The whole center point of the moral law has to be the intrinsic value of the best end and happiness of God. In order to wish the best end for God one needs to know Him. In order to know Him, one needs to be introduced to him and to see what it is that makes him so special. Let me try to make a case for the intrinsic value of Jesus who is called the Christ.
“The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:1-9)
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” (Colossians 1:14-21)
“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
“For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” (Hebrews 3:3)
“Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:10)
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:5-6)
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” (Hebrews 5:8)
What are these verses talking about? They are talking about Jesus! Well, you say, what is so special about Jesus? I have a little list in one of my sermons that goes like this:
- To the artist Jesus is the One Altogether Lovely.
- To the architect Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.
- To the astronomer Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness.
- To the baker Jesus is the Living Bread.
- To the banker Jesus is the Treasure of all Treasures.
- To the biologist Jesus is the Life.
- To the builder Jesus is the Sure Foundation.
- To the carpenter Jesus is the Door
- To the doctor Jesus is the Great Physician.
- To the educator Jesus is the Great Teacher.
- To the engineer Jesus is the New and Living Way.
- To the farmer Jesus is the Sower and the Lord of the Harvest.
- To the florist Jesus is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
- To the geologist Jesus is the Rock of Ages.
- To the horticulturist Jesus is the True Vine.
- To the judge Jesus is the Righteous Judge, the Judge of All Men.
- To the juror Jesus is the Faithful and True Witness.
- To the jeweler Jesus is the Pearl of Great Price.
- To the lawyer Jesus is the Counselor, the Lawgiver.
- To the newspaperman Jesus is the Good Tidings of Great Joy.
- To the oculist Jesus is the Light of the Eyes.
- To the philanthropist Jesus is the Gift of God.
- To the preacher Jesus is the Word of God.
- To the sculptor Jesus is the Living Stone.
- To the servant Jesus is the Good Master.
- To the student Jesus is the Incarnate Truth.
- To the statesman Jesus is the Desire of All Nations.
- To the theologian Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
- To the toiler Jesus is the Giver of Rest.
- To the sinner Jesus is the Lamb of God Who Takes Away The Sin of The World.
- To the saint Jesus is the Son of the Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Lord.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” (Matthew 13:44) There is something about knowing Jesus that does this to people. It is like the treasure in the field to know Him.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46) What is it worth to you to have the Lord of the Universe actually live in your heart? It is definitely worth selling all in order to purchase the pearl.
The point that we are making here and will continue to make as we move further in this book is that there is intrinsic value in knowing Jesus. There is enough intrinsic value to turn from a life of selfish living to serving Jesus as a life-time servant. Regeneration is what happens to a man when his vision of life is changed by meeting Jesus face to face. There is a blind song writer that put the concept into words that paint a true picture. Her name was Fanny Crosby. Read this poem which is also a famous hymn:
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
His Word shall not fail you-He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
What is it that is so special about Jesus? It is His love! We have been talking about disinterested benevolence throughout the book and we have talked about the love of God as well. His love is like none other! It is something that will change you forever:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)
The love of God and of Jesus does something that none can explain but it certainly changes a life completely.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14)
Regeneration is a word that also can be interpreted born again. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5) It is making a new heart in that of the believer. We will be pointing out some things as we proceed:
- The distinction between regeneration and conversion.
- The reasons for this distinction.
- Objections to this distinction.
- What regeneration is not.
- What regeneration is.
- The universal necessity.
- Agencies employed in regeneration.
- Instrumentalities employed in it.
- In regeneration the subject is both active and passive.
- What is implied in regeneration?
- Theories of regeneration.
- Evidences of regeneration.
The common distinction between regeneration and conversion.
- Regeneration is generally defined as the change that takes place in a person who becomes a Christian due to the agency of divine influence upon the heart.
- Unfortunately some do not see any link between regeneration and the activity of the subject, the person who has his life dramatically changed by God. They see it as being all of God and none of man. They make a person passive while God does the work on the heart by the agency of the Holy Spirit which then produces repentance, faith and love.
- Conversion, on the other hand, is generally defined by most theologians as the activity of a sinner after the regeneration has already begun to affect his heart so that there is little actual activity of the Holy Spirit. The thinking is that the Holy Spirit regenerates, or changes, the heart and then the sinner converts himself. They make God and the sinner work in turn. God changes the heart and then the sinner converts himself by turning to God. This thinking makes the sinner passive in regeneration but active in conversion.
- These views come mostly from thinking that man has a constitutional moral depravity from a sinful nature. They assume that since the nature is sinful that God must change the nature first and then man will go along with God by changing himself. There are other erroneous views that we will look at later. We do, however, want to have a clear view in these areas.
Reasons why some take this viewpoint and make this distinction between the two.
- The original term certainly does imply the working of God.
- It is important that we realize that no regeneration takes place without divine agency.
- The activity of regeneration is the direct work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. He comes to live in the spirit.
- Conversion does imply the activity of the sinner turning from sin to God without including the work of divine influence.
- Since this is a way to define the working of a change in the sinner at his salvation we wish to use terms that express what is really happening. There are two agencies working this change and we need to understand them both.
- For our purposes, these terms adequately express what we wish to understand, namely, that God has a part and that we also have a part in salvation. We are not talking about works for salvation but we are talking about a proper understanding of the subject.
Why some object to the distinction between regeneration and conversion.
- Here is how the original word “born” in the term “born again” is rendered in Thayer’s Greek Definitions.
1) of men who fathered children
1a) to be born
1b) to be begotten
1b1) of women giving birth to children
2a) to engender, cause to arise, excite
2b) in a Jewish sense, of one who brings others over to his way of life, to convert someone
2c) of God making Christ his son
2d) of God making men his sons through faith in Christ’s work
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from a variation of G1085
Citing in TDNT: 1:665, 114
- Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries has this definition.
From a variation of G1085; to procreate (properly of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively to regenerate: – bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring.
- The word “regeneration” means the same thing and in Thayer’s it says the following:
1) new birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation, regeneration
1a) hence renovation, regeneration, the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind for the better. The word often used to denote the restoration of a thing to its pristine state, its renovation, as a renewal or restoration of life after death
1b) the renovation of the earth after the deluge
1c) the renewal of the world to take place after its destruction by fire, as the Stoics taught
1d) the signal and glorious change of all things (in heaven and earth) for the better, that restoration of the primal and perfect condition of things which existed before the fall of our first parents, which the Jews looked for in connection with the advent of the Messiah, and which Christians expected in connection with the visible return of Jesus from heaven.
