Bible verses about regeneration
We don’t preach on the doctrine of regeneration anymore. There are many people who call themselves Christians who are not Christians. Many people have all the right words, but their heart is not regenerate. By nature man is evil. His nature leads him to do evil. An evil man cannot change himself and will not choose God. That is why it says in John 6:44, “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
Let’s find out, what is regeneration? Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual rebirth where man is radically changed.
Another phrase for regeneration would be “born again.” Man is spiritually dead, but God intervenes and makes that man spiritually alive. Without regeneration there will be no justification or sanctification.
- “We believe, that the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification and faith, is not an act of man’s free will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious and irresistible grace of God.” – Charles Spurgeon
- “So difficult is our salvation that only GOD can make it possible!” – Paul Washer
- “Regeneration is something that is accomplished by God. A dead man cannot raise himself from the dead.” – R.C. Sproul
- “God’s family, which comes into being by regeneration, is more central and more lasting than the human family that comes into being by procreation.” – John Piper
- “The true Church preaches REGENERATION; not reformation, not education, not legislation, but regeneration.” – M.R. DeHaan
Man has a heart of stone.
Man is radically depraved. He does not desire God. Man is in darkness. He cannot save himself nor will he desire to save himself. Man is dead in sin. How can a dead man change his heart? He’s dead. He can do nothing without God. Before you can understand regeneration, you have to understand how fallen man truly is. If he is dead how can he be brought to life by himself? If he is in darkness how can he see the light unless someone shines the light on him?
Scripture tells us the unbelieving man is dead in his trespasses and sins. He is blinded by Satan. He is in darkness. He does not desire God. The unbelieving man has a heart of stone. His heart is unresponsive. If you use defibrillator paddles on him nothing will happen. He is depraved to the fullest extent. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man does according to his nature.
Let’s take a look at John 11. Lazarus was sick. It is safe to assume that everyone tried to do everything humanly possible to save him, but it didn’t work. Lazarus died. Take a moment to realize that Lazarus is dead. He can do nothing on his own. He’s dead! He can’t wake himself up. He can’t snap out of it. He can’t see the light. He won’t obey God. The only thing that is going on in his life at the moment is death. The same thing goes for an unbeliever. He is dead in sin.
In verse 4 Jesus says, “this sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God.” In John 11 we see a picture of regeneration. It is all for God’s glory. Man is dead, but out of His love and His grace (unmerited favor) He makes man alive. Jesus makes Lazarus come alive and now he is responsive to the voice of Christ. Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth.” Jesus spoke life into Lazarus. Lazarus who was once dead was made alive. By the power of God alone his dead heart started to beat. The dead man was made alive and could now obey Jesus. Lazarus was blind and could not see, but through Christ he was able to see. That is biblical regeneration!
1. John 11:43-44 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
2. Ezekiel 37:3-5 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.”
3. Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
You will know them by their fruits.
You will know a true believer from a false believer by their fruit. A bad tree will not bear good fruit. By nature it is a bad tree. It is not good. If you supernaturally change that bad tree into a good tree it will not bear bad fruit. It’s a good tree now and it will bear good fruit now.
4. Matthew 7:17-18 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Take a moment to look at Ezekiel 11:19.
We see the regenerative work of God in this chapter. Notice that God is not teaching works. Notice that God is not saying, “you have to obey to be saved.” He’s teaching regeneration. He says, “I will remove their heart of stone.” It’s not something He is trying to do. It’s not something He is working on. They will no longer have a heart of stone because God clearly says, “I will remove their heart of stone.” God is going to give the believer a new heart.
What does God go on to say? He says, “then they will be careful to follow my decrees.” There are two unbiblical views on salvation. One of them is that you have to obey to be saved. You have to keep on working for your salvation. God says, “I am going to put a new spirit in them.” You don’t have to work for it. God says He is going to give you a new heart to obey.
Another unbiblical stance is that the grace of God found in Christ is so amazing you can sin all you want. Maybe they won’t say it with their mouth, but that is what the lives of many professing Christians say. They live like the world and they think they are Christian. It’s not true. If you are living in sin you are not a Christian. Ezekiel 11 reminds us that God will remove their heart of stone.
God says, “they will follow My decrees.” God has made that man a new creation and now he will follow God. To sum it up. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. We are saved by Christ. We can’t work for our salvation. It is a free gift that you don’t deserve. If you had to work for your salvation it would no longer be a gift, but something done out of debt. We don’t obey because obeying saves us. We obey because through faith in Christ we have been supernaturally changed by God. God has put a new spirit in us to follow Him.
5. Ezekiel 11:19-20 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Are you born again?
You become a Christian not when you pray a prayer, but when you are born again. Jesus tells Nicodemus that regeneration is a must. You must be born again! If regeneration does not occur your life will not change. There are no steps to being born again. You will never find a how-to manual in the Scriptures for regeneration. Why is that? Being born again is a work of God. It is all by His grace.
The Bible gives an overwhelming amount of evidence for monergism (regeneration is exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit). God alone saves us. Salvation is not the cooperation between God and man like what synergism teaches. Our new birth is a work of God.
