Regeneration–by Elder David Montgomery–July 17, 2018
Regeneration means to restore life; to bring life from death. If you ever watched “Doctor Who” you should be very familiar with regeneration because he’s done it like 18 times or so. Anyway, the act of regeneration is what gives spiritual life to people who did not have it before. This is very important, for without spiritual life you will never know God. Jesus said “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If anyone wants to see anything spiritual, and that include Heaven above, they MUST be born again. And by the way…the expressions regeneration, born again, new birth, born from above and quickened all mean the same thing.
The question was asked in part one: How can I move away from a dead and depraved state over to an alive and non-depraved state. The answer is—I can’t. The reason is very simple: a dead person cannot do anything; they can’t move, talk or even think. For a dead thing to become alive again, a greater force us must act upon it …a living force…no, not Obi Wan’s force! This is a divine force—a power from above—the same power that breathed life in Adam’s nostrils is the same one that breathes spiritual life into us. And that force and power is GOD.
Paul said in Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath he quickened (made alive or born again), who were dead in trespasses and sins” Who did the quickening? The Lord did. We were dead in depravity but through the act of “regeneration,” we are now alive in Jesus Christ. The capability is now in us to see the Kingdom of God, to enter the Kingdom, to believe, have faith and hope, exhibit love and kindness. That capability was not there before but now it is. You are born again…you are alive. Wow! Living is such an excellent concept!
Some might say…So tell me how to get born again and I’ll get started right now. Not so fast! Let me ask you something: How much input did you have when you were born physically? Did your mother check it out with you to see if you were ok with the idea? I highly doubt it and I also highly doubt that you sent a mental email to her saying, “Hey Ma! I’m checking outta this place, all right?!” By the way, do you even REMEMBER when you were born? You don’t? So why would you think that you would have anything to do in getting born again? The fact is—you had nothing to do with it…you were totally passive…it was all done by God. You didn’t ask God to get born again nor did God ask you for permission. This is one major point where Primitive Baptists differ with many other denominations for most of them believe a doctrine where the sinner has some part in regeneration.
Some advocate the doctrine of “Gospel Regeneration” which teaches that a person has to believe the gospel in order to get born again. This cannot be true for how can a dead person believe anything? Consider the following analogy…
I love to discover and investigate cemeteries. Yes, this is weird but I like being weird. There is so much history in these places—I have been to the graves of many notable people of secular and church history. Sometimes I will be driving down the road, see a cemetery and pull in to see if there is anything of interest. The folks are real friendly there; they don’t mind you coming in and never give you a hard time when you leave. Sometimes as I wander among the graves, I think about the Resurrection and before too long, I’ll get to preaching, sometimes even out loud. Some of my best sermons have been preached at cemeteries. But, if any one of those dead folks ever cried out “AMEN” then I am getting the heck out of there! (Sorry, seen too many zombie flicks). But that isn’t gonna happen. Why? Because they’re dead! Well, if a physically dead person can’t respond to the gospel, then it stands to reason that a spiritually dead person cannot respond as well. Spiritual life MUST precede any spiritual response just as physical life MUST precede any physical response. That just makes good horse sense. Mr. Ed would agree with it.
Primitive Baptists believe in Holy Spirit Regeneration. The Holy Spirit comes down and kindles the pilot light in us. Where once was death and depravity is now life and righteousness. The Holy Spirit is like the wind—it comes and goes when and where it pleases. We can’t tell the wind when to start blowing, where to blow, when to stop, etc, and it is the same with the Holy Spirit. Jesus made this analogy Himself in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
So what if I believe the gospel but I am not born again? Go back and re-read this article, then read 2Timothy 1:10, and then write your name 1000 times. Belief is a sign of life…it confirms that you have been born again, it is not the cause of regeneration but an effect of it.
So what if I am born again but do not believe the gospel? Go back and re-read this article, then read Romans 3:3, and then write your name 10,000 times and stop worrying it. Belief is a wonderful thing and you should believe, it will bring great happiness and joy to your life; but just as belief does not cause regeneration, unbelief does not cancel it. God’s grace is not dependent on your obedience.
But, Brother David, why do I still sin? Because your body is still depraved—it was not born again—but there is now something inside you that is good, clean, and spiritually conscience. Yes, now, you have a good conscience. Now you can understand what is right and what is wrong. Now the potential to do well is inside you. Jesus would often tell repenting sinners, “Go, and sin no more.” They can do it because they have the Holy Spirit inside them, they are alive and well. One of these days, on the Last Day, our bodies will be regenerated and then we will be totally sinless: soul, body and spirit. Praise the Lord! He has taken us from Total Depravity to Total Righteousness. I wonder how that is going to feel? What a day that will be!