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Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Peter 1:3
1 Peter Lesson #020
July 23, 2015
“Father we’re so very grateful that we have You to come to. Because of Your grace we know that You care for us, You provide for us, and take care of us all based on who You are, not on who we are. Like salvation, we are totally dependent on You to provide for us and to sustain us. The spiritual life is based on our walk by the Spirit. As we walk by the Spirit, through the teaching of Your Word, it is God the Holy Spirit who matures us and strengthens us, and the one who produces the character of Christ in our lives. Father, let us not lose sight of the mission, that we are here not to follow our own desires and objectives but to serve You and to be witnesses to the eternal truth of the Scriptures and the work of Christ upon the Cross. Father we thank You for the time we have tonight to continue our study in 1 Peter, helping us to understand the significance of each one of these phrases we find in his opening chapter. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
It’s been about three weeks since we were in 1 Peter so I thought we’d have a review. We started off last time talking about the doctrine of regeneration because that’s what we run in to here at the beginning of 1 Peter. This is really a significant doctrine and it is one that has a lot of confusion. In fact in the first two or three hundred years, probably four hundred years of the church, regeneration was just confused with justification. The terms were used synonymously and interchangeably.
When you get into the Middle Ages another set of confusion comes in. The writers confuse conversion, regeneration and some people talk about it as a more detailed thing. Some of them just use regeneration as a synonym for all of the other mentions of salvation.
Then comes the Reformation. In the Reformation, again you just have a lot of confusion. I’ve been reading through various systematic theologies the last few days and it’s fascinating for me to see how many different ways these theologians have understood regeneration. I just think it’s very simple to break down the words and that’s what I started to do the last time. We’re looking at this phrase that we’re born again to a living hope.
(Slide 3) Peter begins with praise, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” So the key idea here that we see, or the foundation for this is God’s mercy. He causes us to be born again to a living hope, so it’s directed to something that is future. It is done through the resurrection of Christ. So Christ’s resurrection is fundamental. In innumerable Scriptures it has the idea of hope and resurrection and the future, and all that tied together. We’ll come back to look at that.
(Slide 4) We saw at the beginning that this phrase “Blessed be the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” really needs to be understood. The word used there for blessed is EULOGETOS. It means to say something good about someone so it’s the idea of praise, that God should be praised because of what He has done. Let us think about a practical application of that. When we pray we should praise God because He has caused us to be born again. We need to understand the dimensions of that but He has brought about our regeneration. He should be praised. That’s something we should thank Him for; that we have been brought from spiritual death into spiritual life.
(Slide 5) This is the result of His mercy. Mercy is the application of His love and His grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards sinners and is the production of that grace. It’s grace in operation. (Slide 6) That is the foundation for His action, His mercy. What He has done is to cause us to be born again. I’m going to say this in a couple of different ways and we’ll look at a couple of passages.
We’re not born again because we believe. A lot of people get this idea because our faith causes something. Faith is the means. Faith is never expressed as the cause in Scripture. “For by grace you have been saved, through faith”. That is not because of faith. To emphasize those are two distinct things the Greek uses two completely different grammatical constructions in order to communicate that. “Means” is the way something is done or accomplished. For example, if you want to move something from one place to another say move water from one place to another, you move it through a pipe. The pipe is not the cause of the water moving. It is simply the means by which the water gets from location A to location B. It goes through the pipe. Faith is the means by which God saves us.
A passage we ought to look at that sometimes get misunderstood is in John 1:12 which is well-known, “As many as received Him to them gave He the power to be called the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.” If we look at the next verse it talks about those who believe in His name “who were born”. That’s regeneration in John 1:13. “Who were born not of blood.” In other words this verse is saying it’s not because of your genetic heritage or your racial heritage. “Who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh” You can’t cause yourself to be regenerated through your own will. If you are positive and you trust, then it’s through faith, but it’s not the cause. It’s not the cause of your salvation. It’s not the will of the flesh nor the will of man but of God. God is the one who causes us to be born again. We trust in Christ, and then God does all the work in regenerating us. It’s not something that is done in cooperation with God. God does all of the work in regenerating us.
(Slide 7) We have to understand what this grace solution is. (Slide 8) We go back to the fundamental illustration. It’s great to use this in any gospel presentation; that is the barrier. Before Adam sinned there was no barrier between man and God, and Adam and Eve had perfect relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. When God created them and put them in the garden He told them they could eat from any tree in the garden, except one. He planted this garden. It had trees and it had bushes and berried shrubs and everything else and they could eat from anything except for one tree and God supplied an overabundance of food. God always supplies everything we need.
