Regenerated

Regenerated – Titus 3:4-7        01/19/2020 Today we’re taking a look at the somewhat more mystical side of our faith.  Honestly, I’m coming to believe that there should be more than I see of the supernatural in the Christian life, after all, we serve a supernatural God.  If you’re a Christian, then you’re in relationship with God.  How can that not produce supernatural results in your life? Now, the simple fact is that, in our natural, state, all we’re suited for, whether we believe in it or not, is hell.  And yet, God invites us into a relationship.  How is this possible?  I invite you to consider Titus 3:4-7.  Here’s the root of the problem, as a species we’re spiritually dead and physically dying.  The only solution to this problem is a spiritual rebirth; taking what was dead and making it alive.[1]  The result should be that Christians live a new kind of life.[2]  We have been “saved.” The ramifications of the simple expression, “He saved us,” has occupied theologians for centuries.[3]  Salvation is made possible because Jesus Christ paid the penalty we’ve incurred through sinning.[4]  That price cost Him His life.[5]  As harsh as that is, it also makes it possible for God to extend mercy to us[6] without violating His own righteous and just nature.  Look again at Titus 3:5 and notice what we do and what God did.  We do nothing;[7] the way Paul orders this sentence eliminates any sense that our salvation is based on personal merit or good works.[8]  However, as marvelous as being forgiven for all of our sins may be, this salvation is more than a debt paid, it is the impartation of spiritual life to the human soul.[9] The work done inside of us starts with “washing.”  Paul moves from what God has done, to how God did it.[10]  This word “washing” (λουτρου), from the lexical form (λουτρόν),[11] literally references a “laver,”[12] that is, a basin filled with cleansing water.  However, in this case, (λουτρου), “washing,” does not refer to the basin holding the cleansing water, rather it refers to the act of washing.[13]  The text it literally says through, or by means of, washing, (δια λουτρου).[14]  Our conversions consist, negatively, of a cleansing from the guilt of sin, and positively of a renewal brought about by the Holy Spirit.[15] We’re delivered from death to life.  The two things produced through this washing are described in the New Kings James as “regeneration” and “rebirth.”  This event is at the heart of the reality of our salvations.[16]  We are forgiven; but God’s not satisfied with a judicial act, He moves to make our natures match our standing.  Here we have the means, or method, that God uses to accomplish that.[17]  This is the language of new beginnings.[18] We’ve been recreated with new clean natures, and we’re being progressively transformed.  This is a work of God in our lives in which we, as dead people, are passive recipients.[19]  Regeneration refers to a change in our moral and spiritual natures.  This change is reflected by our justification, which is a change in our relationship with God.[20]  One term addresses our guilt, the other term addresses our depravity, and both are covered under the more general expression, conversion.[21] Of course, as every Christian knows, to be renewed is not to be perfected.[22]  We are all in process.  This is where renewal comes into play.  Here, “renewal” (ἀνακαίνωσις) would seem to indicate a process.  It requires our cooperation as the Spirit renews us and transforms us and builds into our lives someone growing into the fullness of all that Christ has for us.  Those changes should produce good works. The New Testament consistently shows us that good works cannot save us, however these same good works are inevitably the result of salvation.[23]  To be regenerate, to be renewed, is to do the works of righteousness, they must.[24]  The same gospel that results in our salvations also results in our transformation, both morally and ethically.[25]  Regardless of the details, spiritual renewal must always result in producing moral effects.[26] What we find is that we’re not simply being repaired; God is making us into something entirely new.[27]  The Holy Spirit both cleanses the believer through regeneration, and He fills the believer as He progressively renews, and in doing so forms them (that would be “us”) into a new creation.[28] The Bible understands and reveals salvation as being the redemptive renewal of humans on the basis of a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ.[29]  Titus 3:7 says we have been justified.  God does more than simply deal with our legal status, He brings about a radical transformation of our natures which agree with our new standing before God;[30] It has been said that the Old Testament character Enoch ‘walked with God’;[31] Genesis 5:23-24.  I suppose I find myself wondering, “Have you ever considered that the same may be, and should be, said of every Christian?”[32]  In giving us a new beginning, and a new standing, and a new nature in the image of Christ, God has brought us into a very close relationship with Himself.[33] Remember, “to walk” in this sense indicates a lifestyle, one that is in relationship with God.  This is the language of intimacy, friendship, and companionship.[34]  So, if you’re a Christian, you’ve been regenerated, and you are being renewed.  Does your life reflect that?  Are you cooperating with it?

[1] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Volume Two, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Living, in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Three Volumes in One, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 37.

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1978), 444.

[3] Robert Black and Ronald McClung, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2004), 255.

[4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 493.

[5] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 493.

[6] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 493.

[7] D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1978), 445.

[8] D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1978), 445.

[9] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Volume Three, Sin and Salvation, (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.: 2004), 225.

[10] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 448.

[11]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Tt 3:5.

[12] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 494.

[13] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 448.

[14]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Tt 3:5.

[15] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 448.

[16] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Volume Two, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Living, in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Three Volumes in One, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 35.

[17] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Titus, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 44.

[18] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 98.

[19] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI.; 2000), 699.

[20] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 927.

[21] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 927.

[22] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 99.

[23] Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1817.

[24] J.I. Packer, Regeneration, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed. Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1000.

[25] Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1817.

[26] I. Howard Marshall and Philip H. Towner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 321.

[27] Robert Black and Ronald McClung, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2004), 256.

[28] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 448.

[29] J.I. Packer, Regeneration, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed. Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1000.

[30] J.I. Packer, Regeneration, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed. Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1000.

[31] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 100–101.

[32] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 100–101.

[33] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 100–101.

[34] David Campbell, Opening up Titus, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 101.

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