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Plain Talk About
The New Birth
and Other Views
I am a child of the Restoration Movement (Church of Christ) and continue to worship with churches of Christ but my thinking about some issues have changed when I began to study the Scriptures for myself. The new birth is such an issue.
What does the Restoration Movement teach about the new birth?
I no longer believe that “born of the Spirit” refers to the begettal by the Holy Spirit through the word of God. “Born of the Spirit” refers to the birth. One must be begotten by God before he is born of water and the Spirit.
The words “water” and “Spirit” are conjoined. Therefore import of “born” is the same for both “water” and “Spirit”. If “born of water” refers to the actual birth or coming forth then so does “born of the Spirit.” On the other hand if “born of the Spirit” refers to a begettal, then so does born of “water.”
The “Spirit” is not synonymous with the “word.” We simply cannot substitute one for the other at our whim. It is true that God must beget one by coming to faith but this occurs before one is born of water and the Spirit.
“Born of the Spirit” makes good sense if we take “Spirit” to mean “Spirit.” God pours out His Spirit richly and abundantly so that we are immersed or baptized in the Spirit. When we come forth from this experience we are born of the Spirit.
The holders of these views do not seem to understand that spiritual regeneration is similar to natural procreation. The begettal always precedes the birth. Faith always precedes baptism and the reception of the Spirit.
What is the specific problem with “baptismal regeneration”?
This view has the birth preceding the begettal. The Scriptures teach those who receive Jesus by believing in His name are given the right to become children of God by being born again. (John 1: 12, 13)
What is the specific problem with “faith regeneration”?
This view appears to confuse the birth with the begettal. They apparently need to review the “birds and the bees”. Since those that receive Christ by believing in His name are given the right to become a child of God, it is obvious that one does not become a child of God immediate upon belief (John 1: 12, 13)
This view also has the birth before the begettal. The Scriptures clearly teach the God gives the Spirit to those that believe and obey. (John 7: 39;Acts 2: 38, 38; 5: 32)
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