“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:7
Jesus told one of the most religious men of his day named Nicodemus that he must be BORN AGAIN (John 3:3). This being born again is generally known as the NEW BIRTH (John 3:1-8). It is the only doorway into the kingdom of God, the only escape from the wrath of God soon to come, the strait gate and the narrow way that leads to life which very few find (Matthew 7:13,14). The new birth is the only cure for man’s sinful nature and lusts. It is the only solution the sinner needs; the single dose therapy that can keep him out of hell; and whoever keeps this all-important truth from men is an enemy of their soul, and any preacher or author who corrupts the doctrine of the new birth is to be dreaded as a deadly cancer.
Every sinner is under the wrath of God, whether he believes it or not. A holy God must punish sin and destroy sinners.
Many a sinner do not sense God’s wrath and impending judgement upon them because Satan has blinded them, and YOU, my reader, might be one of them, thinking all is well with your soul, but sooner than you expect death sweeps you into hell. Do not flatter yourself. Do not think all is well. There is a HOLY GOD in heaven that must punish sin and those practising it. Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 53:1).
Many preachers and churches do not preach this truth, and even when they do, they pervert it. Some preach that the NEW BIRTH is water baptism, others say it is Holy Ghost baptism and speaking in tongues, and others say it is “making a decision for Jesus” and praying the sinner’s prayer. All of these man-made opinions mentioned fall short of what the bible calls the NEW BIRTH.
How many times have you made “decisions for Jesus” on the crusade ground and repeated the sinner’s prayer, yet you know in your heart that you are still under the power of sin; that no real change has taken place in your heart. The truth is that the change you need, and the deliverance from the power of sin and lusts, can only be brought about by God. Only God can perform in you that miracle which the bible describes as being born again. Your decisions, your church doctrines and beliefs, and your good works cannot bring about the great miracle of the NEW BIRTH which alone can keep you out of hell.
Our condition as sinners is desperate
First, the question to ask is this, Is the salvation of a sinner in his own hand or in the hand of God?
The bible makes it clear that the salvation of the sinner is not in the hand of the sinner but in the hand of God, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:15,16).
God reserves the supreme right to save one sinner and withhold salvation from another sinner. He shows mercy to one and withholds it from another, as he likes. He bestows his love on one man and withholds the same from another. He loved Jacob and hated Esau. This special prerogative belongs to God and not man; and until you believe this truth, you are not yet ready to surrender to God: you are still fighting against God.
“Salvation is of the Lord” (Psalm 37:39; Jonah 2:9); and unless a man believes this, he is still far from the truth about God’s free salvation
Do sinners deserve mercy or punishment? Do they deserve life or death? Every sinner deserves punishment and death in hell (Romans 6:23), therefore, God is not under any obligation to show them mercy. God does not owe any man mercy. If he ever shows mercy to sinners, it is not because they deserve it, but because God decided to have mercy upon them.
What is the NEW BIRTH?
The new birth is not what you can bring about or produce by your own will, effort or decision. It is beyond the power of man to make himself born again. It is beyond the power of the sinner to give himself a new heart.
The new birth is a supernatural and irreversible miracle of grace which God alone performs in the soul of a sinner, by which the sinner is brought into vital union with Christ, given a new nature that follows after holiness and hates sin, and looks to the cross of Christ as the only ground of salvation.
Mark well the terms employed in the definition:
#1) The new birth is supernatural and irreversible, it cannot be lost. Once God performs this miracle in the soul of a sinner, it cannot be lost.
#2) It is a miracle of grace. We do not deserve it, but God gives it freely to those he chooses, yet he does not give it to all.
#3) A vital and lively union with Christ is established. Once God makes a man born again, he immediately yields his life to Christ. His affections becomes drawn towards Christ.
#4) Holy nature and hatred for sin is ingrained into the heart.
#5) The sinner will be convicted of his sins, and he will disdain every self-righteousness, and trust in the atoning blood of Christ as his only ground of salvation. One in whose heart God has performed this miracle of grace will never trust in his good works and character as the ground of his salvation. He will always look to the cross of Jesus as his only hope and ground of salvation. When God performs this miracle in your heart, you will know that you never deserved it, but that God has given it to you out of his mere mercy.
The Ignorance of men concerning this doctrine.
Old Nicodemus, though a teacher in Israel, was ignorant of the great doctrine of the new birth, though it was written most all over the Old Testament Scriptures he read from (Ezek 36:25-27). The Lord Jesus Christ rebuked him for his ignorance, for he was blameworthy, having been a teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures but ignorant of the doctrine of the new birth. The Lord said to him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:10). This ignorance of Nicodemus still prevails today, and spreads its tentacle in churches, so that many have been deceived.
Jesus did not say to Nicodemus, “Ye must make yourselves born again”, which is the sense many tend to put upon the 7th verse of John 3.
Again, I repeat, Jesus did not say to Nicodemus, “You must make yourself born again.” There was no duty assigned to Nicodemus by which he could help accomplish the miracle of the New birth within himself; the Lord Jesus Christ did not tell Nicodemus what he must do to be born again, he simply declared that a force outside of himself must act UPON Nicodemus – he simply told Nicodemus what must be done to men before they can see and enter the kingdom of heaven. “Ye must be born again.”
Men are completely passive in the work; they are not making themselves born again but are being made born again by another outside of themselves. The sense of the words is this, “You must be changed before you can enter the Kingdom of God.” You are not the one changing yourself, but another is changing you altogether.
God is the one that makes men born again by his Spirit, and as Nicodemus was ignorant of this great truth even with the Old Testament Scriptures in his hands, so men today are ignorant of this truth even with the Complete Scripture in their hands.
