The Order of Salvation: Regeneration

 By Zachary Groff - Posted at Place for Truth:

Do you remember the moment when the Spirit of God effected your regeneration? Can you pinpoint the instant in which you were “born again” (1 Ptr. 1:3, 23)? You have probably heard testimonies describing a sudden rush of spiritual realization and conviction of sin, a settled persuasion of the truth, and a flood of affection for God in Christ and His ways, taking place all at once and at a particular time on a particular day in a particular setting. These are glorious testimonies that describe a dramatic experience of God’s regenerating grace. Yet, such accounts are not all that common, even if they illustrate the theological dynamics at play in our experience of God’s great salvation.

In the context of the ordo salutis, regeneration is most tightly linked to effectual calling, justification, and sanctification. Regeneration is the logically necessary result of the Spirit’s work of inwardly calling one of God’s elect to Christ. Temporally speaking, the new birth occurs immediately after – or better, simultaneously with – effectual calling. Without regeneration, faith – the receptive instrument of our justification – is utterly impossible. As the Westminster Standards make clear, regeneration is the indispensable precondition for believers’ sanctification (WCF 13.1) and their holy living in conformity to God’s moral law “as the rule of their obedience” (WLC 97).

As centrally important as regeneration is, most of us – including me – cannot recall the day and hour of our inward conversion to Christ, when we were “born from above” (Jn. 3:3). Though we may not remember the precise moment the Spirit changed our hearts, we can know for certain that God has granted us new life in Christ. For at that unknown moment, God our Father “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13, 14). In our regeneration, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4, 5). Such a translation from darkness to light and death to life has unmistakable effects in immediate and ongoing abhorrence for sin, love for God, delight in Christ, joy in the Holy Spirit, and sanctification, all of which are likewise born of divine grace.

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