A Healthy Church Member is Genuinely Converted (Part3)
May 11, 2014 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
We are looking at a series on the marks of a healthy church member. We are now in the fourth mark, which is genuinely converted.
True Conversion includes the following aspects:
It begins with God’s initiative: effectual calling
It involves of man’s response: repentance and faith
It includes total life transformation: regeneration
Today we will look at that third aspect of true conversion which is total life transformation. The biblical term for that is regeneration. (Note: There are only two places in the NT where we find the word “regeneration,” only found in Matt. 19:28 and Titus 3:5. In Matt. 19:28 the word is refers the eschatological “renewal of all things” under the Messiah for which Israel was waiting (Acts 3:21). In Titus 3:5 it denotes that “radical and complete transformation wrought in the soul” by God the Holy Spirit. I am going to present to you the second meaning of regeneration.
Regeneration is essential if we want to enter the kingdom of God and become God’s children. No unregenerate person can love God and obey His commands in Scripture. Without regeneration we cannot please God and live for His glory; we cannot have fellowship with God and with His Son.
I will present to you some assertions
regarding regeneration and also the terms
used in the bible that refer to regeneration.
Note the meanings of the abbreviations used in this study:
- MSB –MacArthur Study Bible
- EBCa – Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition)
- EBCr - Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revised Series)
I. AssertionsRegarding Regeneration
- It is not easy to understand.
Remember what Jesus told Nicodemus when he was having great difficulty grasping what being born-again means Christ said that it is like the wind. Although one does not know where it comes from or where it goes, one hears its sound. (John 3:8).
Historically speaking, there is no general agreement among theologians as to its meaning.
- I. Packer in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology writes,
The fathers did not formulate the concept of regeneration precisely. They equated it, broadly speaking, with baptismal grace, which to them meant primarily (to Pelagius, exclusively) remission of sins.
Augustine realized, and vindicated against Pelagianism, the necessity for prevenient grace to make people trust and love God, but he did not precisely equate this grace with regeneration.
The Reformers reaffirmed the substance of Augustine’s doctrine of prevenient grace, and Reformed theology still maintains it.
Calvin used the term regeneration to cover humanity’s whole subjective renewal, including conversion and sanctification, but soon all Protestants, Lutherans, and Anabaptists, as well as Reformed, came to see regeneration simply as the start of the Christian life.
Many seventeenth-century Reformed theologians equated regeneration with effectual calling, and conversion with regeneration;
later Reformed theology has defined regeneration more narrowly as the implanting of the “seed” from which faith and repentance spring (1 John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling.
- It involves something new, a whole reversal of the person’s natural tendencies.
It is not simply an amplification of what is already the basic direction of one’s life. (2Co 5:17)
- It counteracts the effects of sin (Eph 2:1-10).
- It is instantaneous.
It is not a process but a single action. It is nowhere characterized as incomplete. Scripture speaks of believers as “born again” or “having been born again” rather than as “being born again.”
- It is a supernatural occurrence.
It is not something accomplished by human effort but by the sovereign will of God, on the basis of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
- Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
- Jn 3:16-17 “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
- Titus 3:5 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,
- It comes by the word of God.
- Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
“ All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
- 1Pe 1:22-25 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
Hebrews 8:10-12 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israelafter those days, declares the Lord:I will put my laws into their minds,and write them on their hearts,and I will be their God,and they shall be my people.11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighborand each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’for they shall all know me,from the least of them to the greatest.12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.
- It is based on justification.
The aspects of the New Covenant listed in vv. 10-12 have their basis on justification. EBCa says,
"For" shows how important this point is: God's forgiveness is the basis of what has just been mentioned. It is because sins are really dealt with that the blessings enumerated earlier become possible. God's wrath no longer rests on sinners and God does not bear their sins in mind. They are completely forgotten, because of the once- for- all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Sin has been completely and finally dealt with.
Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses
- It is received by faith.
- Jn 3:16 “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- Acts 15 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. (cf. 1Pe 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.)
- Col 2:11-12 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
- Eph 2:5-6,8 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.
- It is not an end in itself.
Regeneration is the beginning of a process of growth which continues through one’s lifetime (sanctification). This is seen in the first epistle of John where you have evidences of genuine regeneration.
II. Biblical Terms Related To Regeneration
The biblical descriptions of regeneration are numerous and varied.
