Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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"Born Again" Documentary

Martyn McGeown


The BBC documentary (Wednesday, 18 January, 2006) "Born Again" by Glenn Patterson was interesting, but sadly, not one of the people interviewed explained what "born again" means. Those professing Christians interviewed by Patterson equated "born again" with "accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour," "giving one's life to Christ," or "getting saved." One pastor even told his hearers, "You can be born again." Patterson himself spoke of a quasi "born-again" experience when he came to the front of a meeting "to ask Jesus into his heart," because he felt sorry for the speaker (and when several people followed, Patterson rightly questioned their sincerity!).

None of the above is being "born again." The Bible teaches that man must be born again, because he needs spiritual life. Man is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13) and for him even to see the kingdom of God, he must be "quickened" (made alive) by God. Man cannot effect this new birth, because "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Jesus didn't tell Nicodemus what he had to do to be born again; he simply explained to that religious man that God had to do something to him if he was to be saved. Jesus rebuked him (John 3:10) for his ignorance of the Old Testament which also teaches the truth of regeneration or the new birth or being born again (cf. Deut. 30:6; Eze. 16:6; 11:19; 36:26).

God's will determines who receives the new birth, not man's: "Of his own will he [i.e., God] begat us with the word of truth" (James 1:18). The spiritually dead sinner cannot "ask Jesus into his heart" because God opens the heart (Acts 16:14). Not all hearts are opened. Why? The Spirit is like the wind. He blows where He-not man-chooses (John 3:8). Man's "freewill" can never  effect or even co-operate in the new birth, because those who are born again, "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).