1e) other uses
1e1) of Cicero’s restoration to rank and fortune on his recall from exile
1e2) of the restoration of the Jewish nation after exile
1e3) of the recovery of knowledge by recollection
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G3825 and G1078
Citing in TDNT: 1:686, 117
- Strong’s definition for “regeneration” is:
From G3825 and G1078; (spiritual) rebirth (the state or the act), that is, (figuratively) spiritual renovation; specifically Messianic restoration: – regeneration.
- We see that being born again and regeneration mean the same thing. We also see that there is the mention of a change of the mind, the thinking, which includes the will and the mind of the spirit as we have been saying.
- The Bible teaches that a person is born again, has a new heart, is a new creature and passes from death unto life. We will be further defining what happens shortly. There is some action from God in regeneration but also the sinner becomes holy. With the teaching of Calvinism that puts the blame for the sin nature on God and also makes God responsible for the change in the sinner, we have a generation that has no idea what the sinner’s part is in regeneration. If the sinner does not have a changed moral character he is not born again. How then could it be said that whosoever is born of God overcometh the world? How could the Bible say that whosoever is born of God does not commit sin? The whole point in the definition of the term is that the sinner is made holy. If you throw out the change in a person, you destroy the entire meaning of the term. People sometimes object to the use of regeneration with conversion because they say that God is the agent in the change but if there is no change then how could anyone know God has changed him? There must be some activity on the part of the sinner in changing toward God. Consider the following:
- If regeneration means nothing more than Divine agency, then it leaves out the person on which the Divine agency is to have an effect completely.
- The truth is that regeneration affects not only Divine agency, but it also affects the person on whom the Divine agency has a profound effect.
- The result of the work of Divine agency is a new birth, a resurrection from spiritual death, and introducing a new holy life as the resurrection power begins to work in a person’s life. One need only read the definitions above in order to see that there is much implied in the word.
- There is no possible way to look at the results that take place without realizing that there must be come participation on the part of the subject of regeneration. The person turns from something to something else without question. Those who claim that there is no activity on part of the subject in the change of his life and that he is completely passive through it all are talking nonsense. There is no such thing as passive holiness any more than there is a such thing as passive muscle building. One of the greatest phrases in the body building business is this: “No pain, no gain.” The point is that it takes hard work and sacrifice to get a good muscular body. It is the same in almost every other endeavor in life, whether it be weight loss, becoming a professional musician, sports, making money, or any other type of pursuit. No one ever became successful at anything by being passive. God is no different. He provides a wonderful opportunity by providing a free salvation by way of the atonement and he then gives the Holy Spirit as a guide and counselor who also gives power to every one that asks. With all that God provides, there is no excuse for a person who does not become holy. Holiness is obedience to the law of God, which is really a law of love that a person participates in on the day that they give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- As we stated earlier, regeneration is synonymous with a new heart. Interestingly enough sinners are commanded to make themselves a new heart. Why would a person spend years of training and work to train themselves for a new career, a new sport, or a new place to live and then think nothing of what they need to put into making their lives change with the same amount of effort? If God were required to make some fundamental change before the sinner got involved, then when is it that the sinner steps on board, as it were? If, as they say, God does everything, then why does the Bible command us to make ourselves a new heart? “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31) If regeneration were all of God and none of man then the Bible would not make what man does important as it does in this verse: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15) Paul the apostle is taking it upon himself to be a good instructor and he indicates that they need to learn which indicates that there is some activity of the subject in regeneration.
- Even conversion is not really all the work of the sinner. It is a group effort as it were: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalms 19:7) Here we see the work of God and of the Bible which a person must read to be influenced. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20) Here we see the work of another person who works with the sinner in converting him to Christianity. This indicates that God is involved, the Bible is involved, the Holy Spirit is involved, and another person who teaches is also involved. How could the subject not be involved as well?
- The truth is that both regeneration and conversion are both ascribed to both God and to man. It is only theologians that try to prove erroneous theories that make a big deal of either one. The Bible indicates more than they teach.
- Here we have a simultaneous activity of both God and the subject. The making of a new heart and becoming holy shows the activity of the subject. Being “born of the Holy Spirit” shows the activity of God in the matter. On one hand, God turns the person, on the other hand the person yields as he turns, which effects the changing of his heart. The sinner is dead as it says in Ephesians. “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:14) “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:9-11) Here we see both God and the sinner at work. We are told to rise from the dead in one place and then we are told that we died and rose by the power of Christ in another. Finally we are told to yield which shows the activity of the sinner in turning and yielding to God. God draws and the sinner responds.
- For a theology to teach that regeneration is all of God and none of the sinner is to injure the sinner’s potential for two reasons. Not only is it not taught in the Bible but:
- It assumes a false philosophy of depravity and regeneration by making God the author of both and the sinner is totally helpless and passive in both.
- It leads a sinner to wait for God to make the change even before he will consider repenting of his sin or turning to God. A sinner will assume that he is helpless in committing the very sin that will condemn his soul and he is passive in doing what is necessary to make the change and submit himself the Christ. What it does is to make God an arbitrary despot that creates a sinful nature and then is required to change that nature or the sinner is damned to hell. It is unscriptural and it causes people to remain the servants of sin when they could really be changed. Because of that fact we will not make a distinction between conversion and regeneration since they are one and the same thing.
- Let’s look at what regeneration is not. It has nothing to do with a change in the substance of the body or soul over which the sinner has no control. Were that the case the Bible would not require a sinner to have a part. A constitutional change is not a change in moral character. As we have said previously, a sinner has all that is needed aside from the Holy Spirit to make the change. He has the body with it’s five senses; he has the soul with mind emotions and will; and he has the spirit with conscience, communion, and intuition. (Please read the three volume book “The Spiritual Man” by Watchman Nee.) The only part of a man that is deficient is the spirit which will be quickened when the Holy Spirit comes in contact with a man’s spirit and begins to influence the will. However, the will is always free and never captivated by God in a sense of rendering man’s will inoperative. There is nothing new created in the Body or the soul. There is no change in the basic constitution even of the spirit other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to speak to the will through the spirit of a man.
