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Lowell Brueckner

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You Must Be Born Again! Part III


 We continue to study the new birth. There are very few other Bible studies that are as important as this one is. In this part, I have quoted much from what others have written. We have to be ready to learn from others, because there is so much more that we need to know about this subject. I have written my part and I invite you to add yours in a notebook or on your own computer. The new birth is what marks true Christianity and distinguishes it from that which is only religious. We must see the hand of God working and the life of God demonstrated in that which is true. I hope that you will profit from and enjoy this study...
IV. A new creation. A New Man through the New Birth. Eph 4:24… “Put on the new man, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” He is a new man… Scofield  “and is a new man as having become a partaker of the divine nature and life, (2Pe_1:4) and, in no sense, the old man made over, or improved.

After receiving the forgiveness of sins, a man receives a new nature, which is compatible with God’s. In that state, he is brought into reconciliation with God and a new, friendly relationship begins. Paul describes this transformation, which occurs in any and every one, in every place at any time, regardless of his race or nationality; this is what will happen: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature (some versions put, a new creation… a better translation); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Co.5:17). If this transformation does not happen, that person has not been born again and there is to be no assumption that he is a Christian and that his sins are forgiven. He must be born again! No human being can help him into this birth. It is a miracle, which only God can do.

John Wesley:  “Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian… His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.”

Barnes: That there is an exertion of divine power in the conversion of the sinner as really as in the act of creating the world out of nothing, and that this is as indispensable in the one case as in the other… There is a change so deep, so clear, so entire, and so abiding, that it is proper to say, here is a new creation of God - a work of the divine power as decided and as glorious as when God created all things out of nothing. There is no other moral change that takes place on earth so deep, and radical, and thorough as the change at conversion. And there is no other where there is so much propriety in ascribing it to the mighty power of God.”

Lloyd-Jones: It is a supernatural birth, therefore it produces a supernatural life. A Christian is a supernatural being… Something that has happened once and it continues to be true…  An event has taken place and this event is the substance of Christianity.  It is Transformation, a complete change. The mode is not important. The verb is in the passive voice: ‘having been born again’ (1P.1:23). God does it. Only God can create, He brings something out of nothing. A work of the Spirit. The Spirit brooded (Gen.1:2). He brought the order out of the chaos in the beginning. Nothing corruptible, an incorruptible seed.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones is referring to the brooding work of the Holy Spirit in creation. The Holy Spirit moved, but the Hebrew word is much more expressive; it means to hover over, as a bird hovers over its nest… therefore, to brood. The same word is found only once more and that is in Deuteronomy 32:11Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young.” There is passion involved. It is not simply a work, it is a movement of the heart of God at the inception of the creation. The earth is formless, empty of all except darkness. In this shapeless waste of endless night, the Holy Spirit begins to create and the being towards which he is working is man. He is the product of God’s creative love.

Now, the new creature, the new Christian is born of the Spirit, as He broods over the chaos of a human life in love and passion. Everything is “formless and void, and darkness…” It is less than nothing. It is of minus quality, nothing good, but plenty of bad. Once again, we see it is God’s work alone. And it is an enduring and an imperishable work that cannot be destroyed.

Barnes “The change is so great, that there is no impropriety in speaking of one who has experienced it as “a new man.” He has new feelings, principles, and desires. He has laid aside his old principles and practices, and, in everything that pertains to moral character, he is new. His body is indeed the same; the intellectual structure of his mind the same; but there has been a change in his principles and feelings which make him, in all the great purposes of life, a new being. Learn, that regeneration is not a trifling change. It is not a mere change of relations, or of the outward condition. It is not merely being brought from the world into the church, and being baptized, though by the most holy hands; it is much more. None of these things would make proper the declaration, “he is a new man.” Regeneration by the Spirit of God does.”

