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5. Seven Marks of a Regenerated Christian


– Chapter 5 –

Seven Marks of a Regenerated Christian

Second blessing?

It is disturbing that many Christians are slow to grasp the basic things of the Christian life. Many spend their Christian lives with­out experiencing the reality of regen­eration and the new life in Christ. As a result, some Christians think that what they need is a “second blessing,” as it is called in some churches. An examination of this second blessing in the light of God’s Word shows that it is really nothing other than the regeneration experience, and not something additional to it. There is nothing in the second blessing that is not already included in regeneration.

But if by “second blessing” one is referring exclusively or prim­arily to an experience of speaking in tongues, then this second blessing isn’t necess­arily from regeneration. That is to say, a person who speaks in tongues is not necess­arily regenerate. Anyone who is not born anew — born from above — cannot be filled with the Spirit. Encour­aging an unregenerate person to speak in tongues could lead him into self-deception or Satan’s deception. Encouraging unregenerate “Christians” who have not yet repented of their sins or yielded their lives to God, to speak in tongues is to expose them to the risk of being filled with the wrong spirit, an evil spirit. This, sadly, has happened not infrequently.

I have been reading accounts of people who have gone through the “second blessing”. The new things they experienced should have been part of the “first blessing” of being born anew which they hadn’t exper­ienced in the first place. For example, they speak of a renewed intimacy with God, or a sense of God’s presence, or a deep inner joy. All these things are in fact part of regeneration which they should have exper­ienced at the beginning of the new life in Christ.

Some people in their “second blessing” see the need to stop living in their own strength and live by the power of the indwelling Spirit that is given to those who belong to Christ. This, too, is a part of the basic regeneration experience. The one fundamental blessing that God has given us is the blessing of regeneration.

Many Christians accept the idea of a second blessing either because they have a wrong understand­ing of regeneration or be­cause they have not experienced regeneration in the first place. They may have been attending church for many years without ex­periencing the abundant Christian life. The idea of a second blessing is especially appealing in the Western world where many have been baptized as infants, or have been converted at evangelistic meetings but with­out being born from above in the biblical sense. They somehow think that their initial decis­ion to accept Christ is the same as regeneration. Before long, however, they run into spiritual problems and find their Christian life unsatis­fact­ory. They search for something better, and when they find it, they call it the “second blessing”.

The second blessing teaching em­braced by our Pentecostal and charismatic friends has given rise to much debate in the church. Other Chris­tians would say to the Charismatics, “You’re wrong. We received the Holy Spirit when we became regenerate.” That may be true in theory, but the Charismatics are also right in replying, “But you have not experienced the fullness of the Spirit, have you?”

The confusion arises because some teachers have sliced regenerat­ion into two blessings: a first and a second. To dispel this misconcept­ion, let us look at the seven marks of regeneration as we find them in John’s writings. These seven marks are part of regen­eration, with or without a second blessing.

The seven marks of regeneration

In the last chapter we considered only one mark of regeneration: victory. This mark is ultimately a consequence of the seven marks we are about to consider.

The regenerate man always lives in triumph. 1John 5:4 says, “Whoever is born of God over­comes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” We have already consi­dered this in some detail, and we won’t repeat it. It would be good, however, to remind ourselves of the important fact that every regen­erate Christian lives in victory. If your Christian life is defeated, some­thing must be fundamentally wrong with it. You may be in need of regeneration.

Let us now consider the seven marks of regen­eration in the Johannine writings: John’s Gospel, John’s letters, and Revelation.

First mark: Authority to be children of God

In John 1:12-13 we read:

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (RSV)

In our natural or physical birth, we were indeed “born of blood,” and “of the will of the flesh,” and “of the will of man”. But in our spiritual birth, we are “born of God” (regenerated).

The statement, “He gave power (or authority) to become children of God,” is deep, and it would take a whole sermon to expound it. For our present purposes, we focus on the word “power” [1] which John uses. Without God’s power, we cannot be children of God, for we lack the pow­er to save ourselves or make ourselves born anew. It is God’s power through His Spirit in our lives that causes us to be born from above. We cannot be true Christians in the Biblical sense without God’s power. That is the fundamental doc­trine of grace.

