The Ordo Salutis: Regeneration

The word is the instrumental cause of regeneration.

The act of regeneration is not a drawing out of man something which was always lying within man, dormant, falling short of its potential. No. Regeneration puts life, the divine life, within each elect soul, who were spiritually dead. And this life, which comes from outside of man, is Christ’s own eternal life.


Perhaps the most thorough definition of regeneration came from the pen of Herman Witsius, the 17th century Dutch theologian, in his work, The Economy of the Covenants: “Regeneration is that supernatural act of God whereby a new and divine life is infused into the elect person, spiritually dead, and that from incorruptible seed of the word of God, made fruitful by the infinite power of the Spirit.”

I think he has covered every base, maybe even the pitcher’s mound!

In this lesson on the ordo salutis we will follow Witsius, and run through the essential truths of regeneration, a necessary work of God in the application of Christ’s accomplishments.

First, regeneration is a supernatural act of God.

In his letter to the Ephesians, our apostle says: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….” (Eph. 2:4-5).

Regeneration is the act of being made alive. Without it we remain dead in our sin. Thus, regeneration is an instantaneous act. There is no slow way out of death. You are either in or out of it. By regeneration we are, in a moment, brought from spiritual death into newness of life, the eternal life, which belongs to, and is mediated by, our blessed Lord Jesus.

This act of regeneration upon the nature of man is performed by God alone. It is monergistic. The work of one. Man does not cooperate. Indeed he cannot, for sinful man is dead in his trespasses, not only under condemnation, but in bondage to the corruption of a fallen nature. What can the dead do to prepare themselves for life? No more than a child can do to will he or she be conceived. New spiritual life is all of God. It is both irresistible and irrevocable.

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