How Does God Regnerate Us by John Piper
One of the unsettling things about the new birth, which Jesus says we all must experience in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), is that we donâ€™t control it. We donâ€™t decide to make it happen any more than a baby decides to make his birth happenâ€”or, more accurately, make his conception happen. Or even more accurately: We donâ€™t decide to make it happen any more than dead men decide to give themselves life. The reason we need to be born again is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Thatâ€™s why we need the new birth, and thatâ€™s why we canâ€™t make it happen. This is one reason why we speak of the sovereign grace of God. Or better: This is one reason why we love the sovereign grace of God.
Our condition before the new birth is that we treasure sin and self-exaltation so much that that we cannot treasure Christ supremely. In other words, we are so rebellious at the root of our fallen human nature that we canâ€™t find it in ourselves to humbly see and savor Jesus Christ above all things. And we are guilty for this. This is real evil in us. We are blameworthy for this spiritual hardness and deadness. Our consciences do not excuse us when we are so resistant to Christ we canâ€™t see him as supremely attractive.
Fire and Heat Inseparable
Something has to happen to us. Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit has to work a miracle in our hearts and give us new spiritual life. We were dead, and we need to be made alive. We need ears that can hear truth as supremely desirable, and we need eyes than see Christ and his way of salvation as supremely beautiful. We need hearts that are soft and receptive to the word of God. In short, we need new life. We need to be born again.
The way this happens, as we have seen so far, is that the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. The new spiritual life that we receive in the new birth is not separate from union with Jesus, and it is not separate from faith. When God in the riches of his mercy and the greatness of his love and the sovereignty of his grace chooses to regenerate us, he gives us new life by uniting us to Christ. â€œGod gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Sonâ€ (1 John 5:11). Our first experience of this is the faith in Jesus that this life brings. There is no separation of time here. When we are born gain, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again. When there is fire, there is heat. When there is new birth, there ... More....
Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Finally Alive by John Piper