"Except a man be born again,"

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by tnelson, Jan 11, 2003.

  1. tnelson

    tnelson
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    Jesus said to Nicodemus:
    John 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    Every Christian knows the truth of these words, but how often do we consider the order of the actions of "born again" and "see the king dom of God"? By tradition it is taught that a person sees the kingdom of God, desires to enter into it, and then believes, resulting in regeneration. Yet, Jesus taught that the unregenerate person cannot even see the kingdom of God. Spiritual birth precedes all actions of the spiritual life. Jesus parallels "seeing" the kindom with "entering" the kingdom in the sme passage. John 3:5-7
    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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee; Ye bust be born again.
    The contrast between flesh and spirit, unregenerate and regenerate, spiritually dead and spiritually alive, is complete, making the new birth and absolute necessity. You must be born again.
     
  2. Yelsew

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    Just how does one get "born again"?

    Jesus said ye must be born again. He did not say, "I will rebirth you".

    What does it mean to be born again?

    The spirit of man exists, I believe, from conception for "the spirit is the life of the flesh". Therefore when a child is born it has a human spirit, though dead to God, lest the flesh be dead! By the fact that the lineage of man is "cursed" with original sin from Adam and Eve, the human spirit's "persuasion" is that of the sin nature. To be born again, the spirit of man must be persuaded to change or be 'reborn with a new persuasion'.

    By hearing the word of God and believing in Jesus, one's spirit is persuaded from sin nature to holiness nature. Continual hearing and believing, which is faith, continues the persuasion process in the human spirit toward "sinlessness", making sinlessness the dominant persuasion in the spirit. The believing spirit is striving to live up to the command to "be holy as I am holy". But even if the new born spirit sins, that new spirit can confess the sins and be assured of forgiveness, 1 John 1:9.

    Initial belief in Jesus, and confession of who Jesus is, marks the one's spirit with the blood of Jesus. This "laundry mark" with a matching entry in the 'Book of Life' says to the Judge that this spirit belongs to His Son, and it is separated from the goats, thus being placed among the sheep. That "Laundry Mark" is the mark of redemption that keeps the believer from being thrown into the lake of fire of Revelation 20:11-15.

    Thus Salvation is assured by the spirit being reborn.

    [ January 11, 2003, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Yelsew ]
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    John 1:12-13 answers your question: By God ... not by the will of man. Just as a child does not will himself into physical life, so your spirit does not will itself into spiritual life. It is the work of God in regeneration.
     
  4. tnelson

    tnelson
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    1 John 5:1
    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is Born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

    Such a passage would be understood to present the following order of events: (1) Believe that Jesus is the Christ, and (2) you are born of God. Yet, the original readers of this text would not jump to such a conclusin. In reality, the most literal rendering would be, "Every one believing (present tense participle, emphasizing both the on-going action as well as the individuality of saving faith, "each believing person") that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (a perfect passive verb, "has been born by the agency of God"). The one believing that jesus is the Christ has been born of God. If a person is now believing that Jesus is the Christ in a true and saving fashion, they are doing so because, as a completed action in the past, they were born again through the work and agency of God. The verb "to be born " is passive: they were caused to be born by another, that being God. They did not cause their own spiritual birth. And what is the inevitable result of being born of God? Belief that Jesus is the Christ. Just as all those who are given by the Father to the son come to the Son (John 6:37),so tot all who are spiritually reborn through the work of God have as the object of their faith the Lord Jesus Christ.
     
  5. Primitive Baptist

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    Pastor Larry,

    I was wondering how exactly you believe concerning this. I am confused because it seems like sometimes you say that we believe in order to be saved, and other times that we are born again and then believe. Which one do you believe? Don't get me wrong because I'm not trying to be rude or anything like that. It's just confusion on my part, and I was wanting to know. Thanks.
     
  6. Yelsew

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    Choose you this day whom you will serve!
    As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord!
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    Technically speaking, my ordo salutis runs 1) Election; 2) Effectual call 3) repentance and faith; 4) regeneration. In principle, I have no real difference with those who say that regeneration precedes faith. Both they and I agree that there must be a unilateral, sovereign, and effectual work of the Holy Spirit that will certainly bring belief. Our difference is what we call it.
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    I think we all agree with that. However, it has no real bearing on this discussion. All men are commanded to repent and believe. However, not all are obedient. They, of their own free will, choose to not repent and believe. But, as I say, this passage you cite above does not really address this issue so it appears to be out of place in this forum
     
  9. Yelsew

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    If man chooses "not to repent and believe", then man also chooses "to repent and believe". Man is not preconditioned to repent and believe, he must choose to do so!

    [ January 11, 2003, 04:50 PM: Message edited by: Yelsew ]
     
  10. Ps104_33

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    Dont you think numbers 3 and 4 are backwards?

    Regeneration then repentence and faith?
     
