“Being born again, not of corruptible seed—but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.” 1 Peter 1:23.
Regeneration is a real, thorough change, whereby the man is made a new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17. The Lord God makes the creature a new creature, as the goldsmith melts down a vessel of dishonor, and makes it a vessel of honor. Man is, in respect of his spiritual state, altogether disjointed by the fall; every faculty of the soul is, as it were, dislocated. In regeneration, the Lord loosens every joint, and sets it right again. Now this change made in regeneration, is,
- A change of qualities or DISPOSITIONS. It is not a change of the substance—but of the qualities of the soul. Vicious qualities are removed, and the contrary dispositions are brought in, in their place. “The old man is put off,” Eph. 4:22; “the new man is put on,” ver. 24. Man lost none of the rational faculties of his soul by sin. He had an understanding still— but it was darkened; he had still a will—but it was contrary to the will of God. So in regeneration, there is not a new substance created—but new qualities or dispositions are infused; light instead of darkness, righteousness instead of unrighteousness.
- It is a SUPERNATURAL change. He who is born again, is born of the Spirit, John 3:5. Great changes may be made by the power of nature, especially when assisted by external revelation. Nature may be so elevated by the common influences of the Spirit, that a person may thereby be turned into another man, as Saul was, 1 Sam. 10:6, who yet never becomes a new man. But in regeneration, nature itself is changed, and we become partakers of the divine nature; and this must needs be a supernatural change. How can we, who are dead in trespasses and sins, renew ourselves, any more than a dead man can raise himself out of his grave? Who but the sanctifying Spirit of Christ can form Christ in a soul, changing it into his same image? Who but the Spirit of sanctification can give the new heart? Well may we say, when we see a man thus changed, “This is the finger of God!”
- It is a change into the LIKENESS OF GOD. 2 Cor. 3:18, “We beholding, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord—are changed into the same image.” Everything generates its like: the child bears the image of the parent; and they who are born of God, bear God’s image. Christ himself, who is the brightness of his Father’s glory, is the pattern after which the new creature is made, Rom. 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Hence Christ is said to be formed in the regenerate.
- It is a UNIVERSAL change. “All things become new,” 2 Cor. 5:17. It is a blessed leaven—which leavens the whole lump—the whole spirit, and soul, and body. Original sin infects the whole man; and regenerating grace, which is the cure, goes as far as the disease. There can be, as it were, pieces of new cloth put into an old garment; new life to an old heart: but the gracious change is a thorough change; a change both of heart and life. Thomas Boston