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1.4.3 Regeneration

a. The Nature of Regeneration

Regeneration is the Divine act which imparts to the penitent believer the new and higher life in personal union with Christ. The N.T. describes regeneration as:

1) A Birth

Regeneration is a Birth (not baptism - not church attendance - not reformation). God the Father is He “that begat” and the believer is “begotten” of God (I John 5:1), “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) and “born from above” (literal translation of John 3:7). These terms refer to the act of creative grace which makes the believer a child of God.

2) A Cleansing

God saved us by the “washing (literally, laver or bath) of regeneration”. (Titus 3:5) The soul was completely bathed from the defilements of the old life and made to live in newness of life - an experience pictured by water baptism. (Acts 22:16)

3) A Quickening

We were saved not only by the “washing of regeneration” but also by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5 Compare Psa. 57:10; Rom 12:2; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10

4) A Creation

He who created man in the beginning and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, recreates him by the operation of His Holy Spirit. II Cor. 5:17 Eph. 2:10 Gal. 6:15 Eph. 4:24 Compare Gen. 2:7 The practical result is a radical change in the individual’s nature, character, desires, and purposes.

5) A Resurrection

As God quickened the lifeless clay and made it alive to the world, so He quickens a soul dead in sins and makes it alive to the realities of the spiritual world. This act of resurrection from spiritual death is symbolized in water baptism. Wesley said, Regeneration is “that great change which God works in the soul when He brings it into life; when He raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.”

These terms are simply variants of one great basic thought of regeneration, namely, the Divine impartation of a new life to the soul of man. And three scientific facts true of natural life also apply to spiritual life, it comes suddenly, appears mysteriously, and develops progressively.

Rom. 6:4,5; Col. 2:13; 3:1; Eph. 2:5,6

b. The Need for Regeneration

John 3:7—Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

In John 3, Jesus answered the need of the heart rather than the words that Nicodemus spoke.

1) Lack of Life “these miracles”

Nicodemus was spiritually dead. Nicodemus’ opening words reveal a number of emotions struggling in his heart. …these miracles… He lacked a spiritual experience. He might have said, “I am tired of the lifeless services of the synagogue the glory has departed from Israel. There is no vision and the people perish. My soul is hungry for reality. My soul is empty! Your miracles convince me that you are a God sent teacher.”

Ephesians 2:1—And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2) Lack of Conviction “a teacher”

Nicodemus feels his need, for a teacher rather than a Saviour. “Thou art a teacher” He must realize that he is a sinner. Before he NEEDS to be taught, he NEEDS to be saved.

3) Lack of Knowledge “how”

John 3:9—How can these things be?

John 3:10—Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Jesus pointed out the deepest and universal need of men: a change of the whole nature and character. Man’s entire nature has been warped by sin. Man cannot change himself; therefore, the change must come from above.

Jesus did not attempt to explain the “how” of the new birth, but He did explain the why of the matter: the flesh and spirit belong to different realms.

c. The Means of Regeneration

1) Divine Agency.

The Holy Spirit is the special agent in regeneration, who so acts upon a person as to produce the change. John 3:6; Titus 3:5

Each Person of the Trinity is involved in regeneration:

  • The Father begets (James 1:18) Of his own will begat He us
  • The Son is the giver of Life (John 5,6) eat His flesh and drink His blood
  • The Spirit is the agent (John 3:6) born of the Spirit” (John 6:53)

2) Human Reparation.

Human reparations involved in regeneration are matters of obedience to God’s commands: confession, repentance and faith. They do not purchase regeneration, but are the conditions under which God requires to work.

d. The Effects of Regeneration

1) Positional - Children of God

The word “adoption” means literally “giving the position of sons.” Doctrinally, adoption and regeneration should be distinguished. Adoption is a legal term. Regeneration is an inner spiritual change. An individual must be BORN into the family of God (this is regeneration), and is not ADOPTED into the family of God.

“Children” (tekna) means “begotten ones” implies regeneration. John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; I John 3:1

“The adoption of sons” (huiothesia) means “the placing as a son” Gal. 4:5

Son (huios) denotes maturity. (Rom. 8:14,19 Heb. 2:10) We are born as new born babes in regeneration. Adoption is definitely a separate work from regeneration.

2) Spiritual - Union with God

II Cor. 6:16-18; Gal. 4:5,6; I John 3:24; 4:13; Gal. 2:20

Divine indwelling results in a new type of life.

  • A newness of life - Rom. 6:4
  • A new heart - Ezek. 36:26
  • A new spirit - Ezek. 11:19
  • A new man - Eph. 4:24
  • A new nature - II Peter 1:4

3) Practical - Righteous Living

The person born of God will demonstrate that fact by his:

  • Hatred of sin - I John 3:9; 5:18
  • Righteous deeds - I John 2:29
  • Brotherly love - I John 4:7
  • Victory over the world - I John 5:4

Two extremes should be avoided in setting a standard for righteous living:

First, making standard too low -Natural reformation

Second, making standard too high -young converts will stumble.

Compare I John 3:9 and I John 2:1.

I John 3:9—Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

I John 2:1— My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: