II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3: 4-7 (ESV)
Probably one of the most forgotten Biblical Doctrines that is very seldom preached today, is the Doctrine of Regeneration. Up until a few years ago I had never heard of Regeneration. until a very dear friend of mine asked me a question one day, "Greg, when were you Regenerated?" WOW...I was dumbfounded and didn't know what to say. I figured that I had better start studying about what Regeneration was all about.
Inside of the church today, we are quick to throw out terms such as Justification, Sanctification, etc. without fully knowing what they mean. One that I had never heard before was Regeneration. I figured it must have been something that Reformed Baptist used in their terminology. Then I did some digging and realized that Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and both Wesley brothers used it in their everyday language over 100+ years ago. Why then has it gone by the wayside. Well, in my opinion, it is quite simple. It does not fit into our "Simple Church Growth Model" inside of the church in America in 2011.
Justification is a legal term that simply means that the judge declares that it was as if the sin never occurred. At the time of Justification when we realize that we are a wretched sinner that has nothing to offer God, then God the Father says at that point in time, that His son Jesus' Blood that was shed on the cross, wiped away all of your sins as if they never were. That is what Justification is.
Sanctification is a life long process of the Holy Spirit making us more into the image of Christ. This is the "race that is set before us" that the Apostle Paul talks about. It is through the Holy Spirits molding and shaping that we abandon all things not of Him.
Regeneration is smack dab right in the middle of the above two. Justification without Regeneration is mere orthodoxy religion. It is a stale putrid stagnant vile attempt at us thinking that we as sinful carnal man can make a change in and of ourself to enact forgiveness. God is the one that Regenerates a mans heart, and there is nothing that we can do to become a new creation in Christ. No, I am not taking away the free choice element of us surrendering to Him, but without His Holy Spirits drawing and transformation, we can not be Regenerated.
We have become so fond of asking 3 questions of sinners:
1) You realize that you are a sinner, don't you? (Folks, even satan realizes that he is a sinner). Once they acknowledge this, then we move on to question #2.
2) Do you want to go to Heaven? (Who in their right mind is ever going to answer you NO. I have never had somebody come back to me and say that they want to go to Hell. The problem is that they just don't want God to be there when they get there. Otherwise, they would succumb to His ALL CONVICTING POWER). Once they acknowledge that they want to go to heaven, then we move on to question #3.
3) Would you like to pray "The Sinners Prayer" with me?
I hate to break it to you, but a conversion experience is more than just repeating a "Sinners Prayer," which is not even Biblical to begin with. You do not simply jump from one escalator that is taking you to Hell, by jumping on an escalator taking you to heaven, by simply marching down an aisle at church and repeating a prayer. All that does is make it official that you are on the church's roster.
My friends, Regeneration is the act of the Holy Spirit changing you from being in love with the world and the things in the world, to being a New Creation in Christ, as the II Corinthians passage above states. The old is passed, and the new is come. I have seen too many people use the excuse of a new "Christians" shortcomings being present because the Sanctification process is still young in their life. NO, it is because they were never Regenerated to begin with.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Eziekiel 36: 26-27 (ESV)
Unfortunately, we are sending more people to hell in this country by affirming them that they have been converted and saved by simply praying a simple prayer up front on a Sunday morning, then dunking them backwards in a baptismal pool. Then we wonder why Brother Bobby and Sister Susie have decided to stop coming to church anymore. At the next Deacon meeting it is suggested that in order to stop Assimilation with people coming into the front door, and leaving out the back, that maybe we should boost up our Discipleship programs. Discipleship is great and essential and I partake in it on a weekly basis, however you can't disciple the dead. A dead man that is not Alive to Christ will no more walk 1,000 miles with you, then you being able to get him to walk the first step. If he has not been Regenerated, then he is Dead.
I don't challenge you with anything that is not scriptual. I get my findings from The Word of God, and not some man. It is not a denomination or Calvinism that teaches these things. If we get in The Word of God, then we will become studious and the Holy Spirit will teach, Challenge, and Exhort us onward.
Have you been Regenerated, and been Transformed??? Or are you still in love with the idols of this world?