Born Again (Part 4): The New Birth in the New Testament

Born Again (Part 4): The New Birth in the New Testament

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament speaks of regeneration on many occasions and in many ways. Perhaps the most well-known example is Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus, the Old Testament scholar, recorded in John 3, in which He explains that a person must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus is understandably confused about Jesus’ image of being born again. What Jesus meant is that we are all sinners, meaning we are born physically alive but spiritually dead.53 Therefore, to be spiritually alive to God we must experience a second birth of our spirit; in other words, we must be born again. Jesus tells Nicodemus that this new birth, or regeneration, occurs by the work of God the Holy Spirit.

This depiction of being born again is repeated elsewhere in the New Testament, as the following examples illustrate:

  • Born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.54
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.55
  • Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. 56
  • Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.57

Elsewhere in the New Testament many other images are used to explain regeneration. These include “partakers of the divine nature,”58 “new creation,”59 “new man,”60 “alive together with Christ,”61 and “created in Christ Jesus.”62

Three very important truths help to illuminate regeneration in the New Testament:

  1. It is vital to understand that regeneration is done to ill-deserving, not just undeserving, sinners.63 Therefore, regeneration is a gift of grace, as Titus 3:5 says: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
  2. Regeneration is something God the Holy Spirit does for us.64 Therefore, unless God accomplishes regeneration in people, it is impossible for them to live the Christian life.
  3. Without regeneration there is no possibility of eternal life in God’s kingdom.65 Therefore, regeneration is required for someone to be a true Christian.

In the following days, we will examine 10 aspects of God’s regenerating work in the new heart of those who are born again as Christians to a thoroughly new life.

Out of the New Testament Scriptures above, which one speaks to you most deeply? Why?

  1. Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13.
  2. John 1:13.
  3. 1 Pet. 1:3.
  4. 1 Pet. 1:23.
  5. 1 John 5:1.
  6. 2 Pet. 1:4.
  7. 2 Cor. 5:17.
  8. Eph. 2:15; 4:24.
  9. Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13.
  10. Eph. 2:10.
  11. Eph. 2:1–5.
  12. John 3:5–8.
  13. John 3:3, 5; cf. 1 Cor. 2:6–16.
Mark Driscoll
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