Born of God
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1)
One of the most well-known and frequently quoted passages from the New Testament is the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus recorded in John 3:1–21. The great love that God has for the world described in verse 16 is perhaps the most familiar verse to evangelical Christians. Evangelists regularly quote Jesus’ teaching that one must be born again (v. 3) as they present the Gospel to non-believers.
While it is certainly true that the new birth is central to salvation, many evangelicals do not understand that it occurs prior to our profession of faith. In verse 3, Jesus makes it clear that regeneration is the prerequisite for seeing the kingdom of God and thus seeing the need for the Savior-King. The new birth is not something that comes as a result of a synergistic work between the Spirit and our faith; rather, it is the monergistic work of the Spirit alone that changes our hearts, and as a result, we have faith.
If there were any doubt this was the teaching of Jesus, today’s passage clearly informs us that our act of believing in His name is the result of our being first born of God. Though many translations obscure the point, the Greek tenses used in 1 John 5:1 make it clear we believe as a result of God sovereignly granting to us the new birth. Our belief does not cause us to be born of God; it is the result of us first being born of Him.
Believing Jesus is the Christ is the evidence we have been born of God. Those who believe Jesus is the Christ, that is, all those who believe the man Jesus is the divine Son of God or Messiah, have experienced the new birth. This involves both an acknowledgement of orthodox Christological doctrines such as Jesus’ true humanity and true deity, as well as a saving trust in His name (v. 2).
Moreover, as we saw yesterday, all those who have been born of God, and thus love Him, will also love all the other ones who are born of Him. All those who love the biblical Christ will love all others who also love the biblical Christ. Though we may disagree about minor doctrines, believers will love all those who acknowledge the essential truths about Jesus and live holy lives in light of those truths.
The Bible is clear that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21). All who trust in Jesus Christ alone are true believers, even though disagreement may exist about issues not central to His identity. These issues may include things like the end times, sacraments, and church government. Do you love those who are outside of your denomination? Pray that God would give you a loving heart toward all His people.
Passages for Further Study
Lev. 19:17–18, Gal. 4:21–31, 1 Peter 1:3–5, 1 John 4:7–8
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