What Being Born Again Is Not
1. It is not Baptism: The Roman Catholic Church and the Campbellites (falsely called the Church of Christ) make being born again to be water Baptism. The must corrupt one or more of the verses of the Bible to establish their lies. The Roman Catholic Church corrupts John 3:5 to teach water baptism, and the Campbellites must corrupt the words of Peter in Acts 2:38 to teach their heresy of Baptismal regeneration. “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). God purposely put the verse that way to give them enough ground to pitch their heresy, and he justly blinds them so they will not consider that being born again, also known as regeneration, is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6). They are also ignorant of the fact that the New Birth is a spiritual resurrection of spiritually dead sinners which water pouring or sprinkling cannot accomplish. They are also ignorant that the thief on the cross was born again and made heaven without any Reverend Father of the Roman Catholic Church pouring water on him (Luke 23:42-43).
But if both the monks of Rome and the ministers of Campbell (falsely called the Church of Christ) think that being born again involves literal water, then Scriptures teach emphatically in plain terms that it is GOD ALONE, and not man, who will use the water on us: “Then will I [The LORD] sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I [The LORD] cleanse you” (Ezek 36:25).
And they must further allow that a new heart and a new spirit follows as soon as the clean water is sprinkled by God upon the sinner, and none but GOD ALONE gives this new heart and new spirit: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezek 36:26-27). When the Reverend Fathers of Rome and the ministers of Campbell give God a room to sprinkle the clean water upon sinners, they will understand the truth of the doctrine of being born again.
(2) It is not making a decision for Jesus Christ, nor receiving Jesus into your heart, as the majority of Pentecostal churches teach. Receiving Jesus, choosing to follow Jesus and believing in Jesus is the result that follows after God has performed the miracle of the new birth in the life of a sinner. It does not precede but follows regeneration. A man cannot choose Jesus, decide for Jesus, accept Jesus, or receive Jesus, until God has removed their old heart of stone and put a new heart and a new spirit within him. It is erroneous and destructive to the souls of men when so-called Evangelists and Pastors tell people that they should come forward to the pulpit and receive Jesus into their heart to be born again. They are telling spiritually dead sinners what to do to give themselves a divine life, which is as erroneous as telling a physically dead man what to do to give himself life.
Pentecostals quote John 1:12 to teach that men must make a decision for Jesus in order to be born again; but they fail to see that the many who received Jesus in John 1:12 were already born again – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: WHICH WERE BORN, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
(3) It is not Holy Ghost Baptism and speaking in tongues: The extreme Charismatic, driven with ignorance and a false zeal, teaches that being born of water and the Spirit is the gift of Holy Ghost Baptism and speaking in tongues; but they are misguided. First, in the Scriptures, the 120 disciples in the upper room were already born again and saved before the day of Pentecost came; Second, those Samaritans who received the words of Philip were already born again, and baptised, before Peter and John came to lay hands on them to receive the gift of speaking in tongues (Acts 8:12-17). Third, Scripture teach that not all who were born again in time of the Apostles spoke in tongues: “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).
(4) It is not reincarnation? Many religions teach that those who die in a state of sin and condemnation do not go to hell, but are given second and third chances, so that they reincarnate into the world until they reach moral perfection. According to them, a man is born again when he reincarnates the world and reaches moral perfection. Hebrews 9:27 overthrows this heresy: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
What Being Born Again is
1. It is a resurrection: Because men are born spiritually dead (Eph 2:1), they must be resurrected. And this resurrection, for it to truly be a resurrection, must be performed by God ALONE upon the spiritually dead sinner. As certain as the physical resurrection of Saints is by the efficacious power of God alone, so is the spiritual resurrection, which is being born again. Compare the two resurrections in John 5:25 and John 5:28-29.
The Scriptures plainly declare the New Birth to be a resurrection – yea, even the first resurrection we must experience before we can reigning, vital union with Christ: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev 20:6). The second death in this passage is generally understood to be eternal punishment in hell, and those who have experienced the first resurrection enter into a state of blessedness and holiness, and will not go to hell. Being born again is the first resurrection, and God is the one raising us out of spiritual death to spiritual life, and we are wholly passive in it. We do not cooperate with God to accomplish this, any more than we cooperate with him on the last day when he shall come with a loud voice to raise us out of our graves. If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel, it is because God has already given you the first resurrection!
2. It a quickening, a vitalising by the God: The New birth, regeneration, or whatever you choose to call, is God quickening, and vitalising us so that we come into the possession of a new life. The word “quicken” means to give life; it means living. Our finger nails, if cut with a sharp object, will not pain us; but let a little needle be thrust into the fleshly part underneath our nails, and we will feel the pain. That part of our flesh under our finger nail is called “the quick” because it is alive and can feel. Vitality means life, our vital organs our those internal organs of our body that are essential to life; some examples are our heart, our liver, our kidney, etc. The word quicken is used in Eph 2:1 to describe our first resurrection, which is our being born again: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
3. It is the implantation of a new heart to us by God: By nature we all have a wicked heart that hates God and resents his laws, a heart that is not subject to God and cannot please him: “For carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8). For this reason, we all stand in need of a new heart that can submit to God, obey his laws, and follow his commandments. This supernatural miracle of wherein God implants a new heart within us is known in the Scriptures as the New Birth, or Regeneration.
If this miracle is wrought within the heart of any child of Adam by the God of all grace, such a person is at once translated out of the power of darkness into the Kingdom of his dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Rather than men busying themselves with rules and conditions for regeneration, they ought to be like Paul, emphasizing and teach men to WORK OUT (that is to give full proof of regeneration) the salvation that has already been wrought into them.
Many will readily submit himself to whatever conditions he thinks will save his soul, but he will never truly and sincerely come to Christ as his Sovereign unless he has been changed from within, unless the Power from on high first envelopes and renews him from the inside.
12 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.