What Does It Mean To. Be Born Again? Part 4

5 October 2013

The Method of the New Birth

Now, we come to the heart of our question. How does the new birth take place. If Jesus is not teaching us what we should do to see heaven, then what exactly is He saying? Verse 8 teaches the process of the new or spiritual birth. In This verse, Jesus compares the process to the blowing of the wind. He teaches the principles of the method of the new birth with a metaphor that we can all understand.

  1. The wind bloweth where it listeth. God is sovereign in regeneration. We cannot control the wind nor direct it. Therefore, we cannot cause God to act upon us, or more importantly, we cannot resist God’s action upon us. As the wind blows where it wants to, God acts according to His will and nothing can stop Him.

  2. “Thou hearest the sound thereof.” We cannot see the wind. It is invisible. However, we can see the effects of the wind and hear the sound that it makes. So it is with the spirit of God in the new birth. We may not see God working, but we will feel the effects of it upon us.

  3. “But canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” The wind is mysterious in that we cannot tell where it is coming from and where it will go next. We may be able to to trace back to the time and place where we first understood and believed the gospel, but the moment which God moved first in our lives might be more difficult to pinpoint.

Most people’s description of what they think is their new birth is most likely their conversion. We cannot control our regeneration, but we are responsible to walk according to our new knowledge. This is our conversion not our new birth.

  1. “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Every child of God is born again exactly the same way, by the sovereign power of God. Therefore, however the murdered baby in the womb is born again, so is the old man. However the mentally handicapped person that cannot understand human communication is born again, so is the doctor of theology. However righteous Abel was regenerated, so will the last child of God be on earth.

Whatever means are used in one case are used in every case. Therefore, if someone is born again where the gospel has not reached them, then the gospel is never used to cause new birth. The duty of the gospel is to proclaim to those born again what God has done for them in the new birth. It is the Good News of God’s work not prescription of how to get born again.

There are many theological opinions about how a person is born again but they can be grouped into three major categories: 1) Baptismal Regeneration, 2) Decisional Regeneration, & 3) Immediate Regeneration. Baptismal regeneration teaches that a person is born again when they are baptized. If this be the case then what of those before the cross, the thief next to Jesus on the cross, aborted babies, and the like? These must be saved a different way. However, we have already shown that all are born again the same way. Additionally, Peter teaches us that baptism is not to put away the filth of the flesh or wash away sin. It is rather, the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3:21).

Decisional regeneration is the popular theology in Christianity today. It teaches that when a person makes a decision “for Christ” he is then born again. This teaching uses phrases like: “let Jesus into your heart” and “accept Jesus as your personal Savior.”

This teaching requires that one hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, believe it, and make a conscious decision to follow Him. The scriptures teach, however, that belief is an evidence of the new birth not the cause of it. Look at John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Jesus clearly shows that those that believe the gospel already possess eternal life. They have already been born again and are therefore able to believe. Belief (faith) is a fruit or evidence of the indwelling of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22). I John 5:1 teaches the same principle that a current believer is already born again.
In our opening section, we quoted John 1:12-13 which talks about belief and the new birth. However, we must look closely at the language. The verses do not teach that we believe in order to get born again, but those that believe “were born” already. The past tense shows that the new birth was prior to the belief and therefore not contingent upon the belief.

Lastly, immediate regeneration teaches that man is born again without any means, but solely by the Spirit of God. This is the doctrine that is taught by Jesus in John chapter three. We are born once naturally. It is a single event which makes us part of our natural family. We are born again once, and instantaneously. The several verbs we presented earlier show the immediate nature of God’s work upon us in regeneration. The baby does not play an active role in its birth. Neither do we play an active role in our new birth. The universe was a creation, not an evolution. We are created in Christ Jesus as new creatures, not spiritually evolved from a natural to a spiritual state.

Bryce Lowrance

Elder Bryce Lowrance

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