“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:3-7).
Regeneration is a Bible word used to describe a person’s conversion to Christ. It is of vital importance that we understand just what is meant.
REGENERATION IS DEFINED
Regeneration, as we find it in our Bibles, comes from the Greek word paliccenesia, and it is a derivative of two words: palin, which means back again and genesis, which means creation. Thus, we learn that regeneration takes us back again to the beginning, back to Adam before the fall; it is a second birth. It means to be born again.
The word appears only twice in the Bible: here in Titus and in Matthew 19:28. The Matthew passage points forward to a future renovation of the earth (Isa. 65:17-25) and the second birth of the nation of Israel (Isa. 66:7-24; Ezek. 37:1-14). This regeneration is also referred to in Leviticus 25, Acts 3:21, Romans 8:21, and Hebrews 9:10. The Titus passage refers to the second birth of an individual when he believes the Gospel of Christ. This regeneration is the sovereign act of God the Holy Spirit Who imparts life to the dead human spirit (Jn. 3:6). It is a resurrection of those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1, 5) and are brought to “life” (Jn. 11:25; 5:24) by the power of God. The Holy Spirit simultaneously places Christ in the believer (Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:8-9) and the believer in Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
REGENERATION IS NEEDED
Man is born physically alive but spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Our birth into this world is a natural birth and we cannot receive the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:3; Rom. 7:18; 8:8). We are born under Adam’s curse. We are born sinful, corrupt, needy, depraved, Hell-bound and doomed.
Little wonder that Christ told Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again” (Jn. 3:3). If we are ever to enjoy fellowship with God, we, too, must be born again!
REGENERATION IS OF GOD
God is the ultimate source of the new birth. Jesus Christ said we are born again “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13; Jas. 1:18).
God the Holy Spirit is the agent of the new birth. We are “born” (Jn. 3:5) and renovated (“renewing”) “of the Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
REGENERATION IS BY BAPTISM
Regeneration occurs in connection with baptism (Titus 3:5). The “washing” in this passage relates back to the baptisms of the Mosaic Law (Heb. 9:10) which served as a type of the cleansing (“washing”) and renovating (“renewing”) to be accomplished by God the Holy Spirit in the believers during the Dispensation of Grace. This baptismal regeneration is not by water, but, rather, is a Spirit Baptism. The Holy Spirit washes the believer clean by the Word of Cod (Eph. 5:26; Jn. 5:3; 1 Cor. 14:15; Ps. 119:9).
The Word of God is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit in regeneration as seen in James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23-25. The cleansing water is the Gospel message.
REGENERATION IS RECEIVED
Regeneration is altogether and absolutely the work of God. There is a sense in which we have no more to do with our second birth than we did with our first birth, and yet it is clear that we must receive Christ as our personal Savior in order to be “born of God” (Jn.1:12- 13; Gal. 3:26, cf., Acts 16:14). If a man will cast aside every other confidence, and believes all that God the Father has said about God the Son, that man is born again!
REGENERATION IS A TRANSFORMATION
A “regeneration” which does not manifest itself in a transformed life may rightly be questioned. Regeneration is more than just believing a doctrine. Regeneration is “Christ is you.”
The Holy Spirit begins His work of renewal, in the believer, at the moment of salvation and continues it throughout their lives (Phil. 1:6). We are to be different from what we were before we were saved (1 Jn. 2:29).
The Bible says that those who are born of God:
(1) Overcome the world (1 Jn. 5:4);
(2) Love the brethren (1 Jn. 5:1);
(3) Love God (1 Jn. 5:2);
(4) Love God’s Word (1 Pet. 2:2); and
(5) Love the lost (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
We are to “Walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).