Those who put their trust in Christ alone will have new desires and affections for Christ. There will be a spiritual rebirth in the lives of believers. They will not desire to live in sin because of the indwelling Spirit of God. We don’t speak on this anymore because in many pulpits across America even the pastor is not born again!
6. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
7. Titus 3:5-6 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
8. 1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
9. John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
10. 1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Those in Christ will be a new creation.
We have a low view of the power of God. We have a low view of the power of salvation. Salvation is a supernatural work of God where God makes a man a new creation. The problem is that most people have not been supernaturally changed. We try to water a seed that has never even been planted. We don’t know what salvation is and we don’t know the gospel. We give unconverted people full assurance of salvation and we damn their souls to Hell.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “the greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” God really makes people new creatures! For those who have put their trust in Christ it is not something you are trying to be it is something you have become by the power of God.
I talked to a man the other day that said, “I try to help people so God will help me.” It is a good thing to help people, but I talked to the man and I knew he never put his trust in Christ. He was not a new creation. He was a lost man trying to earn favor with God. You can stop your fornication, your drunkenness, your pornography, and still be unregenerate! Even atheists can overcome their addictions by their own willpower.
The regenerate man has a new relationship with sin. He has new desires. He has been given a new heart for God. He grows in his hatred for sin. 2 Corinthians 5 says, “the old has past away.” Sin affects him now. He despises his old ways, but he grows in his love for the things that God loves. You can’t train a wolf to be a sheep. A wolf is going to do what a wolf desires to do unless you change him into a sheep. In many churches today we try to train unconverted people to be godly and it won’t work.
A lost man in religion tries to do the things he hates to be in right standing with God. A lost man in religion tries to stop doing the things he loves. He is involved in a web of rules and legalism. That is not a new creation. A new creation has new desires and affections.
Charles Spurgeon gave an amazing illustration of being regenerate. Imagine if you have two plates of food and a pig. One plate has the best food in the world. The other plate is filled with trash. Guess what plate the pig is going to? He is going to the trash. That is all he knows. He is a pig and nothing else. If with the snap of my fingers I can supernaturally change that pig into a man he will stop eating the trash. He is not a pig anymore. He is disgusted by the things he used to do. He is ashamed. He is a new creature! He is a man now and now he will live the way a man is supposed to live.
Paul Washer gives us another illustration of the regenerate heart. Imagine an unconverted man being late to work. He is having a terrible day and he is rushing. Before he steps out the door his wife says, “can you take out the trash?” The unconverted man is angry and he goes crazy. He yells at his wife in anger. He says, “what’s wrong with you?” He goes to work and brags about the things he said to his wife. He doesn’t think about it at all. 6 months later he is converted. He is a new creation this time and the same scenario happens. He’s late to work and he’s rushing. Before he steps out the door again his wife says, “can you take out the trash?” In anger he yells at his wife and does exactly the same thing he did before.
Some of you are saying, “so what’s the difference?” This time as he shuts the door he feels like a knife just stabbed him in the heart. He gets in the car and as he is driving to work he feels miserable. He goes to a meeting and he’s so burdened that he says to his boss “I have to call my wife.” He gets out of the meeting, he calls his wife, and he begs his wife to forgive him. When you’re a new creation sin burdens you. Christians can’t tolerate it. David was broken over his sins. Do you have a new relationship with sin?
11. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
12. Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
13. Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
14. Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Stop striving to enter into Heaven by your own merit. Fall upon Christ.
Let’s go back to the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again. Nicodemus was a very religious Pharisee. He was striving to earn salvation by his works. He was known as a religious man and he had a high position among the Jews. In his mind he has done everything. Now imagine how he feels when Jesus says, “you must be born again.”
We see this all the time today. I go to church, I’m a deacon, I’m a youth pastor, my husband is a pastor, I pray, I give tithe, I’m a nice person, I sing in the choir, etc. I’ve heard it all before. There are many religious people who sit in church and hear the same sermon over and over, but they are not born again. Before God your good works are nothing but filthy rags and Nicodemus knew it.
When you start comparing yourself with others who profess to be Christian then you run into problems just like Nicodemus. He looked just like the other Pharisees who professed to be saved, but we all know the Pharisees were hypocrites. You say, “well I look like everyone else around me.” Who says everyone else around you is saved? When you compare yourself to man you are trapped in the problem. When you start comparing yourself to God you will start searching for the solution. Nicodemus looked at the holiness of Christ and he knew he wasn’t right with the Lord.
He sought desperately to find the answer. He said, “how can a man be born again?” Nicodemus was dying to know, “how can I be saved?” He knew his own efforts would not help him. Later on in chapter 3 verse 15 and 16 Jesus says, “whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Just believe! Stop striving to earn salvation by your own merit. You must be born again. Those who repent and put their trust in Christ alone will be regenerate. It is a work of God.
