A Question of Chicken and Egg from John’s First Epistle

First John 5:1 reads “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” Most contemporary fundamentalist and evangelical Christians miss the implication of the apostle John’s wording “has been born of God” as it relates to those who believe. Does this text imply that those who believe were first born of God? Does it therefore imply that regeneration precedes faith? Or must we deny this implication based on our preconceived notion that regeneration is not possible until after we make the right decision to choose to believe?

Reformed Baptist apologist, Dr. James White, has posted a short video explaining this passage in the light of the apostle John’s repeated use of the language “everyone who _____ has been born of God.” He explains that all agree that in the case of two other texts from the same epistle, 1 John 2:29 and 4:7, the apostle’s clear implication is that the action of the believer is the result, and therefore logically follows, the fact of his having been born of God. In these two passages, the actions are “practicing righteousness” (2:29), and “loving” (4:7). In other words, it’s easy to accept the idea that “everyone who practices righteousness has been born of God” at face value, and it is easy to agree that everyone who loves God and his neighbor is one who has been born of God. No one’s tradition teaches the contrary. However, when it comes to the exact same grammatical structure in the first verse of chapter five, we are told by many that we must not make the same inference that being born of God is the prerequisite of saving faith. Dr. White attempts to make the case that this is no more than reading one’s tradition into the text, rather than basing one’s interpretation of the verse on what the text demonstrably means. I agree with him. Watch the following video, and see if you, too, can agree with the apostle John that “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

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