Power of The Word

01- The Power of the Word

by Jimmy Barber, 1970

For a long time I was burdened to see something written on this subject, but could not find it. I have spoken on this subject in the past and tried to reveal some of the golden nuggets that God has blessed me to see. At times I have been misunderstood and have had labels put on me that were not true. Now I am writing on this subject so that we may "grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

02 - Not Gospel Regeneration

Ex 1

The opening verse of Exodus carries us back to what is recorded in the closing chapters of Genesis, where we read of Jacob and his family settling in the land of the Pharaohs. On their entry they were accorded a hearty welcome, for Goshen, which was "the best of the land" of Egypt, (Ge 47:6), was allotted to their use. But not for long were they suffered to dwell there in peace and comfort. It would seem that about thirty years after their entrance into Egypt a spirit of enmity began to be manifested toward them, engendered at first, perhaps, from the fact that they were shepherds (see Ge 46:34); and which terminated in their being subjected to hard bondage in the days of the new king which "knew not Joseph." That their peace was disturbed thirty years after their settlement in Goshen seems clear from a comparison of Ac 7:6 and Ex 12:40: in the former we are told they were "evilly entreated four hundred years", in the latter we are informed that "the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt" was "four hundred and thirty years."

 

Several questions naturally suggest themselves at this point. What was God’s reason for allowing Israel to spend so long a time in Egypt? Why did He suffer them to be so cruelly treated? The purpose of God was that the descendants of Abraham should occupy the land of Canaan, which He had given to their father. But why should an interval of more than four hundred years elapse before this purpose was realized? To this I think a twofold answer may be returned. First, to prepare Israel for their inheritance. The rough schooling they had in Egypt served to develop their muscles and toughen their sinews. Also, their bitter lot in Egypt and their trials in the wilderness were calculated to make the land that flowed with milk and honey the more appreciated when it became theirs. Moreover, the land of Canaan was too large for a single family or tribe, and the lengthy sojourn in Egypt gave time for them to develop into a nation that must have numbered fully two millions.

 

The second answer is suggested by Ge 15:16: "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." God had told Abraham that his seed should sojourn in a strange land for four hundred years, but in the fourth generation they should return to Canaan, and then the iniquity of the Amorites would be filled up. The time for God to deal in judgment with the Amorites was not fully ripe in the days of Abraham: their iniquities had not reached the bound God had appointed. Thus God ordered it that by the time the iniquities of the Amorites were "filled up" (cf. Mt 23:32 and 1Th 2:16) Israel was ready, as a nation, to be His instrument to destroy them. "Whatever the actings of men in wickedness and high-handed rebellion, they are made subservient to the establishment of the Divine counsels of grace and love . . . Even the wrath of man is yoked to the chariot wheel of God’s decrees" (Ed. Dennett).

 

But why did God allow the descendants of Abraham to suffer such indignities and trials at the hands of the Egyptians? Ah, does not the book of Genesis again supply the answer! Was the wicked treatment of Joseph by his brethren to pass unpunished? No, that could not be. They, like all others, must reap what they had sown; reap the bitter harvest not only themselves but in their offspring too, for the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. So it proved here, for it was the "fourth generation" (Ge 13:15) which came out of Egypt. Four generations, then, reaped the harvest, and reaped precisely "whatsoever" had been sown; for just as Joseph was sold into slavery, and carried down into Egypt, so in Egyptian slavery his brethren and their children suffered!! And what a foreshadowing was this of the bitter experiences of Israel during these nineteen centuries past, for their wicked treatment of that blessed One whom Joseph so strikingly typified! They, too, have reaped what they sowed. Israel delivered up Christ into the hands of the Gentiles, and so into their hands they also have been delivered. Christ was shamefully treated by the Romans, and the same people were employed by God to punish the Jews. Christ was "cut off" out of the land of the living, and from A. D. 70 Israel, too, has been "cut off" from the land of their fathers. Thus we see again how inexorable is the outworking of this law of sowing and reaping.

