Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John Owen on Regeneration

Sometimes the Christian life can be discouraging. We take baby steps. We sin. We repent. Rinse. Repeat. During these cycles, it's easy to wonder if anything has really changed deep down inside. You may not have had these thoughts run through your head, but I have.

Here are a few passages from John Owen on regeneration - what happened when we were born again. I hope they will encourage you as they have me. When the doubts come, there's nothing better than looking away from my present condition and being reminded of how God raised my spiritual corpse to life.

God began the work of salvation. He will finish it, and He gets all the glory.

Regeneration is the putting into the soul of a new, real, spiritual law of life, light, holiness and righteousness which leads to the destruction of all that hates God and fights against him.
Regeneration produces an inward miraculous change of heart. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." Regeneration is not produced by the outward signs of a moral change of heart and is quite distinct from them (Gal. 5:6; 6:15)
Regeneration is a creating act of almighty power. A new principle or law is created in us by the Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:10; Eph. 2:10). This new creation is not a new habit formed in us. but a new power and ability. So it is called "the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4). This new creation is a habitual new power and ability created in us by God and it bears his image (Eph. 4:22-24).
Regeneration renews our minds. Being renewed in the spirit of our minds means that our minds now have a new, saving supernatural light, to enable them to think and act spiritually (Eph. 4:23; Rom. 12:2). The believer is "renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him" (Col. 3:10).1
All this is the work of the Holy Spirit. He brings us who were dead in trespasses and sins to life. He gives us a new heart and puts a new spirit within us. He writes his laws in our hearts, so that we may know and do the will of God and so walk in his ways. He works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He makes them who were unwilling and obstinate to become willing and obedient, and that by their freedom of will and choice.
In the same way, he implants in our heart a prevailing love for God, causing the soul to cling to him, and his ways with delight and satisfaction (Deut. 30:6; Col. 2:11).
By nature, the heart is depraved so that the mind and will desire to fulfill the lusts which are in it (Gal. 5:24; James 1:14,15), but the Holy Spirit circumcises the heart with its lusts and desires, and fills us with holy, spiritual love, joy, fear and delight. The Holy Spirit does not change the essence of our desires, but sanctifies them by his saving light and knowledge. By this he unites the desires to their proper object which is Christ.2
1. The Holy Spirit, John Owen, R.J.K. Law editor, Banner of Truth Trust, 2006, pp. 48-49.
2. Ibid. pg. 93.


  1. A wonderful post and one I needed to read this day! Thank you so much!

    1. I'm glad you were encouraged, Barbara.