Regeneration is an important biblical teaching also known as the New Birth (“Born Again”). Regeneration is a doctrine that is closely related to Justification. Justification is God’s legal declaration that we are righteous, on account of our faith in Christ. However, if salvation was all about justification, our righteousness will be a “mere formality” and not a reality (As R C Sproul puts it in his book Faith Alone). We may be declared righteous but there will no real change in our nature. But that is not so.
In Titus 3:5 Paul says “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit ” Here, Paul attributes our salvation (“He saved us”) directly to the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. These words refer to the words of Ezekiel 36:25-27 where God promises Israel that he will sprinkle water on them to cleanse them. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit and he will put his Spirit with in them which will cause them to walk in His statutes and make them to obey Him. While this is yet to happen to ethnic Israel, this is the mandatory condition the Lord Jesus places upon any one coming to know him – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
Regeneration is thus an activity of the Holy Spirit on a sinner by which the sinner is brought to a saving relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who causes us to be “born again” and not we ourselves (John 3:8). Regeneration is that miracle by which all of us, who were dead in our sins, are made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5). We could have helped ourselves in our regeneration only as much as Lazarus could have helped himself, when Christ raised him from the dead. That is why Apostle John says that God gave us the right to be called the children of God because we were born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of the man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
Once the Holy Spirit regenerates us we place our genuine faith in Christ. That is why we cannot boast about our faith before God ( Eph 2:5; Eph2:8-9; John 6:63,65 ). Regeneration sets in motion the process of our being transformed into the likeness of Christ (Rom 8:29)- sanctification – while having immediately accomplished our justification. Every born again believer will display the fruits of the Spirit as an evidence of this miracle (Gal 5:22). He will not keep practicing sin because the seed of God abides in him (1 John 3:9). He will also love his brother.
Regeneration does not mean that there we will never sin (1 John 1:8), but we will not “go on sinning willfully” (Heb 10:26). And thus we can say with Peter “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Amen. (1 Pet 1:3)