"You were dead… then God made you alive."

This pithy summation of regeneration found in Colossians 2:13 is packed with meaning — pregnant with theological impact (pun shamelessly intended).

When we come to Christ we are instantaneously swept into a spiritual, life-giving current – even before our conscience minds are aware of it. Think of the new mother who carries a not-yet-detected child within her.  Totally apart from any effort (or awareness!) on her part, the child "becomes" and then grows with frenzied speed and purpose.

So, too, the newborn child of God bursts into life!

"You have been raised," states the apostle, unable to contain his expectant joy as he pens the words to the newborn Colossians. You're alive! Life is coursing through your soul. The fresh scent of heaven suddenly fills your senses. New desires, passions, revulsions, joys, angsts, ideas…all begin to emerge with reckless spontaneity.

What is happening? Spontaneous Regeneration! As Bavinck puts it, "In regeneration the Holy Spirit does not merely by the Word illumine the intellect but also directly and immediately infuses new affections into the will. Faith and repentance are the fruits of an omnipotent operation of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of a seed planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit."[1]

In the church we are given front-row seats at this fascinating and miraculous display of divine magic. Old become new. Death turns into life. Enemies become sons. Life awakens.

But listen, the task of the church is not to be spectator-only. God urges us His church to actively foster and nurture this new life. The mysterious paradox of regeneration is that God does it all – and then invites to join in the effort. "Here, put these on," He urges, "and quick, get rid of those."

That's where things get "real." Messy. Faltering. Imperfect. But it is a glorious calling! It delighted the Apostle and filled him with expectant optimism. Discouraging? At times. (Okay, a lot of times!) But what a spectacular thing to see! What a glorious work to be part of!

Let's do this, Church!     


[1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Abridged in One Volume), (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2011), p. 499.