But This is to Deny the Gospel

Instead of following the example of John the Baptist, who pointed away from himself to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), we offer our own lives and transformations as the good news.  But this is to deny the gospel and therefore to cut off the power of true godliness and neighbor love at its root.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 156

The Gospel Is Not About Us or Even Our Changed Lives

The gospel changes lives precisely because it is not about us – even our changed lives – but about Christ.  The life of every Christian is filled with enough inconsistencies to disprove the Christian faith every day if it were based on our changed lives.  The history of the church is littered not only with heresies and schisms but with crusades, inquisitions and the justification of atrocities in the name of Christ.  Yet in all of this we can point away from ourselves, individually and collectively, to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  In fact, it is only by repenting of our spiritual pride and casting ourselves ever anew on God’s mercy in his Son that we can become servants rather than masters of our neighbors.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 126-127

He Is Not a Universal Spirit Nor a Moral Idea

It is not surprising that John’s Gospel emphasizes not only Christ’s deity, but the marvelous – and scandalous – truth that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).  Not a universal spiritual or moral idea, but a particular human person who lived, suffered, died, rose again and will come again in the flesh.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 182

This is the Testimony

In other words, the new birth gives us life by bringing us into spiritual connection with Jesus Christ, He is our life.  His life in us, with all the changes that it brings, is the testimony of God that we are his children.  And this is the life of the incarnate some of God. (John 1:14-16)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 71

What We Will Have With the New Birth

What we will have with the new birth:

  1. When God causes us to be born again, saving faith is awakened, and we are united to Christ.  (I John 5:1)
  2. When new birth awakens faith, and unites us to Christ, we are justified – that is, counted righteousness – through faith.  (Romans 5:1)
  3. When the new birth awakens faith and unites us to Christ, all the legal obstacles to our acceptance with God are removed through justification.  So God adopts us  into his family and confirms us to the image of his Son (John 1:12)
  4. When the new birth wakens faith and we are united to Christ, and all condemnation is replaced with justification and the Spirit of adoption moves into our lives, he produces the fruit of the love.(Galatians 5:6, I John 3:14)
  5. Finally, when the new birth wakens faith and unites us to Christ, who is our righteousness and unleashes the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit , we are on the narrow way that leads to heaven.  And the pinnacle of heaven’s joys will be eternal fellowship with God.(John 17:3)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 61-62

What We Won’t Have Without the New Birth

What we won’t have without the new birth:

  1. Without the new birth, we won’t have saving faith, but only unbelief (John 1:11-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 2:29; I Timothy 1:14; II Timothy 1:3)
  2. Without the new birth, we won’t have justification, but only condemnation (Romans 8:1; II Corinthians  5:21; Galatians 2:17; Philippians 3:9)
  3. Without the new birth, we won’t be the children of God, but the children of the devil.  (I John 3:9-10)
  4. Without the new birth we won’t bear the fruit of love by the Holy Spirit but only the fruit of death (Romans 6:20-21, 7: 4-6, 15:16; I Corinthians 1:2; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:6; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2; I John 3:14)
  5. Without the new birth, we won’t have eternal joy in fellowship with God, but only eternal misery with the devil and his angels (Matthew 24:41; John 3:3; Romans 6:23; Revelations 2:11, 20:15)

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 60-61

Born Again Can Be an Unsettling Term

Second, the teaching about the new  birth is unsettling because it refers to something that is done to us, not something we do.  John 1:13 emphasizes this.  It refers to the children of God as those “who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh not the will of man but of God.”  God causes new birth; we don’t (I Peter 1:3).

– John Piper, Finally Alive, Christian Focus Publishers, copyright 2009, page 26

Immediately Begotten of God

God’s people are immediately begotten of God.  When they become saints, they are born again, they have a new nature given them, they have a new life begun, they are renewed in the whole man by a new generation and birth wherein they are born of God (John 1:12-13).  They are born of the Spirit of God (John 3:8).

– Jonathan Edwards, On Knowing Christ, The Banner of Truth Trust, copyright 1990, page 211-212