Over the last few weeks both Elder Poole and I have been speaking on the subject of Eternal Vital Unity. I would like to continue that this morning; at least what I believe is a corollary topic that goes right along with it. And without it the subject that I want to deal with I don’t believe makes much sense. I want to read just key verses from the 19th chapter of the gospel of Matthew. And I want to begin reading in verse 23. “Then Jesus said unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you It is easier for a camel to go through they eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed saying who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them and said unto them With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Now, let’s pause right here because what we want to get to comes next, but I want to say just a couple of words about this context here. This here follows the Lord’s dialogue with what is called the rich young ruler who came up to Him and said, “Master what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” And He told him first “Why do you call me good, there is none good but God.” Jesus was God, wasn’t He? He needed not that any should testify what was in man for He knew what was in man. He knew that man didn’t know that He was God. So, He asked him; “Why do you call me good, there is none good.” He said to enter into life, keep the commandments. And this man with all the boasting of the flesh and all the pride that could be mustered, said, “I’ve kept them all.” Well, first he asked him which ones? He said you know the commandments. He said, “All these I have kept from my youth up. What lack I now?” He said, “Go sell all that you have and give to the poor. Come follow me.” And the guy went away, because he wasn’t going to do that. So Jesus turns to his disciples and says, “How hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples, with all of the wisdom of man that they had, looked at each other and said; “If a rich man can’t get in, who then can be saved?”
For times may have progressed but one thing hasn’t changed, and that is just like in this day. They look at the rich of the world and say These have got to be the people to follow. These have got to be the ones to get everything that can be got. These are the ones that we want to be like. Who then can be saved? Jesus says it so plain, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then answered Peter and said unto him, “Behold we have forsaken all and followed thee. What shall we have therefore?” We’ve forsaken all! This man hasn’t forsaken anything and he went away sorrowful. But we have forsaken all, what are we going to have? Oh, Peter, impetuous, fleshly, Peter! So much like you and I sometimes. Behold we’ve forsaken all and followed thee, what shall we have? It reminds me of the question that Satan asked God when the sons of God came to present themselves before Him. And the Lord looked at Satan and said, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” And Satan looked at him and said, “Does Job serve God for nought? You’ve built a hedge around him, you’ve given him all this.” Peter wanted some of that. I believe that Peter was looking strictly at a material thing here. He said, “We’ve left all, what are we going to get? This guy’s got his, surely we’re going to get something.” Listen to what He says, “And Jesus said unto them,” Peter said it but He said unto them because He knew they were all thinking the same thing. “Verily I say unto you that ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Now, here is the text that we have. And I am going to hopefully show how it leads us right straight to that eternal union that we have been speaking of. Jesus said unto them, “Verily I say unto you that ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory.” If I have a text this morning, it is one word and it is “regeneration.”
Words used in the Scriptures are important and it is important that we use a word that is found in the Scripture in the way that the Scripture uses it. Think about this with me for just a second and maybe this will help illustrate the point. We use the word “primitive” to describe God’s mode of being. It is not found in the Scriptures. We have a definition that is put on it, therefore even though it is not found in the Scripture it does describe what we mean quite well. Therefore it is all right to use it. But, if somebody came up and said the word “predestinate” is in the Bible but that doesn’t mean to mark out beforehand, it means to look ahead and see what’s going on. We’d think they were crazy, wouldn’t we. You’d go to the dictionary and show them the meaning of the word predestinate, which means to mark out and determine beforehand. And if you wanted to, if you wanted to get out the Lexicon to show the word it was translated from it would mean exactly the same thing. And all those that say it means to look ahead and see what’s going to happen don’t have a leg to stand on. By the very meaning of the word. Scripture doesn’t use it that way and it doesn’t mean that. So why is it brethren that when we describe the process by which the child of God is born again, we take a scriptural word and twists its meaning. And say he is regenerate or this one is unregenerate, sometimes the term is used. When nowhere in the Scripture does the term regeneration, regenerate ever mean to be born again.
Look at what He says, “In the regeneration.” Now if I understand the word correctly, to generate means about the same thing as procreate. It means about the same thing as beget, doesn’t it. That’s a generation. So a regeneration is to do it again, isn’t it? Something that possessed the life is going to get that life back. Now this brethren is where many error in their conception of the new birth when it comes to the children of God. When they say regeneration, it is the same as the new birth and brethren there are many that say that. They are saying that it is something in the old man that gets this re-generation. You can read it in the writings of some that say it’s the same man that was born of the flesh that’s born of the spirit. Well I guarantee one thing, it’s the same vessel that contains both of them. But that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit and that which is born of the flesh is not regenerated into something spiritual. But that is exactly what those who would take that word and make it the equivalent of being born again, want us to believe. They have a notion in their head and the language that they use is not necessarily wrong in itself, but it’s wrong in the connotation they put on it. They say the sinner is born again. Therefore he is regenerated. The sinner is born again. Let me tell you something, brethren. If the sinner is born again, how is he born the second time? And if that is regeneration, first of all, if it’s regeneration, it’s giving him just the same kind of life he had before isn’t it? Because to make the life again, doesn’t imply anything to do with any kind of new life. It just simply implies that one has been alive and is generated or begotten again. Now, if he had a natural life and that’s all he had, if he’s going to experience a regeneration, it’s going to be of the same natural life before. Regeneration in this sense of the word cannot implant something new and different that he had before unless we believe that the old man is going to get made over somehow. And that’s exactly what our enemies believe. They believe when they say the sinner is born again and thereby he is regenerated, that somehow this old man is changed into a new man. And you can read it; you can read it in their writings that they have been changed from a love of sin to love of holiness. That they find now where once their feet were swift to shed blood, now their feet run to the paths of holiness. I’m going to tell you that may be brethren, their feet may have been to shed blood and they may now run toward the path of holiness, but it’s not because of anything in the old man that’s been changed by this process. It’s because there’s a new man there who is now animating this vessel as well as the old. And that’s the only reason! The term “regeneration” in this generating or begetting has nothing to do with a change of position, or a change of status, or a change of any kind in this old man! Because the whole process here is summed up in not a verb, it’s not used as a verb, and brethren this is one of only two places in the whole Bible where the word “regeneration” is used. It’s only two places in the whole Bible where the Greek word is translated “regeneration” is used and it’s translated the same both times. It’s a noun! “Ye which have followed me in the regeneration.”
