New Birth. New birth refers to the sovereign action of God to impart spiritual life to a person where there was none before. Jesus taught on the subject of New Birth extensively in John 3. The Lord makes the following arguments:
- (vv.1-3) Man need’s new birth in order to ever see (or perceive) the things of God. Without new birth man is totally helpless.
- (vv.4-6) The New Birth is caused by a sovereign action of the Spirit of God, using the Word of God.
- (vv.7-10) The subject of New Birth is not unique to Christianity, in fact Israel as a nation is in need of New Birth, and the prophets speak of the day when Israel will be born again!
- (vv.11-13) The Father and the Son desire believers to have something more than New Birth. New Birth is an earthly thing, but it is God’s desire to tell us of heavenly things; specifically Eternal Life. Eternal life is a higher and greater thing than New Birth!
- (vv.14-17) The cross is God’s provision for man’s salvation, and the required cost to give us Eternal Life.
Quickening vs. New Birth. New birth and quickening mean essentially the same thing; God imparts divine life where there was none before. However, quickening is always juxtaposed with spiritual death, and new birth is juxtaposed with the corruption of the old nature. Man in his natural state is so dark that he needs a new nature with new desires.
New Birth and Salvation Confused: Leading to Free-will Doctrine. New Birth is not synonymous with Salvation! Most Christians today are not clear on this distinction. They do not see the difference between new birth and salvation. They believe that new birth occurs at the same time as salvation, and therefore a person is born again by choosing to believe the Gospel. On the contrary, John 1:13 teaches that new birth is a sovereign action of God, uncalled for and perhaps even unwanted by the sinner. To teach that man in the flesh has the faculty to choose God is to hold that the flesh is not all bad. I’ve actually had numerous conversations with Christians about this. When asked, I’ve gotten answers like this: “the flesh is completely bad except for some tiny corner that knows man needs God and it cries out to God for salvation.” It sounds close to the truth, but it is really a different paradigm. The Bible teaches the utter ruin of the flesh:
- The flesh will never produce fruit for God (Romans 8:7-8).
- The flesh cannot improve itself (John 3:6).
- The flesh cannot “invite” new birth (John 1:13).
- The flesh has been categorically condemned by God (Romans 8:3).