‘unconverted’ his church’!! Some of the people have been in the church for 40-50 years.

It all depends on your understanding of the Heart of God towards a person’s heart search; whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or animist, in terms of a progression towards Jesus, often after only a dream or vision of Jesus. When do they actually ‘cross’ some invisible line to meet God’s approval and become ‘saved’, when it is God Himself Who initiates the initial manifestation.
When I was ministering in East Malaysia, any kampong / longhouse which had one christian family in was ‘Christian’; those kampongs without a christian family were ‘muslim’; yet the majority of the ‘christian’ people were still animist, using charms and spirit fetishes, and spirit houses.

I believe ‘salvation’ is a continuum, and we are far too rigid in interpreting who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. What about many godly catholics, godly people in the cults I have met who love Jesus.
( Mormons, JW”S, SDA’S, and in fringe cults, and Exclusives), and syncretistic Brahmin ‘christians’, or muslims or messianic jews who are still inside their culture and mosques and synagogues, but ‘believe ‘ in Jesus, and all the ‘secret’ christians in muslim and marxist countries, often ‘saved’ from just one radio broadcast. And then you get the issues with all the ‘cultural’ christians in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Armenia, South India, Ethiopia, and the Moluccas, etc.
Muslims perceive the Crusaders as ‘christian’; and Jews perceive Hitler as being ‘christian’.

Then there is the whole area of ‘born again’ people who live ungodly lives, ie their spirit may be saved, but obviously their mind and emotions and will are not ‘converted’ (or ‘sanctified’ yet). John and Paula Sandford talk about converting the heart of Christians, after they are born again.
Some times God by the Holy Spirit will heal parts of your mind, at other times he will heal parts of your emotions and at other times he will heal parts of your will, but rarely does the Holy Spirit heal or ‘save’ all of you at once. It is a continuum, a progression, ‘from glory to glory.

Or when do you become ‘fully’ saved, or whole, if ever, and who decides, and does it matter.
Then you get the whole scenario of ‘born again’ people who have rejected christianity and now are deeply into new age and even deeply into the occult or eastern religion or hindu cults or buddhism. Are they still saved?? or the people out of ‘born again ‘ churches, even spiritfilled leaders, who are now fully into the gay lifestyle. For that matter it brings into question the whole idea of church, and the idea many pastors project that if you are not at ‘church’ you aren’t ‘saved’. Tell that to remote rural farmers, or prisoners, or those in prison for their faith for 20-30 years, or shift workers, or the aged and infirm.

I believe you have opened up a very important question, and I BELIEVE IT NEEDS TO BE AIRED CLEARLY, AND DIALOGUED THROUGH. It calls into question the whole essence of what it means to be a ‘christian’, and calls into question most of what the church ‘thinks’ it is doing.
Most cutting edge evangelism these days results simply in family type house churches, in India, China, and the muslim world. During the cultural revolution in China two people walking down the road conversing together was the only ‘church’ possible

What is revival, but the Holy Spirit reviving all those in our culture who have been ‘born again’ at some time, like at Bible in Schools or in a kids camps as a teenager.

DA replies – Thanks JM. These are good reflections. The church you were attending sounds scary. I agree re salvation being a continuum (or journey. & also re being fully saved ‘who decides / does it really matter’

RT – Being ‘born from above’ means to be enlightened to a realm of the spirit that is previously darkness.
Nicodemus needed to be freed from religious mindsets to see the way of the Kingdom of God.
For the young ruler- he needed the illumination of God without the love of money. It was a doorway JC gave him which would have been transforming.
There are always many entry points to the Kingdom of God but they are narrow and few find them.
I am also in the camp that thinks the ‘sinner’s prayer’ is formulaic and trite, but I also do not believe that we need to take the other examples noted below and process through all of them necessarily. That is also a formula.
By the way – the Zacchaeus story for me is not about money – it was about his need for a new identity and stature. He thought his ability to gain money falsely was powerful. It was his point of recognition [until he was seen up a tree!] He probably had more of a love for control than for money.
We have the insight required by a spiritual re-birth to understand the workings of the Kingdom for all the life principles we need.
I believe we should be born from above often as you know. [Born again is probably not the most accurate wording for this transaction is it?]
The truth is…regeneration is discernable. We know when someone else carries the spirit of God.
Did you ever see that stuff Gordon Miller from World Vision wrote years ago on gates to the cross which showed 10 ways that people come to Christ. the ‘bridge to life’ sin picture was only one of them. It was very good.

