Is there a specific formula we can follow so God in turn must regenerate someone? In fact, could even the power of regeneration rest in our hands?
A while back, I wrote wrote a rather lengthy exegetical treatise on the Nicodemus narrative. This passage deals greatly with Jesus’s teaching on the doctrine of regeneration. I was doing my best to defend the fact that regeneration precedes faith. But regardless of your stance on the ordo salutis, hackers have been working tirelessly to break God’s code to regenerate.This has crept into our churches, past out fire walls of statements of faith. Many of the hackers happen to be pastors themselves or perhaps “church growth strategists.”
It is important for us to always remember that we do not have the power to regenerate another person. We do not have the prowess to circumvent the plan of God with regard to other people’s regeneration. The BF&M 2ooo says about regeneration:
Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.
(Notice what this statement includes: either view of the ordo salutis whether the Calvinistic regeneration precedes faith or traditionalist repentance and faith then regeneration; either view of human freedom, rather libertarianism or compatabalism. Notice what this statement excludes: regeneration is a monergistic work of man; open theism and determinism.)
Now some people have decided that they can manipulate a person’s regeneration.Using emotional music and appeals with no warrant from the scripture. Establishing the right amount of programs and entertainment to get the person to make a mere meaningless decision to get another baptism and another number. There is hardly any meaningful counseling after a profession (or perhaps just raising a hand).
Notice God means to produce regeneration. He doesn’t use all the wisdom of the world combined. He uses the foolishness of the proclaimed Gospel. Notice how the BFM 2000 says it:
The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
And the Traditionalist Statement:
We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.
And the LBC 1689
This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.
We do not have the code to regenerate a persons heart. We cannot wave a magic wand over someone and change their heart from stone to flesh. We cannot say “Bloo skidoo we can too” and jump into their heart and make it rebirthed. We cannot put them into their mother’s womb again for them to be born again. Only God can do these things.
We are called by all three statements above to be faithful to one thing: the Gospel message. We may not have the code, but we certainly have the prompt.And may we join together, whether Calvinist or not, whether libertarian or compatibilist, whether synergist or monergist, and proclaim gospel truth.