Saturday, November 4, 2017

God's Role in Regeneration

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ" (Colossians 2:13)

Regeneration is sometimes called “the divine initiative.” It is the activity that God undertakes to intervene in our lives and change us from a state of spiritual death to a state of spiritual life. The Old Testament tells us that because of sin we have a heart of stone that must become a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Our hearts must go from being dead to God to being alive to Him.

Which brings us to the ideas of monergism and synergism. The theological term monergism comes from mono (one) and ergos (work). It means “one working.” A monergistic action is one where only one party does the work. It is in no way a cooperative effort. Synergism, by way of contrast, comes from syn (with). A synergistic action is one in which two or more persons are cooperating to perform the effort.

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.

Moreover, it is not simply a matter of persuasion. God can stand outside of us and seek to persuade us all day long, but if we are dead, we cannot and will not hear Him. God must invade our innermost persons and make us alive before we can hear His call.

Does it seem strange and frightening to you to hear that God intervened to make you alive before you trusted in Him? Does this cause you to be in awe of God? It should. The fear of God is the first step toward wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). God is great, and His dealings with us are awesome and sometimes frightening. Bow before Him today, and tell Him of your fear, your reverential respect, and your love.