This new birth can never be anything less than it always was – a miraculous work of God. Beware these days a false salvation, in which there is no evidence of His work. That is what former Christians used to call a spurious conversion. (español = espurio).  They were referring to an illegitimate birth. That’s the meaning of the word spurious. Here are further definitions:  “2. a. Outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities: false  b. superficially like but morphologically (dealing with form and structure) unlike  3. a. of falsified or erroneously attributed origin: forged   b. of a deceitful nature or quality. This is a huge problem in the church today and it is produced by the modern teaching which hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim.3:5). This is the verse that impelled me to this study on the new birth. Conversion therefore is man-centered, because the supernatural element has been almost totally ruled out of Christianity in these times. God is so unreal.

Galatians. 6:15 “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Here is the qualifying feature of the religion of Christ and there is no other. No one enters into the Kingdom of God - No one enters into true Christianity - who has not been born anew into the new creation. There is nothing else worth talking about; no feature, act or right can possibly be mentioned, which we might consider or be on some comparable level. The work must have been performed by God Himself, instilling into a life a heavenly nature. Nothing less will do - nothing that can be offered on a human level. Through the exclusive operation of the Holy Spirit, the candidate is transformed and inducted into the society of the highly privileged ones, certified with heavenly citizenship, and quality of character that are out of this world.

Barnes: The fact that a man is created anew, or born again, constitutes the real difference between him and other people. This is what Christ requires; this is the distinction which he designs to make. It is not by conformity to certain rites and customs that a man is to be accepted; it is not by elevated rank, or by wealth, or beauty, or blood; it is not by the color of the complexion.”

1 Peter 1:3… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Praise springs upward to God because of the new birth. He sent His Son with that end in mind. The new birth is a product of the mercy of God to a condemned race destined for death. Jesus wept as He observed the dominance of death over His people and His friends. Mercifully, God was given us victory over death and into a hope gained through Christ’s resurrection… therefore a living hope. We are born again into the resurrected life of Christ that can never die. His resurrection proved the acceptance before the Father of His sacrifice so that death no longer figures into the picture. Living hope lies before us! Living hope is what Abraham had, when he hoped against hope. It was a hope that took his old body, as good as dead, and brought forth life through it.

1 Cor.2:14… “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” If a person cannot understand and consistently misinterprets Scripture, it is proof that he has not been born again. It is not an intellectual problem or that the person is not a good student. That is the excuse often given, but it is a lie. He cannot grasp spiritual things… the teaching of the Bible… because he is not living in the realm in which they can be understood. He is a natural man and the Spirit of God does not dwell in him. Though a man be simple, even analphabetic, he will grasp spiritual truth, if He has been born again.

Wiersbe: “El contraste es entre la persona salvada (llamada aquí ‘espiritual’, porque el Espíritu habita en él) y la persona que no es salvada (llamada ‘natural’, porque no tiene el Espíritu dentro de él)… Había un tiempo cuando cada cristiano fue ‘natural’, solamente poseyendo las cosas de la naturaleza. Cuando confió en el Salvador, el Espíritu entró y mudó al nivel de los ‘espirituales’… los que son capaces de vivir en la esfera del Espíritu.

Wiersbe: “The contrast here is between the saved person (called “spiritual” because he is indwelt by the Spirit) and the unsaved person (called “natural” because he does not have the Spirit within)… At one time, every Christian was “natural,” having only the things of nature. When we trusted the Saviour, the Spirit came in and we moved into the plane of “spiritual” — able to live in the realm of the Spirit.”

Henry:  “The man under the power of corruption, and never yet illuminated by the Spirit of God, such as Jude calls sensual, not having the Spirit, Jud_1:19. Men unsanctified receive not the things of God. The understanding, through the corruption of nature by the fall, and through the confirmation of this disorder by customary sin, is utterly unapt to receive the rays of divine light; it is prejudiced against them. The truths of God are foolishness to such a mind. The man looks on them as trifling and impertinent things, not worth his minding. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not, Joh_1:5… Evil inclinations and wicked principles render the man unwilling to enter into the mind of God, in the spiritual matters of his kingdom, and yield to their force and power. It is the quickening beams of the Spirit of truth and holiness that must help the mind to discern their excellency, and to so thorough a conviction of their truth as heartily to receive and embrace them. Thus the natural man, the man destitute of the Spirit of God, cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The natural man, that is, the wise man of the world (1Co_1:19, 1Co_1:20), the wise man after the flesh, or according to the flesh (v. 26), one who hath the wisdom of the world, man's wisdom (1Co_2:4-6) receives nothing by faith, nor own any need of supernatural assistance. This was very much the character of the pretenders to philosophy and the Grecian learning and wisdom in that day. Such a man receives not the things of the Spirit of God. Revelation is not with him a principle of science; he looks upon it as delirium and dotage, the extravagant thought of some deluded dreamer. It is no way to wisdom among the famous masters of the world; and for that reason he can have no knowledge of things revealed, because they are only spiritually discerned, or made known by the revelation of the Spirit, which is a principle of science or knowledge that he will not admit.”