Now there’s an interesting point I want to make here in terms of application. Sometimes you run into this: “God I want You to supply my need. And I want you to do it either by a, b, c, or d.” God says, “I’m going to supply it by e, f, or g.” “No, that’s not how I want that worked out.” God says, “The supply is there but the only thing keeping you from it might be your pride or your agenda rather than My agenda. I’m going to give you everything but here are the options. It’s there. You have to learn to take advantage of it.”
In the Garden of Eden, of course, there was no sin. God supplied all the food they needed, except for one tree. That was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you ate that fruit you would die. Something is going to happen. That’s fundamental to understanding rebirth. There is a death that has to be changed. It’s amazing how many theologians are not focusing on spiritual death and trying to understand it and break it down into its appropriate components.
We have this sin barrier. (Slide 9) We broke that down in the past into various categories: sin itself, spiritual death, the legal, forensic penalty which is visited upon Adam. At the instant Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually. That legal condemnation, that legal spiritual death, is then passed on to all of his descendants so that every human being is born with Adam’s original sin.
That doctrine of original sin is unique and distinct to Christianity. Judaism does not have that. In Judaism they believe that people may sin, but they’re not born spiritually dead as a result of Adam’s original sin, and that the guilt and condemnation is passed on from generation to generation. This is fundamental. It is what is known as the doctrine of total depravity. I always use that word. The Calvinist doctrine is expressed as total inability, which negates any kind of positive volition. Total depravity is a much better term because it is talking about the fact that all aspects of man’s being are corrupt from sin. Everything. All of his being, the total, every component is corrupted by sin. It’s not saying you’re as bad or as evil as you could be, but it is saying that everything has been corrupted by sin so there is nothing we can do to solve that problem.
(Slide 10) The difference between the penalty of sin and spiritual death is that the penalty of sin is a legal penalty assigned to all mankind because of Adam’s original sin. Spiritual death is the personal, individual problem that each of us brings into the world that even though Christ paid the forensic penalty for Adam’s sin on the Cross, we are still born spiritually dead. That’s our individual problem. We come into this world spiritually dead. We have a problem because we have been born with the imputation of Adam’s sin and we have indwelling sin because we have a sin nature, and then we commit individual sin so those are the three problems that we face. What we’re looking at here is that we’re born spiritually dead. There is a spiritual deficit as a result of Adam’s original sin. There’s something missing and that has to be supplied. That’s supplied through regeneration.
(Slide 11) We looked at the terminology and definition last week. (Slide 13) The definition is that spiritual birth refers to being born again. That is the terminology that is used. Regeneration is a technical term. (Slide 12) I’ve put three terms here. PALIGGENESIA, used only two times in Scripture. Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.” It is used one other time in Matthew 22:28. That is the situation when Jesus is dealing with the Sadducees who tried to trap Him with this question that if a woman is married and her husband dies and you have the practice of levirate marriage and she marries his brother, and then he dies, then she marries another brother, then he dies, and this happens seven times and all seven brothers die. They ask Him the question, “Well, whose wife will she be in the regeneration?” That is a term referring to the renewal of creation. That’s used in a slightly different sense.
Then you have the second phrase, GENNAO ANOTHEN. There’s a debate you often here from people that ANOTHEN means again or it could mean above. When you have a word that is ambiguous and can have meaning one or meaning two a lot of people want to jump to meaning two because it’s obvious God is the one who causes you to be born again so therefore so it must be understood as being born from above. They’re really imposing a theology on that, not the context. When Jesus says this, Nicodemus understands this to being born a second time, not being born from above.
Of course, it is possible Nicodemus could be misunderstood but then you have another word. This is found twice in Peter. ANAGENNAO. ANA is a prefix and it means again. So what we have here is a word where it clearly means born again. When we compare Scripture with Scripture we get clarity and that’s a principle of hermeneutics. Whenever you have something that is unclear it is always defined by other passages where it is clear. You always get skeptics and over thinkers who want to reverse it and say, “Well, over here, it could mean above and because it could mean that here it has to mean that everywhere else.” They always want to go the other direction. This is because they’ve got an arrogant sin nature, usually. People like that drive pastors crazy. This is the basic terminology in the New Testament.
(Slide 13) We define spiritual birth this way: Spiritual birth or being born again is defined as the moment a person expresses faith alone in Christ alone. At that instant there is a series of things that happen simultaneously in the plan of God. We break these things out logically but there are several things that happen. They receive the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. God declares them justified. He creates and imparts a human spirit to that individual so they’re born again and they now have a new life in Christ; they are a new creature in Christ. There are all these different things that happen at that instant of faith alone in Christ alone.
