Regeneration Is Monergistic

Steven Lawson: There may be no truth in the Bible more deeply loved and greatly cherished than the subject of the new birth. Here is the grace-centered message of a new beginning for those whose lives have been ruined by sin. Here is the life-changing truth that sinful men can be made new. When the new birth is caused by God, old things pass away—old practices, old cravings, old habits, old addictions, and old associations. Behold, new things come—new desires, new pursuits, and new passions. An entirely new life begins. Nothing could be more positive than this. It is no wonder that the truth of the new birth is so beloved. Yet despite its great appeal, the new birth may be the most misunderstood doctrine in Scripture. Most people naively imagine that there is something they can do to cause themselves to be born again. They hear a well-meaning person say, “Believe and be born again,” and suppose that they can. So

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Am I Truly Born Again?

Four Evidences That You Are New By William Farley: We all know that not everyone who claims to be a born-again Christian is a genuine follower of Christ. A 2017 study by LifeWay Research discovered that 24% of Americans profess to be evangelical. A higher percent claim to be born again. But when pressed, only about 15% of Americans can affirm the most basic evangelical beliefs. This is not a new problem. Anyone who has been a Christian for long knows someone who professes Christianity but fails to believe what Christians should believe, or believes right doctrine but exhibits little or no fruit. A gap always exists between the number of people who profess to be born again and those who possess the reality. This is true of every congregation. That is one reason why the constant preaching of the gospel matters. The more the gospel is preached, the smaller that gap becomes. So, acknowledging that the gap exists, how can we know that someone

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What Does ‘Born of Water and the Spirit’ Mean in John 3:5?

D.A. Carson: The question is important, because it lies at the heart of Jesus’s explanation of “born again,” of new birth, of regeneration. When Jesus first introduces the category (John 3:3), Nicodemus clearly doesn’t understand what Jesus means (3:4 NIV): “How can someone be born when they are old?” he asks. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Many people think the question Nicodemus poses shows that he is a rather dimwitted literalist. But that’s almost certainly too harsh. You don’t get to be called “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10—possibly a title) if you can’t spot the odd metaphor. When he hears Jesus say that to enter the kingdom one must be “born again,” I suspect Nicodemus understands Jesus to mean that we are not good enough to enter the kingdom: we must start over, have a different origin, spring from a different life. Nicodemus thinks Jesus is going too far: people

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God’s gracious gift of the new birth

Sam Storms: What did Jesus mean in John 3 when he spoke to Nicodemus of being born again? The best way to answer that question is by taking note of what Jesus did not mean. And it is, somewhat surprisingly, Nicodemus himself who supplies us with the answer. (1) We know, first of all, that being religious is not the same as being born again. We know this because Jesus was speaking to one of the most religious men in Israel, a Pharisee, and to that man he says, “You, Mr. Pharisee, you, Nicodemus, must be born again.” (2) Being well-trained in the Bible and able to instruct others in what it says is not the same as being born again. Nicodemus was “a ruler of the Jews” and one of the primary teachers of Israel (John 3:10, but he wasn’t born again. An intimate knowledge of the Scriptures and the ability to communicate it clearly does not always mean you are born again. (3) Attending religious

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Two ways to know you are saved

J.D. Greear: I get the question from Christians a lot: “How can I know for sure that I’m saved?” So often, in fact, that I wrote a book addressing it: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. I struggled with the question a lot myself until someone pointed me to passage from 1 John that helped open my eyes. In 1 John 5:13–18, John identifies 2 ways that we can be sure of our salvation. 1. We have placed our hopes for heaven entirely on Jesus. (1 John 5:13) “I write these things to you,” John says, “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” It’s so simple that we’re liable to miss it, but assurance comes from believing in Jesus. This is the gospel: when we trust in his name, we cease striving to earn heaven by drawing upon our own moral bank account; instead, we withdraw on his righteous account in our place. The gospel, by its very nature, produces assurance. Because

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10 Things You should Know about Being Born Again

Sam Storms: Here we take up the issue of the new birth, or what we often refer to as regeneration or being born again. (1) Being born again is not to be thought of in terms of moral reformation, a mere exchange of one set of habits for another set. Some mistakenly think that mankind does not need re-creation, only redirection. But as we shall shortly see, being born again entails a radical renewal of the entire inner being of a man or woman. (2) One Arminian author argues that God alone regenerates the human heart but does so only when and because the individual believes by a free act of will, or does not resist the overtures of grace. We are told that “God cannot and to say the same thing – will not regenerate a heart that will not admit him. God respects the sovereignty-within-limitations with which he endowed man at creation” (William G. MacDonald, Grace Unlimited, 86).

