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!




Relationship Between Belief and New Birth

     In this essay we will look at the relationship between belief and the new birth.  Most people today are taught and believe that you must hear and believe the gospel in order to be born again. In a cause/effect relationship, they think that "belief" is the "cause" and that the "new birth" is the "effect." This concept is to them supported by an erroneous belief in what John 3:16 teaches. In truth, the "new birth" is the "cause" and "belief" is the "effect" of the new birth.

     When we are unsure what a person is teaching, it is best to go to him and let him explain what he is teaching. We will let John explain which comes first, belief or the new birth. For this we will consider several verses of scripture in the book of John as follows:

A. John 1:11 13...to them that believe on his name: which were born...of God." For the sake of brevity we didn't quote all the above passage, but please noteĖ"believe" is in the present tense, while "were born" is in the past tense. Grammatically, therefore, the birth must precede the belief; i.e., they were born of God prior to believing.

B. John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life..." Again, "believeth" is present tense and "hath" is past tense. Thus everlasting life (new birth) precedes belief.

C. John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Once again, "heareth" and "believeth" are present tense and "hath" is past tense. Hence, everlasting life comes before we can hear or believe. Thus we must be born again prior to "hearing" or "believing." Hearing and believing are evidences of the new birth.

D. John 6:47, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." You show me someone who believes on Jesus and I will show you someone who already has everlasting life.

E. John 8:43, 47, "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word." "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Clearly, you must first be of God (born again) before you can hear God's words (gospel).

F. John 10:26 28, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." In this passage the sheep are those to whom Christ gives eternal life. Those who are not given eternal life do not believe. Only those who are given eternal life believe, thus belief is the evidence of the fact that God has given us eternal life (new birth).

G. John 13:37, 38, "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" It is not the miracles we see with our natural eyes that enable or entice us to believe, but it is the miracle performed within us (new birth) that enables or causes us to believe. God must first cause us to be born again (reveal his holy arm <strength> within us) and then we can "believe the report."

H. 1 John 5:1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Once again, "believeth" is in the present tense and "is born" is in the past tense, thus again showing us that the new birth precedes belief and in this case "belief that Jesus is the Christ."

     Plainly it can be seen from the several verses quoted that John taught that the new birth comes before belief. Thus the question should be asked, "What then does John 3:16 teach?" One thing it teaches us is the eternal security of the believer. Believing doesn't cause us to get eternal life, but Christ died that we may have eternal life. Since eternal life (new birth) precedes believing, then I may conclude that any person that believes already has eternal life and that Christ died for them in order that they may have eternal life.

Elder Vernon Johnson

Holding up the Arms - A Deacon's Charge

Sitting in a small group one Sunday morning wondering who would show for services and who wouldnít, a couple of us began to discuss what would happen if the Pastor decided to take a day off. Other than the admonition for him in Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood, there is no greater obligation for a Pastor to appear than the members. Now every good pastor is going to immediately quote half a dozen scriptures he believes obligates him to his good service, but Iíve made my point.

As church members, we have a number of obligations, not only to the Lord, the church and our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to the Pastor. His is the most difficult job on the planet Ė and itís a full time job that has to be performed by most Elders on a part time basis. Many have to work in the secular world to sustain their natural families.

Pastors are never allowed to be down, depressed or discouraged. They must always put on the best face and live by example. Their faith must appear to be unwavering, even when it falters. While all of us must be ready to give an answer of the reason for the hope within us, Pastors have to be ready to answer the most obscure questions on a momentís notice. If 30 different members are studying 30 different subjects, half of them will have questions on Sunday.

It takes a special type of man to be a Pastor of a church. Many men can be Elders. Some are suited to teach, some to preach. Some are fishers of men, some are feeders of sheep. Some can care for the flock, and some can quite frankly scare the sheep away. That may be why when examining a manís calling, we always look to make sure he didnít volunteer.

The easy part of our obligation toward the Pastor is often the one most readily ignored. Thatís prayer. No man on earth needs our prayers as much as the Bishop of the local congregation. We may lack in our financial support and not take care of his needs as we ought, but we should never let him down in our prayers. He and the Lord (and maybe his helpmate) are the only ones who truly know the burden he carries.

I was reading a story in the Old Testament once and having meditated on it for awhile, came to believe it ought to be preached in the charge for every Deaconís ordination among Primitive Baptists. (Iíve always thought the charge should come before the laying on of hands in a Deaconís ordination, because after heís a Deacon, you canít tell him anything.)

Exd 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exd 17:9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
Exd 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exd 17:11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exd 17:12 But Moses' hands [were] heavy; and they took a stone, and put [it] under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Exd 17:13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Itís one of those marvelous short stories in scripture. You can read it in less than a minute, but it impacts your life forever. Shortly before this is the famous ďstriking the rock in the wildernessĒ from which so many good sermons and sound doctrine have come. Most of us stop reading there and never get to the story of prevailing.

You donít need me to tell you how today, the Pastor of the flock stands up with the rod of God in his hand. You know the church prospers and prevails when the Pastor is strong and supported. You also know how a church does when the Pastor is weak, whether in study, doctrine, preaching or discipline. Thank goodness Aaron and Hur helped stay up Mosesí hands. Of course you probably figured out the charge to the new Deacon as well.

We canít always physically hold up the Pastorís arms when he tires, but we can hold him up in prayer, encouragement, conversation, financially and by our behavior. Just seeing a church member walking on the straight and narrow path takes a load of responsibility and concern off a Pastorís mind.  How disheartening it is for a Pastor to look out into the small crowd, seeking a particular face and not seeing it. We have a reasonable service. And a light duty.

Brothers and sisters, if your Pastor doesnít have the strength and personality of Moses, it might be because you arenít being Aaron and Hur.

Are you praying for him?

Brother Royce Ellis

Primitive Baptist