What we believe about Regeneration (July 2013)

We believe in the new birth, or regeneration.

The doctrine of regeneration, or the new birth, is an essential teaching of the Churches of God. Jesus declared to Nicodemus that being born again (regenerated) is the basis for seeing and entering the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5, 7).

Regeneration is the radical transformation of an individual life from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. Christ speaks in Matthew of the necessity of becoming like children (Matthew 18:1-4).

Christ teaches the necessity of entering a new way of life. Through regeneration a new life is made possible by Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:6). It involves a new relationship to God, a new relationship to others, and a new attitude toward the world.

We believe we must respond to God’s offer.

This new life is a supernatural[i] change. It comes to the individual not by human efforts, but by the power and influence of God. This truth is expressed by the Evangelist John (John 1:12, 13). God does not give new life to someone who is not willing to be changed. God offers salvation, but does not force any person to receive it. God does not destroy or alter our choice to accept or reject this offer.

To experience regeneration, we must recognize our need for a new life, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to receive it (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). This involves recognizing one’s sinfulness, both sins we commit and sins of omission[ii] (Romans 3:23; James 4:17) and turning to Jesus in true repentance and confession (Romans 10:9-13). All who do so will find new life in Christ (Romans 6:23).

Those who have matured to the point that they are capable of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are in a state of accountability before God and need regeneration. They are able both to understand their own personal sinfulness and to respond to God independently. Although often occurring in later childhood, this may vary according to the spiritual perceptiveness[iii] and mental capacity of the person.

We must recognize that our sin is separating us from God, and must be willing to repent. Repentance means willingness to confess sinfulness and to turn from a sinful life. With repentance comes God’s forgiveness (Acts 3:19). Through a sincere response to the marvelous forgiving love of God, Christ comes into our lives and makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are truly born again.

[i] Supernatural – that which is outside the normal human experience; not explainable by human science.

[ii] Sins of omission – failure to do what is right due to ignorance or negligence.

[iii] Perceptiveness – ability to comprehend.