New Life and Conversion
Chapter 41 - Regeneration and Conversion - Subjective Salvation
Because of the work of Christ, and the Spirit applying that work to us, many things happen to us. The gospel isn't only objective events, but an inward change in people. We begin with regeneration and conversion.
The Old Testament required a contrite and tender heart toward God.
Jesus told Nicodemus we have to be born again, by water and Spirit, to see the Kingdom of God.
This fits with Ezekiel's promise to sprinkle water on us and give us a new heart (36:25-26).
We don't see regeneration, but see what it does (John 3:7-8):
- faith, good works, rejecting sin, love, fruit of the Spirit.
Paul speaks of a new creation, or resurrection, which all means regeneration. All these metaphors for new spiritual life emphasize that God is sovereign over and does it.
1 Peter 1:23 and James 1:18 speak of our being born again by the Word of God. This seems to describe not the absolute beginning of our spiritual life, but our growth in new life.
[I think I disagree with Frame here. It seems instead that Paul speaks of our conversion and regeneration combined. He IS talking about the beginning of our spiritual life, which is almost always attended by the Word as a midwife.]
Regeneration can happen at any point, including in infancy. John lept for joy in Elizabeth's womb, at the coming of Jesus, also in utero. [A powerful reminder of the person-hood of the fetus in the womb!] God may regenerate many who can't express faith in response to the Word.
It is a gift from God (Acts 16:14), but nevertheless something we DO.
Faith is made up of knowledge, belief and trust.
Knowledge is what we know about God, His Word, especially our sin and His holiness, His remedy found in the cross and resurrection of Christ. Faith is just a blind leap in the dark without knowledge.
Belief is accepting this knowledge as true. This is sometimes called assent.
Trust is letting this belief govern your life, submitting yourself to Jesus, loyalty to Him. The demons lack this, though they know and believe that Jesus is the savior (James 2:19).
The Bible sometimes talks about faith or belief but means less than saving faith. John 8:31 is an example.
Faith leads to good works. Works don't earn salvation, but are an evidence of faith.
Faith is required for salvation, except for those incapable of expressing it (infants and the disabled). We need to urge faith in Christ upon all.
The flip side of faith, we have sorrow at the knowledge of our sin, renounce it believing it to be wrong, and leave it as we go to Christ and are governed by the truth we believe.
Repenting doesn't earn your salvation, but it is necessary for salvation.
We need to live lives of repentance, not just at our conversion. Humble quickness to repent is desperately needed in the church today!