Memory Verse: 2Corinthians 5:17
Prayer: That we might be thankful to God for His great salvation.
Key Verses: Jn. 3:3-8; Jn. 1:12-13; I Jn. 4:7; 1Pet. 1:23; Ez. 36:26-27
Just as God is a trinity and exists in three persons, salvation is a comprehensive term, including within its scope three aspects.
1. Salvation Past: We have been saved from the penalty of sin.
This is regeneration – the salvation of the spirit.
2. Salvation Present: We are being saved from the power of sin.
This is Sanctification – the salvation of the soul.
3. Salvation Future: We will be saved from the presence of sin.
This is Glorification – the salvation of the body.
Just as God exists in three persons and salvation has three aspects, man is a being composed of three parts: body, soul and spirit. Man is a soul. The soul never dies. Man is born a living soul. He is born with a body which is alive, but will someday die. He has a body in which he lives in this world, but he is not that body. And he has a spirit. The soul is that which lives forever, once created at conception. The body is the house we live in while in this world. The spirit is that by which we commune with God. John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” However before we are “born again” or born of the spirit, our spirit is dead and we cannot commune with God. When we are born again, it is our spirit that is quickened, or made alive and then we can commune with God.
To reiterate, there is salvation from the past, in the present, and for the future, or from the penalty, the power, and the presence of sin. There is salvation of the spirit in regeneration, of the soul in sanctification, and of the body in glorification. We are talking about regeneration and conversion which are not one and the same thing. The scriptures connect the two under the one idea of the new birth, and teach that not only is regeneration an absolute essential in each conversion, but that in every intelligent responsible soul conversion invariably accompanies regeneration.
Regeneration is an article of faith which needs to be correctly understood. The Scriptures teach that regeneration is the work of God, changing the heart of man by His sovereign will, while conversion is the act of man turning towards God with the new heart given to him in the new birth. Stated in another way, regeneration is the communication of the divine nature to man by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Regeneration means “to generate anew,” to be reborn.
Inasmuch as man is naturally proud and self-sufficient, and always thinks to find the cause of his salvation within himself, he desires to think that in some way he causes his own regeneration, and through the centuries most preachers and churches (so-called) have catered to this desire and have built their teaching and preaching around this error. One has but to consider what the scriptures has to say about being “born again,” “begotten,” “quickened,” “redeemed,” and other such terms relating to the new birth to see that man is always passive in this, and God is always active. No mere increase of light can enable a blind man to see. After all, how much light does it take for a blind man to see? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Yet, Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:” So then, how loud must the preaching be for a dead man to hear? So God’s work in regeneration must be performed within the soul itself by a direct influence of the Holy Spirit upon the heart.
Some years ago, Bro. Dale Adkins, in a sermon spoke of the inspiration of scripture. How even though every word is of God, yet the books reflect the personality of the individual writer.
I thought, how very much this is like how God works in salvation. From God’s perspective, He foreknows, predestinates, calls, justifies, and glorifies. He elects us, regenerates us, gives us repentance, and yes, even the faith to believe. In other words, God does it all. The only part we have in our salvation is receiving it. But from our perspective, we hear the preached word, we realize that we are a lost, condemned, vile sinner on our way to Hell, and deservedly so. So, we believe that Jesus died for sinners like us, and we cry out for Jesus to forgive us our sins and save us, realizing that we can’t save ourselves and that Jesus is our only hope.
So from God’s side He did it all. From our side we seem to have had a large part to do with our salvation. Just like the scriptures; Paul wrote Romans, but every word is God’s, John wrote John 1,2,3, but every word is God’s.
In order to be saved, lost sinners must be regenerated, or born again; and regeneration is a recreative act, far beyond comprehension, wrought in the believer’s heart by the direct personal ministry of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:3-8; 2Cor. 5:17). Our Lord Himself showed the important nature of the new birth when He spoke to Nicodemus on this subject. Nicodemus was probably near the epitome of human excellence in morals, religion and spiritual knowledge, yet he came far short of God’s requirements, so that even he needed the new birth in order to have spiritual life. No one can tell exactly when regeneration occurs except we can see its fruits, such as repentance, faith, confession, prayer, etc. The new birth is as mysterious as the wind, which we can see only in its effects.
