What is the New Birth?
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:1-8).
I cannot explain the mystery of the new birth. It is one of God’s incomprehensible works. But there are several things in the Word of God which identify God’s regenerating grace.
The First Resurrection
To be born again is to be raised from the dead (Ephesians 2:1-5). The new birth is the actual deliverance of chosen, redeemed sinners from spiritual death into spiritual life by the effectual power and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; Colossians 2:10-13). It is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual, eternal life in Christ by the Spirit of God (John 5:25). This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6).
The Divine Nature
To be born again is to be made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). In regeneration a new nature is created in our souls, so that men and women upon the earth are born in the image of God (Galatians 5:22). Christ is formed in us (Colossians 1:27). To be born again is to have Christ formed in us (Galatians 4:19). To have eternal life is to have the Lord Jesus Christ living in you (Galatians 2:20).
Born of God
To be born again is to have a good seed implanted in you by grace (1 John 3:9-10). By nature we are all sprung from bad seed — Adam. But in regeneration we are sprung from good Seed — The Lord Jesus Christ. And that Seed that is in us, being born of God, is holy and cannot sin, because it is born of God.
To be born again is to be made a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The heaven born soul has…
· A New Heart to Know and Love God.
· A New Will to Bow to the Rule of Christ.
· A New Mind to Understand the Things of God.
· A New, Spiritual Nature to Know, Enjoy, and Live upon Spiritual Things.
· New Eyes, Eyes of Faith, with which to See Christ.
· New Ears with which to Hear His Voice.
· New Hands, Hands of Faith, with which to Lay Hold of Christ and Do His Will.
· New Feet, with which to Flee to Christ and walk with Him in the Newness of Life.
Here is the great difference between the law and the gospel. The law demands everything, but gives nothing. The gospel demands nothing, but gives everything!
“Run, run and work,” the law demands,
Yet gives me neither feet nor hands;
But sweet, good news the gospel brings.
It bids me fly, and gives me wings!
With these my heavy soul may fly
Away to Christ and reach the sky,
Nor faint, nor falter in the race,
But work with cheer and sing of grace!
How are men and women born again by the Spirit of God? Anyone who understands the nature of man and the nature of the new birth realizes that divine, sovereign power and grace is required to give dead sinners life. Moral reason cannot give men life. Eloquence and logic cannot raise the dead. Emotional stirrings cannot open the grave. A mere exercise of the will cannot cause the dead to live. — “Ye must be born again.”
Regeneration is the sovereign, irresistible work of God the Holy Spirit. — “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (v. 8). At the time appointed by God, the Holy Spirit comes to the sinner, who was chosen by grace in eternal election and redeemed by Christ at Calvary, and creates life in that sinner by his sovereign, irresistible, effectual grace (Galatians 4:4-7).
The instrument by which the Holy Spirit causes men and women to be born again is the gospel of Christ (vv. 12-16). — “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” — “Of his own will begat he us with the Word of Truth.” — Sinners are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever…And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
In preaching the gospel God’s servants call upon dead men to arise (Ephesians 5:14), knowing that they are preaching to dead sinners who cannot hear and cannot obey their message. But if God the Holy Spirit is pleased to speak through his servant to your heart by the gospel, though you are dead, you will hear and you will live (John 5:25).
Every time we come into the house of God, as the gospel is preached, with every means by which we send it forth around the world in this generation, let us pray like God’s prophet of old. — “Come from the four winds, O Spirit of God, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”
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