[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

OT: Born Again?

by Rose

Below is a comment from me in the post below. I started wondering there, and thought I would post it here and see if anyone can deposit some thoughts on my question. Solifidian had given an excellent link to an article by Zane Hodges regarding the New Covenant and how the church fits into it.


I wonder about the idea of regeneration in the OT. My idea of regeneration has always been that the HS comes to dwell within a person and from what I can tell, this did not happen until the day of Pentecost as the church began. I must say, though, the Sripture Hodges quotes about Saul receiving a new heart is definitely something to think upon.

What do you think? Were OT people "born again" and if so, was this different that the HS coming to dwell in people as it does to believers in the church? If you see no difference, then what was the significance of the day of Pentecost?


  • Wow, I can't believe no one has anything to say about this!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 7:53:00 AM  

  • This is the first I saw of this question. Excellent question.

    Off the top of my head, without much thought:

    (1) They were born again. They are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

    (2) The Holy Spirit in OT times did not act in the believer's lives in quite the same way. Because the HS is God and has all of God's attriutes, including omnipresence, the HS was present in the OT believer, but Pentecost and Christ seem to indicate a "special indwelling" in post Pentecost believers that were not present in OT believers.

    Now, I'm sure the flames will comes my way, even from my side of the camp. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 10:19:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    You may find this article of interest:


    By Blogger Solifidian, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 10:38:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    Thanks for posting the article. I enjoy reading the different perspective on this. It won't come as a surprise to anyone here that I disagree with the conclusion. :o)

    Here is one of the cruxes of his argument:

    “Finally in considering the indwelling ministry of the Spirit in Old Testament believers, one must raise the question, ‘how can regeneration be sustained without the continual indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit?’ It seems impossible to conceive of God imparting the divine nature through regeneration and then abandoning the person whom He has regenerated.”

    There is an implicit assumption that the only way that one can be “maintained” in the state of regeneration is by special NT indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is what he is trying to prove. This is classic question begging. Further, it presents a false dichotomy, regeneration must be NT Spirit indwelling or there cannot be regeneration at all. I’m sure God could figure out a way to get people regenerated other than NT Spirit indwelling, God is pretty smart after all.

    By Blogger Earl, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 2:36:00 PM  

  • Sorry Rose and Solifidian, I mixed up who posted the link to the article. I enjoyed the article.

    By Blogger Earl, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 4:15:00 PM  

  • Earl said:

    . . . I’m sure God could figure out a way to get people regenerated other than NT Spirit indwelling, God is pretty smart after all. . . .

    This is an argument from silence.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 1:39:00 AM  

  • Yes, that is an argument from silence, but a false dichotomy is also a form of argument from silence. The false dichotomy arbitrarily limits options to only two things, and what I am saying is that isn't necessary to restrict our view to only those two options.

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 5:24:00 AM  

  • ...but the wicked comedian in me says in response to bobby grow's "This is an argument from silence." -- what, you don't believe God is pretty smart? :o)

    But what do you expect from us Totaly Depraved Calvinists? :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:13:00 AM  

  • ...on a more serious note, there are alternative views to the concept of being "born again" or "regenerated." One's thoughts on how salvation occurs plays a big part in how this question is anwered. For instance, I outline my view of the salvation process here. I give my reasons for that order there. In this order, I see regeneration (which is fundamentally a new heart that yearns for God) logically preceeds saving faith. Also, I see that once someone exercises saving faith, that faith continues in throughout their life (in the link I state my reasons why). The New Testament says that Abraham had saving faith (e.g., Paul says this) and a number of OT people had saving faith (see Hebrews). If one buys into my view of Ordo Salutis, then these OT people were Born Again or regenerated.

    There are other major perspectives that do not buy into the approach I outlined. What I said would look alien to them, just as those other views look alien to me.

    The question of OT people being Born Again is a fascinating question. How you answer it really shows your deeper background. Even the definitions of the same words we use are probably different.

    Possibly it can be compared in trying to discuss with a Roman Catholic the concept of Justification. Classical Protestants from Luther and Calvin view Justification as a forensic declaration. Roman Catholics merge Justification with Sanctification and don't really have the conept of imputed righteousness.

    Fun question.

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:30:00 AM  

  • ...for some reason, as I comment here the blogger language is in French. When it identifies me at the top of the comment, it says:

    earl a dit...

