Home > Hermeneutics > Much harm has been done by incompetent “novices” when treating of the subject of regeneration, by confining themselves to a single term—“born again”

Much harm has been done by incompetent “novices” when treating of the subject of regeneration, by confining themselves to a single term—“born again”

Arthur PinkMuch harm has been done by incompetent “novices” when treating of the subject of regeneration, by confining themselves to a single term—“born again.” This is only one of many figures used in Scripture to describe that miracle of grace which is wrought in the soul when he passes from death unto life and is brought out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. It is termed a new birth because a Divine life is communicated and there is the commencement of a new experience. But it is also likened to a spiritual resurrection, which presents a very different line of thought, and to a “renewing” (Colossians 3:10), which imports a change in the original individual. It is the person who is Divinely quickened and not merely a “nature” which is begotten of God: “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7), not merely something in you must be; “he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). The same person who was spiritually dead— his whole being alienated from God—is then made alive: his whole being reconciled to Him. This must be so, otherwise there would be no preservation of the identity of the individual. It is a new birth of the individual himself, and not of something in him. The nature is never changed, but the person is— relatively not absolutely.

If we limit ourselves to the figure of the new birth when considering the great change wrought in one whom God saves, not only will a very inadequate concept of the same be obtained, but a thoroughly erroneous one. In other passages it is spoken of as an illuminating of the mind (Acts 26:13), a searching and convicting of the conscience (Romans 7:9), a renovating of the heart (Ezekiel 11:19), a subduing of the will (Psalm 110:3), a bringing of our thoughts into subjection to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), a writing of God’s Law on the heart (Hebrews 8:10). In some passages something is said to be removed from the individual (Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26)— the love of sin, enmity against God; while in others something is communicated (Romans 5:5; 1 John 5:20). The figures of creation (Ephesians 2:10), renewing (Titus 3:5) and resurrection (1 John 3:14) are also employed. In some passages this miracle appears to be a completed thing (1 Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 1:12), in others as a process yet going on (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:16). Though the work of grace be one, yet it is many-sided. Its subject is a composite creature and his salvation affects every part of his complex being.

Physical birth is the bringing into this world of a creature, a complete personality, which before conception had no existence whatever. But the one regenerated by God had a complete personality before he was born again. Regeneration is not the creation of an individual which hitherto existed not, but the spiritualizing of one who already exists—the renewing and renovating of one whom sin has unfitted for communion with God, by bestowing upon him that which gives a new bias to all his faculties. Beware of regarding the Christian as made up of two distinct and diverse personalities. Responsibility attaches to the individual and not to his “nature” or “natures.” While both sin and grace indwell the saint, God holds him accountable to resist and subdue the one and yield to and be regulated by the other. The fact that this miracle of grace is also likened to a resurrection (John 5:25) should prevent us forming a one-sided idea of what is imported by the new birth and “the new creature,” and from pressing some analogies from natural birth which other figurative expressions disallow. The great inward change is also likened to a Divine “begetting” (1 Peter 1:3), because the image of the Begetter is then stamped upon the soul. As the first Adam begat a son in his own image (Genesis 5:3), so the last Adam has an “image” (Romans 8:29) to convey to His sons (Ephesians 4:24).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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