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Reformed Regeneration


“Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His Will.  It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature.”

What then is sanctification of the Spirit (2 Thessalonians 1: 13)? We answer, the new birth? TSOG, A W Pink, pg 70

The new birth is the birth of water and the Spirit (John 3: 3, 5).  According to the Scriptures there is one birth but two elements.    In the natural realm a birth is a coming forth fro the womb into a new life.  Similarly the new birth is a coming forth from water and the Spirit into a new life in Christ

Regeneration is the passing from spiritual death to spiritual life by becoming a child of God.  Regeneration begins in the individual when he is begotten of God through the exercise of His will and is completed when we are born again of water (baptism) and the Spirit (receive the Holy Spirit)

The age of regeneration began when the Son of Man ascended to the Father and sat on His glorious throne and will extend until He comes again.  Matthew 19: 28 

The new birth is solely the work of God and the Spirit and man has no part or lot in causing it.  TSOG, A W Pink, PG 69

In John 1: 12, 13 we read that those who receive Christ by believing in His name are given the right to become children. of God.  Two things are evident.  First: those that receive Christ by believing in His name are not yet children of God.  Second:  God gives them the right or power to become a child of God.  God interjects man into the picture. They are given something they did not possess before believing.  While they do not cause the new birth, they are now engaged in the process

Faith is not the cause of the new birth, but the consequence of it.  TSOD, A W Pink, PG 70

Certainly faith is not the cause of the new birth.  God is the cause; He begets. John 1: 12, 13 tell us that those who come to faith are given the right to become a child of God.  We are said to be begotten of God when we come to faith.   In the natural realm one becomes a child of his father when he/her is born.  The same is true in the spiritual real.  One becomes a child of God, after being begotten, by being born of water (baptism) and of the Spirit (receiving the Holy Spirit to dwell in us).  Faith precedes the gift of the Holy Spirit.  A few verses will help us to see this relationship.

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those that believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  John 7: 39

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2: 38

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the wholly Spirit, whom god has given to those who obey Him.  Acts 5: 32

And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”  And they said into John’s baptism.”  And Paul said. “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is in Jesus.”  And when they heard this they baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.  Acts 19: 2-6

This is the only thing I want to find out from you; did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with fait faith.  Galatians 3: 2

In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Galatians 3: 14

I Him, you also, after listening to the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Ephesians 1: 13

When I read these verses I marvel that A W Pink has written that faith follows the gift of the Spirit.

Sometimes they call this radical change in men “rebirth” or “regeneration.”  In James 1: 18 we read:  Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  RD, Herman Hoeksema, Pg 452-654

God has given us model, procreation, to help us understand regeneration.  In the natural realm, procreation, begins when the child is begotten of his father and conceived by the mother.  The zygote is implanted in the womb.  This is followed by a gestation period of approximately nine month after which the child is born.  The same basic elements take place in the spiritual process of regeneration.  God begets the child by the exercise of His will when the individual comes to faith in God and Jesus Christ our Lord.  The seed is implanted into the heart and after a time of growth or development comes forth from water (baptism) and the Holy Spirit, which God abundantly pours out.   Titus 3: 5, 6

The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operations and His saving work is confined to God’s elect: they are the ones He “comforts,” ”seals,” guides into all truth, and shows things to come. TSOG  A W Pink

The Scriptures demonstrate that the love of the Father, the atonement of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit is directed at all men, not just the elect.

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3: 16

Who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  1 Timothy 2:4

Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.  1 Timothy 2: 6 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.  Titus 2: 11

The Lord is not slow about His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,  2 Peter 3: 9

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our only, but also for those of the whole world,  1 John 2:2

And when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin. And righteousness, and judgment.  John 16: 8

When I read these verses it is difficult for me to understand how A W Pink wrote what he did.

But this does not imply at all that the apostle contends that regeneration occurs through the preaching of that living word of God. RD, Herman Hoeksema, PG 452-464

If regeneration occurs by the preaching of the living word of God, our Calvinist friends reject their own doctrine.  How can the unregenerate respond if he is dead?  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him.  For, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things.”  Romans 10 12-15

How many instances can you cite throughout the world where children of God were produced without the preaching of the word?

It is therefore independent of age and can take place in the smallest infants. We may even take for granted that in the sphere of the covenant of God He  usually regenerates His elect children from infancy.  RD, Herman Hoeksema, PG 452-464

Those that come to faith are said to be begotten by God.  How can you experience the new birth if you have not first been begotten?  If the elect are born again, how can Adam’s sin be passed to their children?

Also this calling is not simply a human persuasion, but is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Also this calling is efficacious and an irresistible operation of God through the Spirit of Christ whereby the regenerated sinner is also as far as his consciousness is concerned is translated out of darkness into the marvelous light of God.   RD, Herman Hoeksema, PG 452-464

Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 23: 14).  If the calling were efficacious and irresistible then the number of those called would equal the chosen.

The scriptural view is quite different; God stands at the door of our heart and knocks.  I any man opens, He will come in and dine with him.  Revelation 3: 20

But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.  Roman s 10: 21

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  Matthew 23: 37  

When I read these last two verses, I do not see irresistible grace.

When is the individual made alive in Christ?

All of these things take place when we are baptized into Christ.  The efficacy is not the water but the blood of Christ.  We are baptized into Christ and specifically into His death where His blood was shed.  We are buried with Him through baptism into death.  This is when are sins are forgiven.

 But thank God when we arise from water we are untied with Him in the likeness of His resurrection into newness of life.   Romans 6: 3-5


Is there an association between baptism and becoming a child of God?

Yes there is!  For you are all sons of God through faith (when you were begotten) in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized (born of water) into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.  Galatians 3: 26, 27

Friends, have you been born again?  I pray so.  You must be begotten by God and born of water and the Spirit. 

God bless.


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Last Update   09/26/12