Wednesday, April 05, 2006

John Murray: Regeneration

The following is a digest of the section on "Regeneration" in Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray:

A.“An effectual call, however, must carry along with it the appropriate response on the part of the person called. It is God who calls but it is not God who answers the call” (pg. 95).

B.It is a morally and spiritually impossible for those who are depraved to respond to God's calling (Rom. 8:8; John 6:44,65)

C.Since God's call is effectual, it contains the grace necessary to answer it. This grace is the “grace of regeneration.” God effects a change in “the called” by regeneration (Ezek. 36:26). This change is a new creation, a rebirth. In John 3:8 we see that the mode of this regeneration is mysterious, the work is invisible. Jesus says that the kingdom cannot be seen apart from being born again. And in verse 5, Jesus states that it is by water and the Spirit that this rebirth takes place. Jesus does not say baptism, he says water. There is no reason to think that he was referring to water baptism. He was involved in a religious discussion with Nicodemus and would have used the word in a way that Nicodemus would have understood in the context of their discussion. For Nicodemus water would mean purification (this is how a Jew, with an understanding of the Old Testament law and sacrificial system would have understood Jesus' use of term “water”). He would have understood the need for purification to enter into the kingdom of God. “It was characteristic of Jesus' teaching to lay his finger directly upon the characteristic sin and need of those with whom he was dealing. The characteristic sin of the pharisees was self-complacency and self-righteousness. What they needed was to be convinced of their own pollution and the need of radical purification...Entrance into the kingdom of God could only be secured by purification from the defilement of sin...Regeneration...must cleanse from sin as well as recreate in righteousness” (pg. 98).

D.“Born of the Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; 1:13; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). The birth is “of divine and supernatural character.” “Born of” could be either be referring to “begetting or bearing.” What is in view is either the action of the father in begetting the child or the mother in bearing the child. Either way we are dependent on the action of the Holy Spirit. Just as we we are dependent on the action of our mother and father, we did not decide to be born. This is supported in verse 8, the wind blows as it wills.

E.We see these two aspects of being born again, the purging of sin and the recreation of life, in Ezekiel 36:25-26.

F.John makes clear elsewhere that regeneration is by God alone (John 1:13). John refers to regeneration in his epistle (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). There is a connection in these passages between a “divine begetting” and righteousness. The believer does not sin because “God's seed abides in him” (3:9). “Now, this abiding seed alludes clearly to the divine impartation which took place in the divine begetting. It is this divine begetting with its abiding consequence that is the cause of not doing sin. Hence regeneration is logically and causally prior to the not doing sin...the reason why a person cannot sin is that the person is regenerated” (pg. 101). (1 John 3:9; 5:4, 18)

G.“The regenerate person cannot live in sin and be unconverted” (pg. 104). (2 Cor. 5:17)

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  1. Kim from Hiraeth said...
    Ah! One of my "all time favorite most influential in my growth in understanding" books!

    Folks, read this book. Devour it. Read it with your Bible open. Read it more than once. You will love Christ more deeply and appreciate all that He has done to accomplish your salvation more than you ever thought possible! You will worship Him as you read this book. You will not be untouched.
    michele said...
    Have you ever read Herman Bavinck?
    Kim from Hiraeth said...
    No, but I've read exerpts from his work (usually as quotations in other works)

    What do you recommend by him?
    Kim from Hiraeth said...
    Actually, I just checked my files. I have read some articles by him (probably from The Highway--I'm a moderator there and that's where I get a lot of my reading material)

    The ones I have are on the distinction between law and gospel (funny I was just listening to the White Horse Inn yesterday and they were discussing it) and I have his article on Infra/supra. It's been such a long time since I read that that I don't remember which side he came down on. Do you know?

    Now that I've pulled them, I'll probably go ahead and read them again. I don't remember--is he still living?
    michele said...
    No and no to your questions. I was told in Doc of Man but forgot. He is very good on Justification.
    Kim from Hiraeth said...
    Being good on justification is exceedingly important in this day and age.
    michele said...
    Well, yeah. But the thing about his book (actually a section of his book) is that he starts with righteousness in the OT. How the Israelite viewed his righteousness based on the understanding of the righteousness of God and how could would keep his covenant. It is a totally different angle from the one I'm used to. Usually justification starts in the NT but he started in the OT. That's because he is a bibical theologian.

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