|The Once Born and the Twice Born, by A.W. Tozer|
The Once-born and the Twice-born by A.W.Tozer
CLASSIFICATION IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT of all tasks. Even in the realm
of religion there are enough lights and shades to make it injudicious to
draw too fine a line between men and men. If the religious world were
composed of squares of solid black and solid white classification would be
easy; but unfortunately it is not.
It is a grave error for us evangelicals to assume that the children of God
are all in our communion and that all who are not associated with us are
ipso facto enemies of the Lord. The Pharisees made that mistake and
crucified Christ as a consequence.
With all this in mind, and leaning over backwards to be fair and charitable,
there is yet one distinction which we dare make, which indeed we must make
if we are to think the thoughts of God after Him and bring our beliefs into
harmony with the Holy Scriptures.
That distinction is the one which exists between two classes of human
beings, the once-born and the twice-born.
That such a distinction does in fact exist was taught by our Lord with great
plainness of speech, in contexts which preclude the possibility that He was
merely speaking figuratively. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God," He said, and the whole chapter where these words are found
confirms that He was speaking precisely, setting forth meanings as blunt and
downright as it is possible for language to convey.
"Ye must be born again," said Christ. "That which is born of the flesh is
flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." This clear line of
demarcation runs through the entire New Testament, quite literally dividing
one human being from another and making a distinction as sharp as that which
exists between different genera of the animal kingdom.
Just who belongs to one class and who to the other it is not always possible
to judge, though the two kinds of life ordinarily separate from each other.
Those who are twice-born crystallize around the Person of Christ and cluster
together in companies, while the once-born are held together only by the
ties of nature, aided by the ties of race or by common political and social
Our Lord warned His disciples that they would be persecuted. "In the world
ye shall have tribulation," He said, and "Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say
all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
These are only two of many passages of the New Testament warning of
persecution or recording the fact of harassment and attack suffered by the
followers of the Lord. This same idea runs through the entire Bible from the
once-born Cain who slew the twice-born Abel to the Book of the Revelation
where the end of human history comes in a burst of blood and fire.
That hostility exists between the once-born and the twice-born is known to
every student of the Bible; the reason for it was stated by Christ when He
said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye
are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the
world hateth you." The rule was laid down by the apostle Paul when he wrote,
"But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born
after the Spirit, even so it is now."
Difference of moral standards between the onceborn and the twice-born, and
their opposite ways of life, may be contributing causes of this hostility;
but the real cause lies deeper. There are two spirits abroad in the earth:
the spirit that works in the children of disobedience and the Spirit of God.
These two can never be reconciled in time or in eternity. The spirit that
dwells in the once-born is forever opposed to the Spirit that inhabits the
heart of the twice-born. This hostility began somewhere in the remote past
before the creation of man and continues to this day. The modern effort to
bring peace between these two spirits is not only futile but contrary to the
moral laws of the universe.
To teach that the spirit of the once-born is at enmity with the Spirit of
the twice-born is to bring down upon one's head every kind of violent abuse.
No language is too bitter to hurl against the conceited bigot who would dare
to draw such a line of distinction between men. Such malignant ideas are at
odds with the brotherhood of man, says the once-born, and are held only by
the apostles of disunity and hate. This mighty rage against the twice-born
only serves to confirm the truth they teach. But this no one seems to
What we need to restore power to the Christian testimony is not soft talk
about brotherhood but an honest recognition that two human races occupy the
earth simultaneously: a fallen race that sprang from the loins of Adam and a
regenerate race that is born of the Spirit through the redemption which is
in Christ Jesus.
To accept this truth requires a tough-mindedness and a spiritual maturity
that modern Christians simply do not possess. To face up to it hardly
contributes to that "peace of mind" after which our religious weaklings
bleat so plaintively.
For myself, I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be
happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me
truth. We'll have a long time to be happy in heaven.