A. T. Jones on the New Birth – Part 2

Posted Aug 06, 2013 by Allen Powell in Worship of True God Hits: 3,010

I have been immensely blessed to see the connection of the Father and His Son to the message of Righteousness by Faith. As I learned that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (along with being the Spirit of God), it naturally flows that the Spirit is the means that Christ lives in our hearts. The conversation that Christ had with Nicodemus where Christ states that Nicodemus (and all of us) must be born of the Spirit takes on a new significance. The new birth that we are encouraged to receive is no less than Christ making his home in our hearts, by His Spirit. I have also been intrigued to find that the pioneers included the new birth as #5 in the 1872 Statement of Beliefs. Why has the understanding of the new birth been lost to present day Adventism? Has the new birth been so trivialized by other faiths that we think it not necessary? The following is an editorial by A. T. Jones while he was editor of the Review and Herald. I was amazed at how powerfully the new birth was spoken of. I had never heard this perspective until recently. May the following bless you as it did me. This is the second installment in a series of articles I have found.

Allen Powell, Sr.

October 30, 1900

"The Third Angel's Message. The Faith of Jesus" Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 77, 44 , p. 696.

"THE law is spiritual," and "the carnal mind [the natural mind, the minding of the flesh] is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh can not please God." Rom. 7:14; 8:7, 8.

How then shall we please God? How shall we become subject to the law of God? The Saviour says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh;" and we have just read in Romans that "they that are in the flesh can not please God." But the Saviour says, further, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Therefore it is certain that except we are born of the Spirit, we can not please God; we can not be subject to the law of God, which is spiritual, and demands spiritual service. This, too, is precisely what the Saviour says: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God."

We know that some will say that the kingdom of God here referred to is the kingdom of glory, and that the new birth, the birth of the Spirit, is not until the resurrection, and that then we enter the kingdom of God. but such a view is altogether wrong. Except a man be born of the Spirit, he must still remain in the flesh. But the Scripture says, "They that are in the flesh can not please God," And the man who does not please God will never see the kingdom of God, whether it be the kingdom of grace or of glory.

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God, whether of grace or of glory, is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. 14:17. Except a man be born again, he can not see, nor enter into, the peace of God, which passes all understanding; and except he be born of the Spirit of God, how can he see, or enter into, that "joy in the Holy Ghost"?

Except a man be born again—born of the Spirit—before he dies, he will never see the resurrection unto life. this is shown in Rom. 8:11: "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

It is certain, therefore, that except the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, we can not be raised from the dead to life. But except his Spirit dwells in us, we are yet in the flesh. And if we are in the flesh, we can not please God. And if we do not please God here, we can never see the kingdom of God, either here or hereafter.

Again: it is by faith that we are the children of the first Adam; and if we shall ever be children of the last Adam, it must be by a new birth. The first Adam was natural, and we are his children by natural birth; the last Adam is spiritual, and if we become his children, it must be by spiritual birth. The first Adam was of the earth, earthy, and we are his children by an earthly birth; the last Adam is the Lord from heaven, from above; and if we are to be his children, it must be by a heavenly birth, a birth from above.

"As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy." The earthy is "natural"—of the flesh. And "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;" "because they are spiritually discerned," and "they that are in the flesh can not please God." Such is the birthright, and all the birthright, that we receive from the first Adam.

But, thank the Lord, "as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." The heavenly is spiritual; he is "a life-giving Spirit;" and the spiritual man receives the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. He can please God because he is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; for the Spirit of God dwells in him. He is, and can be, subject to the law of God, because the carnal mind if destroyed, and he has the mind of Christ, the heavenly.

Such is the birthright of the last Adam, the one from above. and all the privileges, the blessings, and the joys of this birthright are ours when we are born from above. "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born from above." "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he can not see the kingdom of God." With the argument of this paragraph, please study 1 Cor. 15:45-48; John 3:3-8; 1 Cor. 3:11-16; Rom. 8:5-10.

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." 2 Cor. 5:17. As a new creature he lives a new life, a life of faith. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." But it is a faith that works; for without works faith is dead.

In Christ nothing avails but a new creature; he lives by faith; it is a faith that works, and the work is the keeping of the commandments of God. Thus saith the Scripture:—

1. "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Gal. 6:15.

2. "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 5:6.

3. "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." 1 Cor. 7:19.

Again: it is "faith which worketh by love," that avails; and "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." 1 John 5:3. And "love is the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13:10. Therefore, in Christ Jesus the faith that avails is the faith that keeps the commandments of God, the faith that fulfills the law of God.

Once more: "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10. "Created in Christ Jesus," is to be made a "new creature" in Christ Jesus. But we are created in him "unto good works," and these good works are those which God had before ordained that we should walk in them.

That is to say, God before ordained good works in which we should walk. But we have not walked in them. Now he creates us anew in Christ, so that we may walk in these good works in which before we failed to walk. These good works are the commandments, the law, of God. These commandments express the whole duty of man, but man has failed to do his duty; "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." But now Christ is manifested to take away our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21.

We are made new creatures in him, that in him and by him we may perform acceptable service, and do the duty, keep the commandments of God, which before we failed to do, and which, out of him, all must ever fail to do. For he himself said, "Without me ye can do nothing." This is according to that which we have before shown: "What the law could not do," "God sending his own Son" did, "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:3, 4.

Therefore when the Third Angel's Message calls, as it now does call, upon all men to "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus," it simply calls all men to the performance of the whole duty of man—as he now exists. And when, under this message, we urge men to keep the commandments of God strictly according to the letter, we mean that they must be kept strictly according to the spirit, too. When we press upon all the obligation of keeping the commandments of God, it is always the obligation of keeping them the only way in which they can be kept, that is, by faith of Jesus Christ; it is always the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus; it is that all must be made perfect by his perfect righteousness; and that all our righteousness must be the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, and that righteousness witnessed by the law and the prophets. {October 30, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 696.21}

A.T. Jones On the New Birth Part 1