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Some Important Points Concerning Regeneration*

Peter Ditzel

A lamb turned to the camera as if speaking. Regeneration is being born again.
“Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”
John 3:3

 

1. It is expressed as being born or begotten again (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:3, 23).

2. It is called being born from above (the phrase “born again” in John 3:3 and 7 may be rendered “born from above”; see the marginal rendering in many Bibles).

3. Those who are regenerated or born again the Bible calls newborn babes (1 Peter 2:2).

4. Regeneration is expressed as being quickened (made alive) (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13).

5. Regeneration is signified by Christ being formed in the heart (Galatians 2:20; 4:6, 19; Colossians 3:10).

6. Regeneration is said to be a partaking of the divine nature (not of the essential nature of God, but a resemblance to the divine nature in spirituality, holiness, goodness, kindness, etc.) (2 Peter 1:4).

7. Depraved, unregenerate man cannot regenerate himself (Romans 8:5–9; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13).

8. Man cannot regenerate himself because regeneration is a creation and, therefore, not in the power of men to do it (2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 1:16).

9. Regeneration is expressly denied to be of men (John 1:12–13).

10. The efficient cause of regeneration is God only (John 1:12–13; 1 John 3:1–2, 9; 5:1)

God the Father (John 6:44, 65; James 1:17–18; 1 Peter 1:3)

God the Son (Galatians 4:6–7; 1 John 2:28–29)

God the Holy Spirit (John 3:5–6; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Titus 3:5).

11. The impulsive, or moving cause, of regeneration is the free grace, love, and mercy of God (Ephesians 2:4–5; James 1:17–18; 1 Peter 1:3).

12. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the virtual or procuring cause of regeneration (1 Peter 1:3).

13. The instrumental cause of regeneration is the Word of God (Romans 10:13–21; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23–25).

14. Regenerate ones have the grace of life given them; they live a new life, and walk in newness of life; where before their understanding was darkened, they now are enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of divine things (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:24; 5:8; Colossians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:4–5; 1 Peter 2:9; 3:7).

15. Knowledge and actual enjoyment of the several blessings of grace follow upon regeneration (Ephesians 3:16–19).

16. Regenerate ones are made fit and capable for the performance of good works (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:21; Philippians 2:13; 4:13).

17. Regenerate ones are made fit for the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5).

18. Humans are passive in regeneration (John 1:13; Romans 9:16).

19. Regeneration is of the will of God and cannot be resisted (John 6:37; Romans 8:29–30; 2 Timothy 1:9).

20. Regeneration is an act that is instantaneously done—there is never a middle state between life and death; regeneration is perfect—one can be partly regenerate no more than one can be partly dead and partly alive; yet regeneration always results in spiritual warfare between the old and new man with the new man winning in the end (Romans 6–8; 1 John 5:4).

21. The grace of regeneration can never be lost; one who is born in a spiritual sense can never be unborn (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39; Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

*Adapted from John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (1809; reprint, Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1995), 528–538.

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You may want to read our article, “The New Birth.”

The New Birth

by Peter Ditzel

This is the second and last part of a two-part series on the doctrine of grace called Total Depravity.

A close-up picture of John 3:5 from a print Bible. Being born again is the new birth or regeneration.
The Bible tells us that no human is naturally good. But there is hope. Jesus teaches that we must be born again, born of the Spirit.

Election and Calling

We’re going to talk about the new birth or regeneration called being born again. In the article, “No One Is Good” (which is part 1 of this series on Total Depravity), I asked, “If no one can choose Jesus Christ as Savior, how does He become one’s Savior?” Briefly, the answer is, we don’t choose Him, He chooses us.

We have no part in this choosing or election. It does not depend on our goodness, our cooperation, or our faith. In Romans 9, Paul is writing of God’s calling or choosing or election of Jacob and rejecting of Esau before they were even born: “For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls” (verse 11).

You Have Been Born Free

Some of you may remember the wonderful 1960s film, Born Free. Our family has it on DVD, and it is one of our favorite family videos. It is based on the true story of George and Joy Adamson. George is a gamekeeper in Africa. The couple adopts a lioness cub after George had to kill her mother in self defense. They name the cub Elsa, and bring her up as a pet. As Elsa grows, George and Joy realize they must get rid of her. The obvious solution is to send her to a zoo, but Joy suggests that they set her free. They make several attempts to rehabilitate Elsa to the wild, all unsuccessful. Tired and discouraged, George again suggests to Joy that they send Elsa to a zoo. “Is freedom so important?” he asks. Joy’s response hits a sympathetic chord within me: “She was born free, and she has the right to live free!”

Read more… →

Were the Old Testament Saints Born Again? The Least in the Kingdom is Greater Than John the Baptist

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matthew 11:11

For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Luke 7:28

The above words of Jesus are puzzled over and wondered about by many. How can John the Baptist be both the greatest and less than the least? To answer this question, we must understand 1) Jesus’ comparison of two births, and 2) who John the Baptist was.

Read more… →