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- A new creation
“In Christ” is a phrase Paul used repeatedly in his epistles to speak of a believer's spiritual relationship to Christ because he believed the message of the gospel.
After a person is regenerate, [the old life of slavery to self and sin has gone];old value systems, priorities, beliefs, loves, and plans are gone. Evil and sin are still present, but the believer sees them in a new perspective, and they no longer control him.
new has come.
The Greek grammar indicates that this newness is a continuing condition of fact. The believer’s new spiritual perception of everything is a constant reality for him, and he now lives for eternity, not temporal things.
[The new life means that one has new attitudes and actions (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 4:23-5:2)]
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
- Born again (or “born from above”)
MSB: The phrase lit. means “born from above.” Jesus answered a question that Nicodemus does not even ask. He read Nicodemus’s heart and came to the very core of his problem, i. e., the need for spiritual transformation or regeneration produced by the Holy Spirit. New birth is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the believer.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
- Born of water and the Spirit
“Water” here does not refer to physical birth or to baptism.
- Some suggest thatthe "water" refers to the Word of God using Eph. 5:26 as support. However, in the Gospel of John, the word “water” is water is used for eternal life (Jn 4:14) and Holy Spirit (Jn 7:37-39) but never linked to the Word of God.
- Water and the Spirit means “water, that is, the Spirit”. The word “and” that connects water and Spirit means “that is”. In other words it explains what water means.
Isa 44:3-5 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4 They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. 5 One will say, 'I belong to the LORD'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The LORD's,' and will take the name Israel.
- Water and the Spirit should be translated “Water and the wind” and both refer to the Holy Spirit. Water, is a common OT image of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrew parallelism of Isaiah 44:3 shows us that the “pouring out” of water on the thirsty land is interpreted as a “pouring out” of God’s Spirit on Israel’s descendants.
The “wind” is also an Old Testament image of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Eze 37:9-10: Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'" 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army.
Conclusion: “water and wind” therefore can serve as a double metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit in John 3 just as this imagery is used in the Old Testament Scriptures for the work of the Holy Spirit.
John 3:6-8That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘ You must be born again. ’ 8 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.
- Born of the Spirit
- This is to show the difference between born of the flesh and born of the Spirit.
- This is also to show the work of the Spirit is mysterious. You do not know exactly when the Spirit moved. You cannot identify when you got born-again.
John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
- Born of God
When John talks about the believer as being born of God he highlights at least two things:
- That it is not by man’s will that a person is born-again.
- That those who are truly children of God will have been so transformed that they will show by their fruits that they have the nature of God. (See the passages in 1 Johnthat contain born of God.)
James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
- Born of the Word
- James intends to emphasize that the sovereign will of God is the source of the new birth.
- God regenerates through the Word of the God, particularly the gospel.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
- Changed heart
Regeneration includes the negative removal of s stubborn and self-willed heart and the positive implanting of a new nature which is pliable and responsive to God (v. 26). It also includes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (v. 27) so that they will obey God’s law and) live righteously (v. 27b)
Colossians 2:11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ
Romans 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
- Spiritual circumcision
Regeneration here is presented as a circumcision made without hands . Physical circumcision was the outward sign of that cleansing of sin that comes by faith in God (Rom. 4:11; Phil. 3:3). At salvation, believers undergo a spiritual “circumcision.”
EBCa: The Christian's "circumcision" is defined as "the putting off of the sinful nature." "Putting off" uses the picture of stripping off and casting away a piece of filthy clothing.
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- Have God’s laws written in heart and mind
Regeneration is here presented as an inner inclination to obey God because God will put His laws in their minds and write them on their hearts).
Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-
- Made alive with Christ and raised with Him
Ephesians 2:1-3 clearly describes unbelievers to be spiritually dead. Regeneration is God giving new spiritual life within the soul of the sinner. This act of God in making the unregenerate alive is an act of grace: it is by grace you have been saved.
Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
- Raised with Christ.
2 Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
- Partaker of the divine nature
MSB: partakers of the divine nature.
This expression is not different from the concept of being born again, born from above (cf. John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). It does not mean that Christians become divine in any sense, but only that they are indwelt by God through his Holy Spirit and become more like Christ (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Lev 11:44; Matt 5:43- 48; Eph 4:24; 5:1). Because they are "partakers" of God's nature, Christians can share in His moral victory over sin in this life and share in His glorious victory over death in eternal life.