The power to become children of God is not a one-time exper­ience. At this very moment, long after we have been born anew, we continue to live as children of God by that same power.

Some want to live as true Christians, but fail miser­ably for the lack of power. True Christianity becomes to them an un­attainable ideal. We may sing the hymn “Oh, to be like Thee” in all earnestness, but can we attain it in practice? It would be utterly futile to try to live the Christian life in one’s own strength. It would lead to a never-ending cycle of begging for forgiveness from dawn to dusk: “Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me.” This pitiful begging for forgive­ness is the result of being powerless to live the Christian life.

There are those who even think that it is pious to spend the whole day begging for forgiveness. There is certainly a place for repentance and forgiveness, but is the Christian life not something more than this?

The fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, etc — conveys a picture of spiritual riches. But if our Christian life is an unending cycle of confess­ion and forgiveness, we are in effect blaming God for not giving us the strength to live the abundant life. Have we experienced the reality of the God-empowered life? Should we not be living a life that glorifies His name?

If we keep on asking for forgiveness, we are declaring one of two things. These are the only two logical possibilities; I can’t think of a third. Either we are unwilling to live as sons of God (in which case our salva­tion is in doubt) or we are unable to (in which case our salvation is also in doubt).

Are you unwilling or unable? If you are unwilling, how can you consider yourself a child of God? If you are unable, you need to receive God’s saving power into your life.

Of course no one is absolutely perfect in the present age. We occasionally do things that are unbecoming of children of God, so we need to beg the Lord’s forgiveness. We failed because we were careless, not be­cause God’s power was inadequate. God’s power was there all along, but we failed to draw from it.

In this generation are multitudes of weak Christians who make no impression on the non-Christian world. The non-Christian sees the Christian as very ordinary: “If Christians are like that, why should I become a Christian?”

Are you a new person in Christ? Do you live as a child of God who enjoys a certain sweetness of com­munion with God? I qualified the statement with “a certain sweetness” because we are still progress­ing in the Lord, and the sweetness will become sweeter. Our Christian life might not yet be perfect in every detail, but it ought to have the quality that befits a child of God.

The power or authority that God gives us is real and something we can experience. Either God is real or He is not. If He is not real, there would be no spiritual power to talk about. We might try to work up a psychological feeling or do things in our own strength, but that would be mere moral reform by human effort and has nothing to do with Biblical salvation.

But if God is real, then His power is available to us. People who have been born anew experience God’s sustaining power, and are conscious of His reality. They know that the power comes not from themselves but from God. If God is only a theoretical or psycholog­ical abstraction to us, then we are still unregenerate.

All this is progressive. God will become more real to you as you experience more of His work in you and through you. As your eyes are being opened, one day you may catch a vision like the one granted to Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6:17). Surrounded by formid­able and danger­ous enemies, they were given a vision of Yahweh’s army and chariots of fire. Though Elisha lived in the Old Testament era, he sur­passed most Christians in terms of knowing the living God. If we are truly regenerate, we too will know God in a real way even if our knowledge of Him is still in its early stages.

Second mark: Seeing the Kingdom of God

Jesus says to Nicodemus, a prominent teacher of the Jews: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the king­dom of God.” (John 3:3) The positive form of this vital statement is: If you are regenerate (born anew), you will see the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the kingship of God. Everyone who is born anew sees God’s kingship even in this dark world where His kingship is hid­den from the natural eye. The natural man looks here and there, but does not see it. But the spiritual man, with eyes of faith, looks beyond the present situation and catches a vision of God’s kingship.

The Syrians wanted to capture Elisha (2 Kings 6:13) because they found him more exasperating than all the armies of Israel combined. How could one man stir up so much trouble for them? That was because Elisha, a prophet, knew everything that the Syrian king was discussing in his secret meetings (vv.8-9,12). That was why the king wondered, “How does Israel know our secrets?” His advisors told him that Elisha knew every word that the king spoke. That made him more dangerous than all the soldiers and chariots of Israel put together.

The Syrian army eventually tracked down Elisha and sur­rounded him. Early in the morning, Elisha’s servant woke up and saw an army with impressive horses and war chariots. The anxious “servant” [2] cried out to Elisha, “Alas, my mas­ter, what shall we do?” (v.15) Elisha told him, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha had complete peace of heart because he knew the living God. That kind of inner peace is beyond understand­ing — even irrational — to those who don’t know the kingship of the living God. Elisha prayed, “O Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes that he may see.” And what did his servant see? “Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v.17). Yahweh God’s mighty army was there to ensure His servants’ safety.

