Elmo, Kaufman Co., Texas, March 22, 1880.
ELDER G. BEEBE & SON: – I inclose you a Money Order for four dollars, which you will place to my credit and continue to send me the SIGNS, for I am unwilling to do without the paper. But sometimes I almost get vexed by seeing so much controversy, and brethren seeming to differ so widely, especially on the new birth. Now I cannot refrain from asking you, and others, some questions on this subject, yet I almost fear to do so, for your attention has been called to it so many times that it seems you ought to have been understood, and I think I do understand you; but there are some that I do not understand.
1st. In Titus iii. 5, who is this Holy Ghost that is renewed by the washing of regeneration?
2d. Why did it need washing and renewing?
3d. Can a man be born the second time until he has been born the first time?
4th. Can the implantation of God’s spirit in the Adam man be called a birth, as some brethren say?
5th. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Can he be new before he has been old?
Now, brethren, I do not want to tax your patience with these things, but if you feel at liberty to answer, you will oblige one who is less than the least. Not that I want a controversy, but purely in the spirit of meekness. If I know my heart, I want light. May the Lord spare you yet long to wield the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, is the desire of yours to serve in the truth. Farewell.
K. F. POLK.
REPLY: – 1st. It is not the Holy Ghost that is renewed, or ever required any change; for the Holy Ghost is God, who is immutable and without the shadow of a change: but we understand Paul to be speaking of those who are renewed by the Holy Ghost. The spiritual birth of the children of God is effected by the Holy Ghost, and is therefore called the renewing of the Holy Ghost; in the same sense as when it is said, “Salvation is of the Lord;” not meaning that the Lord is saved, but that he saves his people from their sins; and “Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” – Isa. liv. 17. Meaning that Christ is of God made unto us (his people) wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
2d. The Holy Spirit by whom the people of God are quickened and born, needed no washing; but those who are quickened by the Holy Spirit did, because they were, in their earthly nature, defiled with sin, pollution, mortality and death.
3d. To the third question we say, No.
4th. The implantation of the incorruptible seed by the word of God, in the redeemed vessels of mercy, is not the birth, but it is that which produces the new birth in them. Seed, when planted, bringeth forth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” – Mark iv. 28, 29.
5th. A man that is in Christ is a new creature, or a new man, made manifest by a new birth; but a man in Adam is not a new creature; he is a development of the old creation, and in manifestation in his fleshly nature he is the old man, the outward man, the sinful man, on whom guilt, mortality and corruption are found, and in whom there dwells no good thing, and over whom death reigns, until his mortal shall put on immortality in the resurrection of the dead; then, if he is a redeemed vessel of mercy, his vile body shall be changed and fashioned like the glorious body of his risen Redeemer. The old man with his corruptions, affections, lusts and mortality, is not in Christ Jesus. He is in his earthly nature still in Adam; he is still the old man, warring against the spirit, in deadly conflict with the new man, or new creature, which is in Christ Jesus. Every thing in nature must be new before it can be old. Adam and all his race in him were new at the time of their creation; but in the order of manifestation in time, and as compared with the manifestation of the sons of God by the new birth, they are old in development, before “The kindness and love of God our Savior towards man appeared, [to them] not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
We do not think any person or thing must be old before it can be new, but the very reverse: every thing must be new before it can be old.
The washing of regeneration, as we understand, refers to the burial of the church with Christ by baptism unto death, and the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses,” &c. – Col. ii. 12-14; iii. 1-4; Romans vi. 3-11; Eph. ii. 4-18.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 9
May 1, 1880