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Charles Hodge – What Is Regeneration?

1 May

1797-1898. Principal of Princeton Theological Seminary from 1851-1878.

It is a New Life

5. While denying that regeneration is a change either in the essence or acts of the soul, evangelical Christians declare it to be, in the language of Scripture, “a quickening,” a ζωοποιει̂ν, a communication of a new principle of life. It is hard, perhaps impossible, to define what life is. Yet every man is familiar with its manifestations. He sees and knows the difference between death and life, between a dead and living plant or animal. And, therefore, when the Bible tells us that in regeneration God imparts a new form of life to the soul, the language is as intelligible as human language can be in relation to such a subject. We know that when a man is dead as to the body he neither sees, feels, nor acts. The objects adapted to impress the senses of the living make no impression upon him. They awaken no corresponding feeling, and they call forth no activity. The dead are insensible and powerless. When the Scriptures declare that men are spiritually dead they do not deny to them physical, intellectual, social, or moral life. They admit that the objects of sense, the truths of reason, our social relations and moral obligations, are more or less adequately apprehended; these do not fail to awaken feeling and to excite to action. But there is a higher class of objects than these, what the Bible calls “The things of God,” “The things of the Spirit,” “The things pertaining to salvation.” These things, although intellectually apprehended as presented to our cognitive faculties, are not spiritually discerned by the unrenewed man. A beautiful object in nature or art may be duly apprehended as an object of vision by an uncultivated man, who has no perception of its esthetic excellence, and no corresponding feeling of delight in its contemplation. So it is with the unrenewed man. He may have an intellectual knowledge of the facts and doctrines of the Bible, but no spiritual discernment of their excellence, and no delight in them. The same Christ, as portrayed in the Scriptures, is to one man without form or comeliness that we should desire Him; to another He is the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely; “God manifest in the flesh,” whom it is impossible not to adore, love, and obey.

This new life, therefore, manifests itself in new views of God, of Christ, of sin, of holiness, of the world, of the gospel, and of the life to come; in short, of all those truths which God has revealed as necessary to salvation. This spiritual illumination is so important and so necessary and such an immediate effect of regeneration, that spiritual knowledge is not only represented in the Bible as the end of regeneration (Col. 3:10; 1 Tim. 2:4), but the whole of conversion (which is the effect of regeneration) is summed up in knowledge. Paul describes his conversion as consisting in Christ’s being revealed to Him (Gal. 1:16); and the Scriptures make all religion, and even eternal life, to be a form of knowledge. Paul renounced everything for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ (Philippians. 3:8), and our Lord says that the knowledge of Himself and of the Father is eternal life. (John 17:3). The whole process of salvation is described as a translation from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. There is no wonder, therefore, that the ancients called regeneration a φωτισμός, an illumination. If a man born blind were suddenly restored to sight, such a flood of knowledge and delight would How in upon him, through the organ of vision, that he might well think that all living consisted in seeing. So the New Testament writers represent the change consequent on regeneration, the opening the eyes on the certainty, glory, and excellence of divine things, and especially of the revelation of God in the person of his Son, as comprehending almost everything which pertains to spiritual life. Inseparably connected with this knowledge and included in it, is faith, in all the forms and exercises in which spiritual truths are its objects. Delight in the things thus revealed is the necessary consequence of spiritual illumination; and with delight come satisfaction and peace, elevation above the world, or spiritual mindedness, and such a sense of the importance of the things not seen and eternal, that all the energies of the renewed soul are (or, it is acknowledged, they should be) devoted to securing them for ourselves and others.

This is one of the forms in which the Bible sets forth the doctrine of regeneration. It is raising the soul dead in sin to spiritual life. And this spiritual life unfolds or manifests itself just as any other form of life, in all the exercises appropriate to its nature.

~Charles Hodge~


Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 144–145. Free PDF | $2.99 Kindle Version

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John Calvin – The Medicine Doesn’t Feed The Disease

16 Apr

john-calvin

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1-2

Paul proceeds carefully to disprove the propounded slander. He, however, first rejects it by an indignant negative, in order to impress it on the minds of his readers, that nothing can be more inconsistent than that the grace of Christ, the repairer of our righteousness, should nourish our vices.

Who have died to sin, &c. An argument derived from what is of an opposite character. “He who sins certainly lives to sin; we have died to sin through the grace of Christ; then it is false, that what abolishes sin gives vigour to it.” The state of the case is really this,—that the faithful are never reconciled to God without the gift of regeneration; nay, we are for this end justified,—that we may afterwards serve God in holiness of life. Christ indeed does not cleanse us by his blood, nor render God propitious to us by his expiation, in any other way than by making us partakers of his Spirit, who renews us to a holy life. It would then be a most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in Christ; for medicine is not a feeder of the disease, which it destroys.

~John Calvin~






Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 218–219.

