Regeneration is a creative work of God in which man is passive. In other words, the work is God’s work. The terms that are used for regeneration in the New Testament are the following: “born-again” or “to beget” (to bring forth); “to create” (with reference to new-birth); and “to quicken” (Ephesians 2:5). These terms are each different, with a common element. They all refer to a work of God in which man is passive. We were created passive; we were passive when we were born. God does something for us and He does it creatively, for we are the object of that work.
Regeneration is non-experiential. Although we notice when new-birth occurs, we do not experience it. You realize at one moment that you are dead, and the next moment that you are alive; but all you experience are the effects of it. You have joy and thanksgiving; you are enlightened; you begin to read and understand the Bible; you come to know God. But you cannot describe the experience of birth itself. No Christian is ever able to describe the precise experience of new-birth; they can only describe the effects, since it is non-experiential. Regeneration is a supernatural work, not a natural work; it is beyond human experience and beyond human explanation.
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. (John 3:8)
Divine life makes a change within a person so that they cannot habitually practise sin. When a person practises sin, nothing happens and divine discipline does not take place, then you can be sure that the person does not belong to the Lord. If their life is characterised by sin, it is evidenced that they do not belong to the Lord. The man who is born again may fall into sin and may persist for a time in sin, but he comes under divine discipline. A believer has divine seed—a divine nature. This is what Peter means when he says that we are “born again of incorruptible seed”, for God implants life in us through the Word of God. The Word comes to the person, who He has prepared. After the implantation of the seed of life, birth and new-birth take place.
Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 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 1:21-23)
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