 

In our last chapter we intimated that the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage foreshadowed the redemption of sinners by Christ. The land occupied by the enslaved Hebrews fitly portrays the place where the unregenerate are. Egypt symbolizes the world, the world as a system, away from God and opposed to Him. Concerning this we cannot do better than quote from the excellent comments of the late Mr. F. W. Grant:

 

The land of Egypt is a remarkable land in this way, that it is a little strip of country along the great river which makes it what it is, and which is in perpetual conflict with the desert as to it. This desert runs on both sides, and a little strip through which the river flows alone is Egypt. The desert on each side hems it in, blowing in its sands in all directions, and the river is as constantly overflowing its banks and leaving its mud upon the sand, and renewing the soil. The Scripture name is indeed not Egypt but Mizraim; and Mizraim means "double straitness." This doubtless refers to the two strips, one on each side of the river.

 

The land is a very remarkable one, looking at it as the scene of perpetual conflict between life and death. The mercy of God, feeding that land by the rain of a far country, no rain coming down there. It is another remarkable feature that rain seldom falls in Egypt. The rain falls far off. The people know nothing about it. It comes rolling down in the shape of a mighty river, and that perpetual stream ministers unfailing plenty to the land. They are, so to speak, independent of heaven. Of course, I do not mean really; but as to their thoughts, they are not on the clouds. They do not look up, but down. It is the very thing God points out in contrasting the land of Canaan with the land of Egypt, that Canaan, Israel’s portion, drinks in the water and rain of heaven. Canaan is a land of dependence. Egypt is a land of independence.

And that is the serious character of our natural condition, alas! what is natural to us now—that we are independent of God! God indeed supplies the streams of plenteous blessing, and none else than He; but they come so regularly, so constantly, we speak wisely (?) of natural laws, and shut God out. Just as they have been sending men for long, long years to explore the sources of that river in Egypt, so men have been constantly seeking to explore the sources of natural supply, and they have hardly succeeded yet.

 

Egypt worshipped her river. The river came to her so constantly that she was practically independent of heaven; yet heaven was the source of her supply, She did not see the blue hills which shed down upon them what themselves received. And they worshipped but the river. It is our state of nature away from God. God was far off to us. We did not realize the blessed hand from which all things came, and we took the blessings in willful ignorance of the hand upon which both they and we in reality depended.

 

But this Egypt was remarkable in other ways. It was remarkable, as you know, as the abode of science and civilization. To that very wonderful country people go now to study her monuments and admirable architecture. Egypt built as if she had eternity before her to enjoy it in. Her buildings were made to outlast by ages the people of the day who builded them: they could not make the people last, yet they tried their best at that. They embalmed their dead; and sent their dead down to the generations yet to come, side by side with what their hands bad made, as if solemnly saying: "Here are the mighty works of those over whom a mightier has triumphed." What a comment upon all her grandeur! Her main literary memorial is a "book of the dead." In her monuments death is stereotyped. The desert, after all, has vanquished the river. The land of science and art is a land of death, and not of life.

 

And that is the history of the world itself. Death is what is stamped upon it everywhere. It is the stamp of "vanity" upon a fallen creation. It is more; it is the stamp of Divine reprobation. For "in His favor is life." Could He repent and unmake, unless we had given Him cause for repentance? Surely He could not. What a solemn thing that we should have given Him a reason! When God is able to rest in His love, as He will bye and bye, that will necessitate the eternity of the condition in which He can rest. All that, in view of which He can rest, will be stamped as eternal.

