Edward F. Lundwall Jr.
The Lord Jesus said: “Ye must be born again.” John 3:7
At conception, the baby is a new identity whose DNA like its parents, yet unique. So a baby is a new creation, a new individual, but a natural person.
Jesus was talking about a new spiritual birth. “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.” By saying this, Christ was specifically referring to partaking of a non-human birth, from God’s Spirit. (John 3:5, 6).
Spiritual life is distinguished from natural physical birth by citing Christ as a progenitor, a new Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45-54: "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
The emboldened text shows that the rebirth is new, it is contrasted with the mortal, natural life from Adam. Indeed, the Apostle Paul is inspired to say: the second nature comes not from Adam, but is Christ’s life, it is a new creation. In a mysterious way, Christ’s life becomes the true believer’s life (Gal 2:20). At physical death, this new life identity goes into Christ’s presence where the soul and spirit find a heavenly dewelling that will be reunited with a glorified body (1 John 3:2):
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” This is what Paul described in the above passage from 1 Corinthians 15.
Indeed, the Apostle Paul was inspired to say: “. . . if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:. .”(2 Cor 5:17).
The contrasts in Romans 7 and 8. specifically speak about the development of a new creation, a new nature. Paul writes that “we.” believers are to serve “in newness of spirit” (Rom 7:6).
In his battle with the old nature, the flesh, Paul shows that he has a new self when he said: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” He describes the carnal unregenerated mind’s nature: “Because the 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). Because he “delights” in God’s Word, this shows he has a new regenerate nature and no longer has a mind that is “enmity against God.” (Rom 8:7).
Then Paul points out the contrast of the natures: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” (Rom 8:9).
The whole point of receiving Christ is to become “the sons of God, to be “born again” ” instead of being the sons of Adam.” 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: 13 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). This is why John contrasts the means of natural birth with being born of God to become the sons of God.
It is obvious that whatever parent one has that one has the nature of their parents. A being born of a dog is a dog, one born of a whale is a whale, one born of the children of Adam and Eve are their children. Because they sinned, we are naturally sinners, so when we are born of God, we are a new creation, the children of God.
That this may not be an instant experience is seen from 1 Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
And: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4).
This is the prophesied experience of Jeremiah 31:31-33: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Gentiles are grafted into the New Covenant or New Testament (Covenant and Testament are synimimns). We are to remember Christ and His death in the communion of taking the bread and wine (1 Cor 11:23-34).
To remain in the Old Testament, THE Law, under its demands, is to remain under the curse of the Law: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal 5:4).
For Christ has become cursed to pay for our sins, because the demand of the violated Law was the curse of death: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (Gal 3:13).
The Law can only function to show the believer the need for a sanctified, sin overcoming life, it cannot give it. For the Law cannot give the life it demands:
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3, 4).
There are different kinds of forgiveness. There is pre-regeneration forgiveness: “When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.” (Ezek 33:18). This is simular to the rocky ground believer in the parable of the Sower: “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matt13:20, 21).
Then there is forgiveness in regeneration that cannot be lost as God described David’s son, Solomon:
“He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (2 Sam 7:13-15).
The difference: as a son of God, his status is as one born again! Such will receive chastening, not condemnation: “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb 12:8).
Then there is forgiveness for restoration of fellowship as in a family relationship: “. . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6, 7).
Regeneration, being born again, happens when a believer lets God’s Word deliver him or her from a life style of sin: “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9 NASU).
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23).
This is the reason that the Lord Jesus said to new believers:
“As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:30-36).
This is the nature of being born again and the condition that was prophesied by Jeremiah:
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33).
The Apostle Paul described being born again as a response to God’s promises as a new creation:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17).
The Apostle Peter makes it clear that regeneration involves the application of God’s promises so that we are “partakers of the divine nature!”
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4).
So how can a person know that one is born again? Who does that one respond to?
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28).