What happens in regeneration is that God the Holy Spirit creates a human spirit and God the Father simultaneously imparts that human spirit to the believer and imputes eternal life to it. So He imparts the human spirit and imputes eternal life to that human spirit and the believer passes from spiritual death to spiritual life. We have the statement in Scripture, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away and all things are new.” We have this new life in Christ. The key passages for this are Titus 1:3 and John 3 but there are a couple of others that talk about this as well.
(Slide 14) We started looking at this last time when Nicodemus came to Jesus. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus is shocked by this idea that a man had to first be born again before entering into the kingdom. Turn in your Bibles to John 3 and we’ll sort of walk our way and talk our way through what happens here. Remember, the context in John is that Jesus has performed the first miracle in Cana of Galilee, which is way up north, 60–70 miles from Jerusalem, where He turns the water into wine, demonstrating that He is the Creator who can turn water into wine. Now, every-day water is turned into wine but it just takes a lot longer. Jesus does it instantly. It’s quality wine.
That is the first of His His signs in John 2:11. Then in John 2:13 we’re told that the Passover had come so Jesus goes up to Jerusalem. He travels from Galilee up to Jerusalem. That’s heading south because Jerusalem has a higher elevation so in Israel it’s up and down related to elevation. You always go up to Jerusalem and you come down from Jerusalem. In English up is north and down is south. It doesn’t matter which direction you’re going in Israel because you’re talking about elevation.
He goes up to Jerusalem and He goes into the Temple and cleanses the Temple. I think there’s a significant order there: that He demonstrates He is the Creator who can create out of nothing and then He cleanses, demonstrating He can cleanse. The next topic is talking about spiritual rebirth. There’s a logical order there demonstrating He’s the Creator, He is the one who cleanses, and then cleansing is followed immediately with talk about regeneration. We’ll see if there’s a connection between cleansing and regeneration.
So Nicodemus comes to Him. A lot of people have pointed out different points about this. I think one of the reasons Nicodemus comes to Him is that Nicodemus is very busy. He comes at night. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s trying to disguise what he’s doing because as I pointed out, it’s near the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, not long after He has been baptized by John the Baptist. He is baptized by John the Baptist, then He goes up to Galilee, and He has the first miracle at Cana, and then He goes south to Jerusalem for Passover. He was probably baptized by John the Baptism somewhere around February or March. Then He goes to the wedding and then He comes down to Jerusalem. Passover is usually sometime in April. It could be late March but on our calendar it is probably April; and on their calendar Nissan (not the car). The month of Nissan is pronounced the same way but spelled a little bit differently.
Then He comes to Jerusalem. So this is at the very beginning [of His ministry]. He comes to Nicodemus so He hasn’t done much. There is not a lot of buildup of opposition to His ministry. He is making a claim to be the Messiah by what He has done in cleansing the Temple, casting out the moneychangers, and He has performed a number of miracles. A number of people have turned to Him and believed Him. John 2:23 says that when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, “Many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” So there are a large number of people who have accepted His message that He is the Messiah.
Nicodemus has heard about these things. In John 3:2 Nicodemus says, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” As far as Nicodemus is concerned these signs have accomplished their purpose. They are the credentials that Jesus is the Messiah, and Nicodemus says that this is clear because no one can do this unless they’re a teacher come from God. That phrase “come from God as a teacher” is a phrase that was used in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the documents at Qumran. That was a way they referred to the Messiah. When Nicodemus says, “We know that You have come from God as a teacher” he is implying that Jesus is the Messiah. He is saying that Jesus is doing the kind of things that the Messiah would do and you can’t do this unless God is with you.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus is conditioning entry or the realization of the kingdom upon being born again. You are not going to go into the kingdom which is His message at the beginning of His ministry. That’s what we learn from Mark and Luke that His message is to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand. Here we learn that what He’s telling Nicodemus is that an element of that is that you have to be born again or you are not going to see the kingdom of God.
(Slide 15) Now Nicodemus is confused. He needs clarification. A lot of people are this way. When we start talking to them about the Bible they get confused because they’ve got a lot of garbage in their soul. They’ve got garbage in their soul from carnality that is part of their whole suppression mechanism, the suppression of the truth. Also, they’ve heard a lot of wrong things about the Bible and they’re confused about the Bible. They don’t know what the Bible says. When you are witnessing to someone they may be asking legitimate questions that you need to answer for clarity so they can understand the gospel.