 

The religion of Egypt was very remarkable. They had a religion in which were embalmed the relics of another religion, the dead tradition of a life that had been. There is no doubt about that. It is very remarkable in fact, according to what they say, that the very expression which God employs to Moses when He tells Moses His name, "I am that I am," you find attributed to God in the monuments of Egypt. And yet, with all that, what did Egypt everywhere worship? Emphatically and universally, the creature and not the Creator. Egypt which testified of the true God took up everything which was His total opposite, and deified a hundred beastial objects, the images, in fact, of their own lusts, and debased themselves by the service of these. Their worship was a deification,—as all heathen worship is—of their own lusts and passions. And that is everywhere what controls men naturally as his god. You remember in the garden of Eden, Satan says to the woman, "Ye shall be as gods." It was the bait he presented to her: and man has found that true in an awful way. As the apostle says of some, even professing Christians, their "god is their belly." That is, there is a craving in man’s heart for something that will satisfy; and not being able to find satisfaction in God, and not being able to trust God’s love and care, lust and care devour him. He worships himself, in a way continually more and more brutalizing and degrading."

 

And how did the descendants of Abraham first get into Egypt? Let the chapter before us make answer, and note its typical significance: "Every man and his household came with Jacob" (v. 1). They came into the land of bondage with their father Jacob: he was the one who brought them there. Mark, too, the name here given to him—"Jacob", which speaks of the natural man, the "supplanter"; not "Israel" which was his new name, given in sovereign grace. How clearly this speaks to us. We, too, entered the place of spiritual bondage with our father, Adam. This was not the place he first occupied: in Eden he was free to eat of all the trees of the garden, with but a single restriction; but alas! he sinned, and this caused him to be driven from the garden, and it was outside Eden that all his children were born. They came into the place of bondage with him!

 

"And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them" (v. 7). This was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Jacob, made as the patriarch was journeying from Canaan to Egypt—"And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation." And this was but a repetition of what God had declared to Abraham long years before (see Ge 12:2). How comforting is this to the children of God today. Unto us are given "exceeding great and precious promises", and these are the promises of Him who can not lie. Rest, then, with implicit confidence on the sure Word—forever settled in heaven—of the Lord our God.

 

"Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" (v. 8). To understand this we need to turn the light of other scriptures upon it. This "new" king belonged not merely to a new dynasty, but was of a different nationality: he was by birth an Assyrian, not an Egyptian. In Ac 7:18 we read, "Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph." As one has pointed out there are in the Greek two different words for "another": allos, which means ‘another of the same kind"; heteros, which signifies "another of a different kind." It is the latter word which is used in Ac 7:18. By turning back to Isa 52:4 we learn what this other kind (in this case, another nationality) actually was. There we read, "For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause." Our purpose in calling attention to this is to remind the reader of the great importance of comparing scripture with scripture, and to show how scripture is self-interpreting.

 

"And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (v. 9). The light afforded by the scriptures we have just looked at should remove what has long been a difficulty in this verse. That the children of Israel (who probably numbered about two millions all told, at this time) should be more numerous than the Egyptians seems unthinkable. But this is not what V. g states at all. Mark attentively its wording. "And he (the "new" king) said to his people", not "the people." His people would be the Assyrians who had conquered Egypt, and particularly those in that land policing the country. Note the repetition of "his people" in verse 22.

 

"And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies (that is, lest the Hebrews should unite forces with the Egyptians against the Assyrian invaders), and fight against us and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them task-masters to afflict them with their burdens" (vv. 9-11). This was the proud reasoning of the carnal mind, which is enmity against God. It was the finite pitting itself against the Infinite. In thus oppressing and afflicting the children of Israel we have an illustration of the world’s hatred for the people of God (Joh 15:18-19). How true it is that "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Pr 12:10) I How much, then, dear reader, do we owe to the restraining power of God, which holds in check the evil passions of men, and thus allows us to live a quiet and peaceable life! Let the withholding hand of God be withdrawn for a short season, and even now, His people would be sorely "afflicted" too.

 

"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (v. 12). This proves how thoroughly vain it is to fight against the purpose of Him who hath sworn, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa 64:10). Pharaoh might purpose to "deal wisely", but "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1Co 3:19). God hath declared, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (1Co 1:19). So it proved here—"the more they afflicted them the more they grew." This also illustrates a principle which has been exemplified again and again in the history of Christendom. Times of severest trial have always been seasons of blessing to the people of God. The more fiercely have burned the fires of persecution the stronger has faith waxed. So, too, it should be, and often has been, in individual lives. Opposition should cast us back more and more upon God. Persecution results in separating us from the world. Suffering ought to refine. The experience of the Psalmist was, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word" (Ps 119:67). May it prove true of writer and reader that "the more we are afflicted" the more shall we "grow" in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.