    Hmmm, I was going to take offense at that, but then it identified everyone else as dits too. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:50:00 AM  

  • Hi Earl,
    I can't read and comment on all the items here so far, but I saw your comment about being a dit and I had to come over and check it out. hehe
    What are you seeing? As I look at this, I see everything in English? Am I a dit? haha

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:55:00 AM  

  • the IP service here is routed through France, so Blogger thinks my native language is French. I guess the French are saying we're dits. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:12:00 AM  

  • "a dit..." means "said..." in French.

    But perhaps a dit is more accurate for me. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:21:00 AM  

  • kEarl said:

    . . . what, you don't believe God is pretty smart? :o)

    Absolutely, but unfortunately we only have access to the "smarts" that He has revealed ;).

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:33:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:50:00 PM  

  • Bobby, that's the perfect response to my "when did you stop beating your wife" kind of question. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, February 15, 2007 7:37:00 PM  

  • Perhaps Rose, the question should be whether Holy Spirit indwelling is necessarily connected to regeneration.

    I admit, I have always thought such as well. But I am willing to be wrong.

    Do you, or anyone else, have Scriptural support for such?

    By Blogger sofyst, at Friday, February 16, 2007 9:23:00 AM  

  • "Regeneration" literally means to be born again. When Jesus introduced this subject to Nicodemus, a person with full knowledge of the OT Scriptures, Nic had no idea what he was talking about. Regeneration is not possible without the Spirit--that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit (John 3:5-7).

    However, people were still saved in the OT, just not regenerated. This will also return during the Tribulation when people will be saved even though Spirit regeneration (a distinctive of the Church--Colossians 1:27) will be done.

    People have always and will always be saved by faith. In the age we live in now, regeneration occurs as we are baptized into the Body of Christ, He is in us and we are in Him. This is not said of any other time in Scripture.

    Regeneration is a specific blessing that could only be in place after Christ died and rose again as we are identified with his death and resurrection through our relationship with the Spirit.

    In summary, regeneration and salvation are not the same thing. Many people have been saved without being regenerated in the OT. All now, in this age, who are saved, are regenerated.

    By Blogger jeff, at Sunday, February 18, 2007 1:06:00 PM  

  • If the OT saints were not born again, then how will they see and enter the Kingdom of God? (John 3:3/5)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:01:00 AM  

  • I just now printed out that link, soliidian. I have been very BEHIND on reading and blogging! I will have to read it and then come back to these comments.

    Thanks all of you ... I will be back!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, February 25, 2007 4:35:00 AM  

  • I'll take a shot at answering that one. People will walk into the Kingdom as they have endured the Tribulation. At that point, God said He would put his spirit in them and he will be their God and they will be his people (Ezekiel 36:24-28). If he is putting his spirit in them after they have been restored to their land it would seem to imply his spirit wasn't in them previously.

    By Blogger jeff, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 5:26:00 AM  

  • I read the articles that solifidian linked. This is really a tougher question than I thought at first.

    Here are some thoughts on the article:
    What is the effective difference between indwelling, sealing and baptizing? What is baptizing? It is being immersed. So OT saints were ministered by the HS, but not immersed in it. HMMM.... Were they spiritual offspring of the living God? If we say no because the "coming of the comforter" had not yet occurred, then you have to wonder, what was a believer's position in the OT times? Did they have an Arminian salvation? hehe DId they fall in and out of favor with the LORD? I made myself think more than I had planned. I am still thinking.

    but Pentecost and Christ seem to indicate a "special indwelling" in post Pentecost believers that were not present in OT believers.
    I think it is important to recognize this. I am glad you do. However, I find the answer you provided to #1 to be difficult, but I think you may be right. Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel and didn’t know about being born again. Yet, Jesus chided him for it!
    I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

    So was Jesus saying Nicky should not be surprised because this was foretold, or because this was standard operating procedure for the LORD? I think the latter.

    Earl, I just don't know, though. Why would Jesus say that He was going to send "another comforter" as though this is something new, and then you add to that the drama of the day of Pentecost. Is it just that we in the church age have more power, more of a direct connection with the Spirit? Is that what you are saying?


    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 7:30:00 AM  

  • Earl, now I see your comment that you posted after erading the article. I think we understood the guy differently. I think he was saying that the OT saints WERE INDEED inwelt by the HS. Did you get that yet you are just disagreeing with his conclusion?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 7:32:00 AM  

  • Bobby,
    Are you arguing from silence? teehee
    What have you to say about this?

    rose a dit

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 7:35:00 AM  

  • Perhaps, Sofyst.