When you’re witnessing to someone, you need to understand that sometimes people are hostile. They are asking questions because they are trying to trip you up and they want to just argue with you. Then there are other people who may appear to be hostile. You can’t tell if someone is positive just because they’re hostile. Think about Paul. Paul was really hostile. A lot of Christians probably wouldn’t want to witness to him at all because he would send them to jail and have them killed. But until the point that he turned to the Lord and trusted Him as Savior, up until that second, you would have said, “This guy is going to hell forever because he has killed Christians and he hates Jesus.” Then he turned.
So you can’t ever prejudge what someone is going to do. It may take a very, very long time before they change. Nicodemus comes and he seems to be open. He seems to be asking the right questions but he has misinformation in his soul from the rabbinical theology that they have been taught. When Jesus says that you have to be born again, Nicodemus isn’t sure what that means.
According to what Arnold Fruchtenbaum has summarized there were six ways a person could be born again. The first way was if a Gentile converted to Judaism, then they would be born again. Nicodemus is already a Jew so that wouldn’t apply. The second way a person would be born again is if someone were crowned king. That would indicate that they would be born again. Nicodemus couldn’t be crowned king because he wasn’t from the House of David. A third way you might refer to a person being born again is if a Jewish boy at age 13 is bar mitzvahed and he becomes a man, then that was also referred to as being born again. Nicodemus wasn’t 13 so that wouldn’t apply. The fourth way was that at marriage a Jew was said to be born again. We assume that since Nicodemus was on the Sanhedrin he would have already been married. You couldn’t serve on the Sanhedrin unless you were married. A fifth way was that when a rabbi was ordained, he was then born again. Nicodemus is already a rabbi. Then a sixth way in which a person was referred to as being born again was when a rabbi became the head of a rabbinical school he was said to be born again. But Nicodemus is already called a teacher of Israel so he is probably the chief Rabbi, something like that, so he already has that.
He is thinking through that he has to be born again and it’s not a, b, c, etc. He didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. He didn’t fit the preconceived categories of Judaism at the time. It is also clear that Jesus knew Nicodemus knew exactly what He was talking about. “You know the Old Testament. How do you not know this?” The only thing that I’ve been able to come up with is going back to Ezekiel 36:25–26 which is a passage relating to the beginning of the new covenant in the kingdom. When the new covenant comes into effect then the people are cleansed, and it’s spoken of as a washing.
We are going to see that this concept of washing is inherent to regeneration. What is the phrase in Titus 3:5? “By the washing of regeneration.” This idea of positional cleansing is inherent to what happens in regeneration. That is probably what Jesus is alluding to; that there should be an understanding that there was something that took place. In New Testament times, though, because they are basing their understanding on the rabbinical teaching, what would later be written down in the Mishnah, the only kind of cleansing that rabbis knew about and taught about was the kind of cleansing I mentioned earlier.
It was the first one, when a Gentile converted to Judaism. So you have either a newborn at circumcision or a Gentile at conversion would be washed. This was the sign of a new birth. With a newborn male at the time of their presentation eight days after they were born or when a Gentile converted, there was a washing that allegedly rubbed away the stain of sin. This is referenced in passages in the Mishnah. This idea was inherent in Pharisaism. In fact, in Matthew 15 when Jesus’ disciples are accused of not washing their hands, it is not about hygiene; it is their obsession with these ritual washings and cleansing. That was just an obsession with Pharisaical Jews. That is part of this.
We see there are two things that go on with regeneration. One is cleansing of sin positionally, and the other is regeneration, which adds something. So cleansing removed something. It removes guilt from Adam’s original sin, and then regeneration adds something. That’s what we see mentioned in Titus 3:5, “The washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” That expresses those two particular elements. I think that the proper order would be that first there is faith alone in Christ alone, then logically what would immediately come after that is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the declaration of our justification; then cleansing and regeneration, which is the impartation of a human spirit. Temporally, they all happen simultaneously. I’m just thinking through the logical sequence, which is different. Chronologically they all happen at the same time.
Jesus says that unless you’re born again you can’t see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus asks how a man can be born when he is old. He clearly understands this to be talking about a second event and he misunderstands. He’s probably asking his question in the tone of “I know this can’t happen but it’s what you seem to be implying.” He says, “Can a man really enter into his mother’s womb and do this all over again. I don’t think so.” That’s the tone we would have there.
Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit.” There’s a lot of debate over this phrase “born of water”. Some people have said that is water baptism. It isn’t water baptism. It probably refers to water, meaning the natural birth. What happens just before a woman gives birth? Her water breaks. You are born of water. That clear fluid that comes out looks like water. I think Jesus is simply saying that you are born physically and you are born by the Spirit. There are two different births that take place. When the physical birth takes place you come into existence. You are born.
What you were in the womb is a matter of debate, especially with this Planned Parenthood discussion. We need to understand what the Bible says. We become a full human being at the point of birth when the soul is imparted to the body. That doesn’t legitimize abortion ever. What is there in the womb is human; it is in process of becoming a full human being. This was the historic position of Judaism, that no human being has the right to interfere with the process other than God. Any interference with that process of bringing that life to full human life may not be murder but it is not to be done. It abuses that which is being formed by God in His image in the womb. This view is referred to theologically as the creationist view.
The term creationism is used to describe two things. First of all, creation as described in Genesis 1 and 2, and then the theological position that each individual human’s soul is created and imparted by God at the instant of physical birth. The other position that developed historically is called Traducianism. Traducianism was first articulated by an early church father by the name of Tertullian. He also gave us another word, trinitas, from which we get our word trinity. Until Tertullian came along, about A.D. 172 to 200 and said what we’re really saying here is that God is three in one and one in three. He’s a trinitas. Until he said that, no one could think precisely because no one had that vocabulary. After Tertullian people could think more precisely about the Trinity than Paul could because Paul didn’t have the vocabulary. He didn’t know the word Trinity. That came along some 150 years after Paul. The concept of Traducianism was developed by Tertullian, who was a materialist. He believed the soul was transmitted physically and materially through the male semen. That means what? That means the soul is not immaterial but material.
Now we don’t believe that. In fact, in the Middle Ages, in the 12th century, Thomas Aquinas who is considered the theologian for the Roman Catholic Church (who are very strong against abortion) understood this and said it was a heresy to think the soul could be transmitted through the semen. That’s just about as clear as you can make it. So for much of church history the Traducian view was taught, which I think a lot of Protestants who are not taught well do not understand this. The Traducian view was considered to be heresy even in Roman Catholicism.
In the Protestant movement you have a Presbyterian theologian by the name of William G.T. Shedd who wrote in the mid-1900s. He takes a Traducian view but he says he’s in the minority. He says the vast majority of Christians are creationists. The reason I have to always talk about this and I’ve done more detailed studies of this back in Genesis 2 in the Genesis series, and I have to take time on this, is because in the enflamed environment after Roe v. Wade, a lot of Christian theologians who were creationists prior to Roe v. Wade suddenly did a flip-flop. They thought that holding to a creationist position meant you had to affirm abortion, which is ridiculous. So they became Traducianists. People like Dr. Bruce Waltke and a number of others who were scholars but they couldn’t think their way through this because they were blinded by all the nonsense that went along with contemporary culture. So a creationist position does not validate abortion at all. It’s simply pointing out that there’s a nine-month long process, the end result of which is a full human being in the image and likeness of God and because that is the end result of that process, you don’t interfere with it. Interfering with it is morally wrong. It’s never treated as murder in the Scripture, but you better not do it. That was the historic Jewish position.
What Jesus says is that you’re born twice, once physically and once spiritually, and that that which is born of the flesh is flesh. (Slide 15) John 3:6 is really explaining verse 5. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” tells us that when he’s talking about that which is born of water, he is talking about physical birth. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Notice in that verse that the first Spirit has an upper case “s” and the second spirit has a lower case “s”, indicating a distinction there. Something new that is spirit and not Holy Spirit comes into existence at that moment of faith alone in Christ alone.
(Slide 16) This takes us back to understanding the problem of spiritual death and that Adam died spiritually. He lost some component of his immaterial makeup when he disobeyed God and ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That brings us back to our basic problem. We are getting into our issues in Biblical anthropology, which is that branch of systematic theology which focuses on what the Bible teaches about the makeup of the human being. Part of that study involves the origin and the transmission of the soul, which we just talked about under creationism and Traducianism. It also talks about the components of the soul and how man is made.
These basic components always confuse people because a lot of people aren’t taught right about this. Pay attention to this. Most of you weren’t taught right about this. You have been if you’ve been listening to me for a while but a lot of people haven’t. There are two views. View number one is that man is dichotomous, which means man is composed of two parts. Those two parts are the material and the immaterial, not the body and the soul. Those are two parts but the only people who talk about body and soul and body, soul, and spirit are trichotomists. A dichotomist is someone who says man is composed of a material part and an immaterial part. All those phrases we read about in Scripture, such as the heart of man, the kidneys, the soul, and the spirit are roughly synonymous terms talking about the immaterial part of man. Dr. Charles Ryrie takes a dichotomous position.