 

"And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, when you do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live" (vv. 15, 16). It is not difficult to peer behind the scenes and behold one who was seeking to use Pharaoh as an instrument with which to accomplish his fiendish design. Surely we can discover here an outbreaking of the Serpent’s enmity against the Seed of the woman. Suppose this effort had succeeded, what then? Why, the channel through which the promised Redeemer was to come had been destroyed. If all the male children of the Hebrews were destroyed there had been no David, and if no David, no David’s Son. Just as Re 12:4 gives us to behold Satan working behind and through the wicked edict of Herod, so we may discern him here working behind and through Pharaoh.

 

But once more Egypt’s king was foiled, and again was Satan’s attacks repulsed: "but the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive" (v. 17). Better might a worm withstand the tread of an elephant than the puny creature resist the Almighty. "There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord" (Pr 21:30). What comfort and confidence should this impart to the believer! If God be for us, it matters not who are against us.

 

"Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God that He made them houses" (vv. 20, 21). Here we have one more illustration of the law of sowing and reaping. These Hebrew midwives, who through fear of God had overcome the fear of Pharaoh, dealt kindly with the male children of the Israelites, and they were rewarded accordingly—"God dealt well" with them. God is not unrighteous to forget any work and labor of love which is showed toward His name or ministered to His people (Heb 6:10). His promise is "For them that honor Me, I will honor" 1Sa 2:30). They "saved the men children alive", and God "made them houses", which, in the light of #2Sam 7:11, 1 Kings 2:24|, etc., must mean that He, in turn, gave them husbands and blessed them with children.

 

"And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is horn ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive" (v. 22). We do not have to look far beneath the surface in order to discover here the malignity of one more vile than Pharaoh. Just as the twelfth of #Revelation shows us that it was the Dragon himself who moved Herod to attempt the death of the Christ Child, so here he was employing the king of Egypt to destroy the channel through which He was to come. At the beginning, God declared He would put "enmity" between the woman and her Seed (Ge 3:15), and in the light of subsequent scriptures it is abundantly clear that "the woman" is Israel—the one who was to bear the Messiah. Here in the passage before us we have a forceful illustration of the Serpent’s "enmity." Had his effort succeeded, had all the male children of the Hebrews been slain, the channel through which the Savior was to come had been destroyed.

 

"And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive" (v. 22). How this reminds us of the words of Ec 8:11: "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." God bears with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Every opportunity is given them to repent; the day of mercy is graciously prolonged for them; and if in the end they die in their sins, then is their blood, unmistakably, on their own heads. How God frustrated this last move of Pharaoh we shall see in our next chapter.

03 - New Birth Is the Power of God

There are some verses of Scripture concerning the new birth on which all can agree. The first of these is Joh 3:3-8. Jesus stated that one "must be born again," and He said that this birth is "of the Spirit." Further, in Joh 5:25, Jesus compared the new birth to a resurrection where people must hear His voice. A beautiful picture of this example is seen by Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave.

Some may wonder how the new birth is ascribed equally to the Spirit and Jesus? In Joh 6:63, Jesus stated, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, They are spirit, and they are life." By comparing Joh 3:3-8 and Joh 6:63, it is seen that the giving of life is by the Holy Spirit and by the voice of the Son of God. Therefore, when Jesus stated that when He speaks His word it is equal to the Spirit, we see how the new birth is performed mutually by the Spirit and Jesus.

Other passages concerning the new birth state that the giving of life is by God, but they do not tell what means, if any, are used to accomplish it. The only other passage, aside from those given above, that gives credit to the Spirit being instrumental in the new birth is Ga 4:29. All other passages state that it is God Who gives life, but they do not tell how He does it.

