Regeneration as a spiritual experience is represented in a multifaceted way in the Scriptures. It means “believing in” and “receiving” Christ and “becoming a child of God”. It means being “saved by grace”. It means “passing out of death into life”, that is, “having eternal life and not coming into the judgment” (of the sentence of death). It means passing out of the state of spiritual death (which is separation from God because of sin) and “being made alive together with Christ”. It means being “raised from the dead … to walk in newness of life”.
The apostle Paul spoke about some of the effects of regeneration when he wrote: “you laid aside the old man with its evil practices and have put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” This is a work which the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the believer as a result of regeneration.
I have a saying: We need to be taught sound doctrine; but we also need to experience sound doctrine. We must try to understand the doctrine of being born again – and more importantly, we must experience the reality of being born again. I think it was in a book entitled Spiritual Reality or Obsession, in which a man named Watchman Nee stated something to this effect: “The doctrinal debates come to an end when one experiences the spiritual reality of the work of God in one’s life.” (Paraphrased)
While it is good to have understanding, humanly speaking, it seems we cannot totally understand the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration. In John 3:8, Jesus likened the Spirit’s work of regeneration to the blowing of the wind – it is something we may not totally understand, but it is something we can experience. 8”The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know (i.e., do not understand) where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
It is important that we seek to understand this doctrine, but the experience of this doctrine is what Jesus is ultimately after. Jesus would like us to be able to understand and teach this doctrine to others, but what He is ultimately after is that we experience the reality of being born again. Our testimony and witness are not based upon our ability to understand and explain the doctrine – it is based upon our personal experience of the spiritual reality. This is essentially what He said to Nicodemus in John 3:11:
11Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, ….. In other words, “We know what we’re talking about – we’ve experienced it.”
Spiritual realities like regeneration are mysteries of God. Doctrine is an effort to give a biblical explanation of a biblical experience. You may not fully understand the doctrine, but you must experience the spiritual reality of being “born again”.
The experience of regeneration – being born again – takes place by the work of the Spirit of grace and is received through faith. But this does not mean: “You just have to accept it on faith”, (meaning believing it without experiencing it). This experience can be likened to the good works that follow true faith which James spoke about. In fact, James said that faith that doesn’t work itself out into your experience in “dead” – it’s questionable as to whether it can save you. Being born again is not something you “just accept on faith” that it has really taken place. Being born again involves having an experience with the Creator of the Universe – it is obviously and assuredly life changing.
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“A Biblical Experience of Regeneration” is an excerpt from the eBook “You MUST Be Born Again”, pages 12-14. See the corresponding eBook on our website.
At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications © 2010
“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13
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 John 1;12
 Ephesians 2:5
 John 5:24 & I John 3;14
 John 5:24
 Ephesians 2:5
 Romans 6:3-6
 Colossians 3:9-10
 James 2:14-26