Summary: Third in a series devoted to "church words." This talks about regeneration in a way most congregants and unbelievers alike can understand.
Those Confusing Church Words Series Ezekiel 36:25-27 What Is That "Born Again" Stuff"
Today I’m going to talk about a word that many of you might not be all that familiar with: Regeneration.
It’s a word that most unchurched people have never heard of.
In fact, many Christians have only rarely, if ever, heard the word.
And, to make matters worse, it doesn’t appear in the New International translation at all.
So why am I going to talk about a word that nobody knows about?
It’s because of what that word means, and the impact it has on all our lives.
Let me give you a definition:
Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us.
We call it being "born again."
I. When was the last time you remember somebody telling you he or she was born again?
Most people who go to church will freely tell you they are saved, but not too many will tell you they are born again.
Now, is that really a big deal?
If you know what it means to be born again, then yes, it is a big deal.
Let me give you an example.
If somebody tells me he is saved, I usually ask him to tell me about it.
And here’s how it goes: "I asked Jesus into my life and because I did that I am saved."
I might ask them to share a testimony with me, and it might go something like this: "Once upon a time I was a real dirtball and I did this bad thing and I did that bad thing. Boy, I was really a mess and I asked Jesus to come into my life and he did and now I am a really good person and I live for Jesus."
Did you notice how many "I’s" were in that conversation?
When you listen to most people’s testimonies you get the impression that they did a great job of bailing themselves out of sin.
Listen to me: we don’t regenerate ourselves.
We don’t have a role in regeneration at all.
It’s the work of God and God alone.
Do you see what it says in our passage?
God says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
Only God can give us new birth.
II. There’s another interesting thing about regeneration I want to share with you.
It comes before saving faith.
I believe that some Christians might have a problem with unconfessed pride.
Do you know any people who want to make sure you know that they "chose" Christ?
We don’t chose Christ, he chooses us.
Our part is to respond to his call. Part of what God does in the process of regeneration is that he gives us the spiritual ability to respond in faith.
The Bible says in Ephesians, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..." (Ephesians 2:8)
Look at that "...and this not from yourselves..." part.
Grammatically, that phrase refers back to faith.
Isn’t it refreshing that God even gives us the faith to believe?
Does that mean we don’t have a choice? No.
God doesn’t force any of his gifts on us.
Grace is a gift; salvation is a gift; faith is a gift.
Can we still harden our hearts?
Yes, we can.
And we do all the time.
When you don’t recognize the need for a savior you harden your heart.
My father attended a Unity church.
They don’t believe in Jesus, they don’t believe in sin, they don’t believe in hell.
To them, all that’s required to go to heaven is to be a good person by their own standards.
They go to church Sunday after Sunday and hear 1001 ways to feel better about themselves and how to be a good person, but they have not experienced regeneration.
They are not born again.
They are not going to heaven.
III. Human beings tend to be results oriented, so we tend to focus on the results of regeneration rather than the spiritual act of God that causes us to change.
You can fake the results for a little while, but at some point your sin will be exposed.