Sabbath, November 15, 2008
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:23, 24.
• To study the methods heaven uses in the work of spiritual regeneration.
• To look for the results of spiritual regeneration in one’s life.
• To study the transformation of character as a consequence of regeneration.
“Regeneration is the only path by which we can reach the holy city. It is narrow and the gate by which we enter is strait, but along it we are to lead men and women and children, teaching them that in order to be saved, they must have a new heart and a new spirit. The old hereditary traits of character are to be overcome. The natural desires of the soul must be changed. All deception, all falsifying, all evil-speaking must be put away. The new life, which makes men and women Christlike, is to be lived. We are, as it were, to swim against the current of evil.” –This Day with God, p. 108.
The means of regeneration
1. What is the powerful source of man’s regeneration?
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Psalm 19:7-12 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
“Those who believe in Jesus Christ are changed from being rebels against the law of God into obedient servants and subjects of His kingdom. They are born again, regenerated, sanctified through the truth.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 332.
“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged.” –Steps to Christ, p. 64.
2. Can we know exactly when the regeneration of a believer begins?
John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
“A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or trace all the chain of circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. Christ said to Nicodemus, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8. Like the wind, which is invisible, yet the effects of which are plainly seen and felt, is the Spirit of God in its work upon the human heart.” –Steps to Christ, p. 57.
3. Is it possible to see if a person has undergone this miraculous regeneration?
Ephesians 4:23, 24 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
“The mighty power of the Holy Spirit works an entire transformation in the character of the human agent, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus…. The words and actions express the love of the Saviour. There is no striving for the highest place. Self is renounced. The name of Jesus is written on all that is said and done.
“Is not this, the renewal of man, the greatest miracle that can be performed? What cannot the human agent do who by faith takes hold of the divine power?” –The Faith I Live By, p. 137.
Fruits of regeneration
4. What are some of the spiritual results of regeneration?
Romans 6:12, 14: Liberation from the power of sin
Romans 6:6; 1 John 3:9: Hatred of sin
Romans 6:4, 5: Spiritual resurrection
Ephesians 4:24: Likeness to God in righteousness and holiness
Ezekiel 36:27: Obedience to God’s commandments
“It is not learning you need so much as it is inward renovation. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied so much as to have a new heart….” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 64.
“Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 171.
5. What other holy fruit do individuals who have experienced regeneration bear?
2 Peter 1:4: Partaking of the divine nature
1 John 5:1: Deep love for God
1 John 4:7: Sincere brotherly love
“We are members of His mystical body. He is the head, controlling all the members of the body. Jesus Himself, in His infinite mercy, is working on human hearts, effecting spiritual transformations so amazing that angels look on with astonishment and joy. The same unselfish love that characterizes the Master is seen in the character and life of His true followers. Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting His glory to the praise of God, but illumining the darkness of the world with the radiance of heaven. Thus will be fulfilled the words of Christ: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ ” –Lift Him Up, p. 289.
“We ourselves owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 250.
Regeneration and reform
6. Can we speak about regeneration in our life if the corresponding fruits are not seen? Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Luke 6:43, 44 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
“Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer his expectation by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through his grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground.” –The Great Controversy, p. 601.
“Not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 107.
“But if brain and nerve and muscle are all employed in the service of self, you are not making God and heaven the first consideration of your life. It is impossible to be weaving the graces of Christ into your character while you are putting all your energies on the side of the world. You may be successful in heaping up treasure on the earth, for the glory of self; but ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ Eternal considerations will be made of secondary importance. You may take part in the outward forms of worship; but your service will be an abomination to the God of heaven.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 217.
7. Is regeneration an option or a necessity? What is the consequence of not experiencing the new birth?
1 Corinthians 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
“ ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ John 3:3. He may conjecture and imagine, but without the eye of faith he cannot see the treasure. Christ gave His life to secure for us this inestimable treasure; but without regeneration through faith in His blood, there is no remission of sins, no treasure for any perishing soul.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 112.
Beginning in the heart
8. Where does this regeneration and reformation begin?
Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
“Circumstances cannot work reforms. Christianity proposes a reformation in the heart. What Christ works within, will be worked out under the dictation of a converted intellect. The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail. God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 35.
“All true reformation begins with soul-cleansing. It is by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, that a change is wrought in the life.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 105.
9. If this miracle takes place in us, what marvelous promises are ours?
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
“The heart of man may be the abode of the Holy Spirit. The peace of Christ, which passeth understanding, may rest in your soul; and the transforming power of His grace may work in your life, and fit you for the courts of glory. But if brain and nerve and muscle are all employed in the service of self, you are not making God and heaven the first consideration of your life.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 217.
10. What deep desire is present every day? Romans 5:5.
“This love is the life of God, working with transforming power in the soul, perfecting Christian character, making human beings partakers of the divine nature. Through Christ this living stream of love and life flows to the world….
“Eternal redemption never looked so exceedingly precious as at the present time, and I never felt more deeply in earnest to overcome on every point as now. There must be no defects in our character, not one. Every spot and wrinkle must be effaced by the blood of the Lamb. Our own peculiar traits of character will disappear when the transforming power of the grace of God is felt upon our hearts. The fruits we bear in patience, kindness, forbearance, and self-denial will testify of us that we have learned of Jesus.” –The Upward Look, p. 154.