The New Birth
By Bob Myhan
The phrase, “new birth,” is nowhere found in the King James version of the Bible but most understand the term to refer to the action of being “born again” or “born anew” (ASV), per John 3:3-7.
Inasmuch as one cannot see or enter the kingdom of God without having been born again, it is necessary for those who wish to become citizens of God’s kingdom to know “how” one is “born again.”
Jesus tells Nicodemus - and us - that this “new birth” is “of water and the Spirit.” He does not, however, explain how one is “born of water and the Spirit,” probably because the kingdom of God had not yet been established although it was “at hand.” (Mark 1:15)
Thus, we must “search the Scriptures” to determine the meaning of the term. Let us strive to be logical and methodical not arbitrary and indiscriminate.
The phrase, “born again,” does not occur in the book of Acts (also known as the book of conversions). Nor does it occur in the synoptic gospels. It next occurs in 1 Peter 1:23.
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25)
Peter here equates having “purified your souls in obeying the truth” with being “born again…through the word of God” (1 Peter 1:22, 23). When praying to the Father, Jesus said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Thus, to purify one’s soul in obeying the truth is to be “born again through the word of God.” One who has not purified his soul in obeying the truth has not experienced the new birth and is not in God’s kingdom, but is an alien sinner.
The phrase, “born again,” does not appear anywhere else. However, Paul says that “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” is the means of our having been “saved.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Notice that Paul here uses the past tense verb “saved.” Thus, Paul and others had been “saved…through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” The word, “regeneration” bespeaks a new birth and the word, “renewing” bespeaks a new life.
Thus, the new birth is the means by which one is saved, having his soul purified in obeying the truth, being born again through the word of God. So, one must obey the truth in order to be “born again” and when he is born again he is saved. He then becomes a citizen in the kingdom of God.
Jesus had said the new birth is “of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5) He later explained the place of water in the plan of salvation.
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
The apostles taught unbelieving aliens that they had to believe in Jesus in order to be saved, or born again (Acts 16:29-31). They taught believing aliens to “repent, and…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). This is the same as telling them what to do to be born again, for one is not born again until his sins are remitted. Believing, penitent aliens who desired to be baptized were encouraged to confess their faith (Acts 8:36-38).
Thus, we have purified our souls in obeying the truth, have been born again, and have entered the kingdom of God, if and only if, we have come to believe, have repented, have confessed our faith and have been baptized “for the remission of sins..” &
Commentary on Acts 2:22-35
By Bob Myhan
22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--
If a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the sinner’s heart were essential to his conviction, conversion and sanctification, gospel preaching would not be necessary. But even Satan knows that the word of God—as the seed of God’s kingdom—must be planted in the heart of the sinner for him to “believe and be saved” (see Luke 8:5-15).
Having gained the crowd’s attention and quieted the mockers by quoting from the prophet Joel, the apostle immediately begins to defend the legitimacy of the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah.
His first line of evidence is the attestation of God Himself “by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him” in their midst, as they knew. Peter did not need to delineate these “miracles, wonders, and signs” since many of his hearers had witnessed them. And many others had certainly heard of them.
23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
His second line of proof is the fact that the crucifixion was a part of “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” His hearers would certainly have been familiar with such passages as the 53rd chapter of Isaiah—which reads like an eyewitness account of the crucifixion—and the seventy weeks in Daniel’s vision (9:20-27). They almost certainly did not understand these passages but neither did those who were moved by the Holy Spirit to write them (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21).
24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
The third reason they should accept Jesus as the Lord on whose name they must call is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, of which the apostles claimed to be witnesses (verse 32).
25 For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'
Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 to show that the resurrection was a subject of prophecy. The Psalm did not prove the resurrection but did explain it and put it in proper perspective.
29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." '
Peter then points out that David obviously was not speaking of himself for “his tomb is with us to this day.” He also implies that David wrote this after “God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne.” This shows it was God’s intention for the Messiah to die and be raised from the dead before He would sit down on David’s throne. The oath of God to David was originally recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12-13.
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
God clearly tells David that Messiah would reign while David was resting with his fathers. Thus, in the first gospel sermon following the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Peter dynamites the foundation out from under the false doctrine of Premillennialism, for that error has Messiah’s reign beginning after David—and everyone else—has been resurrected. And Peter had never heard of Premillennialism! But he was moved by the Spirit of God to preach the truth.
After showing that David must have been speaking of the Christ, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 in order to show that the ascension of Jesus back to heaven was also a subject of prophecy. As recorded in Matthew 22:41-46, Jesus used this same Psalm to put the Pharisees to silence by calling attention to the seeming paradox that Christ would be both David’s superior and descendant. A Jew would never refer to his descendant as “Lord,” for this was a title of honor reserved for an ancestor or other superior.
Paul reveals, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, just when the Lord’s enemies would all be “put under His feet,” or be made His “footstool.”
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:20-26)
When death, “the last enemy,” is “destroyed,” all His enemies will have been “put under His feet,” or will have been made His “footstool.” Death will be destroyed at “the resurrection of the dead.” Therefore, He is reigning now and will reign till He comes again, “when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father.” Again we see that Premillennialism contradicts the scriptures for that error maintains that the kingdom will not even be established till He returns.
(To be continued)