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Quotes on the New Birth

Many of these come from a helpful article here.

The evangelist D. L. Moody once addressed a group of church workers. After the meeting he was confronted by an angry woman who said, "Mr. Moody, do you mean to tell me that I, an educated woman, taught from childhood in good ways and all my life interested in the church and doing good, must enter heaven the same way as the worst criminal of our day?" "No, madam," said Moody. "I don't. God does. He says everyone who would enter heaven, no matter how good they think they are, or how well educated, or zealous in good works, must be born again."

You don't need Jesus Christ because you are a drunkard. You don't need Jesus Christ because you take drugs. You don't need Jesus Christ because you lie. You don't need Jesus Christ because you cheat on your income tax. No. You don't need Jesus Christ because you do bad things...Whether you have done any of these things is irrelevant. You need Jesus Christ because you were born without the life of God. That makes you a sinner. You don't have God's life in you.

-- Converted gang leader Tom Skinner (Words of Revolution)


Bishop John Taylor Smith was one-time Chaplain General of the British Army. He was preaching on one occasion in a large cathedral on the necessity of the new birth. In order to drive the point home he said, "My dear people, do not substitute anything for the new birth. You may be a member of a church, even the great church of which I am a member, the historic Church of England, but church membership is not new birth, and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" The rector was sitting on his left. Pointing to him, he said, "You may be a clergyman like my friend the rector here and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" Also on his left was the archdeacon in his stall. Pointing directly at him, he said, "You might even be an archdeacon like my friend in his stall and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' You might even be a bishop, like myself, and not be born again and 'except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"

A day or so later he received a letter from the archdeacon who wrote: "My dear Bishop: You have found me out. I have been a clergyman for over thirty years, but I have never known anything of the joy that Christians speak of. I never could understand it. Mine has been a hard, legal service. I did not know what was the matter with me, but when you pointed directly to me and said, 'You might even be an archdeacon and not be born again', I realised in a moment what the trouble was. I had never known anything of the new birth." He went on to say that he was wretched and miserable and had been unable to sleep all night, and begged for a meeting, if the bishop could spare the time to talk with him.

"Of course I could spare the time," said Bishop Smith, "and the next day we got together over the Word of God and after some hours we were both on our knees, the archdeacon taking his place before God as a poor lost sinner and telling the Lord Jesus he would trust him as his Saviour. From that time on, everything has been different."


"I came to Christ with a big bang and Jim came with a slow burn.

-- One woman's description of her conversion experience in constrast to her husband's.


"If God saves souls in a quiet way I shall be happy; if in the midst of cries and tears, still I will bless his name."

-- Robert Murray McCheyne


A teenager, who had been well hooked into the drug scene, but who was converted during a Billy Graham Crusade in Minnesota, described his experience:

I felt like loving everybody. It was like on a hot day and you are dirty and take a shower, only I felt the shower was on the inside and it was even more than just getting the mud washed away, it was like something else came in.


When you cross the border from Switzerland to Italy the scenery doesn't become Italian - it's still alpine in fact. It is only as you go further into Italy that slowly the snow gets left behind and the sun gets warmer and it becomes obvious you are in a different country. The border represents the moment of decisive change from one nation to another, but only as you press on into the new country can you expect to discover just how different it really is.

-- Cliff Richard(!)


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We're like eggs at present. And you just can't go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must either be hatched or go bad.

-- CS Lewis


"During my first week of office as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland when I presided at the Assembly's Gaelic Service, a highlander asked me whether I was born again, and when I replied in the affirmative he asked when I had been born again. I still recall his face when I told him that I had been born again when Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and rose again from the virgin tomb, the first-born from the dead. When he asked me to explain I said: 'This Tom Torrance you see is full of corruption, but the real Tom Torrance is hid with Christ in God and will be revealed only when Jesus comes again. He took my corrupt humanity in his Incarnation, sanctified, cleansed and redeemed it, giving it new birth, in his death and resurrection.' In other words, our new birth, our regeneration, our conversion, are what has taken place in Jesus Christ himself, so that when we speak of our conversion or our regeneration we are referring to our sharing in the conversion or regeneration of our humanity brought about by Jesus in and through himself for our sake. In a profound and proper sense, therefore, we must speak of Jesus Christ as constituting in himself the very substance of our conversion, so that we must think of him as taking our place even in our acts of repentence and personal decision, for without him all so-called repentance and conversion are empty. Since a conversion in that truly evangelical sense is a turning away from ourselves to Christ, it calls for a conversion from our inturned notions of conversion to one which is grounded and sustained in Christ Jesus himself."

-- Thomas F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, New Ed. (Helmers & Howard, 1992), 85-86


More on this last quote later...


0 thoughts on “Quotes on the New Birth

  1. Dave K

    I've heard that Tom Torrance quote before, and I had a good think about it. Feel he is being deliberately awkward with the man who spoke to him. Perhaps justifiably because we evangelicals can tend to make our conversion our work in our lives disconnected from Christ, but you'd want to say more than he does.

    If you left it with what Torrance says you'd have cut out the Spirit's application of Christ's life to the believer, and also under-realised the eschatological nature of that application, IMO.

    The new birth is BOTH objective AND subjective. Got to keep the balance.

  2. Pingback: Jesus must be born again « Christ the Truth

  3. woldeyesus

    Without the critical mass of Christ's death on the cross as the mysterious but powerful turning point, there can only be stillbirth but not being "born spiritually of the Spirit" (John 3: 6-15; 19: 30-37)

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