"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you." - I Peter 1:23-25.
Most articles and sermons on this subject with which we are familiar usually begin with the erroneous nomenclature, "The new birth." We have never found in our Bible anything about the new birth. The more Scriptural expression would be found in our text, "born again."
The expression "new birth", to us at least, implies by common usage that the old nature which we possess from our Adamic parentage has been born anew. Sadly, even the expression "born again" is often so used. We say at the outset this is grave error.
"How say you it is error?" Because that which is born of the flesh is flesh. In other words, that which is born of man (Adam) is man. It alway was and always will be. As far back as the first chapter of Genesis we learn that everything produces "after its kind". This is true of the herb, grass, trees, animals, fishes of the sea, as well as man. If a goose conceives, it will bring forth a goose! That which is born of a monkey is a monkey. So, that which is born of flesh (man) is flesh (after its kind).
Quite plainly then, if we expect to see a spiritual birth there must be a spiritual progenitor. For a spiritual birth to take place there must be a spiritual begetting. Thus the one who begets and the begotten are of one substance.
Can we really expect to find a grain of truth in the idea that the Adamic sinner is born over or born spiritually? Should our old man (our Adamic nature) be born of the Spirit, then would that old man not be spiritual, after the kind (the Spirit) that begat it? What an absurd position that would be - the flesh born of the Spirit! As soon could we expect, and we speak with reverence, that a goat could conceive by a sheep and bring forth a lamb. The Lord has forever settled this matter. "That which is born of the flesh (the first birth) is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit (the second birth) is Spirit." They will not and can not mix.
It is a well recognized fact of Scripture that when Adam was first brought forth, being created out of the ground, that all his family (all succeeding generations) were in him; in his life. Even so, before God ever brought forth Eve from Adam's side she really and truly had a life and existence in Adam, for he was the fountain of all humanity. Later Eve was described as the "mother of all living."
Just so when Christ was set up from ancient times (yea, before time) as the pronounced only begotten Son of God all His people were in Him. The whole of the elect family had their life in His life. They were His generation, just as surely as the human race was Adam's generations, the distinction being that Adam had generations (plural) and Christ had a generation (singular). Therefore the bride of Christ was IN Him, not in prospect, but in reality; not in purpose but in seed. Was not the elect chosen IN Him before the foundation of the world? (Eph. 1:4) Indeed they were. They were not chosen to get in Him but were actually chosen as they were in Him. May God be praised, then, as Christ's bride is as old, chronologically and really, as Adam's bride is as old as Adam is.
A distinction is in order here. As Adam is a created being, then Eve and all Adam's natural (fleshly) family can only trace themselves back to the garden. But, as Christ is eternal and from everlasting the true, real, co-equal Son of God, then His bride (the church of the first-born) can trace her life back (eternally) having no beginning, hence everlasting. This is the life-union of Christ and His people. Their life is His life. When they are spiritually conceived, that is, when the Spirit generates them in this vessel of clay, (or earthen vessel, as Paul describes it) they do not partake of the nature of the vessel. Neither does the vessel partake of the nature of the conception. One is of the earth, earthy, and the other is of the Spirit, spiritual. In this life, at least, they will always be two separate entities, or two distinct natures.
We would observe that in nature there is a travail before the birth, and usually much agony in bringing forth. Thus it is as the Lord told Eve that she would conceive in sorrow, etc. It is plain enough to us that as well, there is usually great travail in spiritual birth, great mystery though it is.
Could anyone question that there is life before birth? Any mother can tell you that there was a time during pregnancy that the true living human being she carried in the womb gave physical evidence of life well before it was ever born. The birth then did not give that which was conceived life! No! the birth only made manifest the life that existed previous to its wondrous introduction into the world of Adam's posterity.
Should it be questioned then that the spiritual birth, being the product of a spiritual conception is not the beginning of spiritual life? Rather, it is the introduction of that eternal life-union, not its beginning. Eternal life has no beginning, hence Christ's children are eternal, as He is eternal, having eternal life. Again, we point out that the elect are as old, spiritually in Christ, as natural beings are as old naturally in Adam as Adam is. The man of the flesh can trace back in time to the creation of Adam, hence a beginning. The spiritual man finds traced out in him and the Bible an eternal, unbroken union with Christ, and so, life everlasting.
Who can cause a birth? Certainly not the one who is born. No natural son of Adam could ever say, "My birth was my choosing, my doing." Of the billions of beings born on this earth not one ever had even a remote part in their conception or their birth. Yet fools, pretending to be spokesmen of the God of heaven and earth fear not to lie with an oath to anyone who will listen that "they ought to get born again." We will not meddle here with these barking dogs. Rather, we will summarize our few remarks by again directing you to the Lord's plain declaration, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" and again, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The obvious is that we are once born in Adam and if heirs of promise we are also born in Christ. And where does that second or spiritual birth take place? Within the confines of the Adamic man, yet without partaking of his nature. Christ was born in a manger, yet did not partake of the nature of that filthy place. We have this treasure (Christ born in us) in earthen vessels, but the treasure and the vessel are of two different substances. The treasure is of heaven. The vessel is of the earth. God purposed it that way.
We will defer until another time to see the ultimate union of these two as regards redemption and adoption and look now at a very revealing Scripture on this subject in Hebrews 2:13,14: "And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." First, pay careful attention to the statement that God gave His Son "children". Not just prospective children, or children "in the mind and purpose of God" but real, vital children. Second, observe that these children are partakers of flesh and blood. They didn't become "children" by being born in the flesh, except as they were Adam's children. No, as already existing children (treasured up in Christ) by virtue of the spiritual birth, or being born of the word (eternal word, or the voice of the Son of God) they were as a treasure hid in a field, or a treasure in an earthen vessel. Jude says "preserved in Christ Jesus" and this he put in order before "and called."
Hence we see that being born again is not Adam overhauled, or a quickening of the flesh. No one has ever been born again of corruptible seed. That is how they were born the first time. The second birth is the impartation, by spiritual generation, of Christ IN us. A new person now dwells in this old tabernacle. Therefore, we have, after being born again, both an old and a new man, both an outward and an inward man. We then are both a spiritual man predestinated to be conformed to Christ's image and a natural man born in Adam's likeness.
While we freely admit this to be a deeper subject than we can comprehend, it is a heart warming theme to contemplate.
May our Lord be praised.
James F. Poole