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by Dr. John Thomas
The New Birth, like the old one of the flesh, is not an abstract principle, but a process.
It begins with the begettal and ends with the having been born.
A son of God is a character, which is developed out of the "incorruptible seed" of God, sown into the fleshy table of the heart.
When this seed, or word of the Kingdom, is received, it begins to work in a man until he becomes a believer of the truth.
When things have come to this pass, he is a changed man.
He has acquired a new mode of thinking; for he thinks in harmony with the thoughts of God as revealed in His law and testimony.
He sees himself, and the world around him, in a new light.
He is convinced of sin; and experiences an aversion to the things in which he formerly delighted.
His views, disposition, temper, and affections are transformed.
He is humble, child-like, teachable, and obediently disposed; and his simple anxiety is to know what God would have him to do.
Having ascertained this, he does it; and in doing it is "born out of the water".
Having been begotten by the Father by the word of truth, and born of water, the first stage of the process is completed.
He is constitutionally "in Christ".
When a child is born, the next thing is to train him up in the way he should go, that when he is old he may not depart from it.
This is also the arrangement of God in relation to those who are born out of water into His family on earth.
He disciplines and tries them, that He may "exalt them in due time".
Having believed the gospel and been baptized, such a person is required to "walk worthy of the vocation," or calling, "wherewith he has been called," that by so doing he may be "accounted worthy" of being "born of spirit," that he may become "spirit," or a spiritual body; and so enter the kingdom of God, crowned with "glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life".
When, therefore, such a believer comes out of the ground by a resurrection from among the dead, the spirit of God, worked by the Lord Jesus, first opens the grave, and forms him in the image, and after the likeness of Christ; and then gives him life.
He is then an incorruptible and living man, "equal to the angels"; and like them capable of reflecting the glory of Him that made him.
This is the end of the process.
He is like Jesus himself, the great exemplar of God's family, born out of water by the moral power of the truth; and out of the grave by the physical power of spirit; but all things of God through Jesus Christ the Lord.
In the way described, sinners are transformed into saints; and it is the only way; their conversion being the result of the transforming influence of "the testimony of God".
Those who are ignorant of "the law and the testimony," and who yet claim to be saints, and "teachers of divine mysteries," may demur in toto to this conclusion, because "in saying this thou condemnest us also".