    Hi Jeff!
    Now you offer the other perspective ... good! Nic did have no idea, but, as I noticed, Jesus chided him for not knowing. (See my question at the end of the comment I gave to Earl. whaddayathink?) let me post the Col passage you referred to:

    26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    Christ in you. A church distinctive. I have always leaned this way, too, Jeff! But I have been brought to question it.

    regeneration and salvation are not the same thing

    I have to think about that statement.

    Jeff, I really appreciate your comment here. Can I ask you - do you see a difference between a new heart and a new birth? I ask because Daniel suggested one on my blog in the commments here.

    Also, what about this passage:
    1 Sam 10:5-6:
    And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. Then the 49Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man...
    1 Sam 10:9:
    So it was, when he had turned his back to Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

    What to do with that? That passage was what really got me seriously grappling with this issue in the first place. Jeff, if you can help us work through these things, I would appreciate it!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 8:01:00 AM  

  • Rose, the problem with using Saul as an example of regeneration is the fact that the Spirit was later removed from him (1 Samuel 16:14). I do not think the Spirit coming on people of the OT is the same thing as regeneration in the NT. If it is, you then must also deny eternal security since Saul lost God's Spirit. I can't go there (Ephesians 4:30). I think assuming that a "new heart" means regeneration ("new birth") is making a leap.

    As to your point about Jesus chiding Nic, Jesus chided pretty much everyone for not knowing things that I have no idea how these guys should have known! Like why it was suddenly OK for Him to pick corn on the Sabbath.

    By Blogger jeff, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 8:25:00 AM  

  • Two excellent points, Jeff! Thank you. I wonder if anyone has anything to say about Saul and his temporary friendship with the Spirit.

    As to your point about Jesus chiding Nic, Jesus chided pretty much everyone for not knowing things that I have no idea how these guys should have known! Like why it was suddenly OK for Him to pick corn on the Sabbath.

    Great observation! Thanks for that. OK, so that sort of nullifies the argument I was thinking of in favor of there having been OT regeneration.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 9:25:00 AM  

  • It was always alright to pick corn on the Sabbath if it were to meet the immediate needs of the hungry. It wasn't as if they were going to spend hours picking the stuff to sell it on for a profit i.e. engage on commercial activity. The disciples were an hungred and took a few ears of corn to relieve their immediate need.

    If the OT saints weren't born again, they how can they enter the Kingdom of God? (John 3:3-5)

    By Anonymous goodnightsafehome, at Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:50:00 PM  

  • Hi Colin!

    Your question that you have repeated twice, is a good one. I am thinking through that.

    I have a question for you:

    In the following passage, what was "Abraham's Bosom" and is it the same place where we will go today when our physical bodies die? Is there anyone still in Abraham's bosom? Why not?

    22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (Luke 15?)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, February 28, 2007 6:00:00 AM  

  • The point with the corn was just one example. There were many things that Christ assumed people should know that they didn't, many people had a problem with the corn deal and Christ chided them, which was my point there.

    OT saints enter heaven because they still have a soul. Regeneration does not mean you suddenly have a soul. Unbelievers have a soul that carries on into the "next life" as well without regeneration.

    A couple more points on the issue that struck me. Psalm 51:11 has David asking for the Spirit to not depart from him, again showing the difference between NT Spirit indwelling on OT Spirit coming upon.

    The temple is a huge issue as well. The temple is where God resided, as we know, we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit now, this is because of regeneration, which was not around in the OT.

    By Blogger jeff, at Wednesday, February 28, 2007 6:35:00 AM  

  • Hey Rose, try this one.

    And Lazarus was buried with his fathers? Almost compelling eh?


    If the OT saints weren't born again, they how can they enter the Kingdom of God? (John 3:3-5)

    I suppose one could conclude that the O.T. believers will have to be born of the Spirit but the how and when is very elusive. God said through faith and told them little else except through elaborate yet inexplicit prophetic foreshadowing. But yet with faith in Him by anyone, He's made it clear that that matter was taken care of by Him.

    I think we have to look at what they, the O.T. faithful, knew about the Kingdom and what it was and how to get there. There is no indication it was anything like the permanent new birth, us now being the temple of God, before the revelation of Christ. At least I'm still looking for anything but semantical strictly superficial similarities.

    I view 'another heart' in Samuel as God's hand(Spirit) working in Saul to accomplish what "the occasion requires". God 'gave him another heart' and was present with him from that point on in Spirit. God's Spirit came upon Saul to change his heart, made him another man(in fact the king), which then was to be evident in the coming mightily upon him as he prophesied and stepped into the public role of 'king to be'.

    God gave him another heart by moving in with His Spirit, as per the occasion required, and then moved out at a later dated, as scripture portrays, yet Saul was still to enter the kingdom eventually.

