Regeneration Or The New Creation

 

Described

 

Regeneration means the imparting by God the Holy Spirit of His divine nature and His eternal life to previously spiritually dead human hearts.

Regeneration involves Jesus Christ Who is eternal life uniting us to Himself by His Spirit. Regeneration is becoming a son or daughter of God by nature, resulting in sin no longer being our ruler.

 

Other expressions meaning the same thing

 

The word “regeneration” is only used twice in the New Testament. These occur in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5. But here are other expressions referring to the same thing:

 

·         being born again of the Holy Spirit (see John 3:3 and 3:5).

·         being born of God (see 1 John 5:18).

·         having eternal life (see John 3:15 and Colossians 3:3-4).

·         receiving the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:2).

·         being made alive together with Christ (see Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13).

·         coming into spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:17 and Colossians 2:6-7).

·         the new man (see Colossians 3:10).

·         newborn (see 1 Peter 2:2).

·         the new creation in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

·         and God recreating us in true righteousness and holiness (see Ephesians 4:24)

 

Explained

 

To understand why we need to be regenerated, we need to recall some important facts. The Fall of Adam and Eve into sin cut off every one of their descendants from God. These descendants were born spiritually dead. Spiritual death means being cut off from the Presence and spiritual life of God.

The spiritually dead natures of unbelievers are severely warped by the sin they inherited from Adam and Eve. Ephesians 4:18 relates to this: “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart.”

Satan has only a spirit. But unbelieving humans have a spirit, mind, will, emotions and body. Satan and humans, however, have a like nature in the sense they are both spiritually dead to God’s Spirit. This is why in 1 John 3:10, John speak of two groups of people – the children of God and the children of the devil.

The children of the devil are like their spiritual father – the Devil, according to Jesus in John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…” Matthew 13:38 and Acts 13:10 speak similarly.

But Satan is not all-powerful and present everywhere like God and able to impart part of his own spirit to every unbeliever when they are born. Every human born receives their spirit from God and not from Satan as Ecclesiastes 12:7, Isaiah 57:16, Zechariah 12:1 and Numbers 27:16 prove. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says: “…and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

Every baby is regarded Biblically as a child of the Devil only in the sense it is born with a similar nature to the Devil’s – one cut off from the life and Presence of God the Holy Spirit. God is the Creator of all humans but is not the spiritual Father of unbelievers.

God could not allow sin-laden corrupted humans permanently into His Presence in heaven. Therefore, He had to find a means of drastically changing their natures. He provided the means through regeneration, renewal by the Holy Spirit, sanctification, glorification and union with Christ – some of these things overlapping in meaning.

On the basis of Jesus’ death, God is able to forgive and pardon us of all our sins, reconcile us to Himself, adopt us as His child and give us a perfect legal standing in Christ. But all of these wonderful things would be of little long term benefit, if we were not regenerated, renewed by the Holy Spirit, sanctified, glorified and brought into union with Christ. Without these latter things, we would legally be God’s children but experientially still have Satan-like natures.

In John 5:24, Jesus shows regeneration involves passing from a state of spiritual death to having eternal life: “…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life.”

 

Regeneration is totally of grace and mercy

 

No fallen sinful human could ever be good or righteous enough in themselves to deserve or merit anything from God. Being regenerated by God is something He does totally freely to undeserving people or in Biblical language “by grace”. 1 Peter 3:7 refers to “the grace of life”. Jude 21 reveals receiving eternal life is based on God’s awesome mercy: “…looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

In Galatians 3:21, Paul stresses it is impossible practically for any fallen human to receive eternal life by obeying any type of laws, even those given by God: “…For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”

 

Jesus Christ is eternal life

 

1 John 5:11 shows we cannot have eternal life within us unless we have the Son of God within us: “…God has given us eternal life, and this is in His Son.” This verse reveals this eternal life is an eternal attribute of God the Son.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus said He is the resurrection and the life: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…’” So it is little wonder the New Testament says unless you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you do not have eternal life within you.