04 - An Honest Look at Hard Scriptures

Some of the passages that previously troubled me are now some of the most comforting passages in God's Word. One of these is 1Pe 1:22-25. Usually when one teaches on the new birth, he quotes only a portion of this passage--verse twenty-three. The person who believes in gospel regeneration interprets "the word of God" to mean the preached word--the word which a minister preaches. A person who does not believe in gospel regeneration usually interprets "the word of God" to be the same Word as in Joh 1:1,14. He does this because the word for "word" in both places is "logos" in the Greek language. If 1Pe 1:23 stood alone, either interpretation could be correct. However, a verse must not be interpreted out of its context.

Look at the passage again and notice verse twenty-two; these people had purified their souls in obeying the truth. The only way a person can obey something is to know about it. Therefore, to obey the truth, one must have it taught to him. Look at verse twenty-five. It states that the word is that which the gospel minister preaches. You may ask, "Is not Christ preached by the gospel?" The answer is yes, but we logov cannot pass this verse that easily. The word translated "word" in verse twenty-five is a different Greek word from the one in verse twenty-three. The word in verse twenty-five is "rhema," but in verse twenty-three it is "logov." "Logov" may be translated to mean Christ as in Joh 1:1,14, but "rhema" means the written or spoken word. It is never translated nor interpreted to mean Christ. Likewise, "logov" does not always stand for Christ. It can, and most of the time does, mean the written or spoken word. In Matthew #7:24,26,28; John 4:37,39|; and 1Ti 1:15, it is translated "saying." In Matthew #12:36; 18:23; Romans 14:12|; and Heb 13:17, "  logov" is translated "account." It is translated "saying" fifty times, "account" eight times, "speech" eight times, along with other synonymous terms. The word "logov" is used 330 times in the New Testament and 225 times it is translated "word" and only seven times out of the 225 times is "logos" translated "Word" to mean Christ without question. Therefore, by studying the word "word" in its context in I Peter 1:23, the conclusion is that it means the written or spoken word.

You may be thinking that if gospel regeneration is not true then, "What does verse twenty-three mean?" I hope to answer this question later. First I will try to explain the following passages: Jas 1:18; Ro 1:16-17; 10:17; and 1Co 4:15.

05- Why Preach the Gospel?

To answer this question, I direct you to Ro 1:16-17. Paul stated that he was ready to preach the gospel of God to anyone. Paul further stated that he was a debtor to preach the gospel to all men and was not ashamed to do so because it was God's power unto salvation to the person who has faith.

I do not wish to divert to the subject of salvation, yet I remind you that "life" and "salvation" are two different subjects. Salvation is something that begins in the mind of God, is experienced in the believer's life, and is complete when in glory with God. Therefore, we are not studying salvation per se. We are studying life and the gospel and their relation to each other.

In Ro 1:17, Paul stated that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God "from faith to faith." Paul did not say that preaching the gospel causes the righteousness of God, but that the gospel reveals God's righteousness. Paul maintained that God's righteousness is revealed to the person who has faith. Ro 10:6-9 further explains this.

In Romans chapter ten, the subject is still the righteousness of God. Paul states that Israel (Israel as a nation) is ignorant of this righteousness. He also tells what God's righteousness maintains or asserts. It does not ask for God's Anointed to come from heaven nor to rise from the dead. The righteousness of God says that the word is so near that it is in the mouth and heart. It further maintains that the word is the same "word of faith" as the gospel of God. Therefore, when the testimony of the gospel is already in an individual, he can confess with his mouth or believe in this heart. Thus, by looking at this passage with Ro 1:16-17, when a man of God preaches the gospel and someone believes, it is because God has already placed the "word of faith" in the individual. Since the word translated "word" here in Ro 10 is "rhema" and not "logov," it cannot be interpreted to mean Christ. When Jesus stated in John 6:63 that the word spoken by Him was Spirit and life, the word He used was also "rhema." By comparing 1Pe 1:23-25 in its context, one sees that the word which "begets again" is "rhema," the same "word" which is already in an individual when, or before, he believes the gospel.

