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THE NEW BIRTH – BY THE RESURRECTED CHRIST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 1, 2009

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3).


The Greek word translated “begotten” means “to regenerate, to cause to be born again” (Fritz Rienecker, Ph.D., The Linguistic Key to the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, p. 744; note on I Peter 1:3). The word means that God causes us to be born again “by means of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead” (translation of R. C. H. Lenski, D.D., The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966 edition, p. 29). The Greek word is “anagennésas.” Dr. Lenski said, “This verb, which is used here and in v. 23 [means] ‘to beget spiritually, to a new spiritual life.’ This is the new birth referred to in John 3:3” (Lenski, ibid.).

“God [the] Father…hath begotten us [caused us to be born again]…by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

“Begotten us.” The word ‘us’ “does not refer only to the Apostles who saw the risen Lord, but to Peter and to his readers” (Lenski, p. 32). Everyone who has experienced the new birth has done so “by means of” the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Speaking of I Peter 1:3, Dr. A. W. Tozer said that, “the new birth [described here] is a miracle – a major miracle!” (A. W. Tozer, D.D., I Call It Heresy, Christian Publications, Inc., 1974, p. 34). The miracle of the new birth is not caused by a decision you make. It is not caused by asking, or by your own will in any way. The new birth is caused “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The Greek word translated “by” is “dia.” It means “because of” or “by means of” (Strong). That is why Dr. Lenski translated it, “by means of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.” The cause of the new birth is the resurrected Christ!

It is no surprise that Peter said this. The great theme of Peter’s preaching was Christ’s resurrection. We see this in his sermons recorded in the Book of Acts. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost he said,

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses”
      (Acts 2:32).

The resurrection of Jesus was central in his thought and preaching, but it was not always so.

I. First, Peter had rejected the resurrection of Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus became central in Peter’s preaching. He knew that he himself was born again “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” You see, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ were the very thing he had rejected.

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:21-22).

Dr. McGee said,

In essence Peter said, “You are the Messiah; you are the Son of God. You must not, you cannot go to the cross!” The cross was not in the thinking of [Peter] at all, as you can see (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV; note on Matthew 16:22).

II. Second, Peter had not understood the resurrection of Christ.

Again, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ were not understood by Peter or the other Apostles the next time Jesus spoke to them.

“And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean” (Mark 9:9-10).

Dr. MacArthur correctly said,

What confused them was Jesus’ implication that His own resurrection was imminent, and thus so was His death. The disciples’ confusion provides further evidence that they still did not understand Jesus’ messianic mission (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997; note on Mark 9:10).

This means that Peter and the other Disciples did not yet understand the Gospel! 

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him” (Mark 9:30-32).

Dr. McGee said,

You will notice that He always puts His death and resurrection together…This is not the first time He has announced His death and resurrection to them, and still they do not understand (McGee, ibid; note on Mark 9:30-32).

III. Third, Peter only felt sorrow when he heard of the resurrection of Christ.

“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23).

Last Wednesday we entered the time of year that Catholics, Lutherans and Anglican Protestants call “Lent.” Before Lent they go and stuff themselves. They call it “Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras.” Lent begins on “Ash Wednesday” and continues until Easter Sunday. It is a period of fasting and “preparation” for Easter. Yet most of those who practice fasting at Lent only experience the sorrow of Peter and the other Disciples.

I’m afraid that many Baptists and evangelicals are even worse. They often feel nothing at Easter! They seem to forget all about Christ’s suffering and death, and His resurrection on Easter is little more than a time to talk about having a psychological “lift,” as Dr. Michael Horton points out in his new book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Baker Books, 2008, pp. 29-30).

Peter and the others were “exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:23) when they heard Jesus say,

“they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again”
      (Matthew 17:23).

Dr. McGee said,

This is the third time He speaks to His disciples of His death and resurrection…Now He is in Galilee, on His way to Jerusalem, and He mentions it again. All that [Peter and] the disciples can do is to feel sorry (McGee, ibid., p. 97; note on Matthew 17:22-23).

Peter left his fishing nets to follow Christ. He had been with Christ for more than two years. He had some illumination from God, enough spiritual light to understand,

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”
      (Matthew 16:16).

And Jesus told Peter,

“Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

Yet Peter did not believe the Gospel. Even though he had some illumination from God, he did not believe that Jesus would die on the Cross and rise physically from the dead. He was trying his best to follow Jesus, but he was still not born again. He was like Martin Luther, fasting and praying and beating himself, trying to live like a Christian; like George Whitefield trying to be a Christian; like John Wesley and John Bunyan, attempting to live the Christian life. But He had no more understanding of the Gospel than they did before they were born again. He had no experience of the resurrected Christ. So he failed – just as Luther and Whitefield and Wesley and Bunyan failed before they were born again. Peter failed the same way. When they arrested Jesus and took Him to be crucified, Peter began

“to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew…And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:74-75).

Peter had tried to follow Christ, but he had not believed the Gospel. He was an utter failure, “and he went out and wept bitterly.”

They nailed Jesus to a cross. He died to pay for man's sin. He shed His Blood to cleanse man from sin. They put His dead body in a tomb. They rolled a great boulder over the mouth of the tomb. They sealed it, “setting a watch” (Matthew 27:66). Three days later, early in the morning, Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

“Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:12).

Peter was still not sure Jesus had risen. Dr. McGee said, “Simon Peter had to think about it for awhile” (McGee, ibid., p. 375; note on Luke 24:12). That was early on Sunday morning.

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [Easter Sunday evening], when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:19-22).

Dr. McGee said,

In John 14:16 Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” It is true that Simon Peter showed some discernment when he said that Jesus is the Christ, but just a few minutes later he told Jesus not to go to the cross to die. I personally believe that at the moment our Lord breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” these men were regenerated [born again]; (McGee, ibid., p. 498; note on John 20:21).

Peter remembered to the end of his life that he was "born again" on Easter Sunday night, when he encountered the resurrected Christ. That is why he preached on the resurrected Christ on the day of Pentecost. That is why the resurrected Christ was the constant theme of his sermons, recorded in the Book of Acts. That is why Peter said that God

“hath begotten us again unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3).

When you are born again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your experience will be much like Peter’s. He struggled to be a disciple. He strove to live the Christian life. He failed. He was convicted of his ruined sin-nature. He wept in agony over his sin. He was in darkness, with sorrow of heart. Christ rose from the dead. Christ came to him. Peter was born again “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3). But before the new birth happens, as Iain H. Murray said, “Men must first be humbled” (Iain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, Banner of Truth Trust, 1992 edition, p. 131). You must be humbled and broken. You must feel your own total depravity – your own sin – your own inability – your own wickedness, deserving the wrath of God – in eternal punishment. When you feel the weight of your sin very deeply, then you may experience the "new birth." Then you may be "begotten...again...by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3).  

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Peter 1:1-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Alive Again” (by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE NEW BIRTH – BY THE RESURRECTED CHRIST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3).

(Acts 2:32)

I.   First, Peter had rejected the resurrection of Christ,
Matthew 16:21-22.

II.  Second, Peter had not understood the resurrection of Christ, Mark 9:9-10, 30-32.

III. Third, Peter only felt sorrow when he heard of the resurrection of Christ, Matthew 17:22-23; 16:16, 17;
26:74-75; 27:66; Luke 24:12; John 20:19-22; 14:16.