Regeneration, also called new birth, is the hidden act of God where he gives new spiritual life to undeserving sinners. John says that the children of God are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. The will of man does not bring about regeneration, it is purely an act of God. The same thing can be seen in Eph. 2:5 where Paul says God “made us alive together with Christ”. Peter says that “according to his abundant mercy (God) has given us new birth (1 Pet 1:3). Regeneration is an act of God’s mercy to undeserving sinners.
The Second issue of importance is one of timing. Despite much misunderstanding among Christians is part of Conversion, not the result. God’s work of regeneration is what changes us, giving us the ability to have ears to hear the gospel favorably and a heart that will receive it. 1 Peter 1:23 and James 1:18 reveal the way new birth enables the sinner to respond to the gospel in faith.
The need for regeneration is rooted in total depravity. As descendants of Adam, we are desperately wicked. We are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:4 cf. Col. 2:13). “No one understands, no one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11). Unless God changes our nature, we will continue to reject him. His words will continue to be foolishness to us. This is why Jesus says “No one can come to me unless it has been granted him by the Father” (John 6:65) and “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
The final issue of regeneration concerns the result of regeneration. A changed life is always the result of regeneration. This work of God changes the lost person completely effecting every part of his being. John says “No one who is born of God will continue in sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9). The reality of new birth makes one seek to do what is right (1 John 2:29), love his brother (1 John 4:7), overcome the world (1 John 5:3-4), have victory over Satan (1 John 5:18, 4:4), and develop the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).