THE NEW BIRTH (A tract by a Baptist Preacher Paul J. Levin)
Exactly what is the new birth that some in the religious world speak about? It is a term Jesus used in speaking to Nicodemus (John 3:3-5). Pastor Paul Levin writes a tract that addresses what the new birth is. I would like to say a few words about what Pastor Levin wrote.
He begins by telling us it is not religion. Pastor Levin does not tell us exactly what he means by “religion,” but I gather it has something to do with some particular things that one does. He mentions especially “law keeping,” “joining a church,” “being baptized,” among some other things. It is interesting that the word “religion” is used once in the New Testament (James 1:27); in that passage we are told there is such a thing as “pure and undefiled religion.” If there is a “pure” and “undefiled” religion, will that religion be pleasing to God? The answer is yes, but it is true that the context of James 1 does not correspond with the context of John 3 – telling us that being born again is pure and undefiled religion. Secondly, we are also told that the new birth is not morality. This is very much true. It is apparent that many in this world think their up-standing moral integrity will bode well with them on judgment day. This is a mistaken notion. Judgment day is based on a standard of righteousness (John 12:48), not morality. Don’t be confused: those who live righteously will live an up-standing moral life, but with God one begins before the other. Third, we are told the new birth is not reformation. Again, this is true – if by reformation we understand a change in one’s behavior. One has to be careful with this because the new birth will not result of one has not a penitent attitude (Acts 17:30-31). On the other hand, reformation (change of behavior) does result from the new birth, but a change of behavior can’t result if there is no change of the will. The new birth involves the will of man, but it does not originate within man. In John 1:12-13, the new birth originates with God and is given to man.
We now know what the new birth is not. Next we will consider what the new birth is.