Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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The New Birth

Rev. Angus Stewart


It is true that a man does not become a Christian through his own works. John 1:13 is even more searching in that it specifically rules out the will of man in the new birth, also called regeneration (Titus 3:5). Three times John declares that the source or origin of the new birth does not lie with man and twice he explicitly excludes man’s will: the children of God "were born, not [1] of blood, nor [2] of the will of the flesh, nor [3] of the will of man."

One man is born again and another is not. Why? It is not because of his physical, blood descent, nor is it because of man’s will—not of the individual, nor of his parents, nor of his minister. Thus man is not born again through repenting or believing or "yielding" or any other exercise of man’s will. Man does not even cooperate in or desire or seek the new birth. John 1:13 declares that the sons of God are born "of God"—wholly, absolutely, sovereignly. The new birth is of God’s will not man’s will (James 1:18) and the Holy Spirit blows sovereignly like the wind regenerating this person but not that person (John 3:8). Thus the Westminster Confession states that the new birth is wrought by the Holy Spirit "who worketh where, and when, and how he pleaseth" (10:3).

God regenerates a man and then—and only then—does he believe. Thus the Lord opened Lydia’s heart so that she believed on Jesus Christ (Acts 16:14).

The truth of God’s absolutely sovereign regeneration of a dead sinner (Eph. 2:1) is vital for the preservation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ against self-salvation by the works and will of the sinner.