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WHAT BAPTISTS BELIEVE
Why They Believe It
by J. G. Bow, D. D.
"We believe that the Holy Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, we must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind, and is effected in a manner above our comprehension, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel, and that its proper evidence is found in the holy fruits we bring forth to the glory of God."
While there is a difference, etymologically speaking, yet we use the terms regenerated, and born again, as interchangeable, meaning that operation of the Holy Spirit by which the soul is made new in Christ Jesus.
The article of faith, above quoted, says: "We must be regenerated." Without this there is no spiritual life, no communion and fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, no hope of eternal life resting upon Gods promise and provision.
The necessity of regeneration is plainly set forth in the Saviours words, "Except a man be born again, be cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). . . And again, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). No human act or ecclesiastical provision can possibly be a substitute for, or take the place of, this necessary act of divine power. Confession to the priest, his claim of absolution from sin, confirmation, baptism, nor aught else can serve in this connection. These are not regeneration, not the new birth, cannot be a substitute for it, neither can they produce it. They cannot unite the soul to the living head, cannot make it a child of God, an inheritor of the kingdom of Christ, and an heir of eternal life. The Saviour said, "Except ye be converted." "Except a man be born again."
How it is accomplished we know not, beyond the revealed truth. That teaches beyond question that this necessary work it wrought through the agency of the Holy Ghost. Jesus said. "It is the spirit that quickeneth" (John 6:63). The word "quicken" means to make alive. As the soul is dead, it must be made alive; hence the necessity of the Spirits power. Paul says to Tit-as, "Not by works, of the righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). Again this work is called a creation. and only God can create; not man, nor church, nor ordinance. "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10).
Again, "Ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus. and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). There can be no doubt about the Agent who accomplishes this work.
Jesus said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).
I believe the above verse ought to read, "The Spirit breathes where he wills, and thou hearest his voice, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Again, "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4 :7) .
It secures our voluntary obedience to God, because we have been made partakers of the divine nature, being then new creatures, and spiritually minded, and having the spirit of Christ, "the love of Christ constraineth us." "We love him because he first loved us." Having apprehended that love and applied it to the need of our souls by faith, we joyfully seek to live well pleasing in his sight. "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). "If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14 :23) .
Its evidence is seen in a godly walk and conversation. Not loud profession of superior holiness, and claiming attainments beyond scriptural assurance, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting" (Rom. 6:22).
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