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Jesu, Juva

In the regeneration

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We’ve considered how regeneration as it is used today is not the same sense in which the word is used in Scripture or even by the 16th century reformers. This has some interesting implications.

First, as we highlight the greater work of the Spirit in the new covenant (e.g., Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8, 10), it is possible to overstate things. At times you will hear the implication that the regenerating work of the Spirit is new to the new covenant, but this cannot be the case, at least in the ordo salutis sense of regeneration. Anyone who was saved under the old covenants was saved in just the same way: through faith alone, by grace alone, by the work of Jesus alone, and only by the life–giving work of the Holy Spirit. However, if we consider that the regeneration, as Scripture uses the term, is not an internal reality so much as a status or stream into which we are placed, then there is a clear sense in which this is new to the new covenant. The king has finally now arrived with his kingdom and is seated on his throne; this life–giving stream finally now flows out of each of us to one another (John 7:38); so that you could even say the great change is that life is now contagious rather than death (Mark 5 versus Leviticus 15 and Numbers 19). We are no longer islands of life but currents of the life–giving stream itself; zephyrs of the great wind (John 3:8). And those who die now no longer wait under the altar (Rev. 6:9) but are blessed indeed (Rev. 14:13) with perfect rest. In this sense of the word, then, believers are now, for the first time in history, regenerated.

Second, this turns on its head the question of how much the new covenant moves from operating in corporate realities to individual realities. Individual realities are not lessened, of course; it is individuals who participate in this great salvation and this stream of regeneration. But the corporate–social realities are actually heightened in the new covenant. God’s people are transformed from the body of Moses (Jude 9) to the body of Christ. In this body there is a new kind of life-giving and cohesive power of the Holy Spirit that has never been seen before; so much so that this corporate body itself is a new creation and experiences rebirth (Ezekiel 37, John 3). To be saved is not merely to participate in a covenant and be joined to a body, but now to participate in the regeneration (Matt 19:28) that is and is to come.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 6, 2018 at 10:34 pm

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