It’s likely you’ve heard the admonition to “preach the gospel to yourself.” But do you have a practical, systematic way for doing that? What do you say when you preach the gospel to yourself?
How to use this series:
Justification by Arabah
Sanctification by Jen
Redemption by Rebekah
Reconciliation by Kathy
Regeneration by Marci
Atonement by Leah
Consecration by Kimberly
My doctrine is regeneration or another way I like to look at the word regeneration is to ask as Wayne Grudem does in his book, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, “What does it mean to be born again?”
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us.’ ~ Wayne Grudem ” quote=”‘Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us.’ ~ Wayne Grudem “]
So what does it mean to be born again or regenerated? It is a term as Christians we hear quite often. When the Bible uses the analogy of being born again as in John 3:3 it is using an analogy that we can make no contribution to. When we are born, as in physical birth, we contribute no part to that action. We follow the natural course of the way God designed childbirth. This is the point of the analogy used in Scripture: We do not give ourselves physical life, and we do not give ourselves spiritual life.
“No child has ever been born into the world by its own will or plan. Its conception, gestation, and birth are completely out of its consciousness and control. It is merely the passive recipient of the will and action of it parents. Just as certainly, no person wills, much less creates, a new spiritual nature within himself.”~ John MacArthur
Titus 3:5 (emphasis mine)
Regenerate means to form or create again, to be spiritually reborn or converted.
In Titus 3:5 above the Greek work is palliggenesia, and in the verse above it means new birth.
It also occurs in Matthew 19:28, and it is denoting the “restoration of all things.”
(emphasis mine in above verses)
Regeneration is the spiritual change brought about in the heart of man by the work of the Holy Spirit where our sinful nature from birth is changed, and we can respond to God in faith and live according to His will. God awakens us from being spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) to now having new spiritual life from God. This is being born again. (John 3:8)
A New Heart:
In John 3:3-8 above Jesus is talking to Nicodemus – a Pharisee – a teacher of the law. He was well acquainted with the Old Testament. He would know of the prophecy in Ezekiel where God is talking about new birth, about being transformed from the inside out.
God is going to create us as brand new – it is His sovereign work of regeneration. It comes from above. We are spiritually dead and caught up in our sins. We cannot create new life within ourselves. It is not until God gives us new life and a new heart and He is the only One who has the power to create new spiritual life within us.
Nicodemus had to ponder the verses in John 3. We can’t go back into our mother’s womb. We can’t control the wind. We can’t control God’s Spirit. Nicodemus knew that Ezekiel 36 is first for Israel, God’s chosen people, and it pointed to a time of the restoration of God’s chosen people when they will be gathered out from all countries and brought into their own land, cleansed of their sins and become God’s witnesses to all the nations. But what his eyes were not opened to yet was that Ezekiel 36 is also a glorious picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His power to save us. It reminds us there is nothing in us as sinners to grant us favor in God’s eyes. Salvation is a free gift in Jesus Christ, and it is to bring glory to His name. This is what Jesus was proclaiming to Nicodemus in John 3:3-8.
“To sanctify a man is the work of the whole life; but to give a man a new heart is the work of an instant in one solitary second, swifter than the lightning flash, God can put a new heart into a man, and make him a new creature in Christ Jesus. You may be sitting where you are to-day, an enemy to God, with a wicked heart within; hard as a stone, and dead and cold; but if the Lord wills it, the living spark shall drop into your soul, and in that moment you will begin to tremble—begin to feel; you will confess your sin, and fly to Christ for mercy. Other parts of salvation are done gradually but regeneration is the instantaneous work of God’s sovereign, effectual, and irresistible grace.”~ Charles Spurgeon
As we ponder the magnificent gift we have been granted if we are in Christ, and we have come to be known by Him through repentance and faith, we have much to give thanks for this good and perfect gift from above. We are not deserving of such a glorious gift but are deserving of Hell.
~ Excerpt taken from The Importance of the Gospel in Life of a Believer
When we are regenerated or born again, the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, and we will have a genuine love for God and His people (1 John 4:7), our lives will bear much fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), we will desire to live lives that are obedient to His ways (1 John 5:3-4), we hate sin and sin no longer rules or is the pattern of our lives – not perfection – but by the work of God’s grace within us we finally have the power to say “no” to sin (1 John 3:9: 1 John 2:29).