DA replies – Thanks – these are good reflections. I’m not sure that the entry points to the Kingdom are as narrow as many think …
I agree re ‘born from above’ being a better translation …. & regeneration should be discernable
Yep – saw the Gordon M stuff … I recall it was maybe more about what motivated people, rather than process

IDM – I recently ran into an organisation management theory that proposes that any problem in a business can be looked at from four “viewpoints”, and failure to resolve a problem is due to people only looking from one angle.
A lot of these comments are a result of trying to define what Jesus was saying from one angle or another, without the recognition that the process of becoming/being a Christian is inherently not rules- based. It’s relationship- centric, and the more I think about it the more I wonder if that’s where Jesus was continually coming from. What defines the relationship between Jesus and myself as a real one is not necessarily what defines it for the next person, and so when trying to quantify the relationship, he ended up having to use a number of allegories that each highlight a different aspect of an incredibly complex subject. It’s kind of like having to explain how a car works while it’s moving- most of the inner workings can be inferred from reading books in the passenger seat, but you have to take a lot of the detail on faith if you want to stay on the road. So in the same way as a car has pistons that go up and down, a crankshaft that goes round and round, a gearbox where some of the gears are not working at any point in time, an exhaust system that …. so the Christian faith can be likened to being planted, to being grafted into a vine, to being born all over again; like a car can be going South, to work, and across the harbour bridge so the process of going Jesus’ way can be giving away that which holds you most to this earth, forsaking family, following the ten commandments- or the greatest commandment…
Stretching the analogy even further (well, reusing it really), to my mind the “rules” that tell us how to be a follower of Jesus are simply the gutters on the road we travel. It’s a poor driver who figures out whether he’s on the road by whether he’s scraping along the gutter or not… The relationship with Jesus is what should drive us, and constrain us in the same way as a steady hand on the steering wheel.
It’s not really any surprise that one description is highlighted in our culture. Every culture will have its own strengths and weaknesses, and some words of Jesus will be more appealing while others will be less understandable because of the way we look at the world and expect to interact with it. For instance, in our culture telling the shopkeepers of NZ that they shouldn’t bargain their prices too high (aka Zaccheus) would be irrelevant; in a culture where bargaining is a given, it might be the best way to show the world that our priorities are different. If I was being cynical, I’d argue that being born again is simply the best way of restricting one’s Christianity to personal prayer and worship, as it makes no claims on the rest of our lives, so fits with where Christianity has arrived at in our culture (I take no credit for that idea- Harry Blamires has expounded it pretty well).
As to why Paul doesn’t pick up on it, my completely uneducated guess is that it was too foreign a concept to be useful to most of his audience. Jesus certainly had to spend more time explaining the idea to Nicodemus than he did most of his other ideas, and I wonder whether that’s the problem with it, sort of similar to the problems most people today have with all the farming analogies in the Bible. Paul was probably a pretty good speaker, so he wouldn’t have used examples that made it hard for him ot get the message across. Given that I suspect birth was a female dominated process in that culture (I’m making an assumption here as I don’t know enough), and that Paul was predominantly preaching to men, as a way to enhance understanding I suspect the analogy had shock value only.