Let’s look at what regeneration truly is and what effect it has upon a life.
The stage for regeneration is the heart. The heart is spoken of, in the Bible, as being the source of moral action that comes from a moral character. It is the fountain of either good or evil actions, the source of holiness or sin. It comprises the whole of moral character. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23) “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:34-35) When you consider the heart in this vein, as being the source or moral character then it cannot be one of the following:
- The bodily organ that pumps blood to the whole being.
- The actual substance of the soul or the mind itself since substance does not possess moral character.
- A faculty or natural attribute of a human being.
- Any form of constitutional taste, relish, or appetite since these do not possess moral character in themselves.
- It is not our emotions, our feelings because moral character would most unstable if that were the case as we have stated previously. The fact that the term heart designates moral character means that it cannot be any involuntary state of mind. Involuntary states of mind do not possess moral character. To deny this is to deny a first truth of reason which all will agree to be truth.
- Whenever the Bible applies the term heart to the mind is it figurative of that part of man which can possess moral character, good or evil. It is the root of the moral character of a man. To be moral means that it is something over which we have control. In the case of the wicked, it is something which must be changed or there is a death penalty. If a person’s heart remains unchanged after he makes the claim that he is a Christian, he has no one but himself to blame, certainly not God. Regeneration is the radical change whereby a person changed the ultimate intention of their life. As we have seen, the choice of an ultimate end is what produces means and actions to obtain this end. A selfish ultimate choice is a wicked heart from which flows every evil and moral depravity. A benevolent heart is that from which flows all that is holy and right in a person’s life. It is a change from entire consecration to self and selfish interests to entire consecration to God and the interests of His kingdom as the ultimate end of life.
Let’s read the testimony of Charles G. Finney, revivalist, whose work we are editing and re-writing in this book:
At an early hour I started for the office. But just before I arrived at the office, something seemed to confront me with questions like these: indeed, it seemed as if the inquiry within myself, as an inward voice said to me, “What are you waiting for? Did you not promise to give your heart to God? And what are you trying to do? Are you endeavoring to work out a righteousness of your own?”
Just at this point the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time. I think I then saw, as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the atonement of Christ. I saw that his work was a finished work; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ. Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of something to be accepted; and that it was full and complete; and that all that was necessary on my part, was to get my own consent to give up my sins, and accept Christ. Salvation, it seemed to me, instead of being a thing to be wrought out, by my own works, was a thing to be found entirely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who presented himself before me as my God and my Savior.
Without being distinctly aware of it, I had stopped in the street right where the inward voice seemed to arrest me. How long I remained in that position I cannot say. But after this distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the question seemed to be put, “Will you accept it now, to-day?” I replied, “Yes; I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the attempt.”
North of the village, and over the hill, lay a piece of woods, in which I was in the almost daily habit of walking, more or less, when it was pleasant weather. It was now October, and the time was past for my frequent walks there. Nevertheless, instead of going to the office, I returned and bent my course toward the woods, feeling that I must be alone and away from all human eyes and ears, so that I could pour out my prayer to God.
But still my pride must show itself. As I went over the hill, it occurred to me that some one might see me and suppose that I was going away to pray. Yet probably there was not a person on earth that would have suspected such a thing, had he seen me going. But so great was my pride, and so much was I possessed with the fear of man, that I recollect that I skulked along under the fence, till I got so far out of sight that no one from the village could see me. I then penetrated into the woods, I should think, a quarter of a mile, went over on the other side of the hill, and found a place where some large trees had fallen across each other, leaving an open place between. There I saw I could make a kind of closet. I crept into this placed and knelt down for prayer. As I turned to go up into the woods, I recollect to have said, “I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there.” I recollect repeating this as I went up-“I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again.”
But when I attempted to pray I found that my heart would not pray. I had supposed that I could only be where I could speak aloud, without being overheard, I could pray freely. But lo! When I came to try, I was dumb; that is, I had nothing to say to God; or at least I could say but a few words, and those without heart. In attempting to pray I would hear a rustling in the leaves, as I thought, and would stop and look up to see if somebody were not coming. This I did several times.
Finally I found myself verging fast to despair. I said to myself, “I cannot pray. My heart is dead to God, and will not pray.” I then reproached myself for having promised to give my heart to God before I left the woods. When I came to try, I found that I could not give my heart to God. My inward soul hung back, and there was no going out of my heart to God. I began to feel deeply that it was too late; that it must be that I was given up of God and was past hope.
The thought was pressing me of the rashness of my promise, that I would give my heart to God that day or die in the attempt. It seemed to me as if that was binding upon my soul; and yet I was going to break my vow. A great sinking and discouragement came over me, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees.
Just at this moment I again thought I heard some one approach me, and I opened my eyes to see whether it were so. But right there the revelation of my pride of heart, as the great difficulty that stood in the way, was distinctly shown to me. An overwhelming sense of my wickedness in being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God, took such powerful possession of me, that I cried at the top of my voice, and exclaimed that I would not leave that place it all the men on earth and all the devils in hell surrounded me. “What!” I said, “such a degraded sinner as I am, on my knees confessing my sins to the great and holy God; and ashamed to have any human being, and a sinner like myself, find me on my knees endeavoring to make my peace with my offended God?” The sin appeared awful, infinite. It broke me down before the Lord.
Just at that point this passage of Scripture seemed to drop into my mind with a flood of light: “Then shall ye go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. Then shall ye seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” I instantly seized hold of this with my heart. I had intellectually believed the Bible before; but never had the truth been in my mind that faith was a voluntary trust instead of an intellectual state. I was as conscious as I was of my existence, of trusting at that moment in God’s veracity. Somehow I knew that that was a passage of Scripture, though I do not think I had ever read it. I knew that it was God’s word, and God’s voice, as it were, that spoke to me. I cried to Him, “Lord, I take thee with all my heart, and that I have come here to pray to thee; and thou has promised to hear me.”
That seemed to settle the question that I could then, that day, perform my vow. The Spirit seemed to lay stress upon that idea in the text, “When you search for me with all your heart.” The question of when, that is of the present time, seemed to fall heavily into my heart. I told the Lord that I should take him at his word; that he could not lie; and that therefore I was sure that he heard my prayer, and that he would be found of me.
