Assurance of Regeneration Despite Limited Comprehension
Regeneration is exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit. It begins with the baptism by the Spirit, as the commencement of new life in the elect, redeemed people of God. One is said to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8), who has caused this new creation to occur in the dead soul made alive in Christ (Eph 2:1–3; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3).
This radical transformation is recognized by the manifestation of change in the mind, heart, and will of the regenerated soul. God has done something wonderful, and it is magnificent in our sight. A new creature, a spiritual one, has been redeemed and reconciled from the burning heap of sin and death. This is a supernatural work, a miracle, predetermined in the predestination plan of God for His elect people (Eph 1:4–5).
The righteousness of God, secured by the perfect life and work of Jesus Christ, is applied to the soul of each person, graciously chosen by the free will of God (Jn 1:13). The Father and the Son of God send the Spirit for a personal Pentecost. The life giving Spirit causes a man of God to preach the Gospel of life, and the Spirit opens the ears and the heart of those appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48; 16:14). The resulting benefits infallibly appear in the believers’ faith in Christ and love for Christ.
The Arminian misrepresents this doctrine, by claiming, that apart from Christ any person can use their free will to decide to be saved by Christ. In this view, Man’s free will is sovereign in salvation. Once the decision is made, God’s Spirit is forced to apply salvation, beginning with the grace of regeneration. In other words, God is obligated to respond to man’s self-generated faith and repentance. Put another way, the dead branch has decided to graft itself into the living Vine. The baby has opted to be born of its own accord. The orphan has decided who will be her parents.
Impossible as these man-centered ideas appear, it is ironic when the Arminian charges the Reformed with claims that he is forcing Bible passages to fit the Reformed system of theology. They also charge the Reformed understanding of regeneration with overt pride, for claiming assurance. In Arminian regeneration, man has assurance on the day he repents and believes in his own wisdom and power, but that assurance is lost, if that man decides to no longer repent and believe in Jesus. This loss of salvation is embraced by many Arminians, but some boast that once they decide to let Jesus save them, He must now keep them as His part in the conditional covenant. These are erroneous ideas.
In truth, regeneration must precede repentance and faith, which are actually fruit of regeneration. A man turns from sin, by grace given to Him, and he receives the gift of faith as he receives the Spirit of Christ, the gift of God. The honest soul is amazed by grace. He knows he was blind to the spiritual things of God, but now, by grace, He sees them. He had no heart for repenting of sin, but then he is turned by grace. He marvels.
Love has invaded his heart, and Christ has conquered the rebel. God has demonstrated His love (Rom 5:8), and then poured out His love (Rom 5:5). Love never fails to accomplish its will (1 Cor 13:8; Eph 1:11). God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and He will surely secure each of His beloved ones (Jn 6:37, 44; 10:28–29). Hatred for God has been replaced with love for God. We love God because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).
Regeneration is the gracious and loving intrusion of light, truth, love, and life. All of these attributes of God are infused in the mind, heart, and will of those who receive Christ Jesus. These chosen recipients are satisfied with their transfer and ongoing transformation. They rest in Christ and His works (Heb 4:1, 3, 5, 10, 11).
Regeneration produces many effects, from awe to humility. The believer reads her Bible, and she can understand her new union with Christ (Gal 2:20). Mystery remains, however, for our God is infinite in His person and works. He is beyond finding out with full comprehension. The believer apprehends what she can, and although there is much more to know, she trusts in the measure God allocates to her in His wisdom and will.
Peace with God has brought the peace of God (Rom 5:1; Phil 4:7), which is beyond comprehension. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), so that peace itself is a marvel to behold — a fruit of regeneration. Where there is fruit on the in-grafted branch, evidence of regeneration exists to be observed. God has been here, and His work is evident (Phil 1:6).
Regeneration is a beginning; and new life commencing is abundant life continuing. This life is immortal and imperishable (1 Cor 15:53–54), being eternal life (Jn 6:27; 10:28; Jn 5:11–12). The life of God in the soul of man is proof positive that He who began this good, internal, spiritual work will fulfill His promise to never leave nor forsake the regenerate, but to finish His work (Heb 13:5; Phil 1:6).
We have full assurance of this reality, despite a limited measure of faith and knowledge (Rom 12:3; Eph 4:13). Today, we look through a dark glass dimly (1 Cor 13:12), but in glory, we will see with clarity and in perfect light. We shall see Jesus and be like Him (1 Jn 3:2), in whom the fullness of God dwells (Eph 3:19; 4:13; Col 2:9). The hope given to us in this matter, will never disappoint us. There is proof and a future.
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 5, 2022