The new birth or regeneration is an inner recreating of fallen human nature by the Holy
Spirit. It changes the disposition from lawless, godless self-seeking into one of trust
and love, of repentance for past rebelliousness and unbelief, and loving compliance with
God's law henceforth. It enlightens the blinded mind to discern spiritual realities and
liberates and energizes the enslaved will for free obedience to God.
The use of the figure of new birth to describe this change emphasizes two facts about
it. The first is its decisiveness. The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he
was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried
with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of
The second fact emphasized is that regeneration is due to the free, and to us,
mysterious, exercise of divine power. Infants do not induce or cooperate in their own
procreation and birth; no more can those who are dead in trespasses and sins prompt the
quickening operation of God's Spirit within them.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.
If I had a car with the engine that was ready for the grave, I'd have a new engine put in. I'd take the car into a mechanic who
would put it in for me. If when I got that car back, it ran just as poorly, I'd begin to wonder if the old really had been
replaced or just cleaned up. It is not different with our new lives in Christ.
Henry Eerdmans, Christian Personal Ethics, 1957, p. 383ff.
Rebirth or regeneration is monergistic, not synergistic. It is done by God and by God alone. A dead man cannot cooperate with
his resurrection. Lazarus did not cooperate in his resurrection. Regeneration is a sovereign act of God in which man plays no
role. After God brings us to life, of course, we certainly are involved in "cooperating" with Him. We are to believe, trust,
obey, and work for him. But unless God acts first, we will never be reborn in the first place. We must also realize it is not as
if dead people have faith, and because of their faith God agrees to regenerate them. Rather, it is because God has regenerated us
and given us new life that we have faith.
R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk, 1989.
Once there was a brier growing in a ditch and there came along a gardener with his spade. As he dug around it and lifted it up
the brier said to itself, "What is he doing? Doesn't he know I am a worthless brier?" But the gardener took it into his garden
and planted it amid his flowers, while the brier said, "What a mistake he has made planting me among these beautiful roses."
Then the gardener came once more and made a slit in the brier with his sharp knife. He grafted it with a rose and when summer
came lovely roses were blooming on that old brier. Then the gardener said, "Your beauty is not due to what came out but to
what I put in."