He then gave me many other promises, both from the Old and the New Testament, especially some most precious promises respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. I never can, in words, make any human being understand how precious and true those promises appeared to me. I took them one after the other as infallible truth, the assertions of God who could not lie. They did not seem so much to fall into my intellect as into my heart, to be put within the grasp of the voluntary powers of my mind; and I seized hold of them, appropriated them, and fastened upon them with the grasp of a drowning man.
I continued to pray, and to receive and appropriate promises for a long time, I know not how long. I prayed till my mind became so full that, before I was aware of it, I was on my feet and tripping up the ascent toward the road. The question of my being converted, had not so much as arisen to my thought; but as I went up, brushing through the leaves and bushes, I recollect saying with great emphasis, “If I am ever converted, I will preach the Gospel.”
I soon reached the road that led to the village, and began to reflect upon what had passed; and I found that my mind had become most wonderfully quiet and peaceful. I said to myself, “What is this? I must have grieved the Holy Ghost entirely away. I have lost all my conviction. I have not a particle of concern about my soul; and it must be that the Spirit has left me.” “Why!” thought I, “I never was so far from being concerned about my own salvation in my life.”
Then I remembered what I had said to God while I was on my knees-that I had said I would take him at his word; and indeed I recollected a good many things that I had said, and concluded that it was no wonder that the Spirit had left me; that for such a sinner as I was to take hold of God’s word in that way, was presumption if not blasphemy. I concluded that in my excitement I had grieved the Holy Spirit, and perhaps committed the unpardonable sin.
I walked quietly toward the village; and so perfectly quiet was my mind that it seemed as if all nature listened. It was on the 10th of October, and a very pleasant day. I had gone into the woods immediately after an early breakfast; and when I returned to the village I found it was dinner time. Yet I had been wholly unconscious of the time that had passed; it appeared to me that I had been gone from the village but a short time.
But how was I to account for the quiet of my mind? I tried to recall my convictions, to get back again the load of sin under which I had been laboring. But all sense of sin, and all consciousness of present sin or guilt, had departed from me. I said to myself, “What is this, that I cannot arouse any sense of guilt in my soul, as great a sinner as I am?” I tried in vain to make myself anxious about my present state. I was so quiet and peaceful that I tried to feel concerned about that, lest it should be a result of my having grieved the Spirit away. But take any view of it I would, I could not be anxious at all about my soul, and about my spiritual state. The repose of my mind was unspeakably great. I never can describe it in words. The thought of God was sweet to my mind, and the most profound spiritual tranquility had taken full possession of me. This was a great mystery; but it did not distress or perplex me.
I went to my dinner, and found I had no appetite to eat. I then went to the office, and found that Squire W-had gone to dinner. I took down my bass-viol, and, as I was accustomed to do, began to plan and sing some pieces of sacred music. But as soon as I began to sing those sacred words, I began to weep. It seemed as if my heart was all liquid; and my feelings were in such a state that I could not hear my own voice in singing without causing my sensibility to overflow. I wondered at this, and tried to suppress my tears, but could not. After trying in vain to suppress my tears, I put up my instrument and stopped singing.
After dinner we were engaged in removing our books and furniture to another office. We were very busy in this, and had but little conversation all the afternoon. My mind, however, remained in that profoundly tranquil state. There was a great sweetness and tenderness in my thoughts and feelings. Everything appeared to be going right, and nothing seemed to ruffle or disturb me in the least.
Just before evening the thought took possession of my mind, that as soon as I was left alone in the new office, I would try to pray again-that I was not going to abandon the subject of religion and give it up, at any rate; and therefore, although I no longer had any concern about my soul, still I would continue to pray.
By evening we got books and furniture adjusted; and I made up, in an open fire-place, a good fire, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W–, seeing that everything was adjusted, bade me good-night and went to his home. I had accompanied him to the door; and as I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office, to pray.
There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality, that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears; and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him, that I recollect.
I must have continued in this state for a good while; but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to recollect anything that I said. But I know, as soon as my mind became calm enough to break off from the interview, I returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more;” yet I had no fear of death.
How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir-for I was the leader of the choir-came into the office to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, “Mr. Finney, what ails you?” I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, “Are you in pain?” I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, “No, but so happy that I cannot live.”
We could go on with the narrative, but shortly after the above mentioned meeting, a serious man from the church came in and began to laugh with a holy laughter and then a young man who had used Charles Finney as his reason to remain an unbeliever came in only to hear the testimony of Charles and his change of life. He was immediately convicted and on His knees gave his own heart to God. You can read it all in the book Charles G. Finney, An Autobiography. The life of Charles Finney was drastically changed from that day to the day of his death. He became one of the greatest revivalists history has ever known and profoundly influenced the early years of our country in having many Senators, Congressmen, Lawyers, and Judges converted to Jesus Christ. The reason is that regeneration, as we are discussing here, made a remarkable change. Charles G. Finney was truly “born again.”
I have studied the Bible on this subject and have found that much that is preached and taught seems to miss some of that the Bible teaches regarding the subject. Before a person accepts Christ, or believes, repents of their sins, commits their life to God or any number of other things that are described in the Bible, they are unsaved, or lost. They have a selfish end in view for their motive for living. At that time they own their own life, follow their own will, and are spiritually dead in sin. The day a person accepts Christ, as seen in the testimony of Charles G. Finney, he does more than to mentally believe, as Mr. Finney describes in his testimony, that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are facts, but he exercises a heart faith and confidence which in effect passes ownership of his life over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Bible says in John 3:16 that “…whosoever believeth in him…” and when we look at the Greek for that phrase, the word in is a Greek word eis which actually means into. The Greek prepositions are placed on a chart to show just how they affect the subject in a sentence. The diagram for eis appears as presented below:
As one can see, there is movement from one side to the other. No one that believes in Jesus Christ stays where they were prior to salvation and no one loves the same things. The meaning of believing in Jesus actually is more accurately said believing into Jesus Christ. It is being immersed in the love of God as Finney told in his conversion experience. It is definitely life changing. It is not mental acknowledgement but life changing waves of the love of God. The after effect is a new outlook on all that you had once held dear in life. Nothing looks the same and peace floods your soul. You are definitely born again, born into a new world and dead to the old one once and for all. The old man is crucified and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ comes to dwell in the new believer, he is now a new creation in Christ Jesus.