DA replies – Thanks – These are good reflection. I like the gutters analogy

SS – Hi David. If I could give my own two cents worth…
The concept of born again or son-ship is not just limited to John. Peter 1:3, also 1:23 mention begetting or bearing. However just because we are born again does not make us sons, but as Paul points out in detail in Galatians 4, go through tutors and teachers until the appointed time, when we are adopted, where the father is proud to say this is my son. At this point sealed with the Holy Spirit Eph 1:13-14 (notice the word ‘after’ is used to show progression) And at the opposite end, Hebrews 12:7-8 where we do not accept the chastening we are not adopted but considered illegitimate.
Anyway you might like to read this… it is a parable of what the church has become…

DA replies – Thanks. These are good reflections.
I agree that ‘born again’ can be seen to be supported in 1 Peter and also 1 John & 2 Cor 5:17
But … the original question related to the process of becoming saved, rather than the result of that salvation ….. it seems to me that the passages above talk of the consequence of the salvation (the new spiritual life in Christ), rather than how to get there.
You’re right re the difference between getting some spiritual life, and sonship (discipleship)
I liked the parable of the church … I’ve seen a similar thing about lifeboat keepers

AV – Thanks David I have been reading similar stuff for some time now and – Yes I am moving into a similar understanding myself.
Have you ever seen or heard of the Rob Harley material “Journeys” – This has been enlightening for me in the fact that coming to a place of walking with God is in fact a journey and not a 1/2/3 step experience.
I think we have been too cut and dried on deciding when people are Christians and when they aren’t. And often as a result of John 3 – extremely judgmental.
But considering your recent article we must be careful that salvation doesn’t become a works thing – because I don’t think this is what Jesus was saying either. Paul reminds us…

Eph 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

And I do think there is a period of time leading up to a point where a choice is made to love God with all that is within us. And yes I agree this decision does not require “the prayer of salvation”.
I wonder if there is no formula – but in the same way that Jesus said different things to different people according to where they were at – we also need to be discerning about where people are at in their stage of their journey towards and with God. And guide and counsel them accordingly.
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus came to do away with law / and formulas – and we keep trying to recreate laws again with N/T doctrine.

DA replies – Thanks AV – These are good reflections
I’ve seen the Journeys stuff – it’s good. As you say, it is helpful to think of people being on a spiritual journey, rather than in or out
You’re right that we can’t be saved without faith …. but modern evangelical salvation-formulas seem to forget that usually in the NT, people respond to Jesus with acts which evidence their salvation
It’s interesting to reflect on the Q of when did the disciples become ‘born again’, or gain that spiritual life? It seems unclear in the gospels…. They were on a journey J

LP – I appreciate your newsletters and wish to add a few comments regarding this particular one which I shall try to do in as few words as possible. Which hopefully will not lose the meaning because of such action i.e. taken out of context.

Specifically, in regards to the RYR (Rich meaning self sufficient, Ruler – leader or person with power due to what? money?)- I believe that the general view (as share by some commentaries on the passage) relate to the the young man trying to claim that he was good or acceptable before God because he had/was obeying the commandments. He almost seems to be proud of the fact that in the eyes of man (as Jesus said only God is good) he was good and hence was entitled to eternal life. This of course was the way of the law – not the gospel message (that Jesus came to reconcile man to God through his death). What Jesus was showing the RYR was the futility of seeking eternal life by his own merit – Did he really obey all the commandments given by Jesus? Did he really love his neighbour as himself – was not the last command to sell his possession and give to the poor another way of stating the same law?

Anyway the real point of this passage I believe was that even people who do good deeds will not enter into eternal life – unless they can keep all the laws of God – good luck on that basis. Our hope needs to be in the promises of Jesus ‘that no man can come to the Father except by Him’ – therefore or hope and faith needs to be basis on Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

In regards to the term ‘born again’ – Christian evangelist and Christian in general have often had a great habit of picking up terms that need clarification – just like ‘wash in the blood’ or ‘filled with the Spirit”. My understanding is that the term being or having been ‘Born Again’ is a Spiritual act of God where the old sinful nature is buried with Christ and the nature of Christ (spiritual transformation/regeneration produced by the Holy Spirit) where by eternal life is imparted to the believer – For whosever (continuos) to believe in Him shall not perish.

