Weekly Article Blog
Senior Pastor Dan Hawn publishes a weekly article which is also emailed to members and regular attenders. Let us know if you would like to receive this weekly article via email.
The Golden Chain of Salvation, Part 3
In this series of articles, we’re attempting to deepen & broaden our understanding of God’s salvation. God’s salvation is so much more than “my sins are forgiven and I’ll go to heaven when I die.” It’s includes that, but it’s so much more than that.
After election, calling and conversion (see prior articles), the next 2 links in the chain are: regeneration and justification.
Regeneration is a secret, one-time act of the Holy Spirit (accomplished at the moment of conversion) in which He raises a person from spiritual death to spiritual life. In John 3, Jesus used the term “born again” in place of regeneration.
Also without using the word, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel quotes the LORD in describing what regeneration under the New Covenant will include:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
And so, through the miracle of regeneration, we’re given a new heart & spirit (that is, a new set of desires, namely, the desires to love & obey Christ). We’re also given the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and empowers us to obey Christ. Note: The Holy Spirit “moves” us to walk in God’s ways.
Regeneration is the guarantee that real, genuine salvation will result in a changed life. Just like any desire, if the new desires to love & obey Christ aren’t acted upon (i.e., are neglected or quenched), the person will be miserable. This is the reason many Christians are lacking in joy: they’re neglecting or quenching the desire to love Christ supremely and to walk in obedience to him.
Justification is another secret, one-time act of God at the moment of conversion. Along with regeneration, God justifies the believer; that is, declares the believer to be “righteous” (i.e., free from guilt). Another way of saying it is that God declares the believer to be forever in right standing with Himself for having fulfilled all the requirements of a relationship with Him.
A common question is: Since we continue to sin throughout our lives, how can God declare us to be righteous (free from guilt) when we’re clearly not? Is that declaration not a lie or untruth?
The answer is that God takes the righteousness of Christ and assigns or imputes it to the believer (see I Corinthians 1:30). There’s actually a double imputation: (1) our sin to Christ on the cross; and (2) Christ’s righteousness to us at the moment of conversion.*
This doctrine of justification was one of the main “arguments” of the Protestant Reformation in the mid-1500’s. The Roman Catholic church then & now denies the imputation of righteousness; instead, righteousness is attained through self-effort.
Next week: adoption & sanctification