Regeneration and Evangelism:
Understanding the doctrine of regeneration has reminded me in my evangelism that I have no power to save anyone. It is not by the eloquence of my words that anyone comes to know Christ (or lack thereof most of the time), but it is by His power alone.
What freedom there is in being reminded it is a work of God! My responsibility in evangelism is to share the Good News of the Gospel. I just need to tell them the full story of who Jesus is. As a believer, I should have the Gospel ready on the tip of my tongue to share with those the Lord has placed in my path. Take the time to get familiar with the Gospel and be faithful to share it and continue to be praying for your non-believing family and friends that the Lord would open their hearts, as He did Lydia’s (Acts 16:11-15) and yours if you are in Christ, to His glorious saving Gospel.
The Gospel in a Minute:“The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.”~ Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism
“We do not have the ability to enter the kingdom unless the Spirit of God gives us life through the new birth. We are born again, then, by a sovereign, monergistic (that is, the Spirit working alone) act of the Holy Spirit. Then, as a result of that new birth, we exercise the faith given to us, and enter the kingdom of God.”~ Jerry Bridges
Preaching the Gospel to Myself:
As we’ve looked into this glorious doctrine of regeneration how should we be speaking it back to ourselves? Thank you, Lord, that we are saved by grace. You have raised us from the dead and granted us new life in Christ. We were blinded by the darkness of this world, and now we can have true freedom in Christ because You have opened our eyes to the truth. May we be faithful stewards of Your gospel which has given us new life so we may proclaim it to all who will hear it and believe.
“Regeneration consists in a radical change of heart, for there is implanted a new disposition as the foundation of all holy exercises; the mind being renovated, the affections elevated, and the will emancipated from the bondage of sin.”~ A. W. Pink
Kimberly Henderson says
This is so very good, Marci. Regeneration. Wow. It isn’t a word I have ever spent time meditating on before, but I realize I for sure need to! I am amazed to see a running theme in all of these posts. This theme of how it is all about what He says HE will do and what He says He HAS done. Yes, we surrender to His work. Yes, we walk it all out in our own lives. But it is all thanks to HIM, HIM, HIM, and He deserves ALL of our praise! Thank you for taking the time to break this word down for us to better understand. All of these posts are so rich – I am going to HAVE to read them more than once!
Leah @ Point Ministries says
Marci, what a great post. This part really grabbed me: “When the Bible uses the the analogy of being born again as in John 3:3 it is using an analogy that we can make no contribution to. When we are born, as in physical birth, we contribute no part to that action. We follow the natural course of the way God designed child birth. This is the point of the analogy used in Scripture: We do not give ourselves physical life and we do not give ourself spiritual life.”
I knew it, but it had not really embedded itself into my heart. For all of us who are controllers, and works-oriented folks, this word is tough. Only when we truly turn every ounce of control over to Christ, can we fully rest in our regeneration! So glad you gave us this post!
Kathy Schwanke says
Such a wonder. That He stooped to our level to lift us up and give us a place in His Kingdom! To abide in us and give us Himself as our home.
Yes, thank you Lord that you opened my eyes to see your love and faithfulness!!
Jen Stults says
Great post, Marci! I just love seeing how some of our words overlap a little bit. Each overlap is like a new layer; it adds depth to our understanding. This line stood out to me – “We do not give ourselves physical life and we do not give ourself spiritual life.” I also appreciate how you touched on evangelism and the fact that we cannot “save” others. Yes, it is so freeing, especially as a pastor’s wife.
Thank you, Marci, for studying this word. I’ve heard brief studies on it, but I LOVE all the Scriptures and quotes you’ve pulled into this post. For me, personally, that helps give me ways to connect with the topic – different perspectives from which to look at the word. I always love the story of Nicodemus – so wise a man, yet so confused by the concept of regeneration. It serves to remind me of just how great God is, that He can work in ways that confuse the wise. Thank you for this post and study!
Marci, this is a word I wasn’t so terribly familiar with. Your post instructed my heart and quickened my spirit! Romans 6 came to mind: I am dead to sin and alive to God. That’s regeneration! What an amazing gift the God of all creation has bestowed upon us. My heart is thanking Him right now! Thank you so much for writing this post.
Marci Ferrell says
Thank you Arabah – I loved being a part of this series as it gave me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in Christ. So loved the study time in the Word. Thank you sister xo