  11. Primitive Baptist

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    Pastor Larry,

    In other words, God draws the elect effectually to Jesus Christ and grants them repentance and faith. By faith, as an instrument, they then receive the righteousness of Christ and are therefore regenerated. I was reading some Reformed Baptist materials and I never could get the regeneration/effectual calling into place. The scenario I just gave is somewhat different from regeneration first because if you are regenerated first, you are saved BEFORE you believe, whereas in the scenario I gave, faith receives salvation, justification, etc. Does that make sense?
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    I don't but many do. I have no quarrel with them. As I say, we agree in principle; we call them different things. Traditionally the "regeneration preceding faith" argument has been a theological one. I can account for the theological necessity of divine enablement through the effectual call (which Murray defines as divine enablement). I limit "regeneration" to the kind of life that God gives as a result of faith. The difference between me and the traditional reformed position is one of semantics. What they call regeneration, I call the effectual call. What I call regeneration, they usually call eternal life.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Yes it makes sense. Most reformed soteriologists do not make a huge distinction between regeneration and effectual calling. The only reason I do is because, to me, regeneration is life, and in John's writing, we believe unto life; in Acts, repentance unto life was granted to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18). In essence I agree with the traditional position; I just use different terms for it.
     
  14. tnelson

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    1 John 2:29
    If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

    The reason one practices righteousness is because they have already been born of Him. We do not practice righteousness so as to be born, but instead the birth gives rise to the practice of righteousness. But, this means that in 1 John 5:1 "the belief in Jesus as the Christ is the result of being born of Him. The verbal parallel is exact: in 1 John 2:29 " the one practicing righteousness" is a present participle; in 1 John 5:1 " the one believing" is a present participle. In both passages the exact same verb in the exact same form is used. Therefore, sheer consistency leads to the conclusion that divine birth precedes and is the grounds of both faith in Christ as well as good works.
     
  15. tnelson

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    The testimony to the fact that God's work of grace precedes any human action can be found all through the text of Scripture.

    Act. 16:14
    And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

    It is no response to say that the opening of Lydia's heart was a mere "moving" of god upon her that in essence brought her to a moral neutral point, leaving the final decision to her. The obvious question is, why would God have to open her heart and to what end? The text tells us why He engaged in this supernatural action: so that Lydia would "respond" to the things spoken by Paul. God had a specific purpose in what He was doing, that being the acceptance of the preached Word. But if saving faith in response to the preaching of the Gospel is the ability of every man and woman, why did God have to open Lydia's heart? God had to take out that heart of stone and put in Lydia a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26) so that she would respond to the message of the Cross.
     
  16. Primitive Baptist

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    tnelson,

    I'm not aware of anybody here teaching that the final decision is left up to man. Pastor Larry and I were discussing the order of salvation. Does God give life first or does He draw a man, grant him faith and repentance, and then regenerate him? The issue here is the instrumentality of faith. John Calvin likened faith to a vessel that is given to the elect by God. God gives the elect this vessel whereby we receive the righteousness of Christ. After all, Paul did write "by grace through faith." Faith receives Jesus Christ. That is what this discussion is about. It has nothing to do with whether or not man makes the final decision. I never stated my position. I was simply inquiring about the view of Pastor Larry. However, since we are on the topic, why do we not discuss this issue. Pastor Larry mentioned the Gospel of John and "believing unto life" and Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." If these people already had life, how were they granted "repentance unto life?" That is a good question and worthy of our attention. Concerning Lydia, does God opening her heart correspond to regeneration or the drawing power of God (John 6:44)?
     
  17. tnelson

    tnelson
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    (Topic) Born Again

    Paul reminded the Corinthains of this truth.
    1 Corinthians 1:26-31
    For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

    God has cut out every ground of boasting by choosing to save in a way that confounds the wisdom of men. No man can boast before God. Notice a small phrase that is often overlooked by some. (But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,) or (But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus). The text reads, "by means of Him, from Him."

    Is it by my act of free will, or God's act of free will, that I am in Christ Jesus?
     
  18. Primitive Baptist

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    Nobody here is claiming that we are in Christ by free will or good works. Both Pastor Larry and I are Calvinists. We are talking about the divine order of salvation.

    Scenario #1

    1. God regenerates a sinner.
    2. The sinner comes to faith and repentance.

    Scenario #2

    1. God draws a man.
    2. The man is granted faith and repentance.
    3. By faith, the man receives the righteousness of Christ, hence, "by grace through faith."

    The only difference is that in scenario #2, the man receives the righteousness of Christ by faith, whereas in scenario #1, the sinner does not receive anything by faith but only perceives that which he already has. Which is it? That is the issue, not salvation by free will or good works.
     
  19. Ps104_33

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    Pastor Larry,
    If you dont mind me asking, what part of Michigan are you from. I have two brothers who are Baptist Pastors there. Kalamazoo, Battle Creek.
     
  20. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Metro Detroit ... Long ways from K-zoo and Battle Creek.
     

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