Regeneration is another glorious doctrine in Scripture. It is the hallmark of what it means to be a new creature in Christ. Next to the doctrine of justification, regeneration clearly depicts the work of God in helpless souls that can only be brought about by His power and mercy, not our own. Just like most doctrines that involve the work of God’s saving grace upon a soul, regeneration cannot be duplicated and cannot be manufactured by anyone other than God Himself. In essence, regeneration is when God changes the nature of a man from Adam to Christ, from loving sin to loving the Savior, from being dead in trespasses and sins but now resurrected to new life in Christ! It is the miraculous work of God upon the soul of a sinner that changes the will, affections, and behavior of the person.
Despite the fact that the word “regeneration” only shows up in Scripture twice, the essence of what it entails is sprinkled throughout Scripture. In Titus 3:5, the Holy Spirit is depicted, as He usually is, as the source of our washing and cleaning from sin, but also our regeneration! Notice, it is not by our works that we are regenerated, but by God’s mercy through the work of the Holy Spirit renewing and cleansing us! Jesus said in John 3:3, that the water and spirit were necessary for new birth. Both the water and spirit are references to the Holy Spirit’s work even from the Old Testament (Ezekiel 36:25-37). But notice the main point of who it is that does the work – God. Furthermore, in John 1:13, the apostle makes it exceptionally clear that it is not by man’s will that we are born again and regenerated, but by God’s will. The apostle James makes a similar point in chapter 1 verse 18. And Peter also confirms this work of God in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23.
There are plenty of other gems in Scripture that can help us understand the supernatural work of regeneration, but don’t lose the forest in the trees. Ever since Adam fell, the image of God has been marred. Unless Christ restores that image and changes our will to love righteousness, we will never conform to the image of Christ. I say this again, even if it were possible to believe on Christ by our own volition, if God never acts upon our nature by changing the core of who we are to desire and love godliness, we will still be workers of iniquity and bound for Hell. The doctrine of justification changes our standing before God and makes us “not guilty” in His courtroom. But unless, our nature changes, theoretically, what would stop sin, which we were born into, from taking us captive again?
Regeneration is not just a doctrine about being saved from our sin in the sense that God removes us from it, but He also reprograms our will so as to ensure that sin will no longer enslave us again. We now have the power to say “no” to sin, and place our foot victoriously on its neck! And it is through sanctification that we experience renewing, washing, and transformation daily. Without regeneration, initial and progressive sanctification of the Holy Spirit would never happen. But that will be elaborated in another article. For now, just remember that regeneration is what revives our dead hearts that was once infatuated by sin, but now gives us the power over sin and makes us alive with Christ! Unless we trust Christ by faith, and repent of our sin, we will never experience what it is to benefit from this great promise that God works upon the soul who pleads for mercy.