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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Regeneration

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
Titus 3:5 (KJV)

This verse is the only specific reference regarding regeneration with respect to salvation yet it has become a point of great contention among believers. Most today have accepted the notion that regeneration is equivalent to salvation and once more I attribute this fact to the wide spread acceptance and application of Systematic Theology. I contend that when we examine this verse without the weighty implications associated with Systematic Theology we can come to a better understanding of the term.

Most who read here would agree that our salvation is an act of God done by grace through faith. Given this understanding it seems clear to me that this verse is simply relating a more detailed, yet not full, explanation of the grace of God “by” which we are saved. This explanation is being related apart from any reference to the specific means “through” which God accomplishes our salvation, namely faith, but it does not negate or remove the necessity for faith at all. Faith is still the necessary means through which God’s grace is imparted and so to equate regeneration with salvation would be to ignore the vital and necessary means through which we are saved. It should also be noted that salvation results in the creation of a new creature in Christ, not the renewing of the old one. It should also be clear that the regeneration and renewing in view here are a necessary event that must occur prior to salvation.

Does that imply that God saves us before we believe? Absolutely not! Does it mean that God must move before a man can be saved? Absolutely! Now does that mean that God does not move in all men? Not in any way, but when He Does it is in accordance with His timing and His will and He is not at the disposal of a man in any way! So then this means that all men will be saved? Oh how I wish, but the sad truth is that most refuse to believe and so the faith through which God’s grace is imparted and through which He accomplishes salvation is never present in them and they remain condemned through their unbelief.

The washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost cleanses us of our prejudice and restores our attitude toward God; the attitude we had as children. It reveals to us His word and command to believe. In essence God restores us to the same condition that Adam was in prior to the fall, the condition we were in when we were first created, and we are each faced with the same circumstance as Adam. We must obey God’s word and believe and then live or turn again to our own reason and understanding for pride’s sake.

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22 Comments:

Blogger Missy said...

KC, I like what you say here! And thank you for pointing to this scripture. I think I found my missing link that ties together all that I have been studying ;-) (you seem to be good at that!)

This scripture was initially challenging for me so on to a word study...

Quoting from Strong's def. of paliggenesia, the word translated as regeneration:

"This word means 'new birth'...and is used of 'spiritual regeneration'...that free act of God's mercy and power by which He removes the sinner from the kingdom of darkness and places him in the kingdom of light; it is that act by which God brings him from death to life. In the act itself (rather than the preparations for it) the recipient is passive, just as a child has nothing to do with his own birth."

It seems to me that the disagreement has been what the "act" is. Whether this regeneration is God granting one the ability to believe or not.

I guess I don't understand why the disagreement exists - or maybe I am just not getting something I should be, because verse 6 states:

"...Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour..."

Clearly it seems to me that the act we have no active participation in and of which we rely solely on God's mercy for is the act of Christ's sacrifice ??

3/07/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

KC, this is an interesting post. I would certainly agree with you that regeneration does not exclude faith.

I would be interested to know why you believe that regeneration precedes salvation. I would take this verse to mean that regeneration is God's response to our faith.

3/07/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

"This explanation is being related apart from any reference to the specific means “through” which God accomplishes our salvation, namely faith, but it does not negate or remove the necessity for faith at all.

KC, still studying! The statement you made above, I would contend with. I do believe this verse specifically addresses our faith and affirms it's role in our salvation.

Again, from Strong's, this time an expanded def. of "anakainosis" the word translated as "renewing" -

"Anakainosis is the result of paliggenesia. [see my earlier comment of this word]...Anakainosis, by contrast, is the gradual conforming of the person to the new spiritual world in which he now lives, the restoration of the divine image. In this process the person is not passive but is a fellow worker with God."

Titus 3:3-7, seem to completely describe the elements of salvation to me!

3/07/2007 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

[Devils advocate]

How do you get this! The first part very obviously states that not according to "works" of righteousness.
If we say faith comes from us as a means to abtain grace then our faith is a work.

3/07/2007 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy you're such a blessing in these studies!

I know there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the specific meaning of these words and their implication. I understand a more literal translation of " paliggenesia" to be "again-become". Could it be there is some theological influence on the Strongs interpretation? I consider this even more probable given that the root word “pailin” holds a cyclic denotation. If this is true then my understanding would be that regeneration is synonymous to restoration. I find “anakainosis” to mean “renovation” which again implies renewing what is as opposed to creation. I hope that helps to explain why I hold the position I do on this. ;-)

Preacher , to be plain what I’m saying is that the washing of regeneration is the preaching of the word and that renewing is the effect of the Holy Spirit’s power on us. In essence I see these two actions equivalent to the grace by which we’re saved and I believe to extract some other meaning from this verse would be in error. My explanation of regeneration and renewing is my understanding of what it is that God specifically does in order for us to come to the knowledge of the truth. This, of course, is prerequisite to salvation. How He does it is a whole nother can-o-worms and way beyond me! ;-)

Kris, Kris, Kris! (hehe)

While it is certainly true that our salvation not only does not, but cannot be accomplished through any work on our part it does still involve us! Believing is no a labor or toil that is hearing! (How’d I do?) ;-)

3/07/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, I also agree with your understanding of the further meaning of the these two words, but I am slightly differing from you in my conclusion.

