Brought Forth From Above
By Arlen L. Chitwood
1. EXCEPT A MAN (1)
2. EXCEPT A MAN (2)
3. EXCEPT A MAN (3)
SAVED FOR A PURPOSE
Verses referring to a birth (a bringing forth) “out of God,” or “from above,” are found in three New Testament books. This expression appears in John 1:13; 3:3-8, 1 Peter 1:3, 23, and 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18.
Contrary to popular interpretation, contextually, not a single reference in any one of the three books where the expression “born again [born from above]” or “born of God” is used has anything to do with an unsaved individual being eternally saved. Rather, every single reference, without exception, is set within a context having to do with the saved and concerns different facets of teaching surrounding the saving of the soul in relation to the proffered kingdom.
Erroneously relating these verses to the unsaved and eternal salvation in any one of the three books where this expression is found is a misinterpretation of Scripture; and this misinterpretation is the same as that made elsewhere in Scripture by those advocating Lordship Salvation, i.e., taking verses that have to do with issues surrounding the salvation of the soul, removing them from their contexts, and applying them to salvation by grace.
And removing verses from their contextual settings and misapplying them in this manner should not be taken lightly, for this not only results in doing away with that dealt with by the specific verses and contexts, but it also often results in a corruption of the simple message of the gospel of grace.
In these particular verses however, misusing that which is stated in the different texts would not really affect biblical teachings surrounding salvation by grace, for salvation by grace, of necessity, occurs through exactly the same means seen in these verses.
When an unsaved individual is saved through faith in Christ, that person is “born again [born from above]”; that person is brought forth out of God. It would be impossible for an individual to be saved in any other manner, for nothing within the scope of a divine work on man’s behalf can be brought to pass any other way. Any divine work on behalf of an individual, whether saved or unsaved, has to be a work from above, out of God (note, for example, a divine work of this nature, expressed after another fashion, in verses such as Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10).
While it would be biblically correct to say that an unsaved person passing “from death to life” (being eternally saved) has been born from above, brought forth out of God, this is not the terminology used in Scripture relative to one’s eternal salvation. And relating the verses where these expressions are used to the unsaved and eternal salvation, though the terminology would be correct, could be done only by removing these verses from their respective contexts; and, as previously noted, this would result in missing the interpretation that the Spirit of God originally intended.
For this reason, these particular verses should not be used with respect to eternal salvation by grace through faith. Rather, these verses should always be understood and dealt with in the light of their respective texts and contexts.
And, if the latter is done, many existing interpretative problems surrounding these verses will cease to exist, for these interpretative problems exist mainly because of the erroneous manner in which these verses are almost universally interpreted and understood.
And possibly the major interpretative problem in this realm exists through seeking to understand sin in the life of a believer by that which is stated in 1 John 3:9; 5:18 (where the expression, “born of God,” brought forth out of God, is used) in the light of that previously stated in 1 John 1:8-10.
But, contextually, exactly the same thing is being taught and dealt with about sin in the life of a believer in all three places. John deals with sin in the life of a believer from one perspective in the first chapter and another in the third and fifth chapters.
The whole of the matter is exactly the same in all three places. But to properly understand the verses in chapters three and five in the light of those verses in chapter one, a person must understand what is meant in 1 John 3:9; 5:18 by the expression, “born of God,” brought forth out of God.
This is the key; this is fundamental and primary. And this key is what is discussed throughout the pages of this book.
In the third and fifth chapters, John simply provides additional commentary for that introduced in the first chapter; and he provides this additional commentary through a means seen so often throughout Scripture. John does this by viewing the same thing from another perspective. He simply provides a different facet of the same truth.