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Blog - Spiritual Chickens and Eggs
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? - that is the age-old question. For Bible believers the answer to this philosophical perplexity is simple: the chicken came first, because God created the birds (Gen 1:20) before He told them to multiply in the earth (Gen 1:22), which requires laying eggs. Let's see if there can be a spiritual parallel drawn from this chicken and egg illustration? The question has been posed many times over the years; which comes first: the new birth (regeneration, being born again, quickened), or belief? In the case of the chicken and the egg, it is clear that the creation of the creature (the chicken) preceded the fruit produced by the creature (the egg). Let's see if we can't learn something spiritually pertinent from this proverbial poultry. A person who is "born again" (Joh 3:3,7) is "a new creature" (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15) and a "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph 4:24). Just as God created the chickens in the beginning, God likewise creates the new spiritual nature in a child of God, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). We all were stillborns, spiritually speaking; born dead in the sinful nature we inherited from our father Adam (Rom 5:12). That is why it is said that God's children who are "born of the Spirit" (Joh 3:8) are said to be "born again" (Joh 3:7); they are they who "being dead in [their] sins and the uncircumcision of [their] flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him, having forgiven [them] all trespasses" (Col 2:13). This is called the "washing of regeneration (The process or fact of being born again in a spiritual sense - OED), and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit 3:5). So in the new birth (regeneration, being born again, being quickened) God clearly creates a new spirit within a person. This would be the equivalent of the chicken in the famous question. Just as the egg, which is the fruit of the chicken, comes after the chicken was created by God (it would be hard for a chicken to produce fruit before it existed), so too does belief of the gospel, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), come after the new spirit in a person is created by God (it would be hard for a new spiritual man to produce spiritual fruit before he existed). A person has to have experienced that "washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit 3:5), by which a new spirit was created within him, before he can produce faith which is a fruit of the Spirit. The Bible says that God's children have received "the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1Co 2:12). This verse clearly states that receiving the spirit which is of God comes prior to knowing the things that are freely given to us of God, such as the free gift of eternal life (Rom 5:18; Rom 6:23). Not only does this verse say that receiving the spirit which is of God comes before knowing the things that are freely given to us of God, but it says that we first receive the spirit which is of God THAT WE MIGHT know the things that are freely given to us of God. In order to know that God has given you the gift of eternal life, you must first have been given a new spirit which is of God. This is clearly the case, because prior to being quickened and given a new spiritual nature, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Co 2:14). The Bible reiterates this fact again when it says that "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1Co 1:18). To those who perish, who have not a new spirit within them, the gospel is foolishness and they will not and cannot receive it and believe it. Jesus said it this way: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Joh 17:2). God gives us the gift of eternal life so that we MIGHT KNOW Him, not because we know Him. How about a proof text that plainly states in one verse that the new birth (passing from spiritual death unto spiritual life) precedes believing in Jesus? Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Joh 5:24). Let's take a quick trip down memory lane to when we learned grammar in school. What tense are the words "heareth" (hears), "believeth" (believes), and "hath" (has)? They are all present tense. How about "is passed" (or "has passed" in today's English): what tense is that phrase? "Is passed" (has passed) is present perfect tense, meaning that it denotes an action that occurred in the past, the effects of which remain in the present and will continue into the future. So this verse is plainly stating that the person who presently hears and believes in Jesus has (not gets) eternal life, and furthermore he had already passed from death unto life prior to the time he believed. This verse succinctly states that belief of the gospel is the evidence, not the cause, of eternal life. Belief in Jesus is the fruit that results from a new spiritual birth, just as the egg is the fruit that resulted from the newly created chicken. Saying that belief in Jesus comes before a new spirit is created in a person (which only can produce such belief) is tantamount to saying that the egg came before the chicken who laid it.