Regeneration is also called the New Birth and it’s simply defined as a creation of a new life in a converted man/woman by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The Bible alludes to this in 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old [life] has gone, the new [life] has come!”
Before we proceed, I want to highlight what the new birth is not. I first have to address this area because the devil has spurned a web of false beliefs to confuse many from recognizing their need to be truly saved.
The new birth is not:
- Believing in God. The Bible says even the demons believe in God and shudder (James 2:19), yet it’s still possible for a person to believe in God and still live like the devil. There are several examples of this all over the world.
Many people who cruelly deceive murder and destroy others also profess belief in God. Some of them will even claim that their “God” ordered them to carry out these heinous actions. In fact, these folks serve the god of the world. So the fact that someone believes in God doesn’t mean he has received the new birth.
- Having a religion. Another trendy term people use is “being spiritual.” Religion may reform people or externally modify them, but it cannot make them new creatures. Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council; a deeply religious man, yet he needed to be regenerated.
Religion is more about cold structures than essence; it’s about form than content. Religion never saves. A religious person can be a liar, hater, cheat, and rapist and be a monster of moral perversion, yet he/she will still maintain a respectable standing among the populace as long as he/she observes the communal rituals and external formats of religion.
- Keeping the law. Some have been taught that when you observe the laws and rites of a church or religious system e.g. baptism, confirmation, penance, keeping the Sabbath, right diet, strict dress codes etc. you will be saved. This is self-made righteousness based on a lie of the devil.
The law was given for man to know sin, not to be saved from it (Rom. 7:7). The law does not have the power to save or make anyone a new creature. But being born again has to do with being “born from above” – it is a spiritual operation done by God on a man’s spirit to make him a new creature. Keeping a labyrinth of laws and rules cannot give you eternal life.
No, baptism doesn’t make one a new creature either. The Bible uses water metaphorically to mean either the Holy Spirit or the Word of God. When it is used to denote drinking it means the Holy Spirit (Jn. 4:14, 15; 7:37-39).
When it is used to denote washing, it means the Word of God (Ezk. 36:5; Eph. 5:26; 1 Pet. 1:23).
So what’s the new birth?
1. It is also called the second birth (Jn. 3:3), “washing of regeneration” (Tit. 3:5), “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), a spiritual “quickening” or making alive (Eph. 2:5). The new birth comes about through the “washing” of the Word and the renewal (of the human spirit) by the Holy Spirit (see John 3:5-8, James 1:18; Eph. 1:13).
2. It is what brings us into the kingdom of God. “For he [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col. 1:14). It therefore goes without a saying that everyone who has not experienced the new birth is still interned in the slave camp of Satan, regardless of what religion or denomination he/she adheres to.
3. It is the means by which we become the sons of God. “Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God” (Jn. 1:12). All those who have not experienced the new birth are “children of the devil,” even if they claim to be priests or bishops (1 Jn. 3:10).
4. It is the receipt of forgiveness and eternal life from God. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (Jn. 5:24). Conversely, all who reject the salvation offered through Christ will not see life and the wrath of God is on them.
From these points, the necessity of the new birth is unmistakably clear. Jesus said “Except a man be born again, he will not see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). That statement is absolute. No single person will be in heaven without first becoming a new creature here on earth.
The reason is because “flesh and blood” cannot inherit heaven “nor does the perishable inherit the perishable” (1 Cor. 15:50). What the Bible means is that the sin nature; the fallen nature that we all inherited from Adam makes us a sinner and an inmate in Satan’s prison. Hence, everyone must be born from above – experience the new birth – to be a member of God’s family.
- Acknowledging that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:10).
- Repenting of all your sins (Acts 20:21).
- Believing that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He took your sins away at the cross of Calvary so you can receive forgiveness from God (Col. 1:14).
- Praying and asking Jesus to come into your heart and be your Lord and Saviour and make you a new creature.
Jesus paid a terrible price for us to be born again. This is what makes us a partaker of God’s blessings here on earth and when this life is over, in heaven. If you have now received Christ into your heart through these steps, you need to thank the Lord for saving you.