Part 3 of a 4 part study. Now that we know the Good News, what do we do with it? Today we talk about one of the most neglected doctrines in Christianity… regeneration.
Good News Part 3: Regeneration
What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
– Romans 6:1-2 (NET)
How do we respond to the Good News? Traditionally it has happened in 1 of 2 ways:
1) Legalism – Saved by grace, but works are required to maintain that grace. (If this is the case then grace is not grace).
2) License – Saved by grace, so now I can freely sin. (Not wanting to wear the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11-14))
But what if it is neither of these? There is a 3rd option… regeneration. We are changed. We walk in newness of life. Our desires change and we work as a response. We work not to be made right with God but because we are made right with God.
New Desires happen. The New Testament is full of this doctrine: Romans 8:5, Romans 12:2, Gal 2:20-21, Gal 5:22-25, 2 Cor 5:17, etc. Notice how passive we are in some these passages. We are made new (by whom?). Be transformed (by whom?). This is something we let God do to us
Soli Deo Gloria
In the latin words of the reformers… For God’s glory alone. We are saved because of Him. Because of His name. Moses teaches us the correlation between God’s glory and our salvation in Numbers 14:11-17. God himself declares that he saves for His own sake in Ezekiel 36:22-32.
In that last passage, he even talks about how HE will take out our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. This is regeneration. This is conversion. Conversion is not just a decision you make… it is coupled with the transformative power of the living God.
Love and do as you like.
– St. Augustine
Was St. Augustine promoting cheap grace here? No. He was promoting regeneration. If you have been changed by the power of God and your desires have been changed you CAN do as you like. Because what you “like” is what God likes. (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32:40, Romans 7:6)
Abide With Me
Ultimately abiding with Christ is the goal. Our conversion is about coming closer to him. We often call this sanctification… being continually made into the image of Christ. Our works, God’s glory, all of this is tied to being IN Him:
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.* Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.** If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.*** By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.**** As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
– John 15:3-9 (ESV)
* – Saved by grace
** – Regeneration and sanctification
*** – Love and do as you like
**** – Soli Deo Gloria!