What I found in studying this further is an astounding fact. The Dana and Mantey Greek Grammar of the New Testament had an interesting footnote in the definition of the word. It said, essentially, that to believe into or to be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ was to renounce ones self, selfishness and self-gratification, and consider ones self a life-time servant of Jesus Christ. Nothing is clearer by way of illustration than the testimony of Charles G. Finney in this respect. The circle on the right, in the illustration above, represents all that Christ stands for. When a person is regenerated, they pass from the left-hand to the right-hand circle. They are placing themselves in the hands of God, Jesus Christ specifically, by faith. When you view the chart you can picture in your mind all the things that we have been saying in this book, the attributes of selfishness on the left, and all the things that relate to disinterested benevolence are on the right. The left circle is the world of the unsaved; all things are viewed from a self-centered viewpoint. The right circle is a new world of knowing God through Jesus Christ. As Charles Finney indicated, there are baptisms of love that no one can describe that come over a new Christian. He can never be the same. His position has changed. He has moved from the left, sometimes without even realizing it, over to the right. The left feels most uncomfortable now and the right seems most peaceful and tranquil. On the left a person feels that his life is owned by himself; on the right the person feels that his life is owned now by God. On the left the person has self as lord; on the right, Christ is now Lord with no problem. Some seem to cringe at the term “Lordship Salvation” but that is precisely what happens whether there is conscious thought of it or not. A new Christian is slain by the Love of God and He is Lord of the heart by that same love. The truth is that regeneration is a drastic change, it is being born again. The position has changed, as far as the perspective that one has concerning his place in the world and in his place in his relationship to God. That is just a fact of regeneration that cannot be denied, it is a fact that cannot be otherwise if a person comes to know God. Is it any wonder that the moral law has this, knowing God, as the number one goal of every human being and of every being in the universe? There is nothing that can substitute for the thrill and yet the peace and contentment that comes from having a personal relationship with the God of love, the lover of our souls. So as we have said above, there is a part that the sinner plays, as Charles Finney testifies in his book, and there is a part that God plays as well. It has happened to all that have come to know God, their perspective is altered in such a way that they can never return to the old life. Truly old things have passed away and all things have become new. Here is a list of things from the Bible that show conditions that existed in the left circle and what they are changed to in the right circle:
THE LAW THAT EVEN GOD CAN’T CHANGE – MORAL LAW
|Owned by me Genesis 3:1-6||Owned by God I Corinthians 6:19,20|
|Self the lord Psalm 49:18; 81:12; Proverbs 14:12; Zechariah 7:6; Matthew 19:21; II Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:21; II Timothy 3:2-4||Christ the Lord Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalms 2:6; 24:8; Isaiah 6:1; 11:10 33:17; 40:10; Jeremiah 23:5,6; 30:9; Daniel 7:13,14; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9,10; Matthew 2:2,6; Matthew 12:6; 19:28; 21:5; 26:64; 28:18; Luke 2:11; 10:22; 23:42; John 1:49; 3:31; 12:13; 18:36,37; Acts 3:15; 5:31; 10:36; Romans 5:9; 14:9; I Corinthians 15:23-28; Ephesians 1:19-22; Philippians 2:9-11; I Timothy 6:15,16; II Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 2:7,8; I Peter 3:22|
|In the World Ephesians 2:12; II Peter 1:4; I John 2:15,16; 4:3-5; 5:4,5; 5:19;||In Christ Jesus Romans 3:24; 8:1,2; 8:39; I Corinthians 1:30; 3:11; 4:15; 15:22; II Corinthians 2:14; 5:17; Galatians 2:4; 3:26; 3:28; 6:15; Ephesians 1:1-3,10; 2:6; 2:8-10; 2:13; 3:11; Philippians 2:5; 3:3; 3:9; 3:14; Colossians 1:28; 2:6; I Thessalonians 4:16; 5:18; I Timothy 1:14; II Timothy 1:1; II Timothy 1:9; 1:13; 2:1; 2:10; 3:12; 3:15; Phileman 1:6; I John 5:20.|
|Servant of sin Romans 6:17,20||Servant of Righteousness Romans 6:18|
|Walk in the flesh Romans 8:12,13; Galatians 6:8||Walk in the Spirit Galatians 5:16,25|
|Lost Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4-9,24; 19:10; John 17:12; II Corinthians 4:3,4||Saved Matthew 10:22; 19:25; 24:13; Mark 16:16; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:12; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30,31; Romans 5:9,10; 8:24; 10:9,10,13; I Corinthians 1:18; 3:15; 5:5; 15:1-6; Ephesians 2:5-10; II Thessalonians 2:10; I Timothy 2:4; II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:20,21; I Peter 4:18;|
|Dead in Sin Ephesians 2:1,5;||Dead to Sin I Peter 2:24: Romans 6; Galatians 2:20|
|Love the World I John 2:15||Love the Lord Deuteronomy 6:5; 11:13; 30:6,10; Psalms 97:10; 116:1; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27|
|Sin is the Master Jeremiah 17:1-3; Ezekiel 3:20,21; John 8:34; 9:41; Romans 3:9; Romans 6:12,16,17,20; 7:17; I Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 2:17; II Peter 2:14; I John 3:8,9||Christ is the Master Matthew 10:24,25; 23:8-10; Mark 13:35; Luke 13:25; 14:21; John 13:13,14; Romans 14:4; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1; II Timothy 2:21|
|Yoke of sin Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48; Isaiah 10:27; 58:6-9; Ezekiel 34:27; Hosea 11:4; Galatians 5:1;||Christ’s Yoke is Easy Matthew 11:28-30|
|Eternal death Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; I John 3:15;||Eternal Life Daniel 12:2; Matthew 19:29; 25:46; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:18-23,30; John 3:15,16,36,; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40,47; 10:28; 12:25; 17:2,3; Acts 13:48; Romans 2:7; 5:21; 6:22,23; Galatians 6:8; I Timothy 6:12,19; Titus 1:2, 3:7; I John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11-13; 5:20; Jude 1:21.|
