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Monday
Mar022009

Theological Term of the Week

regeneration
An act of God whereby a soul, previously dead to him, experiences a spiritual resurrection into a new sphere of life, in which he is alive to God….”; 1 an inner work of the Spirit in which new spiritual life is implanted so that a person’s whole nature is changed and he or she can respond to God in faith. Also called new birth, rebirth, spiritual birth, being born again or quickening.

  • From scripture:
    Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8 ESV)
    For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 ESV)
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV)
  • From A Brief Confession of the Principal Articles of the Christian Faith (The Mennonite Confession by John de Rys and Lubbert Gerrits):
    Regeneration is … a true illumination of the mind with the knowledge of the truth (John 8:32), bringing with it a change of will and of carnal desires and lusts, a sincere mortification of internal wickedness (Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:9–10) and of the old man delighting himself in lust, wickedness and sin. It is, moreover, a vivification which manifests itself in an honest life according to God, in true goodness, justice and holiness. It is a removal of the stony heart (Ezek. 36:26), full of vanity, stolidity (Eph. 4:17–18), blindness, ignorance, sin and perverse pleasures, and, on the contrary, is the gracious gift of the promised heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), replete with the law of God (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10), light, sight, wisdom, understanding, virtue and holy desires. This regeneration has its rise from God (John 8:47; 1 John 4:1–2, 6–7) through Christ (1 Peter 1:3, 23; James 1:18). The medium or instrument through which it is generated in us is the Holy Spirit (John 3:5–6) with all his fiery virtues, apart from any co-operation of any creature. Here concerning the regenerate we affirm that they are born not out of anything whatsoever which the creature does, but from God (John 1:13; 1 John 3:9); and by it we become children of God (John 1:12), divine, heavenly and spiritually minded, just and holy. We believe and teach that this regeneration is necessary to salvation according to the words of Christ: “Verily, verily, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”; and “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5)…
  • From Regeneration by J. C. Ryle:

    In short, beloved, the plain truth is, that by nature men are all dead in trespasses and sins, strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, prisoners in the hand of Satan, in a state of miserable condemnation, spiritually dark, blind, and dead; and, worst of all, they neither know nor feel it. The cold corpse in the grave does not feel the worms that crawl over it; the sleeping wretch who has drunk poison, does not know that he shall wake no more; and so also the unhappy man who is still unconverted cannot understand that he is in need of anything. But still, every natural man in the sight of God is dead while he lives; his body, soul, and mind are all turned aside from their proper use, which is to glorify God, and so he is looked upon as dead. And this either is the state of every single soul among us at this minute—or else it used to be. There is no middle state; we cannot be half-way, neither dead nor alive; we were dead and have been brought to life—or we are now dead, and the work is yet to be done.

    Nor yet is this doctrine for publicans and harlots only: it is for all without exception; it touches high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, old and young, gentle and simple; all are by nature sinful and corrupt, and because they are so, Jesus tells us solemnly not one shall enter into the heavenly rest without being born again.

    …To be born again is, as it were, to enter upon a new existence, to have a new mind and a new heart, new views, new principles, new tastes, new affections, new likings and new dislikings, new fears, new joys, new sorrows, new love to things once hated, new hatred to things once loved, new thoughts of God and ourselves and the world and the life to come, and the means whereby that life is attained. And it is indeed a true saying that he who has gone through it is a new man, a new creature, for old things are passed away—behold, he can say, all things are become new! It is not so much that our natural powers and faculties are taken away and destroyed; I would rather say that they receive an utterly new bias and direction. It is not that the old metal is cast aside—but it is melted down and refined and remolded, and has a new stamp impressed upon it, and thus, so to speak, becomes a new coin.

    This is no external change, like that of Herod, who did many things and then stopped—or of Ahab, who humbled himself and went in sackcloth and walked softly; nor is it a change which can neither be seen nor felt. It is not merely a new name and a new notion—but the implanting of a new principle which will surely bear good fruit. It is opening the eyes of the blind and unstopping the ears of the deaf; it is loosing the tongue of the dumb, and giving hands and feet to the maimed and lame—for he who is born again no longer allows his members to be instruments and servants of unrighteousness—but he gives them unto God, and then only are they properly employed.

Learn more:

  1. J. I. Packer: Regeneration
  2. Tom Ascol: Regeneration
  3. Robert Reymond: Regeneration
  4. John Hendryx: Two Views on Regeneration
  5. John Piper: Finally Alive (pdf)
  6. John Piper: Sermon series on the new birth (mp3s) This is the sermon series from which the book Finally Alive (see above) came.

Related terms: 

1T. C. Hammond, In Understanding Be Men, page 140.

Today’s theological term was suggested by Kim of The Upward Call. Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks, Rebecca! I also love the chart by John Hendryx!

March 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim in On

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