The only other use of the word “regeneration” in our King James Bibles is there in Titus 3:5. For those of you who like this kind of trivia, the Greek word is “paliggenesia” (pal-ing-ghen-es-ee’-ah), and if you listen closely you’ll hear the word “genesis.” The word is relatively rare in our Bibles, but outside the Bible, in the common or Koine Greek speech it was far more common. Strong’s Concordance, with the agreement of Thayer and other experts, defines the word this way: “New birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation, regeneration. “Hence renovation, regeneration, the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind for the better. The word often used to denote the restoration of a thing to its pristine state, its renovation, as a renewal or restoration of life after death. The renovation of the earth after the deluge. The renewal of the world to take place after its destruction by fire, as the Stoics taught. The signal and glorious change of all things (in heaven and earth) for the better, that restoration of the primal and perfect condition of things which existed before the fall of our first parents, which the Jews looked for in connection with the advent of the Messiah, and which Christians expected in connection with the visible return of Jesus from heaven. Cicero’s restoration to rank and fortune on his recall from exile. The restoration of the Jewish nation after exile. The recovery of knowledge by recollection.” So among other things, “regeneration” is a synonym for the “new birth” – or is it the other way around?
Aspects of Salvation.
Just as we have been saying that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, should never be separated very far, neither should any of the various aspects of salvation. Can a person be regenerated without being converted? Can a sinner be justified without being adopted? So what again is it to be regenerated? What is it to be converted? What is it to be justified? What is it to be adopted? What is it to be sanctified? Are regeneration and sanctification the same thing? Are they related when it comes to salvation? Closely related? Is there a difference between being born again and being adopted? Are they spiritually related? There are a lot of Christians who inadvertently interchange those terms without doing any harm, but there are also theologians and religions which do so causing a great deal of harm. I don’t intend to get into those muddy waters, but to be safe and concise, wouldn’t it be better for the children of God to know the difference between each of these things and know when to use one and when to speak of the other?
Regeneration is that aspect of salvation concerned with the impartation of eternal life to the dead soul.
Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Physically speaking, from where do we get life? Where do our pets get their life? From where does the life come that our roses and tomatoes possess? What is the mean of “spontaneous generation?” Is there such a thing as spontaneous generation? How important is the doctrine of spontaneous generation to the theory of evolution?
Regeneration is by its very nature solely the work of God. John 1:11 – Christ Jesus “came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 3:3 – “Jesus answered and said unto (Nicodemus), Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Regeneration is similar, in some ways to resurrection – it is the work of God alone. John 5:20 – “For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” Ephesians 2:4 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Which person of the Trinity is most directly described as regenerating dead souls? (The Holy Spirit.) Not God the Father? James 1:17-18 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” Not Christ Jesus? II Corinthians 5:17 – ” Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I John 5:11 – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Regeneration is the work of God, but in some ways it is more specifically the work of the Holy Spirit. John 3:3 – “Jesus answered and said unto (Nicodemus), Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Titus 3:4 – “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 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; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
What is meant by the word “inscrutable”? (Impenetrable, impossible to understand.) Is it accurate to say that the details of regeneration are inscrutable? But there are illustrations, types and allegories, which we can basically understand. Regeneration is illustrated in “the new birth” and a birth is something we can kind of understand. Nicodemus was told that he had to be born again. It is also described as a kind of spiritual resurrection. Paul told the Roman Christians that they were alive from the dead. He told the Ephesians, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” Regeneration is likened to a new creation. II Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
None of these things can be accomplished through any human means. No scientist has been able to create something out of nothing. No mortician has been able to resurrect the dead. And birth is merely the passing on of the life of mom to the life of the child. John 1:11 – Christ Jesus “came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of (the Holy Spirit).”
The effects of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
Those who have been regenerated are given a new nature. Does this mean that the old nature with all its sins and weaknesses is gone? It just means that there is a spiritual nature or aspect to that new saint of God. I haven’t spent a lot of time meditating through this thought: But a Christian is a two-natured person, as a pregnant mother possesses a second nature. For the most part they are inseparable, but they are still two distinct natures or lives.
Another result of regeneration is a new experience. Just as Paul looked on life with different eyes after he was given a revelation of Heaven. Just as Lazarus, after his resurrection, looked on life with a new vision. The new saint of God looks upon life, earth, heaven, and eternity differently.
Regeneration is not, in itself a mere experience, it is the fountain of many new experiences. He was dead, but now he has life, and life means experiences. He was blind, but now he can see. As indwelt and under the control of the Holy Spirit, he has new spiritual sensations. The fruit of the Spirit are all new experiences.
And another result, of course, is eternal security to go along with that eternal life. One of the causes of confusion in regard to the security of the soul is directly connected to confusion about the nature of regeneration. In fact, I am of the opinion that the majority of those who deny eternal security, do so because they have never been regenerated. The witness of that truth is a part of the ministry of the Spirit. And the understanding of regeneration is a great source of blessing and comfort to the Christian.