One of the biggest problems with many Christian churches today is a false view of regeneration. In fact, a right view of the regeneration of a sinner is one of the marks of a biblical church. Regeneration is the same word as born again. Today we use the term born again much more than regeneration. Unfortunately, I believe that many Christian churches do not have a biblically solid view of regeneration. Many churches have portrayed a false view of man’s true spiritual condition and this consequently leads to wrong views of conversion.
To start off I want to define biblically what regeneration is. Regeneration is when God miraculously breaks through a sinner’s heart with a view of the glory of Jesus Christ. There are many passages in Scripture related to regeneration; I want to highlight a couple of them.
One of the best texts is 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The first thing to notice about this verse is Paul is referring to the creation account in Genesis 1. The earth was one time empty, dark, and without form (Genesis 1:2). God spoke and he created everything by a word. In the same way, Paul in 2 Corinthians uses the creation account to illustrate the new creation. In the same way, we are sinners, who loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), we were caught up in the idolatrous pursuit of self exaltation undermining the glory of God at every turn in our lives (Romans 3:23). But God in conversion makes known to us the futility of living life for our own glory, God by the magnificent work of his Holy Spirit shows us the glory of Christ, and we now see the glory of the cross of Christ.
The next text that is a great picture of regeneration is Ephesians 2:1-6. “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.”
Paul, in this text, presents fallen man in his lost state before God, spiritually dead, with a heart that is unresponsive to God’s glory, not concerned with proclaiming and promoting God’s glory. Furthermore, all of us at one time followed the prince of the power of the air, who is Satan, all of us delighted in walking according to our own wisdom, according to our own fallen nature opposed to God.
But God! Blessed two words! God awakens us, he has mercy on us, he not only sends his son to be our substitute, providing eternal righteousness for us, he also sends his spirit to make us alive! That is sovereign grace! We do nothing! Yes, we do believe as a result, and we must believe, however, God makes it possible for us to believe.
Wrong views of regeneration invite people to do something to receive the benefits of the atonement of Christ. They invite people to make a decision, to pray a superstitious prayer, or do something else that is not biblical. But someone will say, are we not called to repent and believe? Yes! We are! The problem is most churches in Christianity do not use the terms repent and believe. We have replaced repent and believe to accept Christ as Savior not Lord, and receive Christ as Savior and not Lord, to pray a prayer and ask Jesus into your heart, or something else that is not biblical.
The biblical view is to command men and women to believe in Christ, yet knowing that it is God who makes the person alive to receive the benefits of Christ.
Praise God for sovereign grace! Praise God for showing amazing grace to rebels like you and like me!