Pontius Pilate, who exercised Roman imperial power over Judea, said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” but Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn.19:10-11). Jesus knew that his life was in his Father’s hands, not Pilate’s. Pilate could do nothing to Jesus, not even touch a hair on his head, unless his Father permitted it.

If we profess to be born-anew Christians, do we see God’s king­ship? In a world plagued by pollution, strife, economic instab­ility, and life-threatening diseases, where is God’s kingship to be seen? Yet he who is born of the Spirit sees the kingship of God.

The kingship of Yahweh God is the first and most basic element of prophetic visions. Isaiah’s first vision was that of the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). It was a vision of God’s kingship. In verse 5 Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me … for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” That vision of the Lord as King dominated Isaiah’s prophetic ministry and pro­clamation. When lowly Israel was sur­rounded by the world powers — Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon — Isaiah surveyed the world situation and declared, “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Elsewhere Isaiah proclaimed, “Your God reigns” (52:7; cf. 43:15, 44:6).

Jeremiah’s vision of God’s kingship is seen in the words, “Is Yahweh not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (Jeremiah 8:19).

The great prophet Daniel did not, however, use “King” as a title for Yahweh God. That was because the title “king of kings” was already appropri­ated by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:37). Daniel felt that the title “king” had been devalued, so he referred to Yahweh God with the greatest title of all: “The Most High” (six times in Daniel 4 alone). Daniel was in effect saying to Nebuchad­nezzar, “You call your­self the king of kings, but there is another title that is the highest by definition: ‘the Most High’. The Most High is higher than you, O ‘king of kings’”. In Daniel 5:18, Daniel refers to Belshazzar as “king” but refers to God as “The Most High God”.

The prophet Zechariah was content to use the title, “the King, the Lord of hosts” (Zech.14:17). Zephaniah spoke of “the King of Israel, Yahweh” (Zeph.3:15). We can go on and on through the pro­phets (e.g. Mal.1:14). Every prophet from Elisha to Isaiah, Jeremiah to Daniel, Zephaniah to Zechariah, saw Yahweh God as King.

Elisha’s vision of God’s kingship was so assured that he was unim­pressed with earthly kings and the great ones of this world. He said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? … As the Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for Jehosha­phat the king of Judah (a godly king), I would neither look at you, nor see you” (2 Kings 3:13-14). The prophetic vision enables one to see God as the Most High, the true King of kings who executes His counsels in the world. Likewise, those who are born again will “see” the kingdom, or the kingship, of God. “Your God reigns” (Isa.52:7).

Do we have this vision? We must, like Paul, look at the eternal things, not at the things that are passing away (2Cor.4:18). If we see God’s kingship, our sense of values will be radically transformed. Formerly it was focused on transient material things but now it is focused on what is spiritual and enduring.

Have you been born of the Spirit? Just take a look at your sense of values. Which is more important to you, the transient or the eternal? How do you regard your job, your career or your future in the world? What sense of values governs your decision-making? If you have been born anew, you would have a new sense of values through a transformed mind (e.g., Romans 12:2).

Third mark: Controlled by the Spirit

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

We can understand the reference to “wind” in this passage if we realize that the word for “wind” and the word for “Spirit” are one and the same word in the original Greek text of John’s Gospel.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you cannot predict its next direction. Any sailor would know that the wind is erratic. He keeps an eye on the sail boom because it could sud­denly swing around and hit him on the head. Some have drowned after being knocked into the waters by the boom.

The wind blows where it wishes. The weather vane spins with the blowing of the wind.

Then Jesus goes on to make a startling statement: “So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit — the Spirit “wind” — is sovereign in the world and carries out God’s purposes. The Spirit acts according to God’s wisdom and power, and is not controlled by man.

God’s mind cannot be understood in human terms. His thoughts are above our thoughts. “Who has directed the Spirit of Yahweh, or as His coun­selor has instructed Him?” (Isa.40:13). “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (Rom.11:34). We might not fathom the depths of God’s mind, but when God deals with us, He has our spiritual benefit in mind.