|Reject Christ Mark 7:9||Accept Christ John 1:11,12|
|Hell the home Psalms 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; 14:15; Matthew 5:22,29,20; 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; II Peter 2:4; 20:13,14; 21:8||Heaven the home Psalms 14:2; Matthew 4:17; 5:3,10,12,16,18,19,20,48; 6:20; 7:21; 10:7,32,33; 18:3,4,10,14,18; 19:14,21,23; 28:18; I Corinthians 15:47; II Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 2:10; 3:20; Colossians 1:5; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16,17; 9:24; 10:34; I Peter 1:4; 3:22; I John 5:7; Revelation 3:12; 4:1,2; 5:13; 11:19; 15:5; 21:1,2,3,10.|
|Spiritual death Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:6; Ephesians 4:18; James 1:15; James 5:20; Revelation 21:8||Spiritual Life Matthew 7:14; Matthew 10:39; 16:25-26; 19:17; John 1:4; 3:15,16,36; 5:24,26,29,39,40; 6:27; 6:35,48; 6:63,68; 8:12; 10:10; 11:25; 12:25; 17:3; 20:31; Acts 5:20; 11:18; Romans 5:10; 5:18; 6:4; 8:2,6,10; II Corinthians 2:16; 3:6; 4:10,11,12; 5:4; Galatians 2:20; 3:21; 6:8; Colossians 3:3; II Timothy 1:1,10; James 1:12; II Peter 1:3; I John 1:1,2; 3:14; 5:12;|
|Spirit is dead Ephesians 2:1-10||Spirit is alive by the Holy Spirit Romans 8:10; Ephesians 2:1-10|
|No Holy Spirit Jude 1:19||Holy Spirit indwells believer II Timothy 1:14; James 4:5;|
|Physical birth only John 1:13; 3:6||Born Again of the Spirit of God John 1:13; 3:3; 3:5,-8|
|Doing their own works Matthew 7:22,23; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:4,5 Hebrews 4:10||Enter into HIS REST Exodus 33:14; Psalms 116:7; Isaiah 28:12; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-9|
|Self the motive Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20||Christ and others the motive Matthew 22:27-40; Philippians 1:21,23-24|
|Selfishness the mind set Proverbs 12:15; 20:6; Jeremiah 2:35; II Corinthians 10:12||Agape love the mind set Matthew 22:27-40; John 13:35; 15:9,12,13; 21:15-17; I Corinthians 13; I Thessalonians 3:12; I Peter 1:22|
|Works of the flesh Galatians 5:19-23||Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:16-18,25|
|Man’s will is sovereign John 1:13; II Peter 1:21||God’s will is sovereign Psalms 40:8; 143:10; Matthew 12:50; Ephesians 6:6|
|Spiritually blind John 9:41||Spiritual sight II Kings 6:17; Job 42:5; Matthew 5:8; John 14:19; 16:14,15; Hebrews 2:9; 11:27;|
|Unbelief Deuteronomy 32:20; Romans 3:3;||Faith and belief foundation Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 8:10; 9:2,22,29; 15:29; 17:20; 21:21; Mark 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; Acts 3:16; 6:7; 14:9,22,27; 20:21; 26:18; Romans 1:5,8,17; 3:22,25,27-31; 4:5; 5:1,2; 10:6-13,17; I Corinthians 2:5; 15:1-17; 16:13; II Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; 3:11,24,25,26; 5:5,6,22,23; Ephesians 2:8,9; 3:12,17,18; 6:16; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 1:23; 2:12; I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 3:15,16; Hebrews 4:2; 10:22,23,28; 11:1ff;|
|Draw back to perdition Hebrews 10:38,39||Commitment to Christ Psalms 37:3,5; 118:8; Proverbs 3:5,6; Isaiah 26:4; 50:10; II Timothy 1:12;|
|Believe in the mind James 2:19,20||Believe in the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9,10|
|End and scope of life is self Proverbs 16:26; Luke 12:19-20||End and scope of life is God Deuteronomy 6:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13|
|Does not seek God with whole heart Ezekiel 33:9; Luke 14:18; Acts 24:25; 28:27; Hebrews 2:3; 12:25||Seeks after God with whole heart Psalms 119:2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12|
|Sin unto death Romans 6:16||Obedience unto righteousness Romans 6:16|
|Love self Luke 12:19,20; 18:10-14||Love God with all the heart Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 8:28; I Corinthians 8:3; I John 4:20,21; 5:2,3;|
|Hate or compete with neighbor Matthew 25:41-46; Romans 13:10||Love neighbor as self Matthew 5:44; 19:19; 22:29; 25:34-40; Mark 12:31,33; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 12:20; 13:9,10; 15:1; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8|
|Hold truth in unrighteousness Romans 1:18ff||Hold truth in Word of God Psalms 119:72,127,162; Proverbs 23:23; John 1:1-3,14; 14:6; 18:37; Ephesians 4:25; 6:14|
|Will chooses selfish goals Proverbs 18:2; Romans 3:23||Will chooses glory of God John 11:40; Acts 7:55; Romans 5:2; I Corinthians 10:31; II Corinthians 1:20; 4:6; 4:15; Philippians 2:9-11,|
|Continue in sin Romans 6:1-7||Dead unto sin Romans 6:1-7|
|Old man is alive and well I Peter 4:2-6; II Peter 1:9,10||Old man is crucified Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; II Timothy 2:11|
|Free from righteousness Romans 6:20||Free from sin Romans 6:18,22|
|Life of habitual sin I John 3:8||Cannot habitually sin I John 3:9|
|Living in continuous sin I John 3:8||Occasional sin I John 2:1|
|Save their life now but lose it at end Matthew 16:25,26||Lose life now but save it in eternity Matthew 16:25,26|
|Regret when they sin Luke 16:30-31; II Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:17||Repent from their sin Matthew 4:17; 9:13; Mark 1:15; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 5:32; 13:3-5; 15:7; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 2:4; II Corinthians 7:10; II Timothy 2:25; II Peter 3:9|
|Sorrow of the world (being caught) II Corinthians 7:10||Godly sorrow (see sin as God sees it) II Corinthians 7:10|
|Reject Christ as Lord & Savior Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; Hebrews 10:38||Accept Christ in ALL THAT HE IS! Romans 10:13; I Corinthians 1:30,31|
|Selfish love (lust) James 1:13-15||Agape sacrificial love I Corinthians 13|
|Gain the world Matthew 16:26||Lose the World Matthew 16:26|
|Lose their soul Matthew 16:26||Save the Soul Matthew 16:26|
The universal necessity of regeneration.
