The Necessity of Regeneration (II)
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8).
The Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit
One of the few things that I agree with in the Scofield Bible is his note on Jonah 2:9. The text reads, “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” The note states, “The theme of the whole Bible.” I concur 100%.
But there is still a great deal of confusion among Christians about what Jonah tells us. What I mean is this: Is the theme of the Bible that the Holy Spirit is absolutely sovereign? The answer is Yes. Whether we like the notion of absolute sovereignty is one thing and submitting to it is yet another thing.
To deny absolute sovereignty to God is to deviate from the gospel. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that there is but one gospel and that any and all who deviate from it are anathema (Gal. 1:8-9; Greek: anáthema). The pure preaching of the gospel remains the central calling of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Every deviation from God’s plan, every attempt on man’s part to make the gospel less important, and every effort to control God or his plan is in vain. All of this begs the questions: How is it that the Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates the lost soul, gives new life, and makes a new creation? Let me give you three spiritual ingredients.
First, our Lord lovingly takes care that the gospel is preached and an earnest call to leave the life of sin and to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is issued.
Second, those who are regenerated (regeneration precedes faith) have their minds powerfully enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God.
Third, by the effective spiritual working of the Holy Spirit, who causes us to be born anew, God penetrates into the innermost recesses of man—body and soul. He opens the closed heart and softens the hard heart. He instills new spiritual qualities into man’s will—both powerfully yet pleasantly.He makes the will that was dead, alive; the will that was bad, good; the will that was unwilling, willing; and the will that was stubborn, obedient.