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Teach Believers What Happened to Them in Conversion

  John Piper: Everyone who is converted to Christ is converted through partial knowledge. Real knowledge, to be sure — otherwise, there would be no true conversion — put partial, nevertheless. This is not surprising, of course, since that’s the only kind of knowledge we have as finite creatures, especially in this fallen world. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The Obvious Worth Speaking But speaking the obvious is very useful. For example, it may be obvious that the blue sky is glorious today, but it is not pointless to say to your friend, “Isn’t the deep blue sky beautiful today!” Till that moment he may have been blind to the obvious. And suddenly you woke him up to joy — by saying the obvious. My point here is that when a person is

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That’s how you got saved

John Piper: Christianity is not the conclusion at the end of a syllogism. It is a meeting with God. It is a living supernatural power, called the Holy Spirit, moving into our hearts, shedding abroad the love of God experientially… So Christianity, While not being merely the conclusion at the end of an argument is neither an experience at the end of a needle… Christianity is a supernatural experience of the Holy Spirit mediating the love of God to you through a historical person who did a historical act, namely, dying and rising to bear your sin… To become a Christian is not to draw a conclusion at the end of a syllogism and sign a card that you think it is good logic. That makes nobody a Christian. To be a Christian is as the syllogism unfolds the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the heart so that in the truth of the gospel being presented… as the gospel

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God Makes Us a New Person With a New Purpose

Kevin DeYoung: When God saves sinners he makes them a new person and he gives them a new purpose. Never underestimate the gift of new life in Christ. We are new creations. The old has passed away, and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no long I who lives but Christ who lives in me and the life I know live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). When you become a Christian you may wake up the next morning with the same family, the same job, the same house, the same money, the same looks, but make no mistake: you are a new person and you have a new purpose. You no longer live for the glory of your name, but for the glory of the Name. And let’s be honest, this is why many people

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Effectual Calling and Regeneration

“So, then, what is this effectual, internal call that we are speaking about? Well, the most we can say about it is — and this must of necessity be true in the light of these scriptures — that it is the exercise of the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul. It is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit within us. It is immediate, it is spiritual, it is supernatural, miraculous. And what it does is to make a new mode of spiritual activity possible within us. Without this operation we are incapable of any true spiritual activity but as the result of this operation of the Holy Spirit upon us, we are rendered capable, for the first time, of spiritual activity and that is how this call now becomes effectual, that is what enables us to receive it. “Now this is very important and I want to emphasise the immediacy, the direct action. You see, what happens

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2 Ways to Know You Are Saved

J.D. Greear: I get the question from Christians a lot: “How can I know for sure that I’m saved?” So often, in fact, that I wrote a book addressing it: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (which you can pre-order here). I struggled with the question a lot myself until someone pointed me to passage from 1 John that helped open my eyes. In 1 John 5:13–18, John identifies 2 ways that we can be sure of our salvation. 1. We have placed our hopes for heaven entirely on Jesus. (1 John 5:13) “I write these things to you,” John says, “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” It’s so simple that we’re liable to miss it, but assurance comes from believing in Jesus. This is the gospel: when we trust in his name, we cease striving to earn heaven by drawing upon our own moral bank account; instead, we withdraw on his righteous account in our place. The gospel, by its very nature,

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Resurrection Life

The Puritan John Howe, in a series of 13 sermons on regeneration, said this: “You see by this what a Christian is. And all will agree (no doubt) in the common notion, a Christian is one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ. But you see who are reckoned to believe to this purpose, such as are born thereupon another sort of creatures from what they were, and so continue as long as they live: and such as are heaven born, born of God by immediate divine operation and influence, a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them to centre in God, taking them off from all this world.” “The Spirit that is from God suits us to God and to divine things and makes us savor the things of God and take delight in them.  It seasons us more and more, so that God

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How the New Testament Describes Salvation

