Born Again

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 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. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
~ James 1:17, James 1:18, John 3:3, John 3:5-6, Galatians 6:15, Ephesians 2:1, Titus 3:5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
~ 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 1:23-25

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 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. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
~ 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:18 (

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.
~ John 3:5

Biblical Terms for the New Birth, by John Gill. This is from A Complete Body of Doctrinal Divinity Deduced from Sacred Scripture.

Regeneration may be considered either more largely, and then it includes with it effectual calling,39 conversion, and sanctification; or more strictly, and then it designs the first principle of grace infused40 into the soul.41

(This) makes it a fit object of effectual vocation, a proper subject of conversion, and is the source and spring of that holiness which is gradually carried on in sanctification and perfected in heaven. Concerning regeneration, the following things may be enquired into: What regeneration is or what is…the nature of it, which is so mysterious, unknown, and unaccountable to a natural man, as it was to Nicodemus, though a master42 in Israel. Now it may be the better understood by observing the phrases and terms by which it is expressed:

1. It is expressed by being born again, which regeneration properly signifies (see Joh 3:3, 7; 1Pe 1:3, 23). This supposes a prior birth, a first birth, to which regeneration is the second. (We) may receive some light by observing the contrast between the two births, they being the reverse of each other: the first birth is of sinful parents and in their image; the second birth is of God and in His image. The first birth is of corruptible, the second birth of incorruptible seed. The first birth is in sin, the second birth is in holiness and righteousness. By the first birth, men are polluted and unclean; by the second birth, they become holy and commence (to be) saints. The first birth is of the flesh and is carnal; the second birth is of the Spirit and is spiritual and makes men spiritual men. By the first birth, men are foolish and unwise, being born like a wild ass’s colt; by the second birth, they become knowing and wise unto salvation. By the first birth, they are slaves to sin and the lusts of the flesh and are home-born slaves; by the second birth, they become Christ’s free men. From their first birth, they are transgressors and go on in a course of sin until stopped by grace; in the second birth, they cease to commit sin, (i.e.) to go on in a course of sinning, but live a life of holiness. Yea, he that is born of God cannot sin. By the first birth, men are children of wrath and under tokens of divine displeasure; at the second birth, they appear to be the objects of the love of God, regeneration being the fruit and effect of it…

2. It is called being born from above: For so the phrase in John 3:3, 7 may be rendered. The Apostle James says in general, that every good and every perfect gift is from above; and regeneration being such a gift, must be from above…for it follows, of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth (Jam 1:17-18). The author of this birth is from above; those that are born again are born of God their Father who is in heaven; the grace given in regeneration is from above (Joh 3:27). Truth in the inward part, wisdom in the hidden part, or the grace of God in the heart produced in regeneration is that wisdom that is from above (Jam 3:17). Such that are born again, as they are of high and noble birth, are partakers of the heavenly and high calling of God in Christ Jesus and shall most certainly possess it (1Pe 1:3-4; Heb 3:1; Phi 3:14).

3. It is commonly called the new birth: and with great propriety, since the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost are joined together as meaning the same thing. What is produced in regeneration is called the new creature and the new man, and those who are born again are said to be newborn babes (Ti 3:5; 2Co 5:17; Eph 4:24; 1Pe 2:2). It is a new man in distinction from the old man, or the principle of corrupt nature, which is as old as a man is. But the principle of grace infused in regeneration is quite new. It is something de novo,43 anew implanted in the heart, which never was before in human nature, no, not in Adam in his state of innocence. It is neither a working upon the old principles of nature nor a working them up to a higher pitch. It is not an improvement of them nor a repairing of the broken, ruined image of God in man. But it is altogether a new work. It is called a creature, being a work of almighty power, a new creature and a new man consisting of various parts and these all new. There are in it a new heart, a new spirit, a new understanding to know and understand things never known nor understood before—a new heart to know God, not as the God of nature and providence, but as the God of Grace, God in Christ, God in a Mediator, the love of God in Him, the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it made with Him. (It is a new heart to know) Christ and the fullness of grace in Him, pardon of sin through His blood, justification by His righteousness, atonement by His sacrifice, acceptance with God through Him, and complete salvation by Him—things which Adam knew nothing of in Paradise.
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Footnote:
39 effectual calling

– Q. 30. What is effectual calling? A: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit (2Ti 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Act 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Act 26:18), and renewing our wills (Eze 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel (Joh 6:44-45). —C. H. Spurgeon’s Catechism

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Footnotes:
40 infused – to put into as if by pouring.
41 vocation – calling.
42 master – teacher.
43 de novo – from the beginning.

In this new heart are new desires after these objects, to know more of them, new affections that are placed upon them, new delights in them, and new joys that arise from them (Eze 36:26; 1Jo 5:20; 1Co 2:9). In this new man are new eyes to see with. To some God does not give eyes to see divine and spiritual things, but to regenerated ones He does. They have a seeing eye made by the Lord (Deu 29:4; Pro 20:12) by which they see their lost state and condition by nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, their own inability to make atonement by anything that can be done by them. (They see) the insufficiency of their own righteousness, their impotence to every good work, and want of strength to help themselves out of the state and condition in which they are. (They see their need) of the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ, and of salvation by Him. They have the eye of faith by which they behold the glories of Christ’s Person, the fullness of His grace, the excellency of His righteousness, the virtue of His blood and sacrifice, and the suitableness and completeness of His salvation. Regeneration, in this view of it, is no other than spiritual light in the understanding.