DA replies – Thanks LP. These are good reflections
You’re right re the RYR. Works don’t produce salvation …. But modern evangelical salvation-formulas seem to forget that usually in the NT, people respond to Jesus with acts which evidence their salvation
It’s interesting to reflect on the Q of when did the disciples become ‘born again’, or gain that spiritual life? It seems unclear in the gospels.

MP – (you said) “yet this is the ONLY place in the Bible where we see this mentioned … it is conspicuously absent from the synoptic gospels, Acts (including the evangelistic sermons), Paul’s writings & the rest of the NT.”

Three books in the NT speak of spiritual birth: John, 1 John and 1 Peter (see verses below), so I’m not sure how you can make the statement above. I’m also not sure why you comment that Jesus conversation with Nicodemus is near the start of His ministry – unless to suggest that He was still working out His theology and only got it right later on.

Jesus was using the law to show the RYR that by our own efforts we cannot inherit eternal life. No matter how good we think we are, we can’t measure up to the standard that God has. The RYR quoted 5 of the 10 commandments that apply to human relationships. Jesus pointed out the 6th (do not covet), He didn’t even get to the other 4 that apply to our relationship with God. To inherit eternal life by the law requires perfection.

To answer your question: by believing in Jesus (John 3:16). The Bible is very clear that we are saved by grace through faith. Those who believe will be saved. A true believer though does not just pay lip service. They will only be set free if they abide in His Word (John 8:30,32). But how can we even believe when we are dead in our sins (Eph 2:1) – we must be born again, born of the will of God . Saying the sinners prayer doesn’t do it – that’s like saying the baby was born by taking it’s first breath. We are born again by the will of God (John 1:13). Being born again is not something we can bring about any more than we could bring about our first birth.

Being born again is not a prescription for how we respond to God – it’s a picture of how God has given to us new life. It was a picture that Jesus thought suitable to instruct a very learned man – a man who new the scriptures inside out. It is a biblical picture that is used in 3 different books. It is unfortunate that the sinner’s prayer has been attached to it – that has corrupted the analogy. I agree with you that the sinner’s prayer is a simplistic and unbiblical formula – but the new birth – that was Christ’s idea! Don’t throw out the baby with the muddy bath water!

Here are all the verses I could find that speak of spiritual birth in the New Testament.
Joh 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Joh 3:4 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?”
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Joh 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1Jn 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
1Jn 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1Jn 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
1Jn 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.
1Jn 5:18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

DA replies – Thanks MP.
Some thoughts on what you have said
Re the conversation with Nicodemus being at the start of Jesus ministry, I’m not suggesting he was working out his theology as he went – although there are some strong arguments for the developing consciousness of Christ, and also his developing theology … but it wasn’t intended in this context. Rather, he spoke of it early on in his ministry, but surprisingly it isn’t a recurrent theme … we don’t see Jesus speaking of it to anyone else … yet in contrast (we) evangelicals have turned it into a formula for everyone.

I agree that ‘born again’ can be seen to be supported in 1 Peter & 1 John, and also 2 Cor 5:17
But … the original question related to the process of becoming saved, rather than the result of that salvation ….. it seems to me that the passages above talk of the consequence of the salvation (the new spiritual life in Christ), rather than how to get there.

You’re right re the problem of having the sinner’s prayer attached.
You’re right that ‘born again’ is a picture of the result of our new life … it seems there are many ways to get there …. & it also seems that some of them involve works (or at least faith evidenced by works) eg matt 25 judgement, James. It certainly takes us a long way from the one-off say-a-prayer method of getting ‘saved’

DG – Your email re “born again” has finally provoked me to respond as follows:
It is important in this context not to limit the meaning of saved and salvation to a single act of commitment for its meaning is much wider. Hebrews speaks of so great a salvation (Ch.2v3)

“Methods” of Salvation – perhaps better expressed as “how do we enter the Kingdom of God/Heaven”? The question has the assumptions that entry into the Kingdom can be reduced to one act and that the entry is the all important event.

