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Great Words of the Gospel part 5 - Regeneration
This week I want to continue in our series on Great Words of the Gospel. So far, we have looked at the words salvation, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, and imputation. Today I want to look at the term Regeneration. Regeneration talks about our new life and in particular the very first moments of our new life in Christ.
In this message, I want to look at our reading from John 3, and I want to ask and answer the following questions – who was Nicodemus? What is regeneration? Why it is necessary? How does it take place? And what does Regeneration give us?
John 3:1-7 – Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Who was Nicodemus?
From this passage, we see that Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling Council. The Council was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. To be a Pharisee a person had to be very righteous. You had to fast two days per week, give 10% of your money to the church, pray two hours per day, live by the 10 commandments and memorise the Law of Moses word for word which is the first 5 books of the Bible as we know it today. Can anyone here say that they can do that?
If anyone would be able to make his way to heaven surely it would be Nicodemus. He was a very righteous man who always tried to do the right thing. But for some reason he knew he had done everything to be seen as righteous, but felt there had to be more. That is why he came to speak to Jesus, because something was missing. We are not sure why he came at night time, but it was probably so he would not be seen by the other Council members. Jesus told him he was right, there was something else he needed to do – be born again.
What is Regeneration?
Regeneration is an act of God whereby He renews the spiritual condition of a sinner. It is a spiritual change brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit so that the person possesses new life that is eternal and in relationship with God.
Regeneration is a change in our moral and spiritual nature and a change in our relationship with God. Where sanctification is the work of God in us to make us more like Jesus over the course of our lives. Regeneration is the beginning of that change. It means to be born again. In fact, the term Regeneration can be used interchangeably with born again, born from above or new birth. It is all about the work God does in our lives the moment we accept Christ.
Why is Regeneration necessary?
So why is Regeneration necessary? It is needed because in our natural state we cannot make our connection with God. There are three main reasons.
a. We were dead in our sins.
Ephesians 2:1-5 – As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
b. To enter the Kingdom of God
John 3:3-6 – Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
c. To understand the things of God
1 Corinthians 2:14 – The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Regeneration was necessary because we were dead in our sins and separated from God in our sins. Because God is holy this needed to be dealt with. So, our sin needed to be washed away and we needed to be internally renovated, to receive God’s Spirit. We needed regeneration to enter God’s Kingdom. As we saw Nicodemus was a righteous man, but Jesus told him he needed to be born again, born from above. And finally, we needed to be regenerated to understand the things of God.
How does the Regeneration take place?
Regeneration is a work of God that happens as a result of our faith in Christ, by the work of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
a. By believing in Jesus Christ
1 John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
Believing in Jesus is the starting point for this new beginning. When we confess our faith to God and say that we believe in Jesus and all He has done for us our new life begins.
b. By the work of Christ on the cross
Colossians 2:13-14 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
The work of Christ on the cross makes it possible to be regenerated or born again because it deals with the issue of sin. Sin is swept away.
c. By work of the Holy Spirit
Titus 3:5 – He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that does the work of regeneration. The Holy Spirit washes us and gives us the new birth. As Jesus said, “We can’t enter the Kingdom of God unless we are born again. Born of water and born of Spirit”. The first time we are born into this world we are born to live as a part of this world. The second time we are born is when we are born again from above, born by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are born to live in the world of the Kingdom – the Kingdom of God. It is a new start with a fresh new beginning. This time we live in God’s Kingdom, with Jesus as our King.
What does Regeneration result in?
Regeneration or being born again results in new standing with God and entrance in God’s Kingdom.
a. Entrance into God’s Kingdom
John 3:3 – Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
b. Becoming a new creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
c. Children of God
John 1:12 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
d. Victory over sin
Romans 6:4-7 – We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
When we are born again we become members of God’s eternal Kingdom. Forever and ever and then even more! We become children of God, we are a new creation as the old life is gone, and we are no longer slaves to sin because Jesus paid the price to redeem us. We are free from the slave market of sin as we saw a few weeks ago.
From Jesus Speaks Devotion
I want to finish with this devotion I read recently from the Jesus Speaks 14-day devotional. It speaks about what we have in Christ.
The Life I Gave You Won’t End With Your Death
When I revealed that God was My Father and that He sent Me to provide His gift of eternal life, some believed and rejoiced. Others remained in their unbelief. Most of the religious leaders fumed in anger to the point of wanting Me dead. I announced the greatest news humanity will ever hear, and most people rejected it. But not you. Child, you have been birthed by the Holy Spirit, and I have given you eternal life. When you die, I will raise you from the dead. Rejoice in this wonderful truth. Live in the reality that your life on earth is only the beginning of your life.
Realize that although the ruler of this world and his followers may
take away everything in your life that is temporary, they have no power
whatsoever to take away that which is most important. They cannot remove
anything from you that is eternal. They can’t remove you from My
presence, My love, or the eternal life that I have already given you. No
matter what circumstances you face today, let this truth cause you to
rejoice without ceasing.
Closing Summary of Regeneration
Regeneration is a work of God that is undertaken by the Holy Spirit. We are washed clean from our sin, made alive in Christ, become children of God, and we receive eternal life. Regeneration is when we are born again. It is when we begin this life afresh as a part of God’s eternal Kingdom with Jesus as our King. It is the start of a new exciting journey where we walk each and every day with Jesus and become more like Christ every day.
By Dave Quinn
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