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Matthew Henry – I Shall Behold Your Face

9 Apr

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgArise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, 14 from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. 15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. – Psalm 17:13–15.

He pleads his own dependence upon God as his portion and happiness. “They have their portion in this life, but as for me (v. 15) I am none of them, I have but little of the world. Nec habeo, nec careo, nec curo—I neither have, nor need, nor care for it. It is the vision and fruition of God that I place my happiness in; that is it I hope for, and comfort myself with the hopes of, and thereby distinguish myself from those who have their portion in this life.” Beholding God’s face with satisfaction may be considered, (1.) As our duty and comfort in this world. We must in righteousness (clothed with Christ’s righteousness, having a good heart and a good life) by faith behold God’s face and set him always before us, must entertain ourselves from day to day with the contemplation of the beauty of the Lord; and, when we awake every morning, we must be satisfied with his likeness set before us in his word, and with his likeness stamped upon us by his renewing grace. Our experience of God’s favour to us, and our conformity to him, should yield us more satisfaction than those have whose belly is filled with the delights of sense. 2. As our recompence and happiness in the other world. With the prospect of that he concluded the foregoing psalm, and so this. That happiness is prepared and designed only for the righteous that are justified and sanctified. They shall be put in possession of it when they awake, when the soul awakes, at death, out of its slumber in the body, and when the body awakes, at the resurrection, out of its slumber in the grave. That blessedness will consist in three things:—[1.] The immediate vision of God and his glory: I shall behold thy face, not, as in this world, through a glass darkly. The knowledge of God will there be perfected and the enlarged intellect filled with it. [2.] The participation of his likeness. Our holiness will there be perfect. This results from the former (1 Jn. 3:2): When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. [3.] A complete and full satisfaction resulting from all this: I shall be satisfied, abundantly satisfied with it. There is no satisfaction for a soul but in God, and in his face and likeness, his good-will towards us and his good work in us; and even that satisfaction will not be perfect till we come to heaven.

~Matthew Henry~


Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 765.

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John Flavel – The Glory of Regeneration

7 Mar

Man, by degeneration, is become a most disordered and rebellious creature, contesting with, and opposing his Maker, as the first cause, by self-dependence; as the chiefest good, by self-love; as the highest Lord, by self-will, and as the last end, by self-seeking; and so is quite disordered, and all his acts irregular: His illuminated understanding is clouded with ignorance, his complying will full of rebellion and stubbornness; his subordinate powers, casting off the dominion and government of the superior faculties.

But by regeneration this disordered soul is set aright again: sanctification being the rectifying and due framing, or as the scripture phrases it, the renovation of the soul after the image of God, Eph. 4:24 in which self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love by the love of God; self-will by subjection and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking by self-denial. The darkened understanding is again illuminated, Eph. 1:18 the refractory will sweetly subdued, Psalm 110:3 the rebellious appetite, or concupiscence gradually conquered, Rom. 5:7 per tot. And thus the soul which sin had universally depraved is again by grace restored and rectified.

~John Flavel~






The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, Volumes 1-6, vol. 5 (London; Edinburgh; Dublin: W. Baynes and Son; Waugh and Innes; M. Keene, 1820), 425–426.

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Jonathan Edwards – God Designed to Restore All the Ruins of the Fall

1 May

God’s design was perfectly to restore all the ruins of the fall, so far as concerns the elect part of the world, by his Son; and therefore we read of the restitution of all things. Acts iii. 21. “Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things; and of the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord Jesus.” Acts iii. 19. “Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Man’s soul was ruined by the fall; the image of God was defaced; man’s nature was corrupted, and he became dead in sin. The design of God was, to restore the soul of man to life and the divine image in conversion, to carry on the change in sanctification, and to perfect it in glory. Man’s body was ruined; by the fall it became subject to death. The design of God was, to restore it from this ruin, and not only to deliver it from death in the resurrection, but to deliver it from mortality itself, in making it like unto Christ’s glorious body. The world was ruined, as to man, as effectually as if it had been reduced to chaos again; all heaven and earth were overthrown. But the design of God was, to restore all, and as it were to create a new heaven and a new earth: Isa. lxv. 17. “Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” 2 Pet. iii. 13. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

The work by which this was to be done, was begun immediately after the fall, and so is carried on till all is finished, when the whole world, heaven and earth, shall be restored. There shall be, as it were, new heavens, and a new earth, in a spiritual sense, at the end of the world. Thus it is represented, Rev. xxi. 1. “And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.”

~Jonathan Edwards~






The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 2007) p. 535.

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Geerhardus Vos – The Spirit Produces and Sustains Our New Life in Christ

9 Apr

Coming back to Paul we may adopt for guidance the two-fold aspect in which the eschatological function of the Spirit appears in his teaching. On the one hand the Spirit is the resurrection-source, on the other He appears as the substratum of the resurrection-life, the element, as it were, in which, as in its circumambient atmosphere the life of the coming aeon shall be lived. He produces the event and in continuance underlies the state which is the result of it. He is Creator and Sustainer at once, the Creator Spiritus and the Sustainer of the supernatural state of the future life in one.