- As you can see by the diagram above it is necessary for salvation that a person moves from the left to the right. Regeneration must be coextensive with moral depravity. They are each opposite ends of the spectrum. It is not possible for a selfish person to be totally happy and peaceful and heaven could never be made up of people with that mindset or world view. None can deny that without holiness or benevolence no one could ever be truly happy. Without regeneration a person would never enjoy the employments or enjoyments of heaven. That is why the transformation must take place on this earth go give a person the mindset that all persons in heaven enjoy. We can actually have heaven on earth, as it were.
- The Bible tells about this necessity, regeneration by the Spirit of God. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
Agencies employed in regeneration.
- The Bible talks about the Spirit of God as an agent in regeneration, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
- The subject is also an agent in regeneration as we saw from the testimony of Charles G. Finney as he sought the Lord in the woods until he had an experience in which he met God personally. The result is that the ultimate choice, intention, preference is changed from one of ultimate self-gratification to a supreme love of God and equal love to our neighbor. The Bible says, as we noted previously, that we can find God when we seek him with all our heart. Finney also quotes this in his testimony.
- The soul-winner, preacher, or teacher is part of the third category of agents that work together in persuading a sinner to turn from one to the other. The Bible recognizes all of these. Paul says it this way: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15) The bible says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23) Here we see the work of the subject in obeying the truth and we see the work of God through the Bible which is called the seed sown in the heart. Though some say that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, we see that the subject is active as well. The trouble with the debate of such things is that one side quotes verses that say that regeneration is the work of God and they quote verses that agree with their hypothesis. Others, on the other hand, say that the work of regeneration is the work of man and they also quote other verses that agree with that hypothesis. The truth is that both are involved. When one looks at the overall picture the result of regeneration is a change of the ultimate choice of an end or the end of life. When the sinner has his course changed from selfishness to benevolence, he must act upon that choice. The one that puts this choice before him is the soul-winner.
- The instrumentalities that God uses to cause regeneration to occur in a person’s life.
- The first thing that works in the heart to make such a change from selfishness to benevolence, from sin to Christ, is truth. The most powerful way to change the will is through the proclamation of the truth.
- In order to present the truth many different instrumentalities are employed: men, measures used, judgments, circumstances, emotions, trauma, and other things have a way of bringing the person into the path of truth so that he is affected by the power of its precepts. Those that teach that there is a constitutional flaw that makes a person a sinner say that only through a miracle can the Holy Spirit change this flaw and make a person into a new creature. They don’t believe that there is such a thing as a carnal mind or in minding the flesh. These men teach that the gospel causes men to hate God until they have their constitutional nature changed by the Holy Spirit. This thinking causes men to wait for God to change them and if God never does what they believe it is God’s duty to do then they feel that it is God who is at fault and not them. Rather than saying that anyone who will may come to receive the Gospel, they say that one must wait until God makes the change. How could such preachers call upon men to repent and believe the gospel when they are constitutionally unable to receive it and will by nature only turn more and more against God?
When a man is regenerated, he is both passive and active.
- This is no mystery from the very nature of the change that a man hears the gospel and then acts upon it by faith.
- The man is passive in that he hears and is acted upon by truth, but he does act upon the truth perceived. Perception is simultaneous with regeneration. The subject is passive in receiving truth by the agency of the Holy Spirit at the time of his regeneration. He then acts upon the truth by closing the transaction with God and in that phase he is active. The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” No one can be passive while calling upon the name of the Lord. The Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed upon his name.” Again the subject is active in believing as our illustration shows where he is moving from the world toward a life of being in the family of God. He believes “into” Christ. If there is no movement, then there is something wrong, there is no regeneration. I fear that far too many have remained on the side of the world though they have a mental belief but they have never really renounced their self life and become a life-time servant of Jesus Christ. No one can be passive when it comes to believing or calling upon the name of the Lord. In another place the Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto (into) righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto (into) salvation.” We see it again, the passive and the active elements of regeneration. We see the word eis used in this verse as well: “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21) Here the word “toward” comes from the Greek word eis (into). We again see the movement away from the selfish life and the worldly life and toward God as all the verses have shown in our discussion to this point. When there is no movement and the sinner who claims to be a Christian while he is enamored with the things of the world says that the “devil has all the good music” then there is a major problem. There is no movement; there is no salvation; and there is no regeneration. God does not work through the mighty wind, through the earthquake, or through the fire; God works through the still small voice that causes the sinner to turn to Him in humble faith and then willing follow God away from the world that he once knew to a world that is completely new. This is being born again.
What is really implied in the word regeneration.
- By the very nature, it is instantaneous. It is a change of choice or intention. The heart is prepared by conviction and enlightenment which may be gradual in that phase, but when the actual regeneration occurs it is earth shattering and like lightening. It is instantaneous.
- Regeneration implies an entire change in moral character. It is changing from entire sinfulness to entire holiness. It is changing from selfishness to benevolence. Selfishness and benevolence cannot co-exist in the same heart, as we have already pointed out. Selfishness is a state of entire consecration to self and benevolence is a state of entire consecration to God and the good of the universe. They are complete opposites and no one can fake a conversion for long before they will revert back to their old and true self. On the other hand, when a person is truly changed, no amount of bumps in the road can alter the course from the life of self to a life of serving God. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (Proverbs 24:16) “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) When a person is regenerated they die to sin and become alive to God. To be dead in sin is total depravity but death to sin and becoming alive to God is entire present holiness.
- The Bible position is that no one may go to heaven without regeneration and that there is a blessed hope that once a person is saved that God will keep the soul from falling and present him faultless before the throne up in heaven. One of the greatest signs is that of perseverance of the saints. When regeneration is full and complete there is no going back. That is why the word believe “into” is so important. If there was never any movement from one side to the other there would be no continuing in the faith. If I were a person that had questions, I would look at the chart “Positions of Salvation” above and consider this: “Am I more comfortable in the left side and all the traits of selfishness and is self-gratification my intrinsic end of life after all even when it comes to my religion?” If so, Please turn to God right now.
“This is Life Eternal ….that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
- Is God the end & scope of your life? Who owns your heart? If you died right now, do you know 100% sure that you will be with Jesus in Heaven?
