Tagged: salvation

What does it mean to be regenerated?

This column is excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings a sinner from spiritual death into spiritual life. While Christians may disagree about such issues as the relationship between regeneration and baptism, or whether regeneration precedes faith, it is biblically faithful for a follower of Jesus to say, “I am regenerated.”

While the Greek noun palingenesia appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; Titus 3:5), the concept of regeneration, or new birth, is a consistent theme of Jesus and the New Testament writers. Jesus makes it clear that people must be “born again,” or “born of the Spirit,” if they are to see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3, 5).

The work of the Holy Spirit, making an individual a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), prepares that person for the future work of Christ as He creates “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13). All those the Spirit regenerates are assured a place with Christ when He refurbishes the cosmos, purging it completely of sin and its stain.

Regeneration is necessary because the Bible describes unbelievers as the walking dead. Not only are they spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), but they are depicted as natural / without the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14); blinded in their minds (2 Cor. 4:4); bound by Satan (2 Tim. 2:26); alienated from God (Eph. 4:17-18); enemies of the Lord (Rom. 5:6-11; Col. 1:21-22); condemned in their unbelief (John 3:18); and in spiritual darkness (Acts 26:18; Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Regeneration is a one-time, non-repeatable act by which the Holy Spirit enters the dead human spirit of a sinner and makes him or her spiritually alive. Regeneration also is permanent. That is, a person whom God foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies cannot lose the gift of regeneration without losing all of the associated links in God’s golden chain of redemption.
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You are glorified – part 1

This is the 13th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics

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Glorification is the final stage in God’s work of salvation. It is the crowning achievement of sanctification, in which Christians are fully conformed to the image of Christ. It is the perfection of the body, rejoined with soul and spirit in resurrection, as well as the restoration of the universe to its original state.

Put another way, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging creation of sin and its stain. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

For the most part, when Christians talk about glorification, we are referring to our future resurrection, at which time we receive incorruptible bodies similar to the body Christ had when He rose from the dead.

In this respect, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent summary: “Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.”
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You are sealed

This is the 12th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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When believing sinners entrust their lives to Christ, the Father seals them with the Holy Spirit, placing His divine mark of ownership on them, thus ensuring His everlasting presence and their eternal security.

As the Father’s imprint on the surrendered heart, the Spirit reminds followers of Jesus they are secure as coheirs with Christ; authentic citizens of the kingdom of God; in the permanent grasp of the Father; and recipients of God’s divine pledge to finish the work He began in them.

In three New Testament passages, the apostle Paul describes the role of the Holy Spirit in sealing Christians:

2 Cor. 1:22 – “He [God] has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.”

Eph. 1:13-14 – “In him [Christ] you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Eph. 4:30 – “And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption.”
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You are adopted

This is the 11th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Adoption is an act of God making born-again believers members of His family. The Greek word for adoption stems from two words: huios, meaning “son,” and thesis, meaning “a placing.” Thus, the word huiothesia conveys the idea of “placement into sonship.” This biblical term is meant to include both males and females.

From a first-century legal perspective, adoption meant taking a person from another family and making him or her legally a child in a new family. The son’s or daughter’s former relationships were severed, and the adoptee became a member of the new family under the father’s authority.

The New Testament concept of adoption is more sublime since it brings God and redeemed people into an everlasting relationship. Believers in Jesus are both born again and thus reckoned as children, and adopted into God’s family with the full benefits and responsibilities of adults.

Here’s how it works: In regeneration, the Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive. That is, we are born again, or born from above (John 3:3-8). God considers us as newborn babes and addresses us as children. In adoption, the Spirit brings us into such a relationship with God that we are not only His sons and daughters, but joint heirs with Jesus, having the full privileges of adults.
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What about those who haven’t heard of Jesus?

The story is told of a Christian missionary who traveled deep into the heart of a distant land where the gospel message had never been shared. The missionary labored for years learning the language and adapting to the culture.

At long last, he was able to clearly communicate the story of Jesus. Many of the once animistic people eagerly became Christians.

But not their chief. He listened intently and weighed the missionary’s every word. Finally, he asked, “Would I go to this place called hell if I never heard about Jesus?”

“Well, no,” the missionary replied.

“Then why,” said the chief, “did you come?”

The story illustrates an issue that has perplexed us for centuries. If faith comes by hearing, as the apostle Paul makes clear (Rom. 10:17), then what about those who have never heard of Jesus?
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