Part 5 - Soteriology
Chapter 29 - Puritans on Regeneration

Puritans with the earlier Reformers rejected baptismal regeneration of Rome.  So they had to explain how regeneration happened, then.

Earlier Reformers used the term regeneration about every point of the Christian life, not just the beginning.  God's call and our regeneration were used interchangeably until the second generation Reformers, when Turretin said, "A thing [regenerated new life] ought to exist before it can work [respond to God's call]" (465).

Regeneration is necessary for us.  Jesus tells Nicodemus so in John 3 ("You must be born again.")
We must be made new to be fit for God.  Without this, the cross of Christ does not bring us to God.
It's one thing to know what the new life is, but another thing to have it.

Regeneration is neither a physical and substantial change to our makeup, nor simply the Spirit helping us be better.  It is an inward change, not merely outward.  It is God's work, not partly ours, since we are dead when it happens.  The Puritans used the word physical to describe the Spirit's work of regeneration, but this was in opposition to the Arminian idea of regeneration as moral persuasion.  They said the Spirit wouldn't force the will as if we were blocks of stone, but only persuade it.  The Puritans said regeneration was an actual (their word "physical) change of our will.

God works regeneration immediately in our hearts, especially considering elect infants, and He usually uses the Word of God to do it.

Regeneration renews every part of man, mind, heart and will.  Rome may think only one part is fallen and needs to be restored.  Arminians think the will is coaxed.  But each part is reborn, to know, love and choose God.

Regeneration is irresistible by definition.  It is the Spirit making alive and freeing the will of man to do what it was made to do.  This doesn't make us puppets, but what we were made for.  Romans 9:19; James 1:18 demonstrate this.  Verses that speak of resisting the Spirit mean His outward call, not inward regeneration.

Regeneration can't be undone.  God starts what He finishes (Phil. 1:6).  It isn't that we endured, but that God preserves us.

Regeneration only happens to the elect. 1 Peter 1:2-3 connects the elect tightly with those born again.  They are the same group.

Regeneration does not happen automatically at baptism, though in the elect the Spirit uses baptism as a means to bring new life about.

You can tell regeneration by certain signs.  A willingness to be examined, a love for the saints, respect for God's commandments, a working against all sin (1 John 3:9-10).  False signs are a profession of faith without works to prove it (James 2), seeking repentance to avoid punishment only, and seeking the Lord for "outward mercies" only.

This was all excellent.  Some in my circles question many of these points, but I do not.  From John 3 to 1 Peter 1:2-3, Scripture teaches what the Puritans articulated, especially in Westminster.

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