The Nature of Regeneration
Perfect Love - Part 3
by J.A. Wood
Section III - Justification
6. What is Regeneration — its nature and extent?
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Part 3 of a series of excerpts from a book, "Perfect Love, or, Plain Things for Those who Need Them." The book is in the public domain. It tells of a spiritual life higher than many people believe to be possible. The author says that he has experienced this higher spiritual life, and wants his readers to experience it too.
Regeneration is the impartation of spiritual life to the human soul, in which God imparts, organizes, and calls into being the capabilities, attributes, and functions of the new nature. It is a change from death to life, from the dominion of sin to the reign of grace, and restores the spiritual life which was lost by the fall. It is instantaneously wrought by the Holy Spirit, and always accompanies justification.
1. Dr. J. Dempster says: "You ask in what, then, does regeneration consist? Simply in this threefold change — namely, justification, partial renovation, and divine adoption. The first changes the believer's relations to the infinite government, but effects no renovation of his heart. The second changes his affection sufficient for him to achieve the control of downward tendencies. The third introduces him into the divine family, of which he is made aware by the witnessing Spirit of adoption." — Sermon before Biblical Institute.
2. Rev. Luther Lee says: "Regeneration is a renewal of our fallen nature by the power of the Holy Spirit, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whereby the regenerate are delivered from the power of sin which reigns over all the unregenerate. Regeneration reverses the current of the affections, and so renews the whole soul that all the Christian graces exist. ... The power of sin is broken: the principle of obedience is planted in the heart." — Theology, pp. 194-200.
3. Bishop Foster Says: With respect to regeneration, that is a work done in us, in the way of changing our inward nature; a work by which a spiritual life is infused into the soul, whereby he (the regenerate) brings forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness, has victory over sin, is enabled to resist corrupt tendencies, and has peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; a radical change by which the preponderating tendencies of the soul are turned towards God, whereas they were previously from him — by which the love of sin is destroyed, its dominion broken, and a desire and relish for, and longing after holiness implanted." — Christian Purity, p. 43.
Bishop Foster states in the preface of the new and revised edition of "Christian Purity," that he "is not aware that a single point has been relinquished or materially modified;" hence we shall occasionally quote from the old edition.
7. What is the difference between justification and sanctification?
Justification and regeneration are concomitants and inseparable. Regeneration is the beginning or the lowest degree of sanctification, hence, every justified soul is either partially or entirely sanctified. This being the case, those professors who, through prejudice, aver they will have "nothing to do with sanctification," will have nothing to do with any religion at all.
Justification and sanctification are perfectly distinct, although the beginning of sanctification is inseparable from the justified state.
1. Justification is a governmental act, which passes in the mind of God; sanctification is a divine work wrought in the heart of man.
2. Justification precedes sanctification. which in its lowest degree attends it as one of its concomitants.
3. Justification is a relative change — changing the believer's relations to the divine government; sanctification is a radical change affecting a moral renovation in the soul.
4. Justification changes our forensic relations to God; sanctification changes our disposition of heart towards him.
5. Justification removes the guilt of sin; sanctification destroys its power, and when it is entire, cleanses all its pollution. The former secures the favor of God, the latter the "divine nature."
6. Justification secures our adoption into the family of God, our sonship, our heirship, and our spiritual affiliation; sanctification secures a preparation or meetness for "the inheritance of the saints in light." The former makes the believer a child of God, while the latter imparts the image of God.
7. Justification relieves the soul from exposure to the curse of violated law — the miseries of hell; sanctification prepares it for the gracious rewards of virtue — the felicities of heaven. The first secures a title to heaven, and the second a preparation for it.
8. Justification is an instantaneous and complete act; it has no degrees, all who are justified are freely and fully justified "through the redemption in Christ Jesus;" sanctification has degrees, some are partially, and some are entirely sanctified. The beginning, and the completion of sanctification are both instantaneously wrought. The approach to entire sanctification may be gradual.
9. Justification, God's act, and sanctification, God's work, are experimentally by faith, meritoriously by the blood of Christ, instrumentally by the word of God, and efficiently by the Holy Ghost. See John xvii. 17; 1 John i.7; Rom. xv.16; 1 Timothy iv. 5.
Dr. G. D. Watson says: "Pardon and purity are both received by separate, specific acts of receptive faith are both instantaneously wrought by acts of the Divine Will; are both attested by the Holy Ghost; are both retained by constant submission, unwavering trust; are both requisite to a happy, useful life, and both absolutely essential to admission to heaven." — Advocate of Holiness, November, 1879.