- Do all your friends and family know you as a life-time servant of Jesus Christ?
- Is there any part of your life that you would say does not belong completely to God?
- What would it profit you to gain the world and lost your soul or what would you give in exchange for your soul?
- God’s Wonderful Plan of Salvation is right here in four simple but powerful truths. Read them carefully and cry out to God with your mouth and with all your heart!
“If you could know that Jesus loves you,
If you could only understand
That Jesus thought of you when dying,
And paid the price that guilt demands.
I know your heart would then adore Him;
I know His voice you would obey.
He calls you now with tender pleading!
Obey His voice and follow Him today.”
(Continued next page)
FIRST, You Are A Sinner!
- Romans 3:10,11 says, “As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
- When the Bible talks about sin it means to miss the mark of the end and scope of life which is God. Could you say that the goal of your life is the glory of God?
- Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
- There is one thing that separates between man and God and that is sin.
- Romans 7:19-20 says, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
- We find that we are in bondage to sin, unable to break it’s power. Anyone that is in bondage to sin does not glorify God.
- Do you admit that you have sinned? If so, move to the next point.
SECOND, The Price on Sin Is Death!
- Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
- The first people in the world were Adam and Eve. Their sin was that they decided to make “self” their goal rather than God. Does that sound familiar?
- Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Serving Self makes us all the enemies of God. The bondage of our flesh to lust and sin has made what we thought was pleasure into a mirage of doom, physical death and separation from God in hell.
- Revelation 20:14 says, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
- Do you admit that you are headed for hell if you don’t break the bondage to sin? If so, go on to the next point.
THIRD, Jesus Paid the Price for your sins!
- Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
- The greatest story ever told is of Jesus, come to earth, born in a lowly manger of the virgin Mary, living a life without sin, and then dying on a cross to pay the penalty for all mankind.
- He did more than that, He took us with Him, thereby breaking our bondage to sin by His death and resurrection. Glory to God! When you give up your life to Him, you get His resurrection power!
- Do you believe enough that He died and rose again for you, that you would be willing to trust your life and future to the One that can raise the dead? Go on to the next point!
“If you could know the joy of pardon;
If you could know the peace it brings.
When Jesus speaks, “DIVINE FORGIVENESS,”
The saddest heart with rapture sings.
I know your heart would then adore Him;
I know His voice you would obey.
He calls you now with tender pleading;
Obey His voice and follow Him today.”
LAST, Ask Jesus To Come Into Your Heart! Give Him ALL YOUR LIFE!
Romans 10: 9,10 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . . .For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- It almost seems too simple, yet the Bible says we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Do you see what the verses say? To believe is to give up your life to Him because He gave His life for you. He only wants the best for you. Being His servant is to be free from the bondage of sin. You will have a new yoke, a bondage of love to Jesus.
- Wouldn’t you be willing to just tell Jesus that you will surrender your life to him today and let Him come into your heart to take control?
- Great! If Jesus would take you just like you are, would you take Him? You will do it won’t you? He will make the changes but you must give him all! Don’t hold back! It’s all or nothing!
- So, simply bow your head and say a prayer something like this, as you picture placing your life in God’s hands now and forever:
“Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and deserve hell for my sins. I believe that you died for me and rose from the dead the third day and am willing to surrender all my life to you right now. Take away all my sins! Take me to heaven when I die? I now receive you as my Lord and Savior. Thank-you for saving me! In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!”
Lastly, regeneration implies a daily, weekly, and monthly growing in Christ. It implies what I John says, that whatsoever is born of God doth not commit sin. It is a position that once a person is born into the family of God old things are truly passed away and all things are become new. Why? We have found a treasure, Jesus Christ and life for Him is heaven on earth. It is life like one never had before. It is living as seated in heaven. It is being “in Christ.” It is being crucified with Christ. It implies that a person will never again sin in the sense of living their life totally for self-gratification as the intrinsic end of life. His direction has changed. His perception has changed. His motive for living has changed. When we say he will never sin, we say that he will never have an overall motive for life that is totally given to selfishness. It will never be that way again. A child of God truly does not commit that sin. God has provided all that we need to live without sin. True, it is a growth process but to take the position that we have a sin nature is wrong as we have seen. There is no excuse for not loving God and others. Is there? We don’t have a natural hate of God, we only have depraved flesh which is not a sinful nature. We are implored by the scripture to yield to the spirit and not to the flesh. We are implored to count our old man dead. When we live in that mind set, we do have victory over the power of sin. Let me give an illustration from the Autobiography of Charles G. Finney, the original writer of this book before we did the edit and subsequent printing for a more modern era. Here is what Mr. Finney says regarding the preaching and instructions for sinners during his mighty revivals:
Sinners were never taught, in those revivals, that they needed to expect conversion in answer to their prayers. They were told that if they regarded iniquity in their hearts, the Lord would not hear them; and that while they remained impenitent, they did regard iniquity in their hearts. I do not mean that they were exhorted not to pray. They were informed that God required them to pray, but to pray in faith, to pray in the spirit of repentance; and that when they asked God to forgive them, they were to commit themselves unalterably to his will. They were taught, expressly, that mere impenitent and unbelieving prayer is an abomination to God; but that if they were truly disposed to offer acceptable prayer to God, they could do it for that there was nothing but their own obstinacy in the way of their offering acceptable prayer at once. They were never left to think that they could do their duty in any respect, could perform any duty whatever, unless they gave their hearts to God. To repent, to believe, to submit, as inward acts of the mind, were the first duties to be performed; and until these were performed, no outward act whatever was doing their duty. That for them to pray for a new heart, while they did not give themselves up to God, was to tempt God; that to pray for forgiveness until they truly repented, was to insult God, and to ask him to do what he had no right to do; that to pray in unbelief, was to charge God with lying, in instead of doing their duty; and that all their unbelief was nothing but a blasphemous charging of God with lying. In short, pains were taken to shut the sinner up to accepting Christ, his whole will, atonement, official work and official relations, cordially, and with fixed purpose of heart, renouncing all sin, all excuse making, all unbelief, all hardness of heart, and every wicked thing, in heart, and life, here, and now, and forever. Those, my dear reader, are instructions for receiving a new heart in Christ Jesus. Why don’t you turn to Him now?