It's alive! It's alive!
In a prior post that mentioned "regeneration," I was asked a question I thought merited its own post.
How does one re-generate the unbeliever? Does it not require that the unbeliever be generated first into a believer before he can be re-generated?
Am I missing something?
Good question, Mark, especially linguistically.
Regeneration has to do with being born, with the "re-" related to being born "again" (cf. John 3:1-8).
They're alive physically, but dead spiritually. So, God must make the dead alive.
In fact, only God can regenerate. The dead cannot give life to themselves. It's kind of like the Law of Biogenesis in science.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins ... But God ... even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (ESV)
Prior to God making them alive, they love the darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20). Unless they are born again, they can't even see the kingdom (John 3:3), let alone see the kingdom, like the kingdom, choose the kingdom, and then be born again.
Hence, the priority put on regeneration preceding faith.
Thou biased, I like our church doctrinal statement on the subject:
"VIII. Regeneration ~ Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who brings to life the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone, apart from which humanity is powerless to positively respond to God."
(our doctrinal statement is essentially the Abstract of Principles, the first Southern Baptist doctrinal statement)See also Only a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart. It's my post dealing with regeneration, instead of faith, being thought of as a gift (from God).
I think you see a nice word picture of regeneration in one of my favorite hymns, And Can It Be? by Charles Wesley:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray.
I woke the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off. My heart was free.
I rose, went forth, and followed them.
Amazing love, how can it be
that Thou my God shouldst die for me?