How did this "rhema" get in the individual? It was when he heard the voice of the Son of God, not when he heard the voice of the preacher. When Paul heard the voice of the preacher, Stephen, it was only a "savour of death unto death," but when he heard the voice of the Son of God on the road to Damascus, it brought him to the ground. Then the Lord sent Paul to the preacher for the righteousness of God to be revealed to him. Thus the Scriptures state that "life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel" (2Ti 1:10). This is the same as revealing, bringing to light, or receiving the righteousness of God.

Considering this, how does Ro 10:17 fit into the picture? Ro 10:17 states that faith comes by hearing. However, it does not say that life nor the Spirit comes by hearing. Ga 5:22 states that faith IS a fruit of the Spirit, and we discovered the words that Jesus speaks, or the voice of the Son of God, is Spirit and life. Life (the Spirit) is present prior to faith or belief. A man dead in sin cannot hear nor believe. Furthermore Ro 10:8-9 teaches that when a person hears the gospel and believes, it is because the word, "the word of faith" (rhema), is already in him. Therefore, Ro 10:17 is not teaching the new birth. Yet, it has everything to do with a person believing in Jesus Christ and God revealing His righteousness to him. This is the same as having life and immortality brought to light.

06- A Look at James 1:18

Often Jas 1:18 is set forth to show gospel regeneration. On the surface, this verse appears to teach gospel regeneration. A study in the Greek language will show otherwise. However, Jas 1:18 proposes no problem if it did teach that the spoken or written Word was used by God in the new birth. Why? Because in giving life, it is the Son of God that speaks the word. But in revealing the life, it is the preacher speaking the word. Nevertheless, this passage teaches how life is revealed or brought to light.

Let us study the word "begot," in this verse. This word is "apokueo" in the Greek language, and it comes from the word "kuo" or "kueo" which means to be pregnant. Therefore, "apo-kueo" means "to bring forth as from the womb, or to give birth to." This word is used only twice in the Scriptures--here and in verse fifteen where it is translated "bringeth forth." James is not speaking about the initial quickening or giving of life, but how the life is manifested or brought to light. Thus, the giving of life to a child of God in the Spiritual realm is like conception in the natural realm.

Some may argue that at conception there is not a person, but only a fertilized egg. However, according to Ps 51:5, David declared that he was a sinner the moment he was conceived in his mother's womb. Some people deny this is talking about original sin, yet I do not stand alone in this thinking. Men such as David Dickson, C. H. Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, John Gill, and many other sound scholars maintain that this verse is teaching original sin. Spurgeon stated, "It is a wicked wresting of scripture to deny that original sin and natural depravity are here taught."

This raises the following question, "Can someone who does not exist, nor ever will exist, be charged with something?" The answer according to logic, as well as the Scriptures, is an emphatic "NO!" Since David was a person at conception, we see that that is when his natural life began. Likewise, when God quickens a person, or gives him Spiritual life, he is alive like the babe in the womb of its mother. When someone preaches the Word of truth to that individual, it is parallel to the doctor bringing a child into the world. Therefore, from the time an individual is quickened or born from above, until the gospel is preached to him, he is existing by the umbilical cord of God's grace. It is possible for a person to be quickened for a time and not know anything about it, as a person is conceived and living for some time before he has a conscience awareness of his existence. Not everyone has a dramatic experience like Paul.

Our conclusion is that James was not speaking about giving spiritual life to anyone; he was speaking about life being brought to light as Paul said in Timothy (2Ti 1:9-10). The context Jas 1 (as well as the entire book) bears out that he wrote to encourage professing believers to exhibit fruits of a child of God. James did not write to instruct how one becomes spiritually alive.

07- A Look at I Corinthians 4:15

1Co 4:15 is also used to teach gospel regeneration. We cannot study the word "begotten" in this verse and come to a definite meaning of the word. "Begotten" is used in a very broad sense throughout the Scriptures. Still, I believe that after studying the word, we will see how 1Co 4:15 harmonizes with what is written above.

