Regeneration means “to be made alive.” It is spiritual birth.
The Old Testament contains imagery that depicts salvation as regeneration. God gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), writes his law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), and gives his people a heart for himself (Jeremiah 32:39).
The New Testament describes regeneration as being born again (John 1:13; 3:3; 1 John 2:29; 4:7, 5:1), made new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and made alive when we were dead (Ephesians 2:5).
To be regenerated is a work of God that brings spiritual life to those who were spiritually dead.
The importance of regeneration as an aspect of salvation is that it emphasizes the glorious necessity of the work of God in our salvation. We are not saved by works, but by God’s grace through faith. Spiritually dead people cannot work, and therefore cannot earn God’s salvation.
A number of years ago, Jeremy Bentham, British philosopher, willed his entire estate to the University Hospital of London. Bentham promoted Utilitarianism, an ideology teaching that anything that is painful is evil and anything that is pleasurable is good. Bentham longed for his life to mean something more, so his will included provision for the physical preservation of his body/skin. The condition for his estate going to the University Hospital was that his preserved body would be rolled by wheelchair to all board meetings. A sign was placed on his corpse, “Mr. Bentham, present but not voting.” Dead in every way, Bentham wanted to be present at the board meetings for the hospital in his will.
We may sneer at such hubris. While Bentham’s wealth may have outlasted him, he longed for significance past death. All he accomplished was something creepy. He was and is still dead.
Bentham’s act is an illustration for humanity. Without God’s work of regeneration, mankind is “dead in trespasses and sins.” We are in need of spiritual resurrection. That’s what happens when God regenerates us.
Regeneration is the hope that God offers us life. In the gospel and through Christ’s regenerating work, we can have new life, real life, and eternal life.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been made alive. Through regeneration, you are no longer spiritually dead, but you can know Jesus and be known by Jesus. This is good news.
- Regeneration should result in us praising the One who gave us life.
- Regeneration should result in us living our lives for the One who raised us from the dead.
- Regeneration should result in us walking in the good works God created us for.