Believe that Christ is who He says He is (God in the flesh.) Believe that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the grave defeating sin and death. Believe that Christ has taken away your sins. “All your sins are gone.” Through faith Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. Believe in the blood of Christ. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Evidence that you have truly relied upon the blood of Christ is that you will be regenerate. You will be given a new heart for God. You will come from darkness to light. You will come from death to life.
15. John 3:7 “You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again.”
16. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Paul was a very ungodly man.
Before conversion Paul threatened and murdered God’s people. Paul was a wicked man. Let’s fast forward Paul’s life after conversion. Now Paul is the one being persecuted for Christ. Paul is the one being beaten, shipwrecked, and stoned for Christ. How did such a wicked man change? It was the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit!
17. Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Jesus says, “you must be born of water and the Spirit.”
Many people teach that Jesus is referring to water baptism, but that is false. Not one time did He mention baptism. On the cross Jesus said, “it is finished.” Water baptism is a work of man, but Romans 4:3-5; Romans 3:28; Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; and Romans 5:1-2 teach that salvation is by faith apart from works.
What was Jesus teaching then? Jesus was teaching that for those who put their faith in Christ they will be a new creation by the regenerative work of the Spirit of God as we see in Ezekiel 36. God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.”
18. John 3:5-6 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Let’s take a closer look at Ezekiel 36.
First, notice that in verse 22 God says, “it is for My holy name.” God is going to change His children for His name and for His glory. When we allow people to think they’re Christian, but they live like demons that destroys God’s holy name. It gives people a reason to mock and blaspheme the name of God. God says, “I am about to act for My holy name, which you have profaned.” Christians are under a huge microscope. When you get saved in front of your unbelieving friends they look at you more closely. They think to themselves, “is this guy serious?”
When God has supernaturally changed someone the world will always notice. Even if the unbelieving world never worships or acknowledges God He still gets glory. The world knows that the Almighty God has done something. If there was a dead man on the ground for 20+ years you are going to be stunned when that dead man miraculously becomes alive. The world knows when God has regenerated a man and given him new life. If God doesn’t regenerate a man then the world is going to say, “some God He is. There is no difference between him and me.”
God says, “I will take you from the nations.” Notice in Ezekiel 36 that God says, “I will” a lot. God is going to separate a man from the world. God is going to give him a new heart. There is going to be a clear difference with how a converted man lives his life and how an unconverted man lives his life. God is not a liar. If He says He is going to do something then He is going to do it. God will do a mighty work in His people. God will cleanse the regenerate man from all of his filth and all of his idols. Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will finish it.”
19. Ezekiel 36:22-23 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.”
20. Ezekiel 36:24-27 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
God will put His law in your heart.
Why is it that we don’t see God working in the lives of many professing believers? It’s either God is a liar or someone’s profession of faith is a lie. God says, “I will put my law in them.” When God writes His laws on man’s heart that will enable man to keep His laws. God is going to put the fear of Him in His people. Proverbs 8 says, “to fear the LORD is to hate evil.”
We don’t fear God today. The fear of God stops us from living in rebellion. It is God who gives us the desire and the ability to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Does that mean a believer can’t struggle with sin? No. In the next paragraph I will talk more about the struggling Christian.
21. Jeremiah 31:31-33 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
22. Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
23. Jeremiah 32:40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
Genuine Christians can struggle with sin.
Once you start talking about obedience many people are going to scream, “works” or “legalism.” I’m not talking about works. I am not saying you have to do something to maintain your salvation. I am not saying that you can lose your salvation. I’m talking about evidence of being born again. Christians do indeed struggle with sin. Just because Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead doesn’t mean Lazarus didn’t still stink because of his previously dead flesh. Christians still struggle with the flesh.
We still struggle with our thoughts, desires, and habits. We are burdened by our struggles, but we cling to Christ. Please understand that there is a huge difference between struggling and practicing sin. Christians are dead to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. We have new desires to follow Christ. We have a new heart that enables us to obey Him. God’s great goal is to conform us into the image of Christ. Remember in Ezekiel God says He is going to cleanse us from our idols.
A converted man will no longer be for the world. He is going to be for God. God is going to separate that man for Himself, but remember he can struggle and he can wander off from God. What loving parent doesn’t discipline their child? Throughout the life of the believer God is going to discipline His child because He is a loving father and He will not allow His child to live like the world. Often God disciplines us with a strong conviction from the Holy Spirit. If He has to He will cause things to happen in our lives as well. God will not let His child go astray. If He lets you live in rebellion then you are not His.
The Pharisees were not born again of the Holy Spirit. Notice that God didn’t lay a finger on them. They never went through trials. In the world’s eyes they would be seen as blessed. However, when God leaves you alone and doesn’t work in you that is a curse. David was broken, Peter was broken, Jonah was thrown overboard. God’s people are going to be conformed into His image. Sometimes genuine believers grow way slower than others, but God is going to do what He said in Ezekiel 36 that He was going to do.
24. Romans 7:22-25 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
25. Hebrews 12:8-11 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Put your faith in the finished work of Christ.
Examine your life. Are you born again or not? If you are not sure or if you need a better understanding of the gospel that saves I encourage you to click here for a full gospel presentation.