|written by Pastor David Wood|
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).
Regeneration means "born again," or "re-created." From Titus 3:5 we draw three conclusions about regeneration.
First, we conclude that regeneration cannot result from man's efforts. Man, who is dead in sin cannot make himself alive. "The average person believes that man obtains eternal life (if such life seems desirable or available) through his character and deeds... His effort originates below, in his own will and purposes, and it cannot succeed."(1) Righteous works cannot save us. What can? God can.
Second, we conclude that regeneration originates in God's mercy. Regeneration is entirely a work of God on man's behalf. Believers are born "of the will of God," literally "out of God" (John 1:13). Of His own will begot He us (James 1:18). "Regeneration, or the new birth, is the divine side of that change of heart which, viewed from the human side, we call conversion.
It is God's turning the soul to himself."(2)
Third, we conclude that regeneration occurs when the Holy Spirit imparts new life to the one who believes. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). The water refers to man's physical birth. By contrast, "Spirit" refers to a spiritual birth–an totally different level of life, one that is conferred by the Holy Spirit. "Regeneration is the instantaneous, supernatural impartation of spiritual life to that which was spiritually dead."(3) It is the Spirit that quickeneth (John 6:63). The Holy Spirit takes man's dead human spirit (Ephesians 2:1) and makes it alive with the Spirit's indwelling presence when the sinner trusts Christ's rescue through His death, burial, and resurrection.
Two additional questions deserve attention.
What does the Holy Spirit use to bring about regeneration?
God the Father through the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Truth, uses the Word of God as the vehicle to bring about the regeneration. Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth (James 1:18). Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (I Peter 1:23).
What impact does spiritual regeneration have on the believer now?
The impact shows in two ways. First, note the impact on the regenerated identity. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). "Again" in John 3:3 means to be born "from above" or from heaven.(4) Romans 8:16 says, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. "The new birth makes one a child of God. All the resources of his heavenly Father are now and forever available to him." (5)
Whereas the physical birth
introduces man to the slavery of sin and death, the regeneration of
the second birth introduces the believer to spiritual life and nobility.
Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).
Second, note the impact on the regenerated character. A regenerated believer has the Spirit of God renewing him in sanctification. With the process of sanctification in force he can remain true to his regenerated identity.(6) Paul said, But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter (Romans 7:6). No longer does he endure bondage to sin. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2).
(1) Charles Woodbridge,
A Handbook Of Christian Truth (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Revell, 1953),
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