Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What Does It Mean to Be Regenerated?

Regeneration literally means to be born again. That is a biblical concept beyond doubt (e.g., clearly here and here, likely here), but what it entails and when it occurs is much more in question. Calvinists see it occurring prior to it's recognition in people, many as occurring before faith. Arminians see it as occurring after faith, as a result of faith. Calvinists see it as the fruit of God's monergistic efforts, Arminians see it as the consequence of faith enabled.

But what does it mean to be born again?

Being born again is a work of God whereby the Holy Spirit enters into the very existence of a human being to abide, thereby infusing spiritual life into and establishing an intimate, mutual fellowship with that person. It is a transformative experience, but not so much that it so thoroughly changes the person that he or she does not retain his or her personal self-awareness. It is transformation by addition rather than subtraction, which allows the born again person to begin to to experience communication with God, to perceive life differently, to relate to people differently, to valuate things differently and to live differently than they did prior to the experience.  Before the experience, the born again are singular beings separated from God; afterwards, the born again are people with two natures with one connected to God.

Becoming born again is the result of a combination of faith and the Holy Spirit. We don't need to be born again in order to believe, that is over-stretching a metaphor (i.e. being dead in sin); we are born again because we believe (otherwise, God would make everyone believe). Human beings do have a God-given capacity to believe as is seen in the ability of natural people to believe in and trust all kinds of things quite apart from God. However, to believe in Christ we need an encounter with the Holy Spirit sufficient to convict us concerning Christ and waken us to something we could not waken ourselves to in our metaphorical deadness.

Ultimately, the natural self, the sinful self, will be changed in the born again, completely regenerated into a new nature like unto Christ's. That new eternal creature will possess a singular nature in unity with the Father akin to that which Christ shared with the Father as he walked on the earth. Then, we will be on the same page with God, never to go astray again. Ultimately, regeneration is not being renewed to Adam's nature prior to the Fall, but surpassing it, and being transformed into Christ's nature as the second Adam, the Son of Man.

Our born again experience in the Holy Spirit now is the down payment of that good thing to come.