Moreover, in the new man are new ears to hear with. All have not ears to hear; some have, and they have them from the Lord, and blessed are they! (Rev 2:11; Deu 29:4; Pro 20:12; Mat 13:16-17). They hear the Word in a manner they never heard before. They bear it so as to understand it and receive the love of it; (they) distinguish the voice of Christ in it from the voice of a stranger, so as to feel it work effectually in them and become the power of God unto salvation to them. They know the joyful sound and rejoice to hear it! The new man has also new hands, to handle and to work with: the hand of faith to receive Christ as the Savior and Redeemer, to lay hold on Him for life and salvation, to embrace Him, hold Him fast and not let Him go. (They have hands) to handle Him, the Word of life, and receive from Him grace for grace. And they have hands to work with and do work from better principles and to better purposes than before. And they have new feet to walk with to flee to Christ, the City of refuge; to walk by faith in Him; and to walk on in Him, as they have received Him; to run with cheerfulness the ways of His commandments; to follow hard after Him, and to follow on to know Him; even to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint.

4. Regeneration is expressed by being quickened. As there is a quickening time in natural generation, so there is in regeneration. “You hath he quickened” (Eph 2:1). Previous to regeneration, men are dead whilst they live: though corporally44 alive, (they) are morally dead, dead in a moral sense to spiritual things in all the powers and faculties of their souls. They have no more knowledge of them, affection for them, will to them, or power to perform them than a dead man has with respect to things natural. But in regeneration, a principle of spiritual life is infused; that is a time of life when the Lord speaks life into them and produces it in them. Christ is the resurrection and life unto them. (He) raises them from a death of sin to a life of grace. The spirit of life from Christ enters into them.

Regeneration is a passing from death to life. It is a principle of spiritual life implanted in the heart, in consequence of which a man breathes in a spiritual sense. Where there is breath, there is life. God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and he became a living soul, a living person, and breathed again. So the Spirit of God breathes on dry bones, and they live and breathe again. Prayer is the spiritual breath of a regenerate man. “Behold, he prayeth!” (Act 9:11) is observed of Saul when regenerated, who just before had been breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ. A regenerate man breathes in prayer to God and pants after Him, after more knowledge of Him in Christ, after communion with Him, after the discoveries of His love, particularly after pardoning grace and mercy. Sometimes these breathings and desires are only expressed in sighs and groans, yet these are a sign of life. If a man groans, it is plain he is alive.

There are, in a regenerated man, cravings after spiritual food, which show that he is made alive: as soon as an infant is born, it shows motions for its mother’s milk after the breast. So newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that they may grow thereby. They have their spiritual senses exercised about spiritual objects. They have what answer to the senses in animal life: their seeing and hearing, as before observed, and their feeling. They feel the burden of sin on their consciences, the workings of the Spirit of God in their hearts, (and they trust in) Christ the Word of life, which makes it a plain case that they are alive: a dead man feels nothing. They have a spiritual taste, a gust for spiritual things: the Word of Christ is sweeter to their taste than honey or the honeycomb…They taste that the Lord is gracious and invite others to taste and see also how good He is. They savour the things (that are) of God and not of men. Christ and His grace are savoury to them…These spiritual senses and the exercise of them…show them to be alive or born again. Such persons live a life of faith; they live by faith—not upon it, but on Christ, the object of it. They grow up into Him their Head, from Whom they receive nourishment and so increase with the increase of God, which is an evidence of life. In a word, they live a new and another life than they did before, not to themselves, nor to the lusts of men, but to God and to Christ, Who died for them and rose again. They walk in newness of life.

5. Regeneration is signified by Christ being formed in the heart (Gal 4:19). His image is enstamped in regeneration, not the image of the first Adam, but of the second Adam. For the new man is after the image of Him who has anew
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Footnote:
44 corporally – bodily.

created it, which is the image of Christ; to be conformed to which God’s elect are predestinated and which takes place in regeneration (Rom 8:29; Col 3:10). The graces of Christ—faith, hope, and love—are wrought in the hearts of regenerate persons and soon appear there. Yea, Christ Himself lives in them. “Not I,” says the Apostle, “but Christ lives in me. He dwells by faith there.” Christ and the believer mutually dwell in each other.

6. Regeneration is said to be a partaking of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4). (This is) not of the nature of God essentially considered: a creature cannot partake of the divine essence or have that communicated to it. This would be to deify men. The divine perfections, many of them, are utterly incommunicable, as eternity, immensity, etc. (Nor do men partake) of the divine nature in such sense as Christ is a partaker of it by the personal or hypostatical union45 of the two natures in Him, so that the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him. But in regeneration there is that wrought in the soul that bears a resemblance to the divine nature in spirituality, holiness, goodness, kindness, etc., and therefore is so called.
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Footnote:
45 hypostatical union – from hypostasis, which means person; hypostatical union refers to the union of the divine and human natures in the one person of Christ Jesus.

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