Jesus calls for a commitment to follow Him
“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me”. (Jn.10v27) Should we be emphasising that we want disciples who hear the voice of Jesus (with their spiritual ears) and follow Him by doing what He says? (Matt.7v21,24)

Jesus spoke differently to each person and did not use a common “method”.
He revealed Himself:
a) To those looking for a way in, He said I am the door (If anyone enters by Me he will be saved Jn.10v9)
b) To those looking for a way of living He said I am the way
c) To those looking for truth He said I am the truth.
d) To those looking for real life or wholeness of life or perhaps everlasting life, He said I am the Life (and I am the Resurrection).
e) To those looking for guidance He said I am the good shepherd.
f) To those wanting to be joined in relationship He said I am the vine
g) To those hungry for “real food” He said I am the bread of life, I am the living bread
h) To those who are “thirsting” He said come unto Me and drink
We could go on. He did say frequently “Come to Me” and “Follow Me”
Jesus is revealing Himself as the relevant answer to every person’s search for “reality”. All these are different and there is no single “method”, but all “methods” direct us to the person of Jesus who said “no one comes to the Father except through Me”.

Jesus (and John the Baptist) called for a change in peoples lives, fruit of repentance.
We note that Jesus did not ask his disciples to
a) Build a church or the Church (He said He would do that)
b) To invite people to a church
c) To have altar calls
d) To ask people to pray a prayer of commitment or repentance.
These however are methods we use in our cultural context

We note that Jesus did ask His disciples (Matt.10v7,8; 29v19,20; Acts 10v38) to
a) Go
b) Preach the gospel, the Kingdom
c) Heal, deliver, set people free (indicates that we need to be dependant on Him for supernatural power and evidential signs)
d) Do good
e) Make disciples
And He said “the things that I do shall you do also” (Jn.14v12)
He says He is the pattern and He asks us to do what He did. “As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you” (Jn.20v21, 17v18)
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me” (Jn.10v37)
Should this apply to us also?

To Zacchaeus He said “Today I must stay at your house”. What else Jesus said, we are not told. Zacchaeus responded from his heart when he said “Lord I give half my goods to the poor, etc and restore four fold”. Jesus response is astounding to us – “Today – salvation has come to this house”. (Lk.19v9)
So we could deduce that his confession established his salvation but in reality, it was his apparent coming alive that Jesus was referring to.

Mary broke an alabaster box and poured ointment over His feet. Jesus says to her “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you.” Were her actions speaking louder than any words? (Lk.7v50). Here we have no verbal confession of faith but faith revealed by her actions. Again Jesus is accepting her heart’s expression.

What does some of the early church teaching reveal?

Paul encouraged the disciples saying that “we must though many tribulations to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14v22). This implies that the entry in the Kingdom is more involved in the journey as a disciple rather an a single event. Paul was the one who said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and all your house” (Acts 16v31). So is believing an event or a journey?

It is true that none of the New Testament epistles emphasise being “born again”. Paul does however contrast the old man and the new man. He repeats Jesus word when he says “you were dead but now are made alive together with Christ” (Lk.15v24,32 cf Eph.2v5-6)

Rather than a “born again” teaching there is an emphasis on being “filled with the spirit”. Living (walking) in the spirit, seems to be more important than any single “method” of commitment.

