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Questions on Regeneration PDF Print E-mail
Written by Elder Bill Walden   

I recently received a letter and quote in part as follows:

“As a child I sat under the preaching of the gospel, and occasionally I would have questions, but would almost hesitate to ask because I was afraid of the answers. I worried about the terms, “dead, alien sinner and dead in trespasses and sins”, not knowing what they meant. Primitive Baptists have scriptural “clichés” that are used during their sermons, and many times children don’t understand. Some of these questions were: (1) What is a dead, alien sinner? (2) What is the meaning of “dead in trespasses and in sins? (3) Are we able to “get out” of the dead state, and (4) if so, how?

“I know hearing the gospel doesn’t save me for heaven, but if it were not for the gospel, and comforting answers by my mother to my childish questions, I would have been overcome with fear that I was not one of the Lord’s children.

“If you could respond to these questions, I would appreciate it.”

I believe the foregoing letter is probably typical of many questions people have. I have promised the person writing that I would not reveal their name, however, it is with full consent that my answers would be published in The Banner of Love in the hope that it will help someone else.

Questions 1 and 2: Basically these terms are synonymous. A dead, alien sinner is dead in trespasses and sin. To be dead in trespasses and in sins is essentially to be a dead, alien sinner. However, I have only stated the question and have not answered it. The only way I can do that is to go to the Scripture which will take some effort on my part and will require some effort on your part to study through these. It is impossible to deal with the “sin” question without going to the source. We must look at the great transgression of Adam, the federal head of the human race.

In Romans 5:12, the Apostle Paul said, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” It is interesting to note the word “men” is from the word “anthropos”—-all mankind. So all mankind, the human race, died in Adam. They were by representation plunged into the condition of sin and death by the disobedience of Adam (please read verse 19 of Romans 5), in the state of spiritual death which all mankind inherited from Adam. The same apostle said in Romans 8:8, so then they that are in the flesh- can not please God. In the flesh, here, is the same as being dead spiritually, not corporally or physically dead. Read Ephesians 2:1 where Paul is talking directly to people who are alive physically but had been dead spiritually: You bath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins. We see here that the nature we inherited is one that is alien, or foreign, to the nature of God. This is not to say that everyone who is born naturally is born in an unregenerate state or is spiritually dead, for God quickens or makes alive no doubt many times those who are still in their mothers’ wombs, as in the case of John the Baptist. However, by nature we are all the children of wrath, by nature we are the children of Adam.

Let me give you an example of perpetual inheritance and the passing along to our children of our own human nature. My father inherited the sinful and dying nature of his father. He then passed along to me a nature no different to that which he inherited. Some years ago my father was gathered to his people in death. I have a son who has inherited my nature, and looking back through centuries past we find that nothing has changed from Genesis 5:3, ‘and Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. So we see the inviolable law of God, that each brings forth “after their own kind.” The logical steps of the Lord’s family can be seen as they go from nature to grace to glory.

So, to be a dead alienated sinner, in the context of Ephesians 2’: 1, is to be likened to a spiritual corpse, insensitive and incapable of responding to any external means of men, without any ability or inclination to please God.

The next term we will look at is “alien” or “alienated.” See Colossians 1:21, and you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.... To be alienated is to be a “non-participant”. By nature, again, we are non-participants in the spiritual realm, until we are called by the Holy Spirit to be participants of His divine nature, at which time we cease to be aliens from this standpoint, and cease to be dead spiritually. The next word is sinner, and there are only two types of sinner: the sinner who is dead in trespasses and in sins .and who is a non-participant or an alien; or the quickened, born-again sinner. The sinner who has been made sensible by the irresistible quickening of the Spirit will surely live with God in Heaven. So, though we may seemingly take for granted that everyone understands the meaning of “dead, alien sinner” it is a descriptive term of the spiritually dead before they are born again, and a scriptural description.

Your next question asks how we get out of the state of death in trespasses and sins. This is a question that has been asked over and over. There are as many so-called answers as there are denominations or religious orders. For your consideration, there is nothing plainer in the Bible than the teaching that God calls His elect from a death in sin to a life in Christ solely and exclusively by the Spirit. A few other popular notions follow. The primary one is that God uses man to preach the gospel to those we have previously described as being dead in sins, and if they respond to gospel demands they will be brought out of the state of death into a life in Christ. However, we find no such teaching in the Scriptures; in no case will life precede action, that is, we do not act spiritually while we are dead spiritually in order to get life. God by His Spirit must make us alive first, then we react. There is a great consolation here, in that all who were embraced in the covenant of grace entered into by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit will be effectually called by His Spirit at His choosing. “It is written in the prophets, they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” John 6:45. In verse 37 of the same chapter, you will find that the Lord Jesus is referring to those that were given Him by the Father.

A wonderful statement is made in I Peter 1:23, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The explanation for corruptible is “dying” and for seed is “parentage”, so we received from our dying parents a dying nature. Then, we are born again, not of dying parentage, but by the. Word of God which liveth and abideth forever, so God is the undying Parent who brings us out of the state of death into an undying position in Him (which is sometimes referred to as “eternal security”. To summarize, we are extricated from a. dead state to an alive state exclusively by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is also called “new creation.” Ephesians 2:10, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”

You mention that you know that hearing the gospel does not save you for heaven. You are right, and first, I will share this with you and then comment. We may forget sometimes what a great blessing it is to be among a people who understand this important fact. I came from another denomination, some of whom believed that the gospel was a universal offer to all men. Some believed that God had “predestinated” that the gospel would be preached to His Elect, which would then be the means of their regeneration. One of my greatest joys today is that I have never heard either of these views expounded among the Primitive Baptists. One of the Articles of Faith of our church at Stratton, which is substantiated by the Scriptures, states, “We believe the gospel is to be preached as a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ for the comfort and instruction of regenerated men, women and children, but deny that it is to offer grace to the unregenerated...” Romans 1:16 says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, also to the Greek.” Paul very plainly states that the gospel is to the born-again believer.

Concerning your questions and fears as a child, we feel very strongly that the very fact that you were sincerely interested in spiritual things is great evidence that God had dealt graciously with you, otherwise, you would have had no interest in your spiritual welfare, and the fact that your mother was able to relieve your fears that you were not one of the Lord’s children was because she had comforted you with the comfort she had been comforted with by hearing the gospel. See2 Cor. 1:4, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

This is all the more reason for you to comfort your children with scriptural teaching so that as they grow in years they will look back and draw strength from you as you did from your mother.

The true gospel will interpret the experiences of the Lord’s child whether he is in the depths of despondency and mourning over his sins, or whether he is dwelling on the highest hills of God’s joy. It. is indeed good news from a far country, it always points upward to the very source of all comfort. It saves us from error. It saves us in obedience from many dire consequences that we would otherwise suffer. it is also good news of our eternal salvation. It declares the certainty, rather ‘ than a possibility, or a better life, a triumphant victory, for the family of God.

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