Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

1 John 5:1-5 – Born of God

A birth indicates a new beginning. The true Christian life has a beginning in the experience of every person who becomes a genuine disciple of Jesus. Their new life is not the expression of good intentions after disastrous choices (such as may occur when a person turns over a new leaf). The new birth is the commencement of a totally different type of existence.

A birth requires a set of parents. The person who becomes a true disciple of Jesus has human parents and they passed on certain genetic features and other traits to their child. Sometimes parents pass on a religious bent to their child, but that is not the same as the new birth. The new birth involves the activity of another parent, God, who brings spiritual life and not mere religious notions into the life of a sinner. Whether that sinner was religious or not before conversion, he will show the evidences of spiritual life after conversion.

A birth has the element of uniqueness written all over it, with many aspects of what takes place impossible to explain. Some details have medical explanations, but they are merely attempts to explain a process that is way beyond our understanding. Similarly, the new birth has the element of uniqueness written all over it, with many aspects of what takes place impossible to explain. Some details have theological explanations but they are merely attempts to explain what is way beyond our understanding.

Who can explain why a particular person receives new life when she is ten years old and another when he is ninety years old? Who can say why some have a rough spiritual birth preceded by harrowing convictions of sin whereas others seem to glide into the kingdom of God? Why did Lydia and the Philippian jailer have such different experiences when they received divine life? The only one that knows the answer to such questions is God himself.


Yet while spiritual birth as its mysteries, the evidences of the presence of new life are straightforward, that is, they can be easily identified. Furthermore, these evidences are shared, that is, they are found in every true disciple of Jesus (note John’s use of ‘everyone’ in these verses). And these evidences can be seen, and since that is the case it means anyone can identify those who have new spiritual life. What are these evidences? Faith in Jesus Christ (v. 1); love for the heavenly Father and his family (vv. 2-3), and victory over the world (vv. 4-5).

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