This scripture says to me that both this restoration and renovation required for salvation comes from God in the form of Christ. That the first, "regeneration" is a one-time thing that we have nothing to do with and comes only from God,(I believe this to be the Singular Sacrifice of Christ) and the second "renewing of the Holy Spirit" is a continuous process of renovation in which both God and man play a role in (God by the washing in Christ, man by his faith). The second cannot take place without the first, but the first can certainly take place without the second!

Christ's sacrifice offers restoration to all, and any inkling of faith in this begins the renovation.

(BTW - I am stating this like fact as I am thinking "out loud" - but you know as well as I that I could be wrong!)

3/08/2007 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

"While it is certainly true that our salvation not only does not, but cannot be accomplished through any work on our part it does still involve us! Believing is no a labor or toil that is hearing! (How’d I do?) ;-)"

Oh.....you did good, I give up. I cannot continue in this system, you win. :)


It's just some levity, all.... love still prevails!

3/08/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sorry to be slow in responding. Busy, busy busy! ;-)

Missy, I would say you are the perfect person with which to debate this and a very worthy opponent! ;-)

You said, "This scripture says to me that both this restoration and renovation required for salvation comes from God in the form of Christ. That the first, "regeneration" is a one-time thing that we have nothing to do with and comes only from God" and to this I agree with the exception being the implication that there are second or subsequent regenerations which are classified as sanctification.

My argument is that there is no further regeneration at all and that sanctification, in the scriptural sense, occurs the moment we are created a new creature in Christ. The popular belief is that we work our way into holiness. I understand we are holy, not because of our works, but because of Christ' work on the cross and that what righteousness might be seen is us is only a reflection of Him. We now walk in the Spirit in newness of life and not in the flesh in a renewed old life. The washing of regeneration is the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26) and the renewing of the Holy Ghost is the renewing of our mind (Ephesians 4:20-24) so then it would be in error to try and develop a doctrine of sanctification from this verse, let alone one that would have us believe that the flesh is somehow made holy through righteous living. Righteous living is the consequential to having been made holy and not vise-versa.

You said, “Christ's sacrifice offers restoration to all, and any inkling of faith in this begins the renovation.” I would say Christ’ sacrifice provided justification to life for all but only through faith can we secure it and that the washing of regeneration by the word preached to us in conjunction with the renewing of our mind by the Holy Spirit is the grace of God by which we are saved.

(I would hope you will always argue well. How else can we expose the errors in our systems?) ;-)

Kris, it would have been better if I had proof read it first! (hehe) That should have read, “Believing is no more a labor or toil than is hearing!” Levity in love and love in levity seem prerequisite here! ;-)

3/08/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, sorry I took a little longer to respond, but I really wanted to consider this.

I think that we are both pretty much saying the same thing, but my ignorance of some specific terminology keeps me from being understood fully. Maybe?

You said:

"I would say Christ’ sacrifice provided justification to life for all but only through faith can we secure it and that the washing of regeneration by the word preached to us in conjunction with the renewing of our mind by the Holy Spirit is the grace of God by which we are saved."

I don't know if this changes anything for you, but to more fully align your statement with my understanding of the text of Titus 3:3-7, I would make some grammatical changes:

...Christ’ sacrifice provided justification to life for all, but only through faith AND the washing of regeneration by the word preached to us in conjunction with the renewing of our mind by the Holy Spirit can we secure it. This is the grace of God by which we are saved.

Does that make any sense?

BTW - I am not being critical of your grammar, I am just illustrating the faint nuances of our difference. :)

3/09/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, what about this one?

Christ’ sacrifice provided justification to life for all but only through faith in Him, which is wrought by the grace of God in the washing of regeneration by the preached word in conjunction with the renewing of our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit, do we secure it.

Titus 3:5 can then be seen as addressing the grace whereby we are saved but in no way addresses our faith through which we are saved.

As a matter of understanding I would also add to the above;

“Being then born from above into life everlasting we are created by God a new creature in Christ Jesus, created for the good works appointed in Him from before the foundation of the world.”

