This Week's Focus Passage

Born Again only by the Will of God

Focus Passage: John 1:13

‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man’

What a beautiful golden chain is here before us in this text. John has told us in his gospel narrative,

As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12-13

We are told of these folk that they were given the right to become children of God. There are three other very important things that are predicated of them. John has said that they were born. He relates that they had believed on His [Jesus’] name. These, and only these, are they that had received Him. Those having the right to become children of God are they that have been born, have believed on Jesus’ name, and have received Him. John reversed the order of events. He has stated that they who received Jesus were they who believed on His name, and they who believed on His name were they who were born. This is the order of perception among men. We witness an individual receiving Christ; they receive Christ because they believe on His name. Additionally, they believe on His name because they have been born. We recognize fairly well what John means when he speaks of receiving and believing, but what does he mean by ‘who were born’? Are not all men born? John proceeds to explain with the use of a series of negatives and one incredible positive. These ‘who were born,’ he says, were not born of blood, nor were they born of the will of the flesh, neither were they born of the will of man. Rather, they were born of God! Every one of those who receive Jesus Christ believe on His name, and every one of those who believe on His name have been born of God. There is no such thing as being born of God because one believes on the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, it has been said to many—and tracts have been so written—that one is born again as the result of their believing on Jesus. This is to place the proverbial horse before the proverbial cart.

John has declared in unequivocal terms that no believer is born ‘of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,’ but rather, of the will of God. Except one be born anew, or again, or from above; that is, born of God, he shall not be given the right to become a child of God. Man has thought to circumvent this God-ordained means from the beginning. It has been thought by many over centuries that God would have respect for blood-lines. This was the mistake of the Pharisees and their followers; they insisted, ‘We are Abraham’s seed,’ and ‘Our father is Abraham.’ We have Abraham to our father; he was the faithful child of God. Therefore, they reasoned, we are children of God; born of Abraham’s blood. But John says, ‘not of blood.’ It matters not who your father is, or how high-blooded you may be. So then it must be ‘of the will of the flesh.’

There is a large component of Christianity that holds that we can become children of God by our own free-will. We simply make the decision that we wish to become children of God. These folk evidently imagine that, in spite of what John has said in this place, that one can become a child of God by the will of the flesh; we simply will ourselves to be so. God has given each person a will that is free to determine; free to make choices; free to a child of God, or not. The insurmountable problem with this view is that man is born in sin, and conceived in iniquity; he cannot because he will not. His will has been corrupted by the fall. Fallen man can choose what he wills, but his will is not to choose God. Man is not born anew by the will of the flesh. Neither is he born of the will of another man. The psalmist states this clearly in Psalm 49; ‘They that trust in their wealth, And boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother.’ No one is saved by the will of another, not the closest brother possible. Many would be saved by their parents if that were possible, but it is not. Parents can set examples, they can use means of grace, they can pray for their sons and daughters, but they cannot redeem them. The new birth is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God.

No one can receive Christ unless it be given to him of the Father. No one can believe on the name of Christ unless they have received the gift of faith. They must be born again from above; it is along with the new heart that the gifts of faith and repentance are given. God alone is the Author of the new birth; it is only according to the foreordained purpose and will of our sovereign God that any are regenerated, or born again. God, the regenerating Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write to the church at Ephesus, and to us, these limitations:

By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory [or boast].

Salvation is not of our blood-line. It is not of our heritage, whether family or nation; our family ties, our national citizenship, will avail nothing. Paul said elsewhere, ‘We have nothing but that which we have received:’ it is only God who has made us to differ from those in hell. Neither is it the will of the flesh; there is not in any man the will to come to God through Jesus Christ; we must be made willing in the day of His power, Ps. 110:3. Not in the will of man; neither our own will nor the will of another. No other man but Jesus the Christ can save us; He who became man for us; He who is both God and man. “Since as God only he could not suffer, and as man only could not overcome death, he united the human nature with the divine, that he might subject the weakness of the one to death as an expiation of sin, and by the power of the other, maintaining a struggle with death might gain us the victory.”— Calvin, Institutes. Praise God for Jesus Christ.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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