What is regeneration? What does it mean to born again and how does God do it?

As Alistair Begg said in the wonderful introduction to the song 'Regeneration' by Shai Linne, "The gospel is not a word of encouragement to those who are sort of well meaning people who would like to add a little religion, it is not a word of encouragement to those who would like a little Jesus in their life. No, the word of the gospel is a word that comes to the rebel heart and says, "I am a rebel against God. I may be indifferent to Him. I may be antagonistic to Him, but I am actually rebelling against Him." He than comes by the Bible and says, "I am commanding you to do an about turn, to repent of your sins and to believe in me." And the individual says, "there is no way that is going to happen …" It will take a miracle for that to happen. Yes, it will. That is the miracle of regeneration." Regeneration is a supernatural work of God. God’s word says, that “there is none righteous, no not one”, “there is none that seek after God”, “there is none that do good”. It says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The Bible describes sinners, as ‘blind’, and ‘deaf’, and ‘dead’. So apart from something happening. That is the way we will stay. What is broken cannot fix itself. What is dead cannot makes itself come alive. We need something out side of ourselves. We need a divine intervention. God, is the God of miracles. Regeneration is probably the greatest miracle of all. It is where God does what is impossible for man to do. The Old Testament talks about God taking out a heart of stone, and putting in a heart of flesh. In the New Testament, it talks about being born again, or being brought from death to life. It speaks of being given eyes to see and ears to hear, of being transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, and there many other ways to speak about regeneration.

Regeneration is the act of God whereby he takes one who used to hate God, one who was dead in their trespasses and sins, one who was indifferent to God, and imparts new spiritual life, thereby changing them, and makes them new. Regeneration is a fundamental change in our nature, wrought by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Before we are regenerated, or made alive by God we cant see our peril that we are in because of sin, and we most definitely cannot see our hope of salvation from it in Jesus Christ. John Calvin said, “All true knowing start with knowing yourself, and knowing God.”

Apart from regeneration we cannot know either. Mostly because we don't want to. Our desires are all messed up. In our natural state, we love sin, we love darkness, we love the things of this world, and hate the things of God. We are unwilling to come to Him. But in the new birth we are made willing, not because we are forced to do something we don’t want to do, but because we are fundamentally changed at the core of who we are. In some senses, if you thought of zombies, coursing about, following the prince of the powers of this world. That’s what we were like. Children of wrath, following the course of this world, but then what happened…. the Bible says, “But God,” God interposed. The Bible says, "for except a man be born again, be can not see the kingdom of God.” Therefore God gives us the ability to see and understand: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to Him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned….. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:14,12) And so we begin to desire, and see, and hear and understand the things of God. And how do we know this has happened. Well, the Bible says we can’t really see this happen. Much like the wind it compares the work of the Spirit to. “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 3:8) You can’t see the wind, you can’t see the Spirit, but we can see the affects. You can see the affects of the wind as blow through areas, and you can hear it. So what are the affects of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sovereign. He is God. We do not control Him. He does as He wishes. But we can see His affects. I submit, that the first affect we see, is when people believe. The effects of the Holy Spirit upon a person in the new birth (regeneration), the very first outworking of our newness in nature, with our new spiritual eyes, and our new spiritual ears, and our new spiritual mind, and heart is a turning from our sin (because now we see the horror of it) and a reaching out and trusting in Christ (because we now see his beauty and worth). When a person is born naturally, one of the very first things a baby does when it comes out of their mothers womb is breath. It has to be able to breath on its own. One of the things a born again person does is when they read or hear the word of God preached, is they appropriate it and believe it. A born again person has faith. Faith to a born again person is like breathing to a new born babe. It’s the natural outgrowth of regeneration. Faith is proof that one is born again. Faith doesn’t cause us to be born again. Just like being born, we don’t make that happen, so it is with being born again. We don't make ourselves be born again. Faith doesn’t cause us to be born again. Being born again causes us to have faith. Being conceived gives us life. Being born applies that life to us. Election gives us spiritual life. It ensures it, and secures it. But in regeneration that spiritual life is actually applied to us. Without regeneration, redemption is just a thought in Gods mind that hasn't actually happened yet. It is the first step of our spiritual life in real time. There is not a single person in this world, who will go to heaven and be with Jesus forever, who is not a believer. God is in the miracle working business of taking out hearts of stone and putting in hearts of flesh. This is what regeneration is. If you told a person, that all they had to do in order to go to heaven, was love God. How is that possible? Can a person just all of sudden love what they naturally hate? No! But what is impossible with man, is possible with God. Regeneration makes us lovers of God more than anything. Regeneration sets our affections on things above (Col. 3:1) It is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8) Seriously, who else would forsake all to follow him. I mean if I gave you a choice, between two things, over here is a pile of money, billions of dollars, and then over here is God, but the things is, you can’t see God. So basically, you have a pile of money and nothing. I mean, to the natural mind thats what it look like. A pile of money and nothing. If you were given that choice, what would you choose? Of course people are going to choose the pile of money. It would take a miracle for us not to. Choosing God doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t make sense. The natural mind does not accept him. We know this. Regeneration makes us love what we once hated and hate what we once loved. Regeneration is a bigger miracle than when God first created the world. In the creation of the world, he created everything out of nothing. In regeneration, he takes what once was corrupted and makes it new. He takes a person who once loved sin, and causes him to hate it. He takes a person who previously had no disposition to think of God above all things, to now all of a sudden thinking of God as his highest treasure and most supreme desire. Regeneration would cause a person to give up all and give it to the poor. Because to the regenerate there is nothing more valuable than having Christ. Regeneration takes us, and set us on a new path, with a pep in our step, and a kick for heaven. As the old song writers have said, the things of earth grow strangely dim, and you can’t feel at home in this world anymore. Mostly because it makes us new. A love, a taste for heaven, and so it is goes. To the natural mind, unexplainable, to the mind renewed, everything is starting to make sense now. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The things we used to love, we are loving less, and the things we used to hate, or never ever thought we would love - we do. Amazing!!! Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)


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