Trichotomy says that man as he was originally created is composed of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. And that there is a distinction there. Some people have taught this so rigidly that every time you read the word spirit with a lower case “s” you think of human spirit. The Bible isn’t that precise how it uses those terms. The word PNEUMA in Greek can mean eight, nine, or ten different things. It can be wind or breath or a mental attitude, thinking, or just that immaterial part of man. It can refer to the soul. It can refer to something that is immaterial but distinct from the soul. It can also be used as a synonym for the soul.
That has confused people in this debate. What happens is that they come along and they read phrases in Genesis like the “spirit of Pharaoh” and say, “It’s not the soul of Pharaoh, it’s the spirit of Pharaoh.” Now if you’re saying man has a human spirit and that’s distinct, how can Pharaoh have a human spirit if he’s not saved? Well, it’s easy. The word spirit is used in a non-technical, generic sense there. It’s a synonym for the soul. So you can’t just create these rigid uses of these words. You have to look at the context and see how it is being used.
We have two passages in the New Testament that make it really clear that at least at some level what is meant by the soul and what is meant by spirit in a human being are two distinct things. Now the dichotomist, like Charles Ryrie, will just say, “No, those are just used synonymously.” They’re trying to get around these passages, as it were. (Slide 17) In his benediction at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.” The insertion of “and” between each of those nouns indicates that they are three distinct things. In this verse there is clearly a distinction made between spirit and soul, soul and body, and between spirit and body. These are three distinct entities.
Another verse that does this is in Hebrews 4:12, “The Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to dividing asunder the soul and the spirit.” The Word of God can distinguish between soul and spirit even though in some cases it doesn’t. I’ve generated this diagram. (Slide 18) We have three parts of the human: body, soul, and spirit. Here we have the human body. Then we have the soul made up of self-consciousness, mentality, conscience, and volition. That’s the human soul. I’ve drawn this with the circles intersecting because they all overlap and intersect with each other.
(Slide 19) Then there was something else that was part of the makeup of Adam, and that’s the human spirit. (Slide 20) The human spirit fits like a hand in a glove to enable the parts of the soul to relate to God. I’ve got a pair of old, not really old but I’ve had them awhile, workout gloves. They are just the scuzziest things because I’ve sweated in them and they’ve gotten dirty. They’re the kind of glove that if I set them up here they would stand on their own. They’re not going to fall over and collapse. They would look like there is a hand in them, but there are no hands in them. That is the soul without the spirit because the spirit is like the hand that goes in the glove that gives it flexibility and maneuverability and for the hand to actually do something. Otherwise it just looks like there’s something there and there is nothing there. That’s the way spiritually dead people are. It looks like they are alive but they are dead.
That is what Paul says: “You being dead were made alive in Christ.” People are walking around. Their heart beats. They have thoughts. They have joy. They have measures of peace and stability and they can contribute and create and do all kinds of things, but they are spiritually dead. The central thing that animates a person is that human spirit. (Slide 19) When Adam died, that human spirit either no longer functions or it disappeared. Tthe components of the soul could no longer relate to God.
So the self-consciousness becomes “It’s all about me.” The mentality of the soul means I’m just thinking my thoughts after me and my thinking is the center of everything. I can come to actual truth only on the basis of my thinking. “Unaided thinking leads to truth”, they believe. Conscience and values and norms and standards are generated totally by what I want and what I think. And volition is all about me: “I will. I will. I will.” (Slide 20) When you are regenerate and get that human spirit, what happens is that the self-consciousness can focus on God-consciousness. The mentality can think about God’s revelation. The conscience can now be reshaped with the norms and standards of God and the volition becomes “not my will but Thy will be done.” It is only because it has now been energized and made alive by the presence of this human spirit. This is the issue. When we’re born, we’re dead. Then at regeneration we are made alive.
(Slide 21) Titus 3:5. This is the other central passage so let’s turn there for a minute. Remember all the books that start with “t” are together. 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and then Titus. We are just going to look at it without looking at the context right now. Titus 3:5–6, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Now the key is how do we understand this phrase “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit”?
