The New Birth Part I
The scriptures have a lot to say about being born again and the consequent
effects upon those who are born again. Many erroneous ideas have been put forth
about what man must/can do to cause himself to be born again. One highly popular
evangelist wrote a book on the subject of how man can be born again. The problem
with such concepts is that they simply are not true. The plain biblical teaching
is that God is sovereign in bringing about the new birth. By the term,
sovereign, we mean "independent of all others." God is under no dependency on
man to bring about the new birth. God does not cause anyone to be born again
because of their actions of either belief, works, or following a prescribed
course of action.
John 3:8 describes God's sovereignty in causing someone to
be born again. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whether it goeth: so is everyone
that is born of the Spirit." Just as God is sovereign, the wind is also
independent of the actions of man. "The wind bloweth where it listeth" No
man has ever had the power or knowledge to direct or control the direction or
force by which the wind blows. Likewise man does not have the power or knowledge
to bring about the new birth. "And thou hearest the sound thereof" While
we have the evidence of the wind's blowing, this knowledge is not a cause of the
wind's blowing, but is an effect of the wind's blowing.
Likewise there are many evidences of the new birth given
unto us to assure us of that birth, but those evidences are an effect of the
birth and not the cause. "But canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it
goeth" we are not able to pinpoint a place on earth and say the wind
originates here, or pinpoint a place on earth and say this is the final
destination of the wind. Thus we conclude the wind is totally independent of man
in its blowing, its direction, its origination and its destination. Likewise the
Holy Spirit is totally independent of man in bringing about the new birth. The
new birth takes place when and where the Holy Spirit chooses. Likewise it is
God's choice and not man's choice as to who will be born again and who won't be
Likewise John 3:6 teaches us the sovereignty of God in the
new birth and affirms that the new birth is not a cooperative endeavor between
God and man: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is
born of the Spirit is spirit." In our natural birth it is the actions of the
flesh that brought about our natural birth into the world. Even here, it was not
our actions, but our parent's actions that brought about our natural birth. By
parallel, the spiritual birth is brought about by the Holy Spirit. Again it is
the actions of the Holy Spirit that brings about this spiritual birth and not
our actions. The Lord
said in John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth
nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."
Now if I in my flesh could do something to help bring about the new birth, then
there would be a profit in the flesh, but the Lord affirms that there is no
profit in the flesh, but that the Holy Spirit does the quickening (new birth).
Similarly, John 1:11 13 teaches us that God is sovereign in bringing about the
new birth: "He came unto his own...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." This passage teaches the Sovereignty of God in causing us
to be born again by first ruling all other possible causes. First, man's belief
is ruled out as a cause for the passage shows that the birth took place prior to
man's belief. This leaves us with the only logical conclusion that belief cannot
be a cause of the new birth. Secondly, the new birth is not the result of a
blood relationship to Abraham or anyone else. Thirdly, the new birth is not the
result of the will or desire of the flesh. Man, by nature, does not desire to be
born again. Fourthly, the new birth is not the result of man's will or choice.
Thus, man does not choose to be born again and because of his choice the new
birth comes about. Therefore, having ruled out all other possible causes of the
new birth, John simply states that the new birth is "of God." While there are
other scriptures, which show God's sovereignty in bringing about the new birth,
these sufficiently prove God's independence of man in causing anyone to be born
The New Birth Part II
last installment we looked at the sovereign work of God in
bringing about the new (spiritual) birth in an individual.
In this installment we will look at the condition of man
prior to being born again and see his total inability to do
anything to bring about the new birth.
Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in
trespasses and sins..." The word, "quicken," means to make
alive." When we "were dead in trespasses and sins" we were
"made alive" spiritually. Our condition prior to being born
again was "dead in trespasses and sins."
2 and 3 describe this condition of being "dead in trespasses
and sins," "Wherein in time past (i.e., prior to being born
again) ye walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom
also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts
of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the
mind; and were by nature the children of wrath even as
others." When we "were dead in trespasses and sins," we
"walked according to the course of this world." The course
of this world is abomination to God. The scriptures say that
whosoever is the friend of "this world" is the enemy of God.
Thus, we conclude that when we were dead in trespasses and
sins that we were the "enemies of God."
Secondly, we followed after the "prince of the power of the
air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience." Jesus is the "prince of peace." Satan is the
"prince of the power of the air." We, being dead in
trespasses and sins walked after Satan and had the spirit of
Satan working in us as he now works in the children of
Thirdly, we had our "conversation" or life style "in the
lusts of our flesh..." Paul said "that in me that is in my
flesh dwelleth no good thing." "The lust of the flesh, and
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the
father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). For our life
style to be after fleshly lust is to live selfishly and
Fourthly, we "fulfilled the desires of the flesh and of the
mind." Thus we weren't just walking after them, but we were
actually doing those things. Fifthly, our nature was the
same nature that the children of wrath now possess, i.e., we
"were by nature the children of wrath even as others." This
was our condition before we were born again.
described in Romans 3:9 18 our condition under the law of
sin and death from which bondage we were delivered by the
law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). It
is said of man before the new birth that "There is none
righteous, no, not one." Thus we conclude that before we
were born again we were in our fleshly state totally
unrighteous before God.
Secondly, we are told that "there is none that understandeth."
I Corinthians 2:14 says that "the natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to
him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually
discerned." Without the new birth we cannot discern
spiritual things, we cannot know them and we cannot
understand them. We must be born again to understand the
gospel, to know God, and to discern spiritually the word of
Thirdly, we read where "there is none that seeketh after
God." Prior to being born again, no man will nor can seek
after God. How foolish it is that men will say that seeking
after God is a prerequisite condition for being born again.
Contrariwise a man must be born again in order to be able to
seek after God.
Fourthly, "there is none that doeth good, no not one." Prior
to being born again a man cannot do good. Is being baptized,
or believing the gospel, or repenting, or believing on the
Lord Jesus Christ doing good? If it is, then man must be
born again prior to doing any of those things.
Finally, we read that "there is no fear of God before their
eyes." A man who does not fear God will not come to God.
Therefore, a man cannot come to God prior to being born
said in John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the
flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit and they are life." If I through preaching
the gospel or you through believing the gospel can bring
about the new birth, then there is a profit in our fleshly
undertakings and the Lord was wrong. He never has nor will
make a mistake. His spoken voice gives life, not our deeds!
conclude with John 5:25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the
voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."
When we were dead in trespasses and sins we heard the life
giving voice of the Son of God speaking spiritual life into
our very being and thus we now live spiritually. Having that
spiritual life we can understand spiritual things, seek
after God, know God, do good, worship God, fear God, believe
the gospel, repent, and become the disciple of Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!