Regeneration or being born again is a supernatural, instantaneous work of God in the region of the soul below consciousness, whereby the sinful bent imparted to the faculties of the soul in the fall of the race is rectified and, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, the initial exercise of the holy disposition thus imparted is procured.
From the above and from the Scriptures we must note that the New Birth
- Is a work of God
Man cannot give birth to himself. God’s word plainly attributes regeneration to God when, in speaking of our being born again, it states Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). This passage tells us that the new nature is not hereditary; that it does not issue from the will of the old nature (flesh); and that it is not accomplished by the will of any man, but it is wrought of God (John 3:5; 8).
- Is a supernatural work
In a sense the falling of rain, the blowing of the wind, and the flashing of the lightning are the works of God. But they occur according to natural laws. The fleshly birth represents a work of God, but it is according to natural laws of reproduction. The new birth is different. It is not accomplished basically by natural law or natural processes.
- Is an instantaneous work
According to A. H. Strong, Regeneration is not a gradual work. Although there may be a gradual work of God’s providence and Spirit, preparing the change, and a gradual recognition of it after it has taken place, there must be an instant of time when, under the influence of God’s Spirit, the disposition of the soul, just before hostile to God, is changed to love. (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3, 23).
- Takes place in the region of the soul below consciousness
That there is a subconscious region of human personality is a proposition demanded as a basis for sound analysis of psychological phenomena, such as certain mental trends, amnesia, sleep, and dreams. Moreover this proposition is also demanded as a basis for understanding the workings of the Spirit in inspiring Biblical writers, and divine revelations through dreams, trances, and supernatural visions (Gen. 20:3; 31:11-13; 1 Kings 3:5; Job 33:14-18; Is.1:1; Dan. 2:19; 7:1; 8:1; Obad.1; Nah.1:1; Hab. 2:2; Matt. 1:20; 2:12; Acts 10:10-16; 16:9; 18:9,10; 27:23-25; 11 Cor. 12:1-4; Rev. 1:10; 4:1.
- Rectifies that which occurred in the soul in the fall of the race
Before the fall, the bodies and souls of Adam and Eve were harmonious in holiness, their bodies being under the perfect control of their holy souls. The real fall was internal. The eating of the forbidden fruit is only the external performance of the deed which has already been internally committed. Faith wrought by the regenerating Spirit of God purifies the soul (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus the believer has the image of God restored in the soul (Eph. 4:24) and partakes of the divine nature (11 Pet. 1:4) as the holy faculties of the soul are brought to expression.
- Is not complete until repentance and faith have been wrought in the soul
It is to these that we refer when we speak in the foregoing of “initial exercise of the holy disposition,” which exercise is procured by regeneration. Repentance and faith should be thought of as a part of regeneration rather than as fruits of regeneration. The soul is not renewed so long as it remains in impenitence and unbelief. These attitudes of the heart are brought about in regeneration. This is confirmed by the fact that the truth is used instrumentally in regeneration. If regeneration did not consist of the working of repentance and faith in the heart, there would be no need for the instrumentality of the word (Heb. 4:12).