What is Regeneration?
The doctrine of Regeneration is usually referred to as the forgotten doctrine; some people have not as much as heard about this doctrine and its implications, it is a lost doctrine and is hardly taught in the pulpit today. To the early church it was never neglected as it was essential to salvation as it is today. Spiritual regeneration is understood in reformed theology as that first step into the Christian faith and its commonly referred to as effectual calling.
What does Regeneration mean?
Regeneration means to be born again. The word Born comes from the Greek word gennao which is to: “procreate; figuratively to regenerate: – bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring.” Again comes from the Greek word anothen which refers to: “from above; by analogy from the first; by implication anew: – from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top.” (Strong Dictionary)
The need for Regeneration
The bible describes the nature of human beings as being fallen and unable of itself to be under subjection to the will of God. Man is radically corrupt due to the fall and no one is born with the desire to love God and to serve Him. Isaiah said “all we like sheep have gone astray and everyone turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans labored much to describe man's inability with the use of quotations from the old testament and the conclusion was that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), there is none who “seeks after God, no not one” (Rom 3:10-11).
Regeneration is the spiritual new birth or re-birth, it means to be born from above. Our natural birth can be said to be the birth from beneath. Jesus on His discourse with Nicodemus described it as the essential part of salvation of which without no man can see nor enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5), the strange part as you is that Jesus does not explain to Nicodemus how to be born again and it still remains a mystery to us.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:8)
Regeneration a work of God
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)
It is evident that the reason Jesus does not give out the formula is because Regeneration is a work of God, done by God alone in the life of an individual in order to bring that person to faith. I have heard many preaching and seen many books on the topic “how to be born again”. The Bible itself is silent on this, I wonder where they are getting the formula.
Regeneration precedes faith
Before a person can start exercising faith towards God, he or she must be regenerated (born again) first, as I have already elucidated about our depravity, we have a moral inability and by nature are the enemies of God (Rom 5:10). The sudden change in our hearts that gives birth to our new desires that are God centered and the ability to realize the need of God in our lives and to want to please Him and give him glory proves that God has done something in us that we ourselves could not do.
No one has the ability to regenerate themselves or anyone else without the grace of God. By nature we have hearts of stone that cannot and will not respond to the things of God until God regenerates our hearts. One cannot believe unless God causes them to believe and come to His knowledge. This is described in the book of Ezekiel 36:22-29.
The story of Lydia
Let”™s look at the story of Lydia and how she came to faith. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” Acts 16:14. As we can see, God opened her heart that she can respond to what was being preached and that is what happens to us also. The dry bones cannot come to life unless God “causes breath to enter into them.” Eze. 37:5
Many objections have been brought against this biblical doctrine, mostly by the Arminiams who boast of their free will. They hold the position that salvation depends on the individual”™s choice, this leads to what is called decisional regeneration. Some say that regeneration takes place when a person is baptized in water; this view is called baptismal Regeneration. For both of these, the argument is simply this: what comes first between faith and regeneration? Some argue that faith comes first and then regeneration, but the problem with this view is serious because how will a person be able to exercise saving faith in his natural condition?
Faith is the result and follows after regeneration; faith is caused by regeneration and not the other way round. Man is spiritually dead that he cannot bring himself back to life; unless Christ say “Come forth” (cf. John 11:43) we won't go to Him and neither will we come out of our deadly graves.
One believes one doesn”™t
I want to give you an example; two people attends an evangelical crusade, both of them listens to the same preaching, sing the same songs and leaves the meetings at the same time but one of them leaves the meeting saved and the other is not; how was it that one was able to exercise saving faith and the other was unable? Is it because the other one is stubborn and arrogant and the other is not? Or is it because the other has an ability to understand well and the other is not intellectual enough? All these views open up into a work salvation. The only possible answer will be that God has done something in the heart of the one that believed that He did not do in the heart of the other.
Which one of us contributed to his or her biological birth? Who determines the birth of a child between the child and the parents? Can an infant decide if it wants to be born on the 13th of May at 12 midday to a rich family? No! So even in our salvation it's the same, God is the one who determines the new birth and Him alone, He is not affected by anything we do or think; He does according whatever He does to His pleasure.
We owe all unto God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:25-27
LET US NOT DESPISE THIS BEAUTIFUL WORK OF GOD AS IT IS PROFITABLE TO US.
Soli Deo Gloria