Being born again, the spiritual change wrought in man by the Holy Spirit by which he becomes the possessor of a new life, a change in our moral and spiritual nature, conversion, the removal of guilt by Divine forgiveness, the change from the state of depravity or spiritual death to that of spiritual life. It is distinguished from sanctification, inasmuch as the latter is the work of God in developing the new life and bringing it to perfection, while the former is the beginning of that life.
Regeneration is represented in the Scriptures principally by such terms as born again, born of God,born of the Spirit and born again . . . of incorruptible seed, by the word of God.
There are also other forms of expression of deep significance with reference to the same great fact.
Ezekiel 36:25-26: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Ephesians 4:22-24: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Colossians 3:9-10: Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
The work of regeneration is specially ascribed in the Scriptures to the Holy Spirit.
John 3:5-7: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Titus 3:5: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
This is in full accord with the whole tenor of special revelation in representing the agency of the Spirit in the economy of salvation.
Regeneration by baptism, or baptismal regeneration, has been a widely prevalent error. This is due in part to an improper use of the term. A proselyte from heathenism to the Jewish religion was said to be *born again.* A corresponding use of the term crept into the early Christian Church. Those who received baptism, the initiatory rite of church membership, were said to be regenerated; but this was probably without any intention of denying the deeper work of the Holy Spirit. It was only a loose and improper way of indicating the change in a man*s external relationship. And it is proper to say that some of the advocates of the baptismal regeneration in the Church of England still use the term in this sense, and make a distinction between regeneration as effected by baptism and the great work of spiritual renewal. But the error has its broader basis in an unscriptural idea of the character and efficiency of the sacraments. And thus it is held not only by Roman Catholics, but also by many Lutherans and many in the Church of England.