Getting Regeneration and Conversion Right

A common evangelical mistake is to make regeneration synonmous with initial spiritual birth and thereby to deny that it has anything at all to do with the process by which the Holy Spirit works to consummate what he begins through initial salvation.

The same mistake is made with regard to misunderstanding conversion. Conversion is often seen as synonmous with the first movement toward Christ but it should also be understood as a process. Donald Bloesch rightly concludes: "We err both by viewing the initiatory stage of regeneration as the climax of the Spirit’s work and by treating regeneration as a general life process that entails no decisive break with the past."

Regeneration clearly has a broader sense in Scripture and thus should have such a broader sense in our theology. It involves the whole work of cleansing and renovation. In the narrow sense it refers to the "act or acts" by which we come into communion with Christ but even in this limited, or narrow, sense it includes several stages; e.g., seeking for Christ by the Spirit’s prompting and commitment to Christ in the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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