“Devaluing” the New Birth

Eric Alexander has written: ‘I am sure that one of the reasons people are looking for additional, secondary thrills offered at some future stage in their religious experience is that they have devalued the initial work of grace.’

This mistake has sometimes been pervasive among evangelicals. What happens at conversion has been treated as though the rebirth only deals with the forgiveness of sin, and that another experience is necessary before a ‘victorious Christian life’ can be enjoyed. According to this thinking, a person can be a believer and still be ‘carnal’ or worldly. It is said that someone may know Jesus as Saviour, but not yet as Lord and Master.

One aspect of this teaching is right. Conversion is the starting point, and not the finishing point. No one is reborn as a mature Christian. We all begin as spiritual babes. If that was not true, then many texts would be meaningless–‘Let us press on to maturity’, ‘Add to your faith’, ‘Go on being filled with the Spirit’, is the language of Scripture (Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 1:5; Eph. 5:18).

But the teaching is wrong because it diminishes the stupendous character of the new birth. Nothing greater will ever happen to us in this life than the point at which we come to possess Christ, and are united with him in eternal life. That happens at conversion. ‘This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

– Iain Murray

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