Christianity has a lot of big words… and whether we like it or not, these words are some of the most important words in existence. Many of these big words aren’t used in everyday conversation, or our culture has different definitions for them that don’t fit with their biblical understanding. Therefore, it’s critical for us to learn what these words mean when we find them (or their concept) used in Scripture. You may be the kind of person who doesn’t get excited about big words and hates playing Scrabble with people who do, but if you’re a Christian, the big words of your faith contain realities that should leave you brimming with enthusiasm. Why? Because these words aren’t just for stodgy theologians who write books for other stodgy theologians, these words are for you and they matter for you this very day.
Today let’s look at the meaning and practical importance of the big word, Regeneration. Regeneration literally means “another genesis” or “a new beginning”. It is this concept that Jesus is referring to in John 3:3, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In order to believe the gospel and live our lives to please God, our hearts need a complete overhaul, not just a remodel. Paul tells us that no unregenerate sinner is righteous, does good, or seeks for God (Romans 3:11-12). Before we received salvation we were spiritually dead people surrounded by other spiritually dead people in a world where Satan is real and powerful. We needed to be recreated from the inside out, but we could not do this for ourselves and neither could anyone else on earth; our new life had to be created by God. So, God sent the Holy Spirit to transform us into followers of Jesus who desire him, value him, love him, obey him, and worship him (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Of course, we still sin as we live in this sinful world with a sinful nature still residing in us, but where we had no capacity to please God or love him before, we now have the ability to choose him over sin and self with every temptation that comes down the pike.
Why does this matter for you today? It matters because we don’t see our regeneration as the miracle that it truly is. As a result, we don’t stand amazed at God as much as we should, and because we don’t stand amazed at him as we should, we fail to pursue him and worship him as we should. If there were a dead body on the floor in front of you with all the obvious signs of death and the body suddenly got breath back in its lungs, stood up, and skipped out the door whistling the theme to Andy Griffith, you would not be able to describe the awe and amazement you felt. But the reality is, our spiritual rebirth is no less a miracle, and I think it could even be argued that it is more a miracle than bringing a person from physical death to physical life. But the problem is that we don’t treat it that way because we can’t see it with our eyes. Christians, when we see our new life in Christ as astounding as God says it is, then our lives will reflect that astonishment with greater worship and more zeal in knowing the one who would do such a thing for us!