You thought you knew what that meant but if you try to diagram it there are options. The options in some sense don’t make a huge difference in our understanding (Slide 22) but one way this is viewed is that the phrase “renewing of the Holy Spirit” is appositional to the washing of regeneration. That would be something like this: “the washing of regeneration which is the renewal of the Holy Spirit”. The phrase “the renewal of the Holy Spirit” is just another way of saying “the washing of regeneration.” We could translate it “the washing of regeneration, that is, the renewal of the Holy Spirit.” They would be viewed as somewhat synonymous, the second phrase explaining the first phrase. I don’t think that is what is going on here.
(Slide 23) The second way to look at this is that the washing of regeneration is a genitive that causes it. So regeneration produces a washing or cleansing and the second thing that happens is that it’s by means of renewing of the Holy Spirit. These would be two completely separate clauses. “Through the washing produced by regeneration and by means of renewing of the Holy Spirit.” So we’re saved by two different means, by washing and by renewing of the Holy Spirit.
(Slide 24) Probably the best way to understand this is how I’ve diagrammed it here. The phrase of regeneration and the term renewing both describe washing. It is a washing of regeneration and it is a washing of renewal. You have both of those phrases relating to washing and they are both done by the Holy Spirit: the washing of regeneration is done by the Holy Spirit and the washing that is the renewing is also done by the Holy Spirit. So regeneration and renewal are both the results of the washing. Both of them are caused by the Holy Spirit, so that would mean that God saved us by means of washing us with the result that we were both regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. The cleansing comes first, then the regeneration and renewal, but it all happens simultaneously. That would be the logical order. The Holy Spirit is considered to be the Agent of regeneration.
(Slide 25) The other key word that we need to really focus on is this word washing. Titus 3:5 says it’s through the washing of regeneration. Here it’s a noun, the word LOUTRON, which refers to taking a bath. It is a full and complete washing. Now I’m going to run you by the next section quickly because y’all are well taught.
(Slide 26) This goes back to John 13:4–5. I just love it when I start pulling passages together. The washing of regeneration is talking about this inauguration into the spiritual life. What word do you think of when you think of washing? It ought to be baptism, immersion into something. So this is going to show there is this intimate connection between the Church Age regeneration and the baptism by the Holy Spirit. They are two separate things but there is an intersection here related to this concept of washing. Old Testament saints were regenerated, but in the New Testament it is connected to that baptism by the Holy Spirit.
Now we go back to John 13. It’s a familiar passage. I’ve gone over this many times but some people don’t always get it. Jesus is serving the Seder to His disciples. He gets up from the table and He begins to wash their feet. He goes from table to table and He is washing their feet. Now these guys would have probably had a bath earlier in the day so they are probably pretty clean. When you walk through dusty streets of Jerusalem wearing your sandals your feet are going to get really dirty. They would be washed before you sat down. You wouldn’t have to take a bath but you would have to wash your feet.
The word that Jesus uses, and that John uses all through this to describe the washing of the feet, is the Greek word NIPTO. NIPTO just refers to washing a body part or a part of something. If you were washing your hands you would use the word NIPTO, if you were washing your feet you would use NIPTO, and if you were just going to wash your face you would use the word NIPTO. That is not the word you would use if you were going to take a bath and wash from head to toe. That would be the word LOUO. So Jesus pours the water in the basin and begins to NIPTO the disciples’ feet and wipes them with a towel.
(Slide 27) He comes to Peter and Peter says, “Lord do you wash (NIPTO) my feet?” Jesus says, “What I do you don’t realize. You don’t understand what I’m doing now. I’m giving you an object lesson. I’m giving you a visual aid here, a training aid, and you don’t understand it so keep your mouth shut. Let me do what I’m doing and it will become clear.”
(Slide 28) Peter says He’s not going to ever wash his feet. You’re not going to do this. Then Jesus said, “If I don’t wash (NIPTO) your feet you have no part with me. (Slide 29) That word part which we’ve studied before is a technical word in the Greek, which means a share of an inheritance. We think of a part like “Did you get that part in a play.” “No, I didn’t get that part.” That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about an inheritance.
The prodigal son had a fairly wealthy father, a successful businessman who had two sons. The older son is obedient. The younger son is a rake and he’s feckless. He comes to his father and he says, “Dad, I want my MEROS, my share of the inheritance.” His dad says, “This really isn’t a good idea.” But he gives it to him. The son takes the share and goes off to Las Vegas and he gambles it all away. He spends it all on wine, women, and song. He parties and ends up now in a pigsty eating pig food and thinking he’s at a 5-star restaurant. One day he comes to his senses and says, “I had it a lot better when I was back home.” When he gets home, he is afraid his father is going to kick him out but his father welcomes him with open arms. That is the teaching point related here. It’s fellowship. He comes back and he’s welcomed back in the family because he was never kicked out of the family just like believers are never kicked out of the family when they sin.
