Regenerated to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

by Mike Ratliff

6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον [ἐστὶν] λυπηθέντας ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NA28)

6 In this you greatly rejoice, for a little while now, if it is necessary, having been grieved by various trials, 7 that the tested genuineness of you faith—infinitely more valuable than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6.7 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A few weeks ago we looked at the doctrine of the imputation and what that means to the believer and what implications it has on both how we handle the gospel and how we live this Christian life. The following quote is from John Wesley, “The doctrine of imputation saws off the leg of holiness…” I am writing this post because in our time men like  Rick Warren and those who follow him are revealing their Pelagian roots by insisting that people must “work” in order to be right with God and that the doctrine of imputation is something “made up” by the Reformers like Calvin. I actually had that accusation thrown at me in a Facebook discussion group the other day. 

What is their argument? They insist that the doctrine of imputation will create antinomianism because we will not “work out our salvation,” since we have been declared righteous, we can live any way we want. However, that “charge” is unbiblical for another very large and important doctrine, the doctrine of regeneration. We understand Sacred Scripture to teach that God regenerates all those He calls to believe and draws to the Son. This regeneration changes everything. It is supernatural. Here is how Paul described it. in Ephesians 2:4,5, “ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, – χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι –” or “But God being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when were dead in trespasses, he made us alive with Christ – by grace you have been saved —”. Regeneration is God making a person who is spiritually dead spiritually alive in Christ by His grace. Let us look at what Peter has to say about this along with our imputed righteousness along with the call for us live unto the holiness of God.

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν, 4 εἰς κληρονομίαν ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον, τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς 5 τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ. 6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον [ἐστὶν] λυπηθέντας ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 8 ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε, εἰς ὃν ἄρτι μὴ ὁρῶντες πιστεύοντες δὲ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ 9 κομιζόμενοι τὸ τέλος τῆς πίστεως [ὑμῶν] σωτηρίαν ψυχῶν. 1 Peter 1:3-9 (NA28)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, having regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance imperishable and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in heaven for you, 5 who by the power of God are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, for a little while now, if it is necessary, having been grieved by various trials, 7 that the tested genuineness of you faith—infinitely more valuable than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Whom not having seen you love, in whom now not seeing but believing you rejoice with inexpressible joy and having been glorified, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  Peter 1:3-9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

The words “having regenerated” in v3 translates ἀναγεννήσας, which is the aorist participle case of ἀναγεννάω or anagennaō, “to beget or bring forth again; to regenerate.” What is Peter telling us that this blessing of being “born again” or “regenerated” is due to? It is due to God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty. Also, Peter tells us in this passage that this new birth is made possible through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This new life is unto a living hope through our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, hence, so is ours. Notice that this Christian life is no cakewalk. No, all in Christ will have their faith tested. Notice vv8,9. Read them together. Notice that Peter is making a separation between our being born again unto a new life in Christ and our rejoicing with an inexpressible “and having been glorified, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” This is talking about our justification. In other words, in Peter’s day, Christians were taught the truth. They had proper doctrine preached to them and were not given this silly gospel of decisional regeneration that we have prevalent in our time which is not THE GOSPEL Peter is talking about. Peter’s readers would have understood this.  How many today read this passage and “get it?”

10 περὶ ἧς σωτηρίας ἐξεζήτησαν καὶ ἐξηραύνησαν προφῆται οἱ περὶ τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος προφητεύσαντες, 11 ἐραυνῶντες εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρὸν ἐδήλου τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ προμαρτυρόμενον τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα καὶ τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας. 12 οἷς ἀπεκαλύφθη ὅτι οὐχ ἑαυτοῖς ὑμῖν δὲ διηκόνουν αὐτά, ἃ νῦν ἀνηγγέλη ὑμῖν διὰ τῶν εὐαγγελισαμένων ὑμᾶς [ἐν] πνεύματι ἁγίῳ ἀποσταλέντι ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ, εἰς ἃ ἐπιθυμοῦσιν ἄγγελοι παρακύψαι. 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NA28)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours sought out and inquired 11 searching for what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was making clear in them, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and afterwards, the glories. 12 It was revealed to them that there were ministering to you not to themselves, in things that have now been announced to you through the ones who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter 1:10-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Carefully read vv10-12. If you have been taking your justification for granted I suggest you rethink it. We have received astounding blessings in that the O.T. prophets prophesied the blessings we received by God’s grace, but they only ministered the prophecy. Our salvation is free in that it is by grace, but it was costly.

13 Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν νήφοντες τελείως ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς μὴ συσχηματιζόμενοι ταῖς πρότερον ἐν τῇ ἀγνοίᾳ ὑμῶν ἐπιθυμίαις 15 ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἅγιοι ἐν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ γενήθητε, 16 διότι γέγραπται ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιός . 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NA28)

13 Therefore, having girded up the loins of your mind, being self-controlled, hope completely on the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As children of obedience, not conforming yourselves to the former ignorance of your passions, 15 but according to the holy one who called you, so also yourselves become holy in all conduct 16 because it has been written, ‘You will be holy because I am holy.’ (1 Peter 1:12-16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Please notice this call to holiness never presumes a completed work of perfection in this life. The verb structure here assumes a process as we conform to the holiness we are called to. Peter assumes that we are in a process of maturing in Christ. We still sin and must learn to live in light of who we are in Christ. In this temporal reality each of us are imperfect and struggle with our flesh, this world and our enemy, however, our eternal reality is that we have been justified by God with the imputed righteousness of Christ. If I should die after posting this tonight or even right now, I know that I would be in the presence of my Lord right then and I would no longer have any of these issues. Oh, to be with my Saviour!

For now, each of us must learn to gird up the loins of our minds, learning to be self-controlled in the power of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God. In this we learn to mortify our sin and become those living sacrifices Paul talked about in Romans 12:1,2. Is this taking the imputation of Christ’s active and passive obedience for granted? No, and the truly regenerated believer cannot.

Soli Deo Gloria!