I would appreciate any and all criticism you might offer, always. I know it is always constructive. ;-)

3/09/2007 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, can you state back to me in your own words what you think I am trying to convey? I am not sure I am expressing what I want to :)

3/09/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

And here I’m trying so hard not to put words in anyone’s mouth! (hahaha)

Based on your previous contention it seems you consider eternal life to be progressively earned with the potential for loss where I contend it is a present possession of the believer, which could never be earned or secured by him or her but is secure the very moment we first believe in Christ Jesus.

So did I miss the mark? ;-)

3/09/2007 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Although I believe there is "one sin that leads to death" - disbelief - my understanding is spot on with yours.

To me faith = belief, and possibly equals "willingness to be persuaded." This is not progressive - the switch is either on or off. The electricity is flowing, the wiring is in place, but we control the switch.

My take on the "renewing" that is described in Titus is that it is a partnership with God, in that our only required role is faith.

Is this viewed as a "works" salvation?

3/09/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, I'm so sorry for my slow response. I've started it three times and got interrupted. I was called away yesterday then my oldest and her hubby came to stay the weekend. A client showed up this morning and I'm working on his problem as I'm typing this. I started a reply three times but I'll do my best to get it done this weekend. Please forgive me? ;-)

3/10/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Forgiven, of course! But all is well. I do not have personal time to think on weekends anyway.

I just appreciate that you do not give up on this crazy young fool!

3/10/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, you’re so kind and I appreciate your humility but you know well it is the old fool who is most grateful for this dialog. ;-)

I’ve tried to think of how best to relate my understanding of the doctrine of eternal security. I like your light switch analogy very much but I find it applies better to our walk in this life than it does to the eternal life we have as new creatures in Christ.

I think it fair to say that the unforgivable sin is of unbelief but not unbelief itself but rather born of it. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as illustrated in Mark 3 and Luke 12, is railing against the Spirit of God in His very presence. If it were simple unbelief then we all would be held accountable in that. We know that the new creature is perfect, being born of God it cannot sin. Given this knowledge it is not possible that he would not only sin, but sin in this manner and therefore end that, which by definition, is unending. Could a man walking in the flesh commit such a crime? I fear those not walking in the Spirit are as capable, if not more capable of sin than the lost but to say this sin for certain, I can’t. I do know he could even forget he was once purged and I do believe he could fall away into apostasy so that he could never be renewed, bearing in mind that I understand that renewing and regeneration are for the flesh and not the new creature. This man can only look for the judgment in which his works shall be burned and he will “suffer loss though he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” I think the key to understanding eternal security is in the understanding that no flesh shall inherit the Kingdom of God but that which is born of God shall never die.

I hope this helps clarify my understanding on eternal security and, as always, I look forward to your thoughts. ;-)

3/11/2007 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, thanks for your response, it has given me a lot to think about. This view definitely lends explanation to scriptures I could not reconcile.

By your answer, it seems that you do agree that the renewal of the Holy Spirit does require one's willingness, and that one may even withdraw himself from it. (embarassing confession: had to look up "apostasy"!)

This is where I get a little stuck, because of the "AND" in the verse we are referencing in Titus, "...he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, AND renewing of the Holy Ghost..."

If the renewing stops, can the salvation stop? Am I being too literal here?

3/12/2007 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy I think we’re looking at two different things and calling them both salvation (which is quite common) and then applying this verse to both our perspectives.
;-)

I see this verse in Titus as relating to what God does to reveal the spoken word in our heart I don’t believe it is possible to prevent this. The Gospel presented with His Spirit washes our mind of all prior misconceptions and misgivings and renews our capacity to believe as a child, without understanding.

How would you apply it beyond the moment we first believe?

3/12/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

I guess I was focusing on the tense of the words rather than the full context. I do agree, after further expansion, that this scripture is most likely referring to a time when they first became believers.

I find this an error easily made when I focus in on something to the exclusion of the full story - an error I typically run away from if I can!

You have given me a lot to think on, and my mind is spinning a bit. May we pick up the discussion another day when I have had some time to study out some of this in a more expansive way? Any resources to suggest?

3/12/2007 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sis I don’t call questioning something an error at all and I am honored to be able to study with you anytime. I’m afraid the only reference material I could offer is the scripture but I would suggest you shred everything I’ve said with it. You, of all people, can find my errors and save us both some grief. ;-)

3/12/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, I just posted a story that these conversations with you here, some recent conversations between you and Adam in one of your recent posts, some discussions at Rose's and my own studies have inspired.

I grasp most clearly in parables, not logic. This is one of the many things I love about Jesus!

3/20/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, you've really been blessed with words. That's a great story!

3/20/2007 09:00:00 PM  

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