Our experience of regeneration determines our subsequent experiences of life.
The experience of regeneration initiates something that continues for eternity. Regeneration orients us for the rest of our life and becomes the standard by which we evaluate all other life experiences. When we are awakened to what transpired within us at the time of our salvation, we begin to value “that which is really life.”
…lay hold on that which is really life. –1 Timothy 6:19
Regardless of how apparently real or contributory others’ lives are without Christ, they live in a psuedo reality, a virtual world. They may be successful. They may be an activist. Their life may tell a compelling narrative. Yet in God’s eyes none of it is real, in a relative sense. Yes, it actually happened, but it happened all in the realm of shadows- pointers to another reality in Christ (Colossians 2:17).
Regeneration is a point of embarkation. It confers on those who experience it a prize and an authority (Colossians 2:8, John 1:12-13). The prize- we become among those privileged to enjoy Christ as everything. The authority- we have the right to continue in this all encompassing experience until Christ is all to us. He is our food, drink, breath, clothing, house. This doesn’t mean that we withdraw from the physicality of existence and become a hermit or nun. It means that every life event becomes a dual experience. We eat our breakfast and are reminded to eat Christ (John 6:57). We take a deep breath and simultaneously maintain our spiritual life pulse by calling on the Lord’s name (Lamentations 3:55-56).
However, it’s possible as Christians to live outside of the continuing experience of our regeneration. We should not receive this new life and then remain in our old context with life as usual.
4 views on the experience of regeneration:
You’re bad and need to have a change or improvement. This may be likened to having bad eyesight and getting corrective lenses. Regeneration then is a life-saver thrown to you in the sea of moral depravity. Regeneration is described as a washing but also as a birth. The cup is cleansed but also filled. This is the objective only view.
As long as you behave, do good works, and remain in God’s favor then this experience is yours. But just as it came, it could go. There’s no feeling of stability, power, or safety. This is the reversible birth concept.
You have your ticket to heaven. You received everlasting life but plan to live a long life, maybe until 80, and then at the end when you need it, this life will kick in and cause you to live forever. This was an event in time past with no durative consequences. A distant moment of glory. Your come-to-Jesus moment. He came into your heart, but stays inert, the same, unchanging with passive indifference, like a lump of graphite embedded under the skin. Later you’ll say, let me recount to you my experience 20 years ago.
This is what I tried to describe at the start. Another life, Christ Himself, enters your spirit and begins a revolution. This life is not static or inert. It moves, grows, and transforms you from within. This life becomes a realm in which you conduct your existence. This life is incorporated into all your daily ventures so that your experience of what you received at the time of your regeneration is as real and vibrant years after. Everything becomes a reminder and an opportunity to continue in your experience of regeneration.
This fourth description makes for a compelling and exciting Christian life. Being Christian then is not boring, blasé, or dull. And it is not merely a new title we adopt to commemorate a one time experience. It is a progressive and expanding endeavor of experiencing the divine life that we received, all the time.
Yes… but… this life only flourishes as we learn to put to death ‘self’ (or ‘the flesh’) with all its clamouring for attention. Therein is the cross.
Definitely John! Putting to death the flesh is part of continuing in the experience of regeneration. This is why in John 3 the Lord mentions being born of water and the Spirit. Water refers to John’s ministry of baptism and repentance. We were baptized into the death of Christ.
We often lapse into amnesia with regard to how fallen, dark, weak, inept, superficial our old man is. We’ll only have a continual experience of this life if we realize we are in a second by second need of supply and mercy. 1 Peter 1:3 connects our regeneration with the Father’s mercy. It is the Father’s mercy that light can break through and we could have a limited comprehension of how much we need Him. That realization will motivate us to cling to the life of God.