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The Basics Conference (IV)
May 12, 2009
John Piper’s second (and final) session was taken from John 3 and dealt with the topic of preaching the doctrine of regeneration undiminished. This is just the briefest overview. You know the audio will be available at the Desiring God site before the day is over.
Piper’s outline followed this pattern: What happens in the new birth; why the new birth is so necessary; how it happens.
What Happens in the New Birth?
Life happens! God does not give new religion, but new life. Jesus knows that there are religious dead people and that Nicodemus is one of them; he knows that Nicodemus needs to be born, to be given life. When you are born of the flesh, all you are is flesh; you are humanity minus God. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit—which means you do not have a living spirit now (because you are dead). The Holy Spirit needs to come upon you and breathe this new life into you. We are now spiritually alive.
Why Is the New Birth So Necessary?
Piper offered ten biblical descriptions of man apart from the new birth, ten reasons we need to be born again. As bad as the news is, it’s glorious to get it right because there is a glorious remedy. When we properly understand our own badness, we see Christ more gloriously.
Apart from the new birth we are dead
Apart from the new birth we are by nature children of wrath
Apart from the new birth we love darkness and hate light
Apart from the new birth we have hearts that are hard like stone
Apart from the new birth we are unable to submit to God
Apart from the new birth we are unable to except the gospel
Apart from the new birth we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord
Apart from the new birth we are slaves to sin
Apart from the new birth we are slaves of Satan
Apart from the new birth no good thing dwells in me
How Does it Happen?
He offered four steps (though steps was really not quite the right word):
First, the Holy Spirit freely gives life. There is no how-to here at all; he must sovereignly do this.
Second, this happens through the living and abiding Word of God. We see here the human agency of the divine sovereign awakening of dead souls.
Third, the gospel brings about faith. Believing is the result, not the cause of the new birth.
Fourth, Christ is received and believed upon.
These four steps cannot be carved apart—they must happen simultaneously.
Coming up this afternoon: lunch break, breakout sessions, a few hours of free time. After dinner John Lennox will speak for a second time.