DA replies – Thanks DG – These are very good reflections

GH – Not sure what all the fuss is about here. It seems very clear to me that Paul does support the ‘born again’ verse in his teaching on the ‘new creation’ 2Cor 5:17, then in the many, many scriptures that differentiate the new ‘life’ of God from earthly ‘life’ Rom 8:9-11. Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians celebrate new life, even if they don’t mention ‘born again’ specifically.
I am not a scholar so I am not really interested in semantics, but rather in understanding the heart of Christ through the recurring messages and themes that the gospels and Paul’s letters repeat and develop. “New life’ in Christ is an undeniable truth, based on scripture and our collective life experience.
However, it is good to be challenged, because then we understand what we truly know and believe.

DA replies – Thanks GH. These are good reflections.
I agree that ‘born again’ can be seen to be supported in 2 Cor 5:17 & also maybe in 1 Peter & 1 John …
But … the original question related to the process of becoming saved, rather than the result of that salvation ….. it seems to me that the passages above talk of the consequence of the salvation (the new life in Christ you mention), rather than how to get there.
Rom 8:9-11 is similar in describing the result, & doesn’t seem to specifically include the ‘born again’ bit.
I think Christian leaders need to be interested in semantics … in that one of their primary roles is communication … & good semantics is about choosing accurate words for communication
(I’ve heard the leader of a big church say something very inaccurate in a large leadership meeting, & when asked about it later he said ‘it doesn’t matter what I said ….. what I meant is important’ … even though we listeners were confused about what he said/meant)

HW – Actually, I must disagree that the imagery of being ‘born again’ is used only by Jesus in the context of being saved.

Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 15:8 and in Galatians 4:23,29.
Peter uses it in 1 Peter 1:23.
And John uses it not only in his Gospel but throughout 1 John — see 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4,18

Surely being ‘born of the Spirit’ means that you start cooperating with the Spirit instead of resisting Him — He ’causes us to will and to act according to His purpose’, which entails caring for the poor and the planet too. It’s all one seamless whole to me, I fail to see the dilemma :-)!

DA replies – Thanks

RT – If I asked a number of rally car drivers how to win a race I would probably get a different answer from everyone of them.
One would say “have the fastest car, another would say have the best mechanics, another might say you need the best gear and so on, good luck , good judgement , great navigator etc etc etc etc”. The reality is you need all these things but at different times you need more of one than the others. Similarly, Jesus teaching was not prescriptive to the exclusion of other factors that applied to other people

Now clearly from scripture justification is by faith apart from works. Yet Paul preached repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith. What Jesus asked of the rich young ruler was for fruits that were reflective of repentance ( bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and begin not to say …..etc ). However the thief on the cross saying “ remember me when you come in your Kingdom “ is reflective of faith, and that in who Jesus was and in what His mission was.

If we keep people focused on repentance and faith like Paul we will keep people on the highway of holiness and stop them going off on tangents . For example, if we only preach faith our hearers will end up falling into the ditch of predestination. And if we only preach repentance our listeners will end up in the ditch on the opposite side of works.
These two truths repentance and faith are like the oars of a dinghy. If you only ever pull on one oar you end up getting no where. But if you use them both equally together you will make good forward progress.

CW – Jesus obviously could not say a lot about salvation before he was actually crucified and raised again, as the cross became the source of that salvation. But he was explaining to Nicodemus in principle the necessity of a spiritual birth, or regeneration as it may be otherwise known. This birth is of course more fully explained in the rest of the NT, not necessary using the word “birth”. There are of course a number of other references to this “birth”: John 1.13; 3.3 &6; Titus 3.5; James 1.18; 1 Pet 1.23; 1 Jhn 3.9; 4.7; 5.1,14. Compare this with the new “creation”; 2 Cor 5.17; Gal 6.15.
Certainly there are many ref’s to ‘salvation’ and I am sure that you are aware of those.

Jesus comments to the RYR were based on what was the then known basis for salvation, and his final comment to the RYR : ‘one thing you still lack ……’ was more of a challenge to true discipleship as Jesus went on to talk about in the following vs.

DA replies – Thanks RT – These are good reflections