The Greek word for begotten is "gennao" which is a form of "ginomai." "Ginomai" carries the idea "to become." It can mean something coming to pass or something coming into existence. The word "gennao" has the idea "to beget, to be born, or to arise." I have tried to state the meaning of these words as briefly and simply as possible. For a fuller understanding of "gennao" and "ginomai," I suggest that the reader study them in depth.

The word "gennao" is translated as nine different words, with the majority being "begat" and "be born." When looking at Mt 1:2-16, we find that it is used to indicate the giving of life. However, when looking at Mt 2:1,4; Lu 1:57; Joh 16:21, we find that the same word is used concerning a child being brought forth from the womb. Therefore, I have as much right to claim that Paul was speaking concerning bringing life forth as someone else does to say that Paul was inferring the idea of giving life. When interpreting this verse in light of the other passages on this subject, one discovers that Paul was saying the same thing as he wrote to Timothy concerning the gospel--that it was to "bring life and immortality to light." In Ac 18:10, when Paul was in Corinth for the first time and was going to leave because of persecution, the Lord told him to stay because He had "much people in the city." God had people in Corinth before Paul preached there, and God told him to stay and preach to them and bring forth life and immortality to light--that they might receive the righteousness of God. As with James, when we study the context of 1Co 4:15, we see that Paul is not speaking about how the people became living children of God. He was reminding them how they had Christ revealed to them, manifesting themselves as children of God. Since Paul was the first preacher in Corinth, he was instrumental in their conversion but not their regeneration. He was instrumental in their living like God's children, and they were to continue keeping the faith as he had.

I might add that this is exactly the same situation in Phm 10. Paul, by the grace of God, brought to light the life that God placed in Onesimus so Onesimus would live like a child of God and not like the slaves of the world.

08- Summation

I have tried to show that when a person is quickened, the same Word of God (rhema) that is used in preaching is used in giving life. The difference is when this Word is used by the Son of God, it quickens or gives life to a dead sinner. However, when the same Word is used by the preacher, it brings life and immortality to light; or as Paul stated in Ro 1:16-17, the righteousness of God is "revealed from faith to faith." This is because the Word of faith (rhema) is placed within the individual by the voice of the Son of God, and it is the "same Word of faith" that we preach. Therefore, the same testimony that is in the Scriptures (the word--rhema) is in the regenerated person. When the Word (rhema) is preached to that individual, the two testimonies bear witness to the same thing; that is, the righteousness of God is revealed to the individual, and the life and immortality in that person is manifested or brought to light.

This shows how a person might believe in gospel regeneration because the same Word of truth is used in both cases. The difference lies in the person using the Word. I admit that while a minister is preaching the Lord may quicken someone who is listening to the preacher; however, God is not using the preacher's words; it is the words of the voice of the Son of God that quickens. God is only limited to Himself. Just as Jesus told the disciples to loose Lazarus and let him go after He had given him life, likewise, when God quickens a person, we should to be present with the gospel to loose him and let him go. You may ask, "How do we know who God is going to quicken?" I answer, "We don't." This is why Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel; that is why Paul gave his life to be first with the truth of God and not let someone beat him to people with a half-truth (2Ti 2:10). If we, who know this truth, do not go and preach it with the zeal of our brother Paul, may God take it from us and give it to those who will. I sometimes wonder if God has judged us for not spreading the truth by allowing those who preach a half-truth, or even a partial truth, to go and preach to His sheep.

09- Conclusion

I have not exhausted the subject in this small pamphlet. I believe this is an honest approach to the subject using the main passages involved. There can and needs to be much more written upon this topic. I have given a brief introduction with some answers to these passages of Scripture. I pray that this will be of some benefit to you and that it will cause you to study the subject to know His word and to preach it with great enthusiasm to his honor and to the manifesting of the life of His Son, Christ Jesus, in our mortal flesh. Copyright 1990, 1991 by Veritas Publications