This is blog #8 in “The Gospel” series that covers what Jesus Christ accomplished completely for us through His death and resurrection. We are looking at specific words describing what God did to cure our fatal sin disease.
We humans have a spiritual problem that can be compared to death caused by a fatal disease. It’s a two-fold problem. Sin is the disease (Romans 3:23). And, death is the result of the disease (Romans 6:23). Our double whammy problem demanded a two-fold solution. God acted on our behalf. The gospel is an announcement to the world of what He accomplished for us. God took the ugliness of the cross and made it beautiful for us.
For the problem of sin, people need sin to be removed and replaced with righteousness. God’s Answer: Christ’s death on the cross. Because of His finished work on the cross, we can now be cured of the sin disease. All the words of the cross we covered in blogs 2-7 describe how the sin disease is taken away from every believer and replaced with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross completely took care of what we needed for a cure to our sin disease making us spiritually healthy again.
But, we had another problem. Like any disease that is cured, how good is that if you are dead? Remember that I said we have a fatal sin disease. “Fatal” means you are dead. That refers to spiritual death on earth and separation from God for eternity. For the problem of death, people need the restoration of life. God’s Answer: Christ’s resurrection. We can now be given life that is forever. The restoration of life was the main reason Jesus had to rise again from the dead even though His death on the cross secured your complete forgiveness of sins. You needed something else. His resurrection provided the way for us to get new life that would never be taken away again because of our sin. What God set out to do for humans, He accomplished.
In a way, in spite of the power and importance of those six words of the cross that we have just studied [propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, justification, sanctification], it can be said that they all have been accomplished to make the seventh great word possible: "Regeneration," the restoration of spiritual life to one who is dead.
Regeneration is God's solution to our state of spiritual death.
Have you felt overwhelmed by failure, discouragement, and insecurity as you try really hard to live as a Christian? Did someone promise you that your life would be a whole lot better if you just got saved, but you aren’t seeing any difference?
You might be like many Christians who have a lack of understanding of two vital truths: (1) Christ’s finished work on the cross to secure your complete acceptance before God, and (2) “Christ in you” as the reality of daily Christian living.
By now, if you have read or listened to the previous blogs in this series, you should have a fairly solid understanding of God's grace to you and what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished for you. It’s much more than just having your sins forgiven and going to heaven when you die. But if that’s all you know, you will have an incomplete understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in your ongoing life as a Christian. Understanding regeneration makes daily Christian living not only possible, but your experience will be one of freedom and joy.
What is regeneration?
The English word “regeneration” means simply a new birth, a new beginning, or a new order. Regeneration is often used to describe the restoration of a thing to its pristine state, as in the restoration of a piece of furniture or a classic car. In the New Testament, regeneration primarily refers to the restoration of spiritual life to one who is spiritually dead.
Did you know that all humans are born spiritually dead and are sinners by nature? As Paul wrote about our life before Christ in Ephesians 2, we were
“dead…gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts…without hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:1-3, 12)
Not a pretty picture, is it? As an unbeliever, your problem was not just that you were a sinner in need of forgiveness. You were dead and in need of life!
Jesus said that He came to give us life, abundant and full (John 10:10). In John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again.” Everyone is born once in the flesh (physical birth), but salvation provides a new life-giving experience, being born of the Spirit. In John 5, Jesus declared that anyone who believes in Him is given this new life and crosses over completely and permanently from death to life. Paul wrote that we are made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5) and are a new creation from that moment onward (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Consider how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Something totally changes. The butterfly doesn’t look anything like the caterpillar that preceded it. In the same way, the Christian is not just a "forgiven caterpillar." You have been transformed into a "butterfly." Your greatest daily need is, first, to grasp the freedom of God's acceptance of you through Christ and, second, to learn how to live “in Christ” to experience true and abundant life. Salvation is not just receiving something we did not have before (i.e., forgiveness of sins). It is becoming someone we were not before!
But, how do we get this new life?
Restoration of life by the indwelling Holy Spirit
In John 14, Jesus promised that God would give the Holy Spirit to us to be with us and in us forever. It is the Holy Spirit who makes our spirits alive through His presence (John 14:16-17). At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells you. He lives insides you and unites you to Christ. You are fused with Christ. We get this from Romans 6:5.
Resurrection brings life. And, this life of Christ is in you, dear believer. In Colossians 1:27, Paul describes this as “Christ in you.” We, who were once dead, are made alive by the indwelling Holy Spirit who unites you to Christ so that “Christ in you” is a fact of your new existence. It happens at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9) and lasts forever.
We are made alive…no longer dead. This begins a new adventure of learning how to live with Christ in you and depending upon Him to do anything of value in your life.
This quote says it perfectly:
“Jesus Christ laid down His life for you [on the cross] …so that He could give His life to you [regeneration]…so that He could live His life through you [Christ in you].” (Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ)
You are to live by faith. Faith leads to dependency upon God.
This new adventure is part of God’s purpose for us on earth. God didn’t take us to heaven right away when we were saved because we have a purpose here. We are here by God’s design to follow Jesus as His disciples and to live for Him as disciple-makers. That means intentionally sharing our faith with others, leading them to Christ, and helping them grow in their faith so they can reach their peers for Christ. We do that through His power in us—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
You are made alive…no longer dead.
The restoration of life is God’s solution to every person’s state of spiritual death. By faith in Christ, the Spirit of God enters the human spirit and brings eternal life with Him. You are made alive…no longer dead. Because of God’s great love for us, He takes humans like you and I who were once spiritually dead and makes us alive in Christ. It is His love that does this. It is His grace that gives this. It is His power that makes this happen. What a gift!
Dear Christian, you can know and live with confidence that God’s life is now indwelling you forever. You are made alive in Christ…no longer dead. Christ is alive in you. Now you can enjoy the life given to you by Christ Himself as your power for daily Christian living. Thank God for His indescribable gift of life to you. And, consider all the benefits of having His life in you. Through this life in you, you can experience freedom and joy.
How does that make you feel? Embrace it. Dance! Shout! Sing!
As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His finished work on the cross and His resurrection. Then, live in the freedom of your new life in Him.