Dane Ortlund writes: Here are the more important ones, noting which sphere of life from which they are drawn. Justification – the lawcourt metaphor (Rom 5:1; Titus 3:7) Sanctification – the cultus metaphor (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 4:3) Adoption – the familial metaphor (Rom 8:15; 1 John 3:1–2) Reconciliation – the relational metaphor (Rom 5:1–11; 2 Cor 5:18–20) Washing – the physical cleansing metaphor (1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:7) Redemption – the slave market metaphor (Eph 1:7; Rev 14:3–4) Purchase – the financial transaction metaphor (1 Cor 6:20; 2 Pet 2:1) Wedding – the marriage metaphor (Eph 5:31-32; Rev 21:2) Liberation – the imprisonment metaphor (Gal 5:1; Rev 1:5) New Birth – the physical generation metaphor (John 3:3–7; 1 Pet 1:3,23) Illumination – the light metaphor (John 12:35–36; 2 Cor 4:4–6) New Creation – the redemptive-historical metaphor (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15) Resurrection – the bodily metaphor (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1) Union with Christ – the organic or spatial metaphor (Rom 6:1–14; 2 Tim 1:9) Inexhaustible richness. Luther was right– If a person

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Never look back…

“Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression?  The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past.  Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ.  Never look back at your sins again.  Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the blood of Christ.’  That is your first step.  Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression (Grand Rapids, 1965), page 35. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

No More Important Event

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), first professor at Princeton Seminary, on regeneration– There is no more important event, which occurs in our world, than the new birth of an immortal soul. Heirs to titles and estates, to kingdoms and empires, are frequently born, and such events are blazoned with imposing pomp, and celebrated by poets and orators; but what are all these honours and possessions but the gewgaws of children, when compared with the inheritance and glory to which every child of God is born an heir! The implantation of spiritual life in a soul dead in sin, is an event, the consequences of which will never end. When you plant an acorn, and it grows, you expect not to see the maturity, much less the end of the majestic oak, which will expand its boughs and strike deeply into the earth its roots. The fierce blast of centuries of winters may beat upon it and agitate it; but it resists them

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Calvin on Remaining Sin in the Regenerate

Helpful realism from the reformer– The children of God are freed through regeneration from bondage to sin. Yet they do not obtain full possession of freedom so as to feel no more annoyance from the their flesh, but there still remains in them a continuing occasion for struggle whereby they may be exercised; and not only be exercised, but also better learn their own weakness. . . . [T]here remains in a regenerate man a smoldering cinder of evil, from which desires continually leap forth to allure and spur him to commit sin. In regeneration, Calvin goes on to say, the sway of sin is abolished in them. For the Spirit dispenses a power whereby they may gain the upper hand and become victors in the struggle. But sin ceases only to reign; it does not also cease to dwell in them. –John Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.10-11 Sin dwells, but no longer reigns, in believers. (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Transformed!

My thanks to Tim Challies for posting this article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Recently I ran into a woman I had not seen for several weeks. I hardly recognized her. Her hair, normally blonde, had turned completely white. The transformation was dramatic. All it took was forty minutes and some bleach. If only spiritual transformation were that easy. Just read a book, see a counselor, attend a conference, make a fresh commitment, shed a few tears at an altar, memorize a few verses … and, presto, out comes a mature, godly Christian. To the contrary, the experience of many believers looks like this. Commit. Fail. Confess. Re-commit. Fail again. Confess again. Re-re-commit. Fail again. Give up. After all the struggle and effort, we tend to want a “quick fix”—a once-for-all victory—so we won’t have to keep wrestling with the same old issues. In my own walk with God, I have discovered some helpful principles about how spiritual change takes place. 1. Deep, lasting spiritual change rarely happens

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You must be born again

“You must be born again.”  John 3:7 You.  This is personal.  If I resent it as threatening, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If my heart welcomes the approach of this truth and waves the white flag of surrender, that could be evidence I have been born again. Must.  This is authoritative.  If I take evasive action, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If I breathe a sigh of relief that finally Someone is telling me the truth and taking me in hand, that could be evidence I have been born again. Be born again.  This is passive.  I need more than self-correction; I need a miracle deep within.  I need God to call into existence within me a new aliveness to God, new tastes, new desires, new openness and humility and fears and hopes, such as I have never experienced before and cannot conjure up out of my admirable upbringing and

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Christ is Everything

“When you put your trust in Christ, the overpowering attraction of the world is broken. You are a corpse to the world, and the world is a corpse to you. Or to put it positively, you are a ‘new creation’ (Galatians 6:15). The old you is dead. A new you is alive — the you of faith in Christ. And what marks this faith is that it treasures Christ above everything in the world. The power of the world to woo your love away is dead. Being dead to the world means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting in the cross. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.” – John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2004), 85. (HT: Of First Importance)