The idea that people in the Old Testament were born again stems from the Calvinist doctrine of “TOTAL DEPRAVITY” - the "T" in the TULIP of 5-point Calvinism. Total Depravity is the idea that no man can have faith unless he is regenerated inwardly by the Holy Spirit first.
The Jewish Temple and the Temple of the Holy Spirit are incompatible.
Point #1: God would not simultaneously wash you in Christ's blood, cleanse you of sin, and give you the Spirit of Christ while ordaining you to sacrifice bulls and goats to cover sin in a physical temple.
Instead of serving the law through the temple sacrifices for sins, born-again Jews who lived just after Christ's resurrection, became themselves temples of the Holy Spirit offering up their own bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. As such, it was unthinkable to return to the circumcisions and animal sacrifices for sins after having been washed in the blood of Christ and been born anew.
The Holy Bible proves that Old Testament peoples were not born again. They had not been regenerated, born again, or made new creations in Christ. This does not mean that they were not saved, as they were still saved by faith, but their sins were only temporarily covered by the blood of goats and bulls, and not (yet) permanently covered by Jesus Christ.
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
When Christ died and rose again he made it possible for Jews under the Law to die with him in their conversion and be born anew. They were new creations into the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The old had gone, the new had come. Born-again Jews after Jesus resurrected no longer sacrificed animals for sin-covering.
Now rather serving under the old way of the Law which held them in bondage to sin and death, these post-resurrection Jews could serve in the new way of the life and freedom in the Holy Spirit. They had once served under a ministry of death for a good purpose - to bring the Christ who would die for them under this ministry of death, but now being born again into the risen life of Christ, they were now serving under a ministry of life in the Spirit having been born anew. It would be unthinkable for a born-again person washed in Christ's blood to offer up animal sacrifices for the same sins that Jesus' blood covered once and for all. If Old Testament people were born again and if God had commanded them to offer up animal sacrifices -- it would have been most dishonoring to his Son.
Point #2: The LAW with it's required sacrifices and FREEDOM from the law by grace through the Holy Spirit cannot co-exist. We are NOW made righteous by HIS Spirit IN US (this is what frees us from the law) and not made righteous by performing works of the LAW. Therefore we cannot be both under the ministration of condemnation (the law) and the ministration of righteousness (the Holy Spirit through Christ). We cannot be both led by the Holy Spirit and led by the LAW at the same time. We cannot be both a slave AND a son at the same time. The LAW and the SPIRIT are incompatible.
Born-again believers by definition are those Christians who are themselves, temples of God, temples of the Holy Spirit, washed in the blood of Christ, born anew into the Kingdom of God, and who offer their own bodies as living sacrifices to God as spiritual sacrifices. Now, take this same born-again temple of the Holy Spirit filled, living sacrifice who has been washed in the blood of Christ and have him go to the Jewish temple of stone and offer up animal sacrifices for his sins. Does it make any sense? Of course not. There is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ Jesus. Judaism does not exist in Christ. We are not under law but under grace if we are led by the Spirit.
(Rom 6:14; Gal 3:28; 5:18).
2 Corinthians 3:6-11
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Galatians 3:19, 4:7, 5:1
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.... But before faith came, we were confined under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.... So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But faith having come we are no longer under a tutor for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus....there is neither Jew nor Greek.... So also with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elements of the world. But WHEN the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons... So you are no longer a slave but a son.... for freedom Christ has made us free.
But Christ once having offered a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected once for those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more." Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he opened for us through the veil, that is, that is his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
POINT #3: Prior to Christ, no one could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit because Christ's flesh was not yet torn (the veil) and Christ had not defeated sin and death and ascended to heaven.
God is Spirit (John 4:24) and man if flesh (Jn 3:6). Because Christ is now bodily raised into a glorified body of "life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45) he can mediate for us between God and man and he does this by giving us the Holy Spirit to testify to our spirit (Rom 8:15). Christ' glorified body which died on the cross is now risen in glory and characterized by the Spirit (1 Cor 15:42-45). This is why Paul says we are baptized in one Spirit into the body of Christ and all drink of the Spirit(1 Cor 12:13).
The body of Christ, the church, IS the temple of the Holy Spirit and when we are baptized in the Spirit we are baptized into his body. And because Jesus has risen from the dead, Peter tells the people on Pentecost they may now receive the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:28-39). Without Jesus rising from the dead, the Holy Spirit prophesied to come by the prophets could not be given to us as a gift of eternal inheritance. This gift of the Holy Spirit is the means by which we are born again into the Kingdom of God. Until the Spirit of promise was given as a gift of the eternal life of the Kingdom, no man could be born again. And the Spirit could not be given until Jesus was glorified, as John so plainly tells us:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, "Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Now we can already see some powerful testimony from the inspired Holy Scriptures which indicate the new birth into Christ Jesus was not something which was possible until Jesus died and rose from the dead, when he caused the ripping of the veil of the temple in two by the sacrifice of his body so that entrance into the Holy of Holies might be available for all.
Point #4: With Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, we have moved from FAITH + LAW to FAITH + JESUS. We no longer act out our faith through law-keeping, because Jesus fulfilled the law. Now we act out our faith by believing in the One Whom God sent, Jesus Christ.
So, how does this relate to Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity? Calvinists promote an untruth that Old Testament Saints could not have had faith UNLESS they were first regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, unless the indwelling of the Holy Spirit were present, no one in the Old Testament could have faith. It also would blow apart their doctrine of election, which the doctrine of Total Depravity was created to support...
In the book of John, we find much testimony that the Spirit was not given to the disciples until Christ rose again, although the disciples were previously believing in Christ. And when Jesus rose from the dead he breathed new life into them (John 20:22; John 3:3-8) and it is only here we see their new birth, something which Calvinists maintain must precede faith in Christ. Yet these disciples believed His message long before this new birth -- contradicting the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity.
And we see Paul tell us in many and various ways that the "faith of Christ" was not something which was enjoyed by those under the law and in bondage. Rather, those Jews who were under law found new life in Christ when He came and died and rose again so that these Jews, who lived at the time, could die to the law and serve in the new way of the Holy Spirit. As John tells us, the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
The Apostle Peter tells us that the prophets continually explored the time and place where the grace of Christ might be given and that it was given not to these prophets but to those who lived after the death and resurrection of Jesus. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
And finally, Paul tells us very plainly when the grace of God appeared – when Jesus Christ, saved us by new birth. It can be no plainer.
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Titus 2:11 - 15
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Additional Links (Document .pdf):
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Age of Grace
The Holy Spirit and Eternal Security
Anna Cheslick is the wife of Scott Cheslick and the creator of Humble Woman Ministries. Scott and Anna created Pure Word Ministries in December of 2017 as a means of Evangelical outreach through Social Media.
Her passion is writing about God's Word in order to build-up, encourage and edify others and to glorify God.