The new birth is instantaneous, miraculous, and non-evolutionary or cultural; and it embraces the divine acts of cleansing the heart from all inward sins and of pardoning the soul of all outward guilt, in connection with the work of begetting a new creature in Christ Jesus (Jn. 1:12,13; Titus 3:5-7). We can become sons of God only through the workings and power of a Sovereign God (1Cor. 2:14; 2Pet. 1:4; Ez. 36:25-27). Romans 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” As in natural adoption, the parents do the adopting, not the child. Man’s nature, will or heredity can have no part in his regeneration, God alone is the one that shows mercy in saving the spiritually dead sinner. Man has no part in cooperating or helping God in the saving of his soul. You don’t get religion as the Methodists would say. Those who get religion by their own efforts just as easily lose it. A man may get religion, may keep it, and go to Hell, taking his religion with him. Neither does baptismal regeneration bring salvation. The city water works cannot wash away the taint of sin on the soul. John 3:5, Titus 3:5 and Eph. 5:26 does not indicate that regeneration and baptism are identical.
The dead sinner is made to live through the new birth, becoming thereby a regenerated spirit, possessing eternal life, the gift of God (Eph. 2:1,5; Rom. 6:23). Because man is by nature spiritually dead until he experiences the new birth, he cannot do any spiritual act that is pleasing to God. As Lazarus (John 11:14, 39-44) was dead physically so the sinner is dead spiritually (dead in sin and trespasses) and can no more make a move spiritually than the physical dead can get up out of the grave and walk about. Every attempt by the unsaved to be justified by his own works is an endeavor to bypass the new birth whereby God fits man to glorify Him. All works done before one is born again are unprofitable works (Isa. 57:12; Matt. 7:21-23, 6:33), and they earn, not eternal life, but eternal death.
The new birth comes after the holy Spirit has conceived the new life from God in a lost person’s soul and immediately that soul repents of his sin and exercises faith in Christ. It is the actual impartation of the divine life, not a mere transformation of the human life (Eph. 2:l,5; l:17-19; 2:8-10; Jn. 6:63). The word alone has no regenerating effect upon men, but where the Spirit empowers and applies the word, it causes men to be born again (1Pet. l:22-25; James 1:21). Men must repent and believe in order to be saved, but it is the power of the Spirit of God which makes them willing (Pa. 110:3). Man is not wholly passive at the time of his regeneration. He exercises faith through the new nature which the holy Spirit has imparted, he is not a mere puppet worked by God’s fingers (Rom. 10:17).
The proper evidence of regeneration appears in the holy fruits of the obedient and willing faith of the new-born child of God (James 2:17-20). Fruits do not give life to a tree, nor do they sustain life in it. They only manifest that the tree has life. The same thing is true of the believer’s fruits: they only manifest that he has life. You are not saved by your feelings but there should be feelings when saved. Feeling is the fruit (love, joy, peace) not the fact (faith) or root of salvation. It is not a matter of “faith or works” nor “faith and works,” but of “faith that works.” Without good works as evidence of a true saving faith, one has only a theoretical faith, which is no better than the demon’s faith, which is not a saving faith (James 2:19). James 2 does not refer to any person’s soul being saved by good works, for both Abraham and Rehab were saved by faith alone prior to doing any good works, but their works bore witness to their having a true saving faith, and so they were both justified before men by their works. James was writing to those who had already accepted the doctrine of Justification by Faith and were generally and grossly abusing it. Study Rom. 11:13-25 and Heb. 5:9. He who bears no holy fruit, has reason to question whether he is a living tree.
Some further characteristics of the regenerated soul are:
· Genuine trust in Christ alone for salvation
· The witness and indwelling presence of the Spirit
· Readiness to accept God’s word
· Consciousness of sin
· Love of God and righteousness
· A life that is obedient as to its main trend
· Progressive purification
· Love of other believers
· Patient continuance to the end