“So is everyone born of the Spirit” — every regenerate person lives under the control of the Spirit, and acts accord­ing to divine instruction. If we profess to be born of God, do we live under the Spirit’s control? If the Spirit tells you to go this way, do you go this way; or that way, and you go that way?

If you do, then you in turn become unpredictable and unintelligi­ble to the natural man. He doesn’t understand you because the natur­al man doesn’t understand or accept the things of the Spirit, these being foolishness to him (1Cor.2:14). For that reason, neither can the natural man understand you if your life is controlled by the Spirit of God.

You may be having a great career and making good money when the Spirit suddenly intervenes, and you swing in the opposite direct­ion. People are puzzled: “What has happened to him? He quits his job and wants to serve God. He spends all his time reading the Bible instead of the magazines he used to enjoy.” The natural man cannot understand you because your life is guided by the Spirit of God.

But the spiritual man understands spiritual things. And if you are governed by the same Spirit that governs the spiritual man, he would under­stand you very well. That is why those who are gov­erned by the Spirit have one heart and mind, for it is the same Spirit who moves in all of them. But where there is dis­harmony, there must be someone who is not being governed by the Spirit of God. That person will create disharmony in the church. When that situat­ion arises, those who are entrusted with the welfare of the church must keep watch and intervene speedily.

Do you understand the things of God? Or is it the world that under­stands you well? You have good reason to worry if the world under­stands you. But if the world doesn’t understand you, you can thank God, for you might be living under the control of the Spirit.

Does the world find you predictable? Do you go where mon­ey or reputation is found? Are you attracted to money as bees are attracted to honey, or cockroaches to garbage? That is why Christians have no witness in the world today. The non-Christians say to them, “You Christians are just like us. You pursue the things that we pursue, things such as money and status.” Non-Christians are not convicted by any­thing they see in this kind of Christian. But if non-Christians react to you with wonder, or even hostility or confusion, that is good! At least you are making an impact! At least the natural man finds you unpre­dictable and unintelligible, like the Spirit of God Himself.

Our Christian life ought to make the non-Christian say, “I don’t understand him. Why is he like that?” That’s a good sign! He or she is asking questions, and he may find an answer that could well lead him to God’s kingdom. Many people, including the apostle Paul, have entered the kingdom who were at first violently opposed to God.

Is your life under the control of the Spirit of Yahweh God? If not, there would be no regeneration to talk about. Living a life governed by God is the mark of every man of God, everyone who is born of God.

During a packed itinerary in England, D.L. Moody, that great servant of God, was fully booked for evangelistic meetings. One big church invited him to speak at one of their meetings but he declined the invitation because he already had too many engagements. This church felt snubbed. “An invitation from our famous church is a great honor. We invited you but you turned us down.” At a board meeting one person stood up and said, “Since we invited Mr. Moody and he is not coming, I would suggest that he does not have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. We can invite someone else.” Another brother stood up and asked the chairman, “May I say something?” The chairman said, “Yes, go ahead”. And he said, “I think the reason we invited Mr. Moody is not because he has a mono­poly on the Holy Spirit but because the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on him!”

That expresses the essence of John 3:8. The wind blows where it wills, and so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has a monopoly on this person who does whatever the Spirit tells him to do.

Fourth mark: Doing righteousness

We come to the fourth point. I am proceeding according to the order in which regeneration is mentioned in the Johannine writings. 1 John 2:29 says, “If you know that God is right­eous, you know that every­one also who prac­tices righteous­ness is born of Him”.

Again it is not hard to see the basic message: If God is righteous and if we are born of God, it follows that we have His nature. Since righteous­ness char­acterizes His deeds, we too “practice righteous­ness”. “Like father, like son,” goes the saying. In the Greek, “practice (or, do) right­eousness” is in the present continuous tense, indicating ongoing activity.

What does it mean to “practice righteousness”? It is doing what is right in God’s eyes. God’s standard of righteousness is offen­sive to human thinking. Whether it offends us or not will depend on whet­her we ourselves are prac­ticing righteousness. When Stephen stood up and spoke God’s word in righteousness, his listeners covered their ears while shouting at him (Acts 7:57), then stoned him to death because his life was righteous and theirs were not.