Other verses which reveal eternal life is in Jesus Christ are John 14:6, Acts 3:15, Colossians 3:3, 3:4, 2 Timothy 1:1, 1 John 1:1-2 and 5:11-13.

Many churchgoers have the wrong attitude that under the New Covenant, eternal life just means living in union with God from the point of entering heaven. For New Covenant believers, eternal life begins from the point of our conversion.

 

God the Holy Spirit regenerates

 

Believers are regenerated by God through His Holy Spirit, as John 1:12-13 and 3:3-8 taken together show. No human can regenerate himself.

 

Regenerated or born-again through the Word of God

 

1 Peter 1:23 and 25 states: “Having been born again…through the word of God which lives and abides forever…Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” Here we see people are born again of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God or Gospel. Verse 25 mentions this Word being preached to them. James 1:18 also speaks of people being born again through God’s Word of truth. In the broader context of James 1:18-25, verse 18 refers to the written Word of God about Jesus Christ. Other verses which connect the Word to eternal life are John 6:63 and 6:68.

 

The narrow gate to eternal life

 

Matthew 7:14 emphasises there are narrow conditions set by God for the receiving of eternal life, without specifying what these conditions are: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Romans 6:23 shows eternal life is a gift we receive in Jesus Christ our Lord: “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is only those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour by faith who receive eternal life in this earthly life (see John 3:15-16, 3:36, 5:24, 6:27-29, 20:21, 1 Timothy 1:16 and Titus 1:2). In Acts 11:18, receiving eternal life is linked to repentance: “…God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” We can only receive eternal life through having Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour through faith and accompanying repentance.

 

A completed action with continuing results or a state

 

The New Testament teaches that regeneration is not a progressive process but when viewed from hindsight is a completed event in believers’ lives. Proof of this can be seen in the use of the perfect tense of the verbs “have become new” in 2 Corinthians 5:17, and “having been born again” in 1 Peter 2:23, “is born” in 1 John 2:29, “has been born” and “he has been born” in 1 John 3:9, “is born” in 1 John 4:7, 5:1, 5:4 and 5:18 and “is begotten” in 1 John 5:1. In Greek, the perfect tense mostly signifies a completed action which has continuing results or a state resulting from a previous action.

In 1 John 3:24 and 4:13, John refers to God having given the Holy Spirit to believers. The verbs “has given” in both of these verses is in the perfect tense in Greek also.

 

Differences between adoption and regeneration

 

The New Testament speaks of being adopted as God’s child and being regenerated as His child. Many Christians are confused about the differences between these things. Adoption relates to becoming God’s child in a legal sense. Adoption refers to God the Father legally adopting a son or daughter exclusively as His own and showering on the child His love and the many wonderful privileges and responsibilities related to His inheritance.

In regeneration, however, the person becomes God’s child through God the Holy Spirit imparting His own divine nature to the person. 2 Peter 1:4 refers to this: “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…”

Under the New Covenant, both adoption and regeneration begin at exactly the same moment – the point of conversion. Our adoption and regeneration as sons of God are mentioned jointly in both Romans 8:15-16 and Galatians 4:4-6. Galatians 4:4-6 says: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father’.”

Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, believers were adopted by God during their earthly lives and regenerated after their physical death.

 

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.         Describe what regeneration means.

2.         What other Biblical expressions refer to the same thing as regeneration?

3.         Are human children born with Satan’s nature or a similar nature to Satan’s? Explain why.

4.         Are humans regenerated by God’s unmerited grace or on the condition of obeying God’s laws?

5.         What verses reveal that Jesus Christ is eternal life Himself?

6.         What does 1 Peter 1:23-25 teach about the means by which people are born-again?

7.         What verbs in the New Testament reveal that being regenerated is not a progressive process?

8.         Explain what Romans 6:23 and Acts 11:18 reveal about receiving eternal life.

9.         Explain what are the differences between adoption and regeneration.

 

 


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