You sin, you go off, you’re away from the Lord for ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years. You come back and confess your sins and the Lord welcomes you back with open arms but you have not redeemed the time. You have wasted your MEROS. That boy comes home. His money is spent. He’s not going to get his inheritance back. It is gone. He is still loved by his father. He is still part of the family. But he has lost his inheritance. He is like believers who show up at the judgment seat of Christ and everything burns up, but they enter yet as through fire. They’ve lost their inheritance. They have no rewards when they get into Heaven.
That’s the point that Jesus is teaching. “If you don’t let Me cleanse you regularly from sin, then you’re not going to have an inheritance.” (Slide 30) Peter then understands this and says, “Lord, don’t just wash my feet. Give me a body wash. Let’s just do the whole thing.” Jesus says, “He who has bathed [LOUO] (Slide 31) needs to only to wash [NIPTO] his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean (you here is a plural, meaning the Twelve – y’all are all clean), but not all of you.” Except one of them. In verse 11 John is going to clarify this. He is talking about Judas.
Jesus says to Peter that if he is already fully clean or has taken the full bath, then all he has to do is wash his hands and his feet and he will be clean. (Slide 32) He uses the word KATHAROS for clean. That here refers to positional cleansing. It can refer to ongoing experiential cleansing so you have to look at the context. Jesus is saying that all of them are completely clean. (Slide 33) You’re saved, but not all of you, meaning one of you (Judas) is not saved.
(Slide 34) This terminology goes back to Exodus where we learn that in the tabernacle there was the laver. Whenever the priest came in he had to wash his hands and wash his feet because he had done things that were wrong and he had gone places where he should not. (Slide 35) When the priest enters in in Exodus 30:18 the word there for washing in the Septuagint is NIPTO. (Slide 36) In Exodus 40 when the priests are installed in their office, that’s when they have a full body wash, LOUO. So when Jesus uses those two terms in John 13, it is significant. He is talking about you only have to be LOUO’d once and you’re completely clean. But when you sin you have to have ongoing cleansing, NIPTO, taking place and that is confession of sin.
(Slide 38) This takes us back to Titus 3, that it is the washing of regeneration [LOUTRON]. That is that positional cleansing that takes place at the instant of salvation. We are cleansed legally, judicially of all sin. Now look at the whole context here. Titus 3:4–7. “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly (that is, the Holy Spirit) through Jesus Christ our Savior." When did that happen? On the day of Pentecost. Peter was there. He preached a sermon. “That having been justified [aorist tense].” The justification here precedes the main verb which is “we should become.” That main verb is an aorist passive subjunctive. First, you are justified; then it is for a purpose: that we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
So regeneration takes place that we should become, which is the word GINOMAI, which is becoming something we were not before. So we become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Where do we see that terminology? (Slide 40) 1 Peter 1:3, He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” That’s the same thing Paul is talking about in Titus. We are born to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Now I just want to hit two more verses (Slide 41). 1 Corinthians 2:12, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God [TO PNEUMA EK TOU THEOU]”. I taught this before. You can go back and listen to the 1 Corinthians MP3s. This EK here is unusual. Every time you search on "Spirit of God" it is always TO PNEUMA TOU THEOU. There is no EK in the middle. EK means from. This is the only place that anyone inserts a preposition in the middle of that phrase, indicating that this is something that stands out. I think, according to the context of 1 Corinthians 2, this is talking about the human spirit. That spirit is upper case in your Bible but it should be lower case. It is talking about what happens at salvation.
(Slide 43) We received the human spirit which enables us. We are no longer going to be a natural or soulish man [verse 14] which does not accept the things of the spirit of God. There we have the normal phrase TO PNEUMA TOU THEOU. The soulish man doesn’t accept the things of the spirit of God because they are foolishness to him and he doesn’t understand them, cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised. That comes with regeneration.
(Slide 44) Ephesians 2:5, “Even when we were born dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ.” So that takes us back to this concept that we’re born again. Something new comes that we did not have before, and because of that we can now have a relationship with God and understand what He is speaking. We’ll come back next time and go forward a little bit and tie it to this next concept of living hope. What does that mean? We’ll address that next time.
“Father, thank you for this opportunity to study Your Word. Help us to understand these things and to be thankful for our regeneration. We praise You because You have caused us to be born again to a living hope. Therefore, we as believers should manifest that hope. Our lives should be characterized by the reality of that hope that we are looking forward to. We are called for a purpose today in light of that future expectation. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”