Charles Spurgeon was the 19th-century pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London; a popular Baptist preacher, influential among various denominations who called him the prince of preachers.
He declared that sinners occupy a seven-fold position of need before God the Father, who makes provisions through Christ His Son if only they are ready to come to Him
The above seven elements or doctrines of salvation are God’s provisions. The human positive response to these is what we call conversion. The sinner must accept God’s gift (Jesus Christ) through repentance, faith, and baptism. Water baptism is a public declaration of an internal spiritual commitment.
When a sinner accepts God’s gift, he is baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit; (Rom. 6: 3), and God the Father will now bestow on him the seven spiritual riches indicated by the seven doctrines of salvation that are enumerated above.
What Is Regeneration?
This is God’s secret act whereby He imparts new spiritual life into us. From the Greek translation and comparing notes on John 3: 3-8, 1 Peter 1: 3, and others, we see that the new birth is called, “born anew”, “born from above”, “born again” or “regeneration”. They are all the same.
Regeneration: A Mystery and Totally God’s Work
What exactly happens at regeneration or the time somebody is born again is a great mystery. Remember Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. Jesus called and a new life rushed into him. This is the imagery of regeneration. Paul told the Ephesians church that Christ had quickened them (given them life) who were formerly spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2: 1. Regeneration is a new creation. 2 Cor. 5: 17. The Father must draw sinners. John 6; 44. God must open his heart. Acts 16; 14.
Man plays an active role in some of the elements of redemption like conversion and sanctification but in the work of regeneration, man plays no role at all. John explained that those given power to become children of God were born not of blood nor of the will of flesh nor of the will of man but of God. John 1: 13. In the physical, no one plays a role in his own birth.
The sinner listens to a sermon, a word of testimony, a drama, or a casual comment about Jesus Christ and a word strikes his heart (soul+conscience) His dead spirit is suddenly set aglow and a firm conviction enters his soul. Regeneration is an instantaneous event happening only once. A spiritually dead man receives the uncreated life of God. For some children growing up in a Christian home, the death-to-life transition may be unnoticeable; but not so with the other children, youth or adult converts.
John Murray, a Scottish theologian, and a Seminary teacher declared that “Regeneration is a revolution, a reconstruction taking place at the center of man’s moral and spiritual being; sin and pollution are dethroned in the citadel of man’s being and righteousness takes its place”.
Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers also declared that “God the Holy Spirit, in a supernatural manner, works upon the hearts of men and they, by the operation of the divine Spirit become regenerate men; and unless God the Holy Spirit who works in us to will and to do, should operate upon the will and the conscience, regeneration is absolutely impossible, the same with Salvation”.
Spurgeon believed that the new birth gives us a radical change, new natures, makes us love what we hate and hate what we love, sets us on a new road, makes our habits, and thoughts different in private and public”.
William Webster, an author and a theologian declared, “Regeneration is another part of the overall work of salvation, the transformation and renewal of the inner being where love for self is displaced by love for God”. it is the sovereign work of God whereby He supernaturally intervenes in a life, creates a new heart, gives new life and enables one to come to Christ”. Jesus described this mystery to Nicodemus using the imagery of the wind flow. John 3: 3-8.
Old Testament Promises of Regeneration
In the Old Testament, God promised His people a new heart and to put a new spirit into them. Ezek. 36: 26. He promised to circumcise their hearts by writing His laws upon them so that they could know, obey and love Him. Deut. 30: 6, Jer. 31: 31-34, Ezek. 36: 25-27. These promises were actualized by virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
The History of Regeneration
For years, the Church of Jesus Christ battled each other on the concept of regeneration or the new birth. During the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, one of the great theological battles was on this doctrine.
Lutheran and Roman Catholic
These both believe in Baptismal regeneration. This is the doctrine that water baptism cleanses one from the Adamic (original) sin and infuses the regenerating grace and union with Christ. Roman Catholics specifically say that regeneration commences at water baptism. We in the Pentecostal Church disagree with this; water baptism is only a sign of a spiritual reality.
Example 1. John Wesley
The founder of the Methodist Church narrated the instant of his regeneration when his spiritual eyes were enlightened at the reading of Luther’s introduction to the Book of Romans at Aldersgate Street, London in 1738. He received a strange warmth in his heart and he knew that he was surely born again.
Example 2. Martin Luther
Luther’s upbringing was from harsh parents from whom he found no love. In 1505, at age 22, his friend, Alexis with whom he walked was suddenly hit and killed by a thunderbolt. Luther was in a panic. He told himself that he was not ready to die without hope. From then on, he sought holiness and salvation by self-efforts following the Roman Catholic injunctions.
Being overwhelmed with his sin, he fell into extreme depression and passed out for days. His door was broken open and they found him unconscious on the floor and he was revived. He was then a Bible teacher who knew nothing about the new birth.
As he began teaching from the book of Romans (Rom. 1: 17) his spiritual eyes became open, he saw what he never saw before when reading that scripture; he was regenerated.
Which Comes First, Faith or Regeneration?
Theologians believe that they are concomitant but does faith precede regeneration? In reality, the light of revival is ignited in a sinner before he can develop the saving faith (salvation faith).
The reason why faith cannot precede regeneration is because the unbeliever is spiritually dead. God must open his spiritual eyes for him to see; he will then respond in faith to what he sees in his enlightened spirit. Note that at Philippi, we are told that God opened the eyes of Lydia to understand and accept Paul’s teachings. Acts 16: 14.
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH 13. 1 Summarises the nature of regeneration thus, “They who are once effectually called and regenerated have a new heart and a new spirit created in them; anyone who professes to be a Christian but has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit is not a true believer.
Regeneration and Sanctification
While Regeneration points to the Christian spiritual birth, Sanctification points to his spiritual growth. In regeneration, God puts in man the hunger and thirst for God’s presence, holiness, love and worship. J. I Packer declared, “Sanctification is an ongoing transformation within a maintained consecration and it engenders real righteousness within the frame of relational holiness”.
The concept of sanctification is not the total eradication of sin but a divine operation in us freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlike affections, dispositions, and virtues. It must be emphasized that positional sanctification is directly rooted in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. It happens at regeneration or the new birth. Experiential sanctification is the continuous growth of the child of God throughout his life by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Relational sanctification, the state of being permanently set apart for God, flows from the cross where God through Christ Has purchased us for Himself.
The day of our regeneration is our spiritual birthday. Dear reader, have you experienced the spiritual birth? The saying is true that if you are born once, you will die twice and if you are born twice, you will die only once.
Dying twice is a great disaster awaiting the world outside Christ. Every man (human) born of woman is a sinner but the only Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is always alive, was sent historically to the world some 2000 years ago in order to lay down his life for you and me. Talk to Him where you are, accept Him as your Lord and personal Saviour. He will come into you and you will experience the new birth. He will lead you by His Spirit. Your life will never remain the same as you fellowship with others in a good church. His light will never depart from you throughout your life in Jesus’ name. Remain blessed.
Elder Samuel Omole. October 29, 2023.