Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ – John 3:5-7
Pastor Neivillee Tan is one of my heros of faith because God’s work in his life is a testament of how a believer is born again. One of the top 10 on the police wanted list in the 1950s, Pastor Neiville was first convicted of his sin when he was denied a request to visit his critically ill mother. Her death brought about a sense of bitterness which led to a realization that there was no one left to love “a person that the world hated”40 His initial thought of suicide was divinely interrupted by the first verse of the hymn Psalm 23. However, try as he might, he couldn’t locate the hymn, which he knew would bring him comfort in his Gideon’s New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. In his anger, he flung this bible against the wall. Its spine broke, leaving it open at the exact page he was looking for. Psalm 23. Pastor Neiville recounts his repentant response, “I heard myself crying out in desperation to God, amidst the tears and the sobs, ‘God, if you are really there, take whatever is left of me and do whatever you want with it.’”41
Wesley understood justification as “the believer experiencing a new birth, being born again of God.”42 This experience of the Holy Spirit is a “renewal of righteousness and true holiness.”43 Wesley was quick to clarify that the new birth did not mean that “all sin [in a believer] is destroyed, root and branch”44 but rather, while sin remained in a Christian, it did not have to reign. Simply put, a born-again Christian can lapse into sin after justification, but sin is no longer a necessity.
“Do you agree or disagree with Wesley’s assessment that ‘the new birth is absolutely necessary in order to [receive] eternal salvation’? Why?”45