Lloyd-Jones: It is a holy principle within us. It is more than a moral influence upon man (men can change, but it isn’t the new birth).

V. Partakers of the divine nature. It is after the pattern and image of Christ. Though it may be dangerous to say so, but let it be understood that we are not talking about forming deities among men. As man was formed in the likeness and image in the first creation, even more through the new birth, there is a God-likeness through Christ on a higher level.  There is a new mentality, a new way of viewing everything. There is a new heart and a new mind. It is more than forgiveness or following the example of Christ. I am forgiven and born again. We are talking about the life of God in the lives of men.

Wiersbe: The child inherits the nature of the parents, and so does the child of God. We become “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pe_1:4).

Scofield:  “The new man is Christ, "formed" in the believer” – “I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal.4:19) and “have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created Him.” (Col.3:10)

Clarke: Col.3:10… Is renewed in knowledge - Ignorance was the grand characteristic of the heathen state; Knowledge, of the Christian. The utmost to which heathenism could pretend was a certain knowledge of nature. How far this went, and how much it fell short of the truth, may be seen in the writings of Aristotle and Pliny. Christianity reveals God himself, the author of nature; or, rather, God has revealed himself, in the Christian system with which he has blessed mankind. Christianity teaches a man the true knowledge both of himself and of God; but it is impossible to know one’s self but in the light of God; the famous γνωθι σεαυτον, know thyself, was practicable only under the Christian religion.

After the image of him that created him - We have already seen that God made man in his own image; and we have seen in what that image consisted. Does not the apostle refer here to the case of an artist, who wishes to make a perfect resemblance of some exquisite form or person? God in this case is the artist, man is the copy, and God himself the original from which this copy is to be taken. Thus, then, man is made by his Creator, not according to the image or likeness of any other being, but according to his own; the image του Κτισαντος, of the Creator. Hence the apostle, interpreting the words of Moses, says that the image in which man was made, and in which he must be remade, ανακαινουμενον, made anew, consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.”

Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God…

Wiersbe: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” This verse is the climax of the chapter, and it presents a truth so exciting that I marvel so many believers have missed it — or ignored it. You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go “from glory to glory” through the ministry of the Spirit of God! Under the Old Covenant, only Moses ascended the mountain and had fellowship with God; but under the New Covenant, all believers have the privilege of communion with Him. Through Jesus Christ, we may enter into the very holy of holies (Heb_10:19-20) — and we don’t have to climb a mountain! The “mirror” is a symbol of the Word of God (Jam_1:22-25). As we look into God’s Word and see God’s Son, the Spirit transforms us into the very image of God. It is important, however, that we hide nothing from God. We must be open and honest with Him and not “wear a veil.”

Wesley: “And, accordingly, all we that believe in him, beholding as in a glass - In the mirror of the gospel. The glory of the Lord - His glorious love. Are transformed into the same image - Into the same love. From one degree of this glory to another, in a manner worthy of his almighty Spirit. What a beautiful contrast is here! Moses saw the glory of the Lord, and it rendered his face so bright, that he covered it with a veil; Israel not being able to bear the reflected light. We behold his glory in the glass of his word, and our faces shine too; yet we veil them not, but diffuse the lustre which is continually increasing, as we fix the eye of our mind more and more steadfastly on his glory displayed in the gospel.”

I John 3:2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”


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