Moreover, believers will partake of the divine nature in a greater way when they bear a glorified body like Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20–21; 1 John 3:1–3). escaped from the corruption.
At the time of salvation, the believer escapes from the power that the rottenness in the world has over him through his fallen, sinful nature.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
- Passed from death to life
EBCr: The verb (metabainō) may be used to indicate a change of residence (Lk 10:7). Jesus is saying that those who hear and believe have by that response left their former residence in the realm of death and moved to a new home in the sphere of life. The perfect tense of the verb indicates that the change of quarters has already been made. Believers are enjoying eternal life right now. Those who have eternal life will “not be condemned.” They will “not come into judgment” because that question has been settled forever on the cross.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- Put on Christ
MSB: put on Christ.
The result of the believer’s spiritual union with Christ. Paul was emphasizing the fact that we have been united with Christ through salvation. Positionally before God, we have put on Christ, his death, resurrection, and righteousness (see notes on Phil. 3:8–10).
Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Put off the old self and put on the new
Paul expressed the negative side of the new creation in v. 22 as putting off the “old self.” People need inner transformation because their hearts are “corrupt” i.e., “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9).
Vv. 23–24 express the positive side of the new creation. Salvation involves the renewal of the spirit of the mind, which is the center of thought, understanding, and belief, as well as of motive and action. When a person becomes a Christian, God gives him a completely new spiritual and moral capability that a mind apart from Christ could never achieve (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9–16).
- 24 put on the new self. The renewal of the mind in salvation brings not simply a renovation of character, but transformation of the old to the new self (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). created after the likeness of God. In Christ, the old self no longer exists as it had in the past; the new self is created in the very likeness of God (cf. Gal. 2:20). “Righteousness” relates to the Christian’s moral responsibility to his fellow men, reflecting the second table of the law (Ex. 20:12–17), while “holiness” refers to his responsibilities to God, reflecting the first table (Ex. 20:3–11). There is still sin in the believer’s unredeemed human flesh (Rom. 7:17, 18, 20, 23, 25; 8:23).
John 3:15-16 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (cf. Jn 3:36; 5:24,25; 6:40)
- Received eternal life
MSB: This first of 17 references to “eternal life” in John’s Gospel is found here in Jn 3:15. The expression appears in the NT nearly 50 times. Eternal life refers not only to eternal quantity but divine quality of life. It means lit. “life of the age to come” and refers therefore to resurrection and heavenly existence in perfect glory and holiness. This life for believers in the Lord Jesus is experienced before heaven is reached. This “eternal life” is in essence nothing less than participation in the eternal life of the Living Word, Jesus Christ. It is the life of God in every believer, yet not fully manifest until the resurrection (Rom. 8:19–23; Phil. 3:20–21)
Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
- Sinful nature is crucified
Our old self died with Christ, and the life we now enjoy is a new divinely-given life that is the life of Christ himself (cf. Gal. 2:20). We have been removed from the unregenerate self’s control, so we should not follow its old sinful ways as if we were still under its evil influence.
- Spiritually cleansed
- Acts 15:9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
- 1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
- 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
MSB: 1Co 6:11 washed.
This refers to the spiritual cleansing from the guilt and dominating power of sin that occurs at regeneration (see Titus 3:5) and that is symbolized in the “washing” of baptism (Acts 22:16). sanctified.
This is a similar concept, in this instance meaning that an initial break with the love of sin, and with the power and practice of sin, occurs at regeneration (see Acts 20:32; Rom. 6:11; 2 Cor. 5:17)
Titus 3:5 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,
- Washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
MSB: Salvation brings divine cleansing from sin and the gift of a new, Spirit- generated, Spirit- empowered, and Spirit- protected life as God’s own children and heirs (Titus 3:7). This is the new birth (cf. John 3:5; 1 John 2:29 3:9 4:7 5:1). The Holy Spirit is the agent of the “washing of regeneration,
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus
EBCa: We are God's "workmanship"-- his work of art, his new creation. "Created" is a verb used exclusively of God and denotes the creative energy he exerts. In saving people, God performs an act of creation (cf. 4:24 — “created to be like God”). The preposition “for” marks the purpose of this act of creation: “for” or “to do” good works.
Next week we will look at the practical evidences of regeneration.