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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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a new birth; that work of the Holy Spirit by which we experience a change of heart. It is expressed in Scripture by being born again, John 3:7; born from above; being quickened, Ephesians 2:1; by Christ being formed in the heart, Galatians 4:19; by our partaking of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4 . The efficient cause of regeneration is the divine Spirit. That man is not the author of it, is evident from John 1:12-13; John 3:4; Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 2:10 . The instrumental cause is the word of God, James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 4:15 . The change in regeneration consists in the recovery of the moral image of God upon the heart; that is to say, so as to love him supremely and serve him ultimately as our highest end, and to delight in him superlatively as our chief good. The sum of the moral law is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. This is the duty of every rational creature; and in order to obey it perfectly, no part of our inward affection or actual service ought to be, at any time, or in the least degree misapplied. Regeneration consists in the principle being implanted, obtaining the ascendancy, and habitually prevailing over its opposite. It may be remarked, that though the inspired writers use various terms and modes of speech in order to describe this change of mind, sometimes terming it conversion, regeneration, a new creation, or the new creature, putting off the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man, walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, &c; yet it is all effected by the word of truth, or the Gospel of salvation, gaining an entrance into the mind, through divine teaching, so as to possess the understanding, subdue the will, and reign in the affections. In a word, it is faith working by love that constitutes the new creature, the regenerate man, Galatians 5:6; 1 John 5:1-5 . Regeneration is to be distinguished from our justification, although it is connected with it. Every one who is justified, is also regenerated; but the one places us in a new relation, and the other in a new moral state. Our Lord, in one instance, uses the term regeneration for the resurrection state: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging," Matthew 19:28 . And, accordingly, Dr. Campbell translates the passage thus: "At the renovation, when the Son of man shall be seated on the glorious throne, ye, my followers, sitting also upon twelve thrones, shall judge." We are accustomed, says he to apply the term solely to the conversion of individuals; whereas its relation here is to the general state of things. The principal completion will be at the general resurrection, when there will be, in the most important sense, a renovation or regeneration of heaven and earth, when all things shall become new.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Regeneration'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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