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Regeneration: Extremes Considered PDF Print E-mail
Written by R.A. Biggs   

There is at all times considerable controversy going on over the new birth as to what is born of God. Some express themselves as believing "that no change is wrought in the sinner in regeneration or new birth at all; that they still love sin as well as ever; that they have not been killed to the love of sin," etc., while others in their opposition to this "no change theory" express themselves as their believing that the "whole Adam sinner is born again her in regeneration." Now my brethren, I believe both of the above ideas are extremes and unsafe ground for us to occupy. There is no comfort or edification to us in either of the theories spoken of above, which I will now attempt to show: First: to say that no change is wrought in us in the new birth cuts us off entirely, hence, you can see that there is no comfort or edification to us in the first theory. Next, to say that the whole man is changed or born again is regeneration, carries with it the idea of complete sanctification, hence, "whosoever is born of God sinneth not, for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God." Now apply this text with the above idea, that it is the whole man that is born of God, then go to your experience and examine yourselves and see if there is any comfort to be derived from this theory; certainly not! Why not? Why, because we still realize that we are sinners; we still sin in the flesh and we know if we do that it is not us that is born again because "he that is born of God doth not commit sin;" hence you see that we are again cut off without any comfort or edification. But that it is man that is the subject of this birth, I have no doubt; but it is an inwrought work; it is man's spirit that is born again here in time, and "his spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." The spirit of our mind is renewed, thus, we are made partakers of his divine nature, and in this new life which we receive by being made alive or born again we sin not. Because his seed remaineth in us and we sin not; because we are born of God. Hence with the mind (the renewed) we serve the Lord, but with the flesh we still serve sin, hence, the necessity of keeping our bodies in subjection. Then brethren our hope is that his spirit dwells in our hearts or spirits, not in that old deceitful, wicked, depraved heart. But he has cleansed it, washed it in his blood, changed it and give to it a new nature and thus prepared it for to dwell in by his spirit, and if he thus dwells in us here he will finally quicken, made alive or cause our bodies to be born again or resurrected from death. This is my hope, for this I am waiting! When I awake in his likeness, then I will be satisfied. Brethren let us guard against extremes and abide in and with the Bible and our own experience, and then all will be edified and comforted in love.

 BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH AND REGENERATION

"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3.

The terms "born again," "born of God," "born of the Spirit," "begotten of God." "Quickened together with him," "washing of regeneration," according to the best Bible scholars, we have, all mean the same thing; are from the same root. The man born again was first born of the flesh; but is now (being born again) passed from death in sin to life in the Spirit. This passing from this dead state to the living is miraculous and divine. The natural man cannot know spiritual things, because they are spiritually discerned. This new spiritual life comes suddenly without observation; but may develop gradually; at one moment the sinner is dead, the next he lives. This is regeneration; this is to be born again; this is passing from death to life. As in the natural so in the spiritual life, the conscious moment is not the real moment of birth, but follows it. His life in us by his Spirit goes on until Christ is perfectly formed in us the hope of glory. Being born again does not give ideas; it prepares us to hear; gives "ears to hear;" prepares us to discern the things of the Spirit; to see, and enter the kingdom of God. Dr. Gill says about this on the subject: "Regeneration is God's act; conversion consists both of God's acts upon men in turning them and acts done by men; regeneration is the motion of God towards and upon the sinner; conversion is the motion of the sinner toward God." Regeneration then gives life, not ideas. Infants and idiots may be born again, regenerated, as the thief on the cross, who was not permitted to live to grow in grace and come to a knowledge of the truth. We should always distinguish between life and the motions of life; between a spiritual mind and the operations of that mind. We may conceive of natural life prior to any kind of actions, either physical or mental; so we may conceive of spiritual life prior to faith, repentance, love or any other spiritual action. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous;" Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Then instead of faith, repentance, or any other righteous act upon our part, coming before, these declarations of God's word plainly prove that regeneration is first, and that these graces are evidences of it, instead of being a part of it. As fruit demonstrates the quality of the tree, so faith, repentance, love, etc., demonstrates the quality of the heart. "He that loveth is born of God."

Another writer says: "In regeneration we are passive, and receive from God; in conversion we are active and turn to God." Another says: "Regeneration is a spiritual change; conversion is a spiritual motion." So I conclude that it is from this principle that all the acts of believing, repenting, etc., do spring. "By their fruits ye shall know them;" By this we may know that we are the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments." These acts then are evidences that we are children of God. A man may have the Spirit and never see its fruits but still he would be a child of God, as fruit has nothing to do in producing the tree. But we should remember that it is only the good tree that bears good fruit. Fruit-bearing then is no part of the process that made the tree a good tree. So faith, repentance, love to God, etc., are no part of regeneration, quickening or being born again, but are evidences, or fruits, that prove it. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."

I sometimes hear brethren use such expressions as these: "Man must be changed in regeneration in some sense in his entirely because Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again." He did not say your soul or spirit must be born again."