To better understand the meaning of “practice righteousness,” let us consider Acts 10:35 where similar language is used: “But in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” The whole account is about God arranging for Peter to meet Cornelius, a God-fearing military officer, a centurion. This eventually led to a momentous event: Cornelius and his house­hold received the Holy Spirit. Later on, Peter had to explain to his fellow Jews why the Holy Spirit was given to Cornelius, a Gentile. In verse 34 he said, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality.” That is absolutely true, for God grants the Spirit to Jews and Gentiles without partial­ity. In verse 35 Peter explained further why God showed favor to Cornelius: “In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”

God accepts you and me not because we speak spiritual-sounding lang­uage or have some Bible knowledge, but because we do righteous­ness, not in our own strength but by God’s enabling power. In other words, God accepts you when you live according to the power He makes available to you. If you keep saying, “Sorry Lord,” over and over, He may stop listening to you because you are not living accord­ing to the power He has given you.

God accepted Cornelius because he feared God and did right­eousness. What kind of righteousness did he do? Acts 10:3-4 gives the answer. An angel of God appeared to Cornelius in a vision, and called to him, “Cornelius!” Trembling with fear, Cornelius asked, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter.”

We often think that when God deals with us, there must some­thing bad in store for us. Why do we have this concept of God? He may want to talk to you to give you good news, even to tell you that your prayers and alms have ascended to God as a memorial before Him!

Do we have a memorial in God’s presence? Cornelius’s memorial was the righteousness he did. There is no reason to think that this sit­uation is unique to Cornelius. The righteousness you do will also stand as a memorial before God, reminding God of you and your deeds. Our God is a God who is concerned about our deeds, good or bad (cf. “I know your deeds” occurs three times in Revelation 3 alone, in verses 1,8,15). Would to God that we have more memorials up there, so that He may remember our deeds — and us!

If you want God to remember you, start building a memorial through prayer and almsgiving. Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Regiment, was a devout man who feared God with his whole house­hold. He gave much alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually (Acts 10:1-2). He gave alms to the poor with liberality, not being one to drop a miserly few coins into the charity box.

Giving to the needy is an impor­tant ministry of the people of God. It is a concrete expression of love and prayer. On the spiritual level and on the practical level, Cornelius was not found wanting. A memorial of his deeds stood in God’s presence, and God sent the apostle Peter to him so that he and his household could receive the Holy Spirit.

As Cornelius did righteousness, so does every­one who is born of God. Every regenerate person will give liberally to the brothers and sisters who are in need. I thank God that a good number of people have encour­aged my heart by their practical and generous care for people in need and for their support of the Lord’s work. I have no doubts that they have a memorial before God.

But there is the other aspect: prayer. As God’s people we pray for one another, upholding one another not just mater­ially but also spirit­ually, not just spiritually but also materially. The two go hand in hand.

Fifth mark: He does not sin

For our fifth point, we turn to 1 John 3:9, a verse that some have difficulty with: “No one born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

In this generation, no verse is more important to stress than this one. Many churches today say that holiness is optional, unessen­tial, and irrelevant to salvation. For this reason we must proclaim the Biblical call to holiness with yet greater urgency.

Scripture explicitly says, “No one born of God commits sin.” These are shocking words. Some Christians water down these words, but I don’t have that kind of “boldness”. I dare not water down or distort God’s Word. That statement is made without any ambiguity: “No one born of God commits sin.” When we are born of God, we will not sin deliberately or continuously.

Paul teaches the same, as we have seen. Romans 6 repeatedly says that we have been freed from the control of sin: we are no longer slaves to sin (v.6); he who has died is freed from sin (v.7).

If our lives show no evidence of holiness, it means that we haven’t become new persons even if we profess to be Christians. But when we are born anew, the new life in us causes us to lose the desire to sin, and we find ourselves no longer under the compulsion to sin. When these two things are in place — no desire to sin combined with freedom from the compulsion to sin — is there any reason for not living in holiness?

It doesn’t mean that we are absolutely sinless. Some people read the statement, “No one born of God commits sin,” to mean, “The one born of God is absolutely sinless.” The regenerate person is not perfect­ly sinless in the sense of being unable to sin. Was Adam sinless? He was sinless for a time, but only in the sense of not having com­mitted sin. But he was not absolutely sinless or absolutely perfect. The fact that he eventually fell into sin proves it.

