A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 

The New Birth and Repentance

The scriptures teach that when people are born again, God writes his laws within their hearts and their minds. We quote the following seven passages that prove this principle:

A. Psm. 37:30, 31 "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide."

B. Psm. 40:8 "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."

C. Jer. 31:33 "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

D. Heb. 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."

E. Heb. 10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them."

F. II Cor. 3:3 "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."

G. Rom. 2:14, 15 "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts, the mean while accusing or else excusing one another."

We draw several conclusions from the above seven passages:

A. God writes his laws directly into the hearts and minds of his children, there are no intermediators.

B. These laws written in the hearts and minds of God's people serve as the foundation of the new covenant of worship.

C. These laws manifest themselves in the lives of God's people.

D. These laws serve as the foundation of a court room set up in the hearts and minds of God's people.

Upon the last conclusion we expand using Rom. 2:14, 15. There can be no trial or judgment without a law. No one can be tried for breaking a law when there is no law. In a court room there are laws, witnesses, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and a judge. First, the laws are in the hearts and minds of God's people. Secondly, God has given us a conscience whose purpose is to be a faithful witness. Thirdly, our thoughts thru either accusing us or excusing us serve as both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Finally, our hearts serve as the judge (I John 4:20).

God has built within each of his children a court room. The trials within our heart and mind serve to convict us and lead us to repentance. First, we are convicted of our own sinful condition which causes us to see ourselves as condemned before a just and holy God. Afterwards, we are enabled, by faith in Christ's atoning blood, to see Jesus as our Savior. Thus the court room of our heart and mind has served to both convict us and to justify us. For an example of these principles I encourage the reader to look at Isaiah's experience in Isaiah Chapter 6.

Secondly, this court room serves to convict us of individual sins, thus causing Godly sorrow within us. This in turn leads us to repent (II Cor. 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.") We do not repent in order to be born again or to become a child of God, but we repent because we are born again!

Finally, we ask ourselves, "What laws are written in our hearts and minds when we are born again?" I Thes. 4:9, tells us that God teaches us to love one another, "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." Similarly, I John 4:7 reads, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Again, I John 3:14 says, "We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." From the above we can conclude that love comes from God and is placed within us when we are born again. God teaches us to love directly by writing the laws of love within our hearts. The Lord taught us that there are two great laws of love in Matt. 22:37 40, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Rom. 13:8, 20 teaches us that "love is the fulfilling of the law." Likewise, Gal. 5:14 reads, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Paul told Timothy in I Tim. 1:5, "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." Finally, James wrote in James 2:8, "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well."

On the negative side we can conclude that before a man is born again, he will not love his neighbor or God, he will be totally selfish in his actions, he will have no conviction of sin or sins, and he will not repent or believe that Christ is his savior. The gospel is foolishness to him (I Cor. 1:18).

Conversely, the man that is born again, having the laws of love in his heart, will love both God and his neighbor, will manifest unselfish love, will be convicted of sin and of individual sins, will be led to repent, rejoice in the gospel of his salvation, and by faith see Jesus as his savior.


Only One Way to be Born Again

How many ways are there for being born again? Were people in the Old Testament days born again in a different way than in these New Testament days? Are those who die in infancy or those who are mentally incapable of responding to the gospel born again in a different way than those who do hear the gospel? Are people who never have an opportunity to hear the gospel born again in a different way than those who hear the gospel? We read in John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."   In a previous installment we noted that this scripture taught the sovereignty of God in bringing about the new birth. It also teaches us that "every one" is born of the Spirit in the same way. There is no such thing as some being born of the Spirit in one way and others being born again in a different way.

I want to look at five examples of people who were born again at different times and under different circumstances. It will be noted that they were all born again by the grace of God without man's help or cooperation.
Let us first look at David. David said in Psms. 22:9, 10, "But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me to hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly." Based on the above we know that God was David's God while still in his mother's womb and that he was made to hope while still a suckling infant. David was indeed born of the Spirit at a very early age. Due to this fact, the Spiritual birth had to be by the sovereign work of God without any human instrumentality. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Thus we are all born of the Spirit in the same way that David was.

Second, we look at John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel prophesied to Zacharias concerning John in Luke 1:15, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Also we read in Luke 1:41, 44, "And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost...For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." Please note that John was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb and was filled with "joy." "Joy" is the second of the 9 fold fruit of the Spirit listed in Gal. 5:22 and its presence proves John was born again while yet in his mother's womb. John's spiritual birth had to be by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit without any human instrumentality. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit."  In the same way that John was born of the Spirit, so are we born of the Spirit.

Third, we look at the thief on the cross. At one time both thieves were railing upon Jesus (Matt. 27:44), but something happened to one of the thieves as he hang on the cross, for we read in Luke 23:39 43, "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Certainly a fundamental change had come over this thief who went from railing on Jesus to praising him and recognizing him as Lord during the first three hours he hung on the cross. This change was not brought about by any human instrumentality, but was the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." We are born of the Spirit in the same manner that the thief on the cross was born of the Spirit.

Fourth, we read in Acts 9:1 6 about Saul of Tarsus, "And Saul, yet breathing out threathenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priests, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me? And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecuteth: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished, said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." We can all recognize that Saul went from being the church's worst persecutor to being the church's strongest defender based on what happened to him on the Damascus road. This change in Saul's life was not brought about by human instrumentality, but by the sovereign work of a Sovereign God. Remember our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Finally, in Acts 10 we read of a Gentile by the name of Cornelius. In the last part of chapter 10 we read about how Cornelius and his household and friends heard the gospel preached for the first time. However, prior to hearing the gospel we have the following evidences that Cornelius was already born of the Spirit prior to ever hearing the gospel:

A. In verse 2 Cornelius is called a devout man.
B. In verse 2 Cornelius is said to "fear" God.
C. In verse 2 we find that Cornelius gave much alms to the people.
D. In verse 2 Cornelius prayed to God always.
E. In verse 4 we find that Cornelius' prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God.
F. In verse 15, God said he had already cleansed Cornelius and the Gentiles with him.
G. In verse 22, Cornelius is called a just man.

Now all the above was said of Cornelius prior to his ever hearing the gospel. By the evidences we are forced to conclude that Cornelius was born again without the use of human instrumentality, but by the sovereign work of a sovereign God. Again our text says, "so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Our grand conclusion must be that every one that is born of the Spirit is born of the Spirit in the same way that David, John, the thief on the cross, Saul of Tarsus, and Cornelius were. That is by the grace of God without human instrumentality. Praise be to God for what he has done for us.

Elder Vernon Johnson

Primitive Baptist