Were the Old Testament saints born again?

Were the Old Testament saints born again?

I should think there could be no doubt that all the Old Testament saints were born of God, for how else could they have had communion with Him? The carnal mind (or the minding of the flesh) is enmity against God. How could David then have had the “desire to dwell in the house of the Lord,” or “thirst for the living God” unless he had received a new nature? The Old Testament saints were saved on the principle of faith, and no doubt God was revealed to their souls according to the measure of light bestowed. Our Lord speaks of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob sifting down in the Kingdom of Heaven with many from the east and the west (Matthew 8:11), and in John 3:3, he lays down to Nicodemus the law of entrance into that Kingdom, namely, th reception of the new life: “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Surely this shews conclusively that Old Testament saints will only enter the Kingdom as born of the Spirit. 01 course, we make a difference between that—the bestowal of new life, and the indwelling of the Spirit or the baptism in the Spirit; these belong uniquely to New Testament saints. Nor do the Old Testament saints belong to the church, but they were undoubtedly individually regenerated. As for us, it seems safer and more practical to confine ourselves to what the Word reveals. No doubt the Spirit does work on men’s souls. It is just here that the mistake arises. It is to assume that the first work of the Spirit is to communicate life, whereas it is rather to create a sense of sin or at least of need. The natural man is dead in trespasses and sins, but this does not mean that he has no conscience or responsibility or capacity to listen.

I have heard it said that the 3000 at Pentecost in Acts 2:  were “born of God” when they cried, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” and, if I mistake not, that Nicodemus to whom the Lord uttered the words “Ye must be born again,” was already born again, or he would not have come to the Lord. That a theory should entail such conclusions suffices, I think, for its refutation. The reception of the new life is connected with the reception of Christ, or the revelation of God proper to the dispensation. “As many as received Him, to them gave He the power (or right) to become children of God.” John 1:11-12 There the order seems clearly_faith first, then life, because the new words are “even to as many as believed (not “had believed”) on His name”—"believing” is only another way of saying “receiving.” I think Hebrews 6: , for instance, shews us how far men may go in the things of God, and yet never have been born again, and so with other passages. Alas, how many have evinced some interest in the things of God, and even like the stony ground hearers have received the Word with joy, but it has proved later to have been in appearance rather than in reality. How solemn the call to each is, to make our calling and election sure!

W.H.