We begin our study of the "Order of Salvation" by looking at regeneration. Since regeneration means "rebirth," we believe that it describes the beginning our new life as Christians and ought to be first in the "Order of Salvation."
In describing this first work of grace as a rebirth Scripture is emphasizing the truth that it is wholly a work of God, done without our aid - even without our first being aware of it. No more than a new-born infant has anything to do with its birth into the world do we with our rebirth into the new world.
In fact, Scripture does not just imply this, but plainly teaches it (Jn. 1:13): "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Note the fact that neither the sinful will (the will of the flesh) nor human will-power in any sense (the will of man) has anything to do with this rebirth.
Without this first work of grace no one can even see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Jesus does not say "no one will," but "no one can." It is as impossible for the unregenerate sinner to have anything to do with the kingdom of God as it is for the fish of the sea to live on the dry land.
Scripture, however, not only describes this first work of grace as a rebirth, but as the gift of a new heart (Ez. 36:25ff.), a circumcising of the heart, i.e., a cutting away of sin in the heart (Col. 2:12-13), a baptism, i.e., a washing away of sin (Tit. 3:5), a spiritual quickening or making alive, i.e., a resurrection from spiritual death (Eph. 2:1), a new creation in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10), and a translation from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13).
Each of these descriptions reminds us both that this is a sovereign work of the Almighty (who else can raise the dead and create things?) and that it is wonderful! As one of the Reformed creeds says, "It is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable (incomprehensible); not inferior in efficacy (causative power) to creation, or the resurrection from the dead" (Canons of Dordt, III, IV, 12 - free copy on request).
Perhaps the most wonderful description of regeneration, however, tells us that it is the gift of Christ to the a lost sinner (Gal. 2:20, Col. 1:27). That new life which is given us in regeneration is the new, resurrection life of Christ Himself! a life that cannot die again (Jn. 11:25-26).
But the new life is just that. One who has it cannot possibly continue to behave and speak like one who is spiritually dead. Death only lies there and rots, but life breathes and moves and speaks. We must, therefore, in spite of the continued presence of sin and of the old nature "reckon ourselves to be alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" and yield ourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead" (Rom. 6:11-13).
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 2
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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