    Try that Rose, you busy new mom you, and tired, tireless student(even teacher) in Christ. Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at Wednesday, February 28, 2007 7:12:00 AM  

  • Rose: Notwithstanding a 1001 questions, I tend to take Abraham's Bosom to be but another name for Heaven itself. I don't run with the divided "Hades" idea, although I know Reformed men who do.

    Jeff: All men have a soul. It is only when his soul is reborn that any man can enter the Kingdom of God and we know that the OT saints are in the Kingdom of God ergo they must have been born again. There is nothing in the Bible to say that this is a future event for OT saints. That Nicodemus was a Master in Israel and yet did not know this basic gospel truth was a cause of rebuke. How could he be rebuked for not knowing something that had not yet been revealed and therefore possibly could not know?

    I take the "new heart" to be the new birth, with the Spirit of Christ dwelling "in" the OT Believers (1 Peter 1:10-11) It would seem that the OT saints knew a lot more than maybe we are giving them credit for. Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day and saw enough to make him glad (John 8:56)

    I think when David prayed that the Holy Spirit would not depart from him (Psalm 51) it was not the Holy Spirit in Person and in total that he felt that he could lose, but rather the gracious influences of the Spirit and the comforts etc., i.e. the Giver being put for the benefits which He gives. When Samson "wist not that the Lord had departed from him" (Judges 16:20) was he totally abandoned of God (at least for a while) or was it "merely" (for dire want of a better word) that God had withdrawn His power and temporary favour?

    Re: King Saul, I would differentiate between him getting "a new heart" and so becoming "a new man" (as in 2 Corinthians 5:17) and "another heart" as in 1 Samuel 10:9 However, the Lord knows those who are His, and if grace brings Saul to Heaven despite his many failings along the way, then who am I to complain?

    BTW: - Are the main blogger pages down at the moment? I can't get through to many blogs, but I book marked some comment pages and they are working OK

    By Anonymous goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, March 01, 2007 10:49:00 PM  

  • Well, for what it's worth, I disagree. Jesus said He was Going to send the Spirit, not that he was going to keep Him here. There is no regeneration in the OT and scripture never says they had to be regenerated to go into heaven at death. He only mentions Spirit indwelling when the believers enter the literal earthly kingdom after the Tribulation.

    In 1 Peter he's talking about prophets, guys who had the Spirit in order to prophesy, he's not referring to all believers.

    John 7:39.

    By Blogger jeff, at Friday, March 02, 2007 5:57:00 AM  

  • Jeff: Does "going to send the Spirit" as opposed to "keep Him here" mean that there was no Holy Spirit at all in the OT? If so, this contradicts every reference to the Spirit in the OT and even your own comments at the end when you assure us that it was the Prophets who had the Spirit of God to prophesy. You cannot interpret John 7:39 to mean this.

    Secondly, to say that there is "no regeneration in the OT" is a bald statement. With all due respects, I just can't take your word on that. There is no reason why there can't be and the indications are that there is.

    If you push the idea that nowhere says that the OT have to be regenerated to go to heaven at death, then where does it *actually* say that NT believers have to be regenerated to go into Heaven specifically at death? On what solid ground do you base your argument for any difference ? Elijah was taken up in to Heaven (2 Kings 2:11) If he was not born again, He would enter it.

    Lastly, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, then he is none of His (Romans 8:9) We can hardly limit this to the OT prophets?

    By Anonymous goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, March 03, 2007 12:11:00 PM  

  • I may be wrong, but I think the Spirit of God must have a legal reason to come upon a man for his benefit, whether in the NT or the OT. What I mean is, because of sin, the Spirit cannot live in a man, God must first be content that a man is 'legally' pure in his sight.

    This 'legal' problem as we know, was dealt with by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. For those that repent and believe in this sacrifice to atone for their sin there is immediate remission, and that soul is justified and can then and only then, enjoy communion with God. As Is 38 puts it, "for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

    This sacrifice to make us legally 'right' in the eyes of God, is granted through the work of regeneration alone. Therefore, in every reference to filling of the spirit, or the spirit coming 'upon' a man in the OT, that soul HAD to have been regenerated. And because so many are referred to as having had this experience, it must be taken that every genuine OT believer had the spirit in some measure, or at the very least, they were regenerated.

    And it wasn't just preachers and prophets that were filled with the Spirit in the OT. Ex 28 tells us that those who made the garments of the priest's office were filled with the Spirit.

    Just for clarification - I'm with Colin on this one.

    By Anonymous Armen, at Monday, March 05, 2007 3:23:00 AM  

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