Paliggenesis is a Greek crasis, derived from palin and genesis, meaning birth again or begin again. Here is the idea behind the word, “regeneration.” Genus and generation are related words to genesis. We might say, “There is a beginning to a people of a period of time.” Employing palin to our combined concept, we come to the ideas of new birth and re-birth.
Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, about this spiritual reality (Jn 3). The man was confounded; but we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, who teaches us of His work, of causing us to be born again (1 Pet 1:3).
Drawing from what we see and experience in the natural world is helpful for understanding the spiritual. A child is conceived, nurtured in her mother’s womb, and brought forth at the appointed time. She has been born. To be born again, spiritually, is a re-birth, a second birth, and obviously, it is new.
New life comes from the seed of the Word of God, sown into fertile spiritual soil, cultivated by the Holy Spirit. The seed of the Word is sown by the same Spirit, which prepares the heart to appropriate the life of another. The life of God in the soul of man is the regeneration, the beginning of life again.
The first birth is the beginning of death. It is a beginning to an end. It is a start to a failed enterprise. The second birth, however, is the beginning of a life that never ends. It is the commencement of eternal life. It is the beginning of that which has indefinite time for a definite genus.
The elect people of God, a chosen genus, are regenerated by Word and Spirit, at the appointed time of the new birth. They are made alive, spiritually, because God has caused His Spirit to dwell in them (Ezek 36:26; Rom 8:9, 11). The grass withers and the flower fades, but that which is eternal never dies. The eternal life of God has impregnated the souls of God’s people with the seed of God’s eternal Word. His Word gives life because He Himself is life (Jn 14:6). He is the Lord, the giver of life…new, abundant, indestructible, and eternal.
Regeneration follows eternal election and the Gospel call, which is the sowing of God’s Word through the preaching event. Where the Spirit plants the Word (in the elect), and where the Spirit gives life to that seed (effectual call of the elect), you find the new birth (regeneration of the elect). It is the new beginning of a new life (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13).
This new life is the life of Christ, living in every new believer, brought forth by Word and Spirit. “Christ lives in me,” is how the apostle Paul stated it (Gal 2:20). This new union is like a spiritual betrothal before marriage. Things have changed in the relationship, and yet, there is much planning, and work to be done, in preparation for when the groom comes to retrieve His beloved from her former abode, and to take her to His royal palace for the wedding feast.
Abundant life follows new life, and, as noted, it is forever and ever life. Because God makes things new, one’s very existence is radically transformed. Following one’s spiritual birthday, she matures into the likeness of her betrothed husband to be. He is perfect, and she is imperfect. He who began this new, good, work in her will bring it to perfection, according to His plan for her.
She is new (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), and all things are new to her, and there is great excitement and great anticipation for what this new life will manifest. The uncertainty of the process produces no fear, however, for it is Christ willing and doing His good pleasure to bring His new creature into conformity with life in her new home (Phil 2:13). He has told her He loves her, and nothing will change His affection for the one He has set His love upon (Jer 31:3).
Spiritual life, at its beginning is called, “regeneration.” It is a onetime event with an eternal effect. We have considered a number of factors related to this new beginning. God’s Word and God’s Spirit serve as progenitor, and they sustain the new life of the saint because she was chosen for glory (Rom 9:23).
As you, Christian, walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4), remember that it is God who has done these things, as only He can. One’s spiritual birthday is a surprise party for other saints to witness; but it is very real, and it is everlasting joy for the believer, the church, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 2, 2021