Regeneration

I find it interesting that the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how regeneration occurs. The Scriptures tell us that it does occur, that it occurs through the Word and the Spirit, and it tells us what happens in the life of one who has been regenerated, but it doesn’t tell us exactly how it happens. This agrees with human experience since many who are believers often have difficulty explaining exactly what has happened to them. This inability to comprehend, let alone explain, regeneration is addressed by our Savior who likened the new birth to the wind when he said, in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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3 Responses to Regeneration

  1. Stacey Watson says:

    I have a great deal of trouble with this one too. And it is amplified in the type of church I attend in KY, a Missionary Baptist Church, where they expect a person to have an “experience” of salvation and to right after testify this experience to the congregation conveying how you know your soul is saved. So I can see how some other churches conclude to say to the congregation, “Repeat after me this prayer and believe intently and you are considered God’s child (saved).”

    My 8 year old with all his heart wants to be saved, fears hell and prays his heart out with huge tears and has been drawn up to the Altar twice of his own accord. I do not speak to him of hell / salvation or put anything heavy on him at such a young age… I think it is psychologically cruel at this age to do so and don’t let others pressure him. He goes to church with us and hears the gospel that way. But he does not know for certain he is saved… and it is not something anyone can help him with (outside of praying for him) as it is a personal relationship between he and Christ/God.

    My perspective is the only thing a person can go on is 1) they feel greatly compelled by the gospel/affected greatly 2) seek to pray for forgiveness and ask to be saved 3) and if that person feels the burden lifted of what they once feared (being lost to God and imminent path to Hell) … then that seems saved to me from my basic human understanding.

    I struggle so much with this. Why… oh why in the Bible is this not addressed more than John 3:8 when it is THE PRIMARY focus and the whole point of the Gospel??!! What have you concluded Pastor Jones?
    * Ironically our pastor is a Jones as well… Timothy 😉

    • I can answer this one as a pastor and as one who did children’s ministry for a number of years. (And I think someone outside him can help him; that’s what evangelism, etc. is all about). I would disagree that this is “the whole point of the Gospel” but that’s another conversation for another time since the whole point of it at this time for your son is, “How do I know that the Gospel is for me and I have received it?”

      I would counsel him less in terms of his “personal relationship between he and Christ/God” (as you put it) and would instead call him simply to believe. The experience is different for different people. Some weep and wail and are aware of a great burden being lifted (your number 3 above). Others, such as C. S. Lewis, simply thought it through and came to the conclusion that the Gospel was true and they trusted Christ. I find myself in the latter category. I would add that since he is only eight, he in unlikely to have the same experience a grown man would have.

      I would simply ask him about the basic components of the Gospel. Does he know why Christ died? Why is Christ the one who can take away our sins? What is sin? Do you sin? etc. Then, ask him to confirm whether or not he trusts Christ to save him.

      Praying a prayer does not save anyone. Trusting in Christ, saves someone. Some accompany this with prayer and some do not. I will send a guide for leading a child to Christ to the email you used to make this comment. I wrote it for our teachers and it reflects the method I used for years in children’s ministry, that our teachers use in our church, and that I use today (sometimes even with adults).

      Remember, and impress upon him, that salvation is not in the experience, or in the prayer, but comes through faith (trust in Jesus Christ). When the Philippian Jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul did NOT say, have an experience, or pray a prayer. Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

  2. Stacey Watson says:

    Thank you for your timely and speedy counsel Pastor Jones. You wrote back in an instant it seems. 🙂 So greatly appreciated! I received the Guide you sent to my inbox and it opened just fine. Thank you so much!
    It would seem our type church bases salvation more on what goes on below the head … felt in the heart… a feeling/experience … of knowing you are saved and going to heaven. But I agree with you as well in the other path… God did design humankind to think through what has been presented to us and have free will to believe or not believe. I think my father-in-law is struggling with the process of salvation in the same way I have struggled understanding the different ways a soul comes to be saved based on John 3:8. Your guide will probably help him as well as my son. ACTS 16:30/31 KJV is a reassuring scripture, for certain, and I thank you for reminding me and bringing it to light. May God bless you and may He continue to give you the ability and energy to share your thoughts here on theology and God’s good word.

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