Now can't I say with as much truth that man's body is not changed in regeneration because Jesus did not say, "Nicodemus, your body must be born again in regeneration?"

Again they say: "The body must be included in the regeneration here in time because it is the body that weeps and feels condemned, not something in me, but ME; it was me that felt I was a great sinner; it was me that was grieved and mourned over my sins; it was ME that afterwards hated sin and loved God; it was me that was lost, and when Jesus was revealed as my Saviour I felt just like it was me that was the beneficiary of His mercy. It was me that rejoiced in a Saviour's love. I am the man born again or regenerated, not something in me, but ME.

Now, I want to say what you have said clearly indicates an experience of grace alright enough, but I doubt very much that the arrow of conviction that caused you so much trouble, grief and sorrow on account of your sins, ever touched your physical body, even if it did weep. I do not believe that those pains, grief and penitential tears were the effect of bodily pains or bodily wounds. Such an experience is not the result of bodily ailments or bodily wounds. If the cause of all these penitential tears and sorrow were from bodily suffering or bodily wounds, then I would believe your body was born again in regeneration. But I believe all this burden of sin that caused you so much grief and sorrow and so troubled you was in your mind, not in your body. Neither was it your body that was so filled with sorrow that caused your tears to flow with penitential tears. It was something within your body that was so sorrowful and filled with grief. And as your soul is within you, I believe it was in your soul that you suffered and not in the body. It was in soul or spirit you so rejoiced when Jesus was revealed as your Saviour. So in soul or spirit you are born again, but not in your body yet. It is in your soul you love God and rejoice in the Saviour's love. David said: "The Lord hath delivered my soul from death." So in soul David was delivered, regenerated or born again. So were you, and all men and women who have such an experience, in soul or spirit delivered from death in sin. But you are not yet delivered in body. So your body is not yet born again. "Yes, says one, "but my body must be affected in the new birth." Well, we were not talking about what was affected, but what was born again in regeneration. Jesus did not say, "Except ye be affected ye can not see the kingdom of God," but, "Ye must be born again." Let us stay with the proposition. So I see nothing in all these expressions that convinces me or proves to me that your body is yet born again. It is in your soul or spirit that you are born again. It is in your soul you love God. It is in soul or spirit that you magnify and rejoice in God, your Saviour. So in soul you are delivered from death not in body yet. David said: "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul." So in your grief and sorrow and felt sense of condemnation before God, and, finally being brought out of it and made to rejoice in a Saviour's love, only shows you are now in your soul free from sin and death. But your body is still dead because of sin; has not yet been made free nor yet delivered. But if his spirit, by which you were born again in spirit dwells in you and bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, He will also in the resurrection, quicken your mortal body. Then you will be delivered in body as well as in soul, and then in your entirety you will be free from sin and death. So when you awake in His likeness you will see Him as He is and be like Him.

THE "WHOLE MAN" DOCTRINE

The question that has been in agitation among our people in Texas for quite a while is the only question, and that question is, "Is man changed in his entirety in regeneration?" This is and has been the issue all the time. If there is one that doesn't believe that it is the Adam man that is the subject of regeneration, I don't know who it is. If there is one that doesn't believe it is the man that we see here walking about that is the subject of regeneration, I don't know who it is. If there is one that doesn't believe that man is made a better man in or by regeneration, I don't know who it is.

These are not, nor never have been the questions at issue. The question is, Is this man changed in his entirety in regeneration? Our brethren say no. We say and believe this man is changed in his spirit, that man's spirit is reproduced, recreated, renewed, washed and is cleansed by the blood of Christ. Therefore he is a new man in spirit, a changed man in spirit, a better man in spirit. We believe that regeneration is a life-giving proposition. That man is brought out of death in sin in spirit by regeneration; that man is made good in regeneration in spirit, made "pure in heart," so is a much better man after regeneration than he was before.

To accuse our brethren of denying that it is the Adam sinner that is the subject of regeneration, or that man is not made better by regeneration, misrepresent them. Regeneration is an internal work wrought in the soul, while our walk in obedience is a result and this practical change in our conduct comes this side of and not in regeneration. This man in regeneration received spiritual or eternal life in soul, and when he gives evidence of this change from death in sin to life in Christ in spirit, we recognize him as a child of God. He the man, has the life and nature of Christ imparted to him in spirit and is vitally changed in spirit, but is not thus changed in his body or flesh, nor will not be until the resurrection. This man dies in body, but this man lives on in spirit. So we speak of this man as being dead, and also of him as living. He is dead in body, but he lives on in the spirit, and in the resurrection this man in body will be raised from death, and his body will then be changed, and then this man in both soul and body will have been changed into the glorious image and likeness of his blessed Redeemer, freed from sin and death in his entirety.

To teach that this man is changed in his body in regeneration is to teach that man in body is made spiritual, because regeneration is a spiritual change.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 September 2006 )
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