~Geerhardus Vos~


The Pauline Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ; P&R Publishing, 1994), 163.

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Jonathan Edwards – The Resurrection of Christ is the Most Joyful Event That Ever Came to Pass

29 Mar

This resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass; because hereby Christ rested from the great and difficult work of purchasing redemption, and received God’s testimony, that it was finished. The death of Christ was the greatest and most wonderful event that ever came to pass; but that has a great deal in it that is sorrowful. But by the resurrection of Christ, that sorrow is turned into joy. The Head of the church, in that great event, enters on the possession of eternal life; and the whole church is, as it were, begotten again to a lively hope, 1 Pet. i. 3. Weeping had continued for a night, but now joy cometh in the morning. This is the day of his reigning, as the head of the church, and all the church reigns with him. This day was worthy to be commemorated with the greatest joy…

It is further to be observed, that the day of the gospel most properly begins with the resurrection of Christ. Till Christ rose from the dead, the Old-Testament dispensation remained: but now it ceases, all being fulfilled that was shadowed forth in the typical ordinances of that dispensation. Here most properly is the end of the Old-Testament night; and Christ rising from the grave with joy and glory, was like the sun rising after a long night of darkness, appearing in joyful light to enlighten the world. Now that joyful dispensation begins, that glorious dispensation, of which the prophets testified so much. Now the gospel-sun is risen in his glory, and with healing in his wings, that those who fear God s name, may go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

~Jonathan Edwards~






The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 2007) p. 586.

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Jonathan Edwards – How the Resurrection Was Part of the Success of Christ’s Sufferings

26 Mar

Indeed Christ’s resurrection (and so his ascension) was part of the success of what Christ did and suffered in his humiliation. For though Christ did not properly purchase redemption for himself, yet he purchased eternal life and glory for himself, as a reward of what he did and suffered: Phil. ii. 8, 9. “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” And it may be looked upon as part of the success of Christ’s purchase, since he did not rise as a private person, but as the head of the elect church; so that they did, as it were, all rise with him. Christ was justified in his resurrection, i.e. God acquitted and discharged him hereby, as having done and suffered enough for the sins of all the elect: Rom. iv. 25. “Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” And God put him in possession of eternal life, as the head of the church, as a sure earnest that they should follow. For when Christ rose from the dead, that was the beginning of eternal life in him. His life before his death was a mortal life, a temporal life; but after his resurrection it was an eternal life: Rom. vi. 9. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” Rev. i. 18. “I am he that liveth. and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen.”—But he was put in possession of this eternal life, as the head of the body; so that the whole church, as it were, rises in him. And now he who lately suffered so much, is to suffer no more for ever, but has entered into eternal glory.

~Jonathan Edwards~






The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 2007) p. 585.

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Jonathan Edwards – The Resurrection Power of Christ Exerted in Our Hearts

22 Mar

Gracious affections arise from those operations and influences which are spiritual, and that the inward principle from whence they flow, is something divine, a communication of God, a participation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart, the Holy Spirit dwelling there, in union with the faculties of the soul, as an internal vital principle, exerting his own proper nature in the exercise of those faculties. This is sufficient to show us why true grace should have such activity, power, and efficacy. No wonder that what is divine, is powerful and effectual; for it has omnipotence on its side. If God dwells in the heart, and be vitally united to it, he will show that he is a God by the efficacy of his operation. Christ is not in the heart of a saint as in a sepulchre, as a dead saviour that does nothing; but as in his temple, one that is alive from the dead. For in the heart where Christ savingly is, there he lives, and exerts himself after the power of that endless life, that he received at his resurrection. Thus every saint who is the subject of the benefit of Christ’s sufferings, is made to know and experience the power, of his resurrection.

~Jonathan Edwards~






The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 2007) p. 316.

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George Whitefield – An End Worthy

12 Feb

These, these are the precious truths, which a scoffing world would fain rally or ridicule us out of. To produce this glorious change, this new creation, the glorious Jesus left his Father’s bosom. For this he led a persecuted life. For this he died an ignominious and accursed death. For this he rose again. And for this he now sitteth at the right hand of his Father. All the precepts of his gospel, all his ordinances, all his providences, whether of an afflictive or prosperous nature, all divine revelation from the beginning to the end, all centre in these two points, to show us how we are fallen and to begin, early on and complete a glorious and blessed change in our souls.

This is an end worthy of the coming of so divine a personage. To deliver a multitude of souls of every nation, language and tongue, from so many moral evils and to reinstate them in an incomparably more excellent condition than that from whence they are fallen, is an end worthy the shedding of such precious blood.

~George Whitefield~




The Sermons of George Whitefield edited by Lee Gatiss (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) Sermon 13: The Potter and the Clay

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