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The Miracle of Regeneration


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And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

—Ephesians 2:1–10

This is a vital truth that bears frequent repetition:

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Don’t rush past the main point of that passage: whenever a sinner turns to Christ for salvation, it is because God has done a miracle of spiritual resurrection. The common theological term for this is regeneration, or the new birth. This is the same thing Jesus was speaking of when He told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Our Lord went on to describe redeemed people—all true believers—as those who have been “born of the Spirit” (v. 8). Elsewhere He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life” (6:63). Paul likewise said believers are saved “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Here, then, is a simple definition: regeneration is a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit, whereby He gives life to a spiritually dead soul. This life-giving act of God is a complete spiritual rebirth unto eternal life, no less a miracle than a literal bodily resurrection from the dead.

By the way, resurrection and rebirth are kindred concepts, and the Bible uses both of them in reference to the risen Christ. He is “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). “Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Both rebirth and resurrection are likewise apt descriptions of the miracle that takes place when God regenerates a spiritually dead sinner and gives that person the gift of salvation.

—John MacArthur, The Gospel according to Paul (Thomas Nelson, 2017), 97–98.



Posted 2018·07·11 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John MacArthur · Regeneration · The Gospel according to Paul

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