In the Regeneration

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As evangelicals, we are very familiar with the concept of regeneration—the renewing of an individual from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus talked about in his famous conversation with Nicodemus. (John 3.1-8.) Jesus called it being “born again” or being “born from above.” (John 3.3, 7.) What we tend to miss, however, is that individual regeneration is only half the story. There is another regeneration that Jesus is bringing about that is cosmic—it involves the entire creation. This is what Jesus is talking about in Mat 19.28. It is also what Paul is talking about in Rom 8.19-21. Individual regeneration is something that is inside us. Cosmic regeneration is different, for we are inside it. This should not surprise us. You cannot talk about omelets without talking about eggs. By the same token, if you change the eggs, you change the omelet. It is not one or the other; it is both. Individual regeneration is glorious. But we need to recapture the glory of Jesus making the whole world new. Jesus, through his death, resurrection, ascension, and pouring out of the Spirit has brought eternal life—the life of Jesus’ resurrection—to us personally. The fact that we still struggle with sin does not change the fact that we have eternal life now. Jesus has also brought the life of his resurrection to the creation. The fact that there is still sin, decay, and corruption in the world does not change that fact. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and sat on his throne, heaven and earth were changed forever. For the first time, there was a glorified man sitting on the throne of God in heaven. For the first time, all authority in heaven and on earth were given by God to a man. For the first time, the Spirit of God was poured out upon mankind. (Acts 2.17, quoting Joel 2.28.) And as man goes, so goes the world. (Psalm 115.16; Rom 5.12, 18; 8.20-21.) There is no going back. The effects began small, and they grow slowly, just like Jesus said they would—like leaven working through bread. (Mat 13.33.) But once the leaven has gone into the bread, there is no stopping it. Nothing will ever be the same. Jesus has not only changed you and me, he has changed the world forever. I hope you enjoy the sermon. Thanks for listening. —Alan Burrow

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