A newborn baby in the cradle has never sinned, and is as sinless as Adam was. But the baby has the potential to sin insofar as he has flesh (just like Adam). As he grows up, sooner or later he will commit actual sin. The newborn baby, like Adam, has a body of flesh that inclines him to sin. So long as we are in the flesh, we will be tempted to sin. We will never be absolutely perfect or sinless so long as we remain in this body of flesh.

He who is born of God can still sin if he chooses to, but he does not have to. If his new nature, which is empowered and governed by the Holy Spirit, is the dominant factor operating in his life, he cannot sin because, unlike our old nature, the new nature has no desire to sin, for it is God’s own nature in us (2Pet.1:4).

John says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God”. God’s seed abides in us when we are new people in Christ. A seed carries life — in this case, God’s life — in the divine nature implanted in us by His Holy Spirit.

A seed grows when the conditions are right. In 2 Peter 1:4-8 we see this very thing in regard to the divine nature in us. Peter teaches us to encourage the growth of this “seed” in us. If we follow the principles summed up in verse 8, the qualities of the divine nature in us will be “increasing” (the Greek word pleonazō πλεονάζω also means “growing” or “multiplying”), and we won’t be “unfruitful”.

Justification is not merely the declaration of righteousness by which God forgives us. That is only one part of justification. The other part is God’s imparting His nature to us, making us righteous. Or, as in 1John 3:9, God’s implanted “seed” abides in us.

If we accept one part of the doctrine of justification but omit the other part, we will get into serious problems. The two must never be sep­arated. God forgives us our sins, but He also makes us righteous. He does this by giving us His Holy Spirit and by putting His own nature in us. This is why the regenerate Christian triumphs over sin consistent­ly, and lives the joyful and meaningful Christian life.

Sixth mark: The evil one does not touch him

We have something more to thank God for. The born-again Christ­ian enjoys a two-fold protection against sin: an inward pro­tection and an outward protection. Internally, the true Christian has God’s nature and God’s Spirit. Externally, he is protected from the attacks of the evil one:

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but he who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. (1John 5:18)

The first half of the statement reminds us that the new man in Christ does not sin. The second half tells us that the Lord Jesus himself (“he who was born of God”) protects him from the devil. That is double assurance! Internally we have God’s righteous nature; externally we are protected by Jesus himself. It reminds us of Zechariah 2:8: “He who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.”

Why is Jesus here referred to as “he who was born of God”? That is because the new man in Christ is also referred to as one who is “born of God”. Both Jesus and his disciples are “born of God”; they have this vital reality in common.

To be born of God is to be His son. Jesus is called “Son of God” and believers are called “sons of God”. The disciple shares the nature of Jesus his Lord.

God protects us day and night, physi­cally and spiritually. If it weren’t for God’s protection, I could have died on at least three occas­ions in the past two years. Yet each time He brought me through without injury, not even to a strand of hair on my head. I am sure that many of you have had similar experiences.

We need the Lord’s protection because Satan seeks to destroy those who are born of God, just as he sought to destroy the infant Jesus. But his machinat­ions were foiled, for God safeguards His people phy­sically and spiritually.

Seventh mark: Love

Lastly, 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The true Christian exper­iences love flowing from his or her heart like a river of living water. We reserve this important subject for a fuller discussion in a later chapter (25).

Are we born of God? Do we know the living God? Are these seven marks of regeneration real in our lives?

[1] Exousia, έξουσία, means “power, authority to do a thing also “abundance of means, resources” (A Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell, Scott, Jones). Also, Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT: 1. “right to act,” 2. “ability to do something, capability, might, power,” 3. “authority”. In giving us the right to become children of God, God did not just give us a name or a title, but with it the “power,” the “right to act” or to function, as children of God. We did not merely receive a name without the sub­stance, for God gave us an “abundance of resources,” and with it the “capability” to live as children of God.

[2] This almost certainly refers to a disciple who accompanied and attended to his teacher. The same Hebrew word שׁרת, translated here in 2Kings 6:15 as “servant” in most English versions, is used of Elisha himself in relation to Elijah (1Kings 19:21), and of Joshua in relation to Moses (Joshua 1:1).


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