Let me tell you, there’s been a regeneration. There’s been one and only one. And all that have followed Him, and all that shall follow Him, and all that followed Him before have been through it already. You’re not waiting to see one regenerated, because all the regeneration that’s going to happen has already been. Read it with me again, “Ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory.” If a regeneration is a beginning of the same life that was there before, I will tell you that the regeneration that is spoken of here is the reanimation of the body of Jesus Christ after He laid dead for three days and three nights in the tomb. That’s the regeneration that is spoken in this place by the son of God. Because after His regeneration indeed, listen just a moment to the testimony of the apostle when he said in the first chapter of the book of Romans He “was declared to be the son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead by giving of life that had been there before and that was taken again.” Now, listen to him again in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews, “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by a son, by whom He hath appointed heir of all things by whom He hath made the worlds. Who being the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power. When He had by himself purged our sins. Now sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.” When did He do this? When He had by Himself purged our sins. Now, brethren if I understand a purging, it is a cleansing. If I understand the word purging, many times we could substitute the word washed and not do violence to it. A purging is not like the arminian world sayeth. It is not a pruning. No, a purging is a cleansing. He had cleansed our sins. And when did He do that? Did He not do that when He hung on the cross? The lamb of God pouring out His life’s blood as the lamb of the sacrifice. Had His life’s blood poured out by the priest on the altar. And now the lamb of God hangs there between heaven and earth to cleanse His people from their sins. And that’s what He says here, “When He had by himself purged our sins.” You know a priest couldn’t purge your sins under the law. The sacrifice couldn’t purge your sins. The two of them together didn’t take away your sins nor cleanse you, did it? But by himself, this one man, by the shedding of His blood purged your sins forever. And when He had done that, when He had by Himself done that, He set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. When was this regeneration? When the son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory. And here is the son of God set down after He had purged our sins by himself. Now let’s continue just a little more.
“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of his angels at anything hath He said thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” He was begotten of the Father as He lay there in that tomb before He was raised again from the dead and descended up to sit at the right of the majesty on high which He Himself called the throne of his glory. You know there’s a lot of people waiting for Jesus to sit on His throne. There’s a lot of people out here thinking that Jesus is standing there in the heavens now waiting to sit down. He is enthroned beside the majesty on high. He has set down because His work is completely finished. There is nothing left for him to do in the work of redemption. Now, when He was made alive, regenerated, begotten of the Father, when He was as is said the first begotten from the dead, where were we? Where were we? Let’s read in the book of Ephesians in the second chapter I believe it is. “But God who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” Now, quicken again is to make alive. Before one can be made alive in the natural sense a generation must take place. Before one can be made alive in the spiritual sense, a generation must take place. Here one who has been dead is now made alive and I believe in this same context, regenerated here, and we though we were dead in sins, we have been quickened together with Christ. Now, why could that happen? How could that happen? What would happen there if we had not been in Him before then? If we were not in Him when He died we wouldn’t have been quickened together with Him, would we? Notice the language, “hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace are ye saved and hath raised us up together.” In other words, when He was regenerated and when He was raised up to sit, He made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Think about all of the “in’s” that you just heard. We were quickened with Him. He hath raised us up together and He hath made us to sit together. Notice this unity. When things are together, then they are one. You know; when this church comes together, in other words when they unite, when they sit as one body, that’s what is said here. That Christ and us, the election of grace, are knit together and they are one in Him. So, that when He died, and when He was quickened by the regenerating power of God, we were quickened with Him. We were made alive; all of the saints of God were made alive in Him. I believe it’s in the book of Hosea. Where it speaks by prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ where He looks forward to see the children of God as they were in Him and He tells them that after three days He would raise “us” up. After three days will He will raise “us.” Who’s the “us”? Who is it? I’ll tell you brethren, if the children of God were not united with Christ Jesus before the world began to have said to have died in Him and to be raised again in Him. Brethren there would be no “us” to be raised up. You can read that in the book of Hosea in his prophecy. Those things brethren were put there by almighty God, by way of prophecy so that we would have these things as a guide as we look back through the Old Testament to see what God hath prophesied would be done in the New. Thy dead men shall live. There’s another of those prophesies, “Thy dead men shall live.” In the book of Colossians, Paul says, “Wherein ye are risen with Him.” Let’s back down to verse 13 in the second chapter, “And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with him.” That’s the same language he used in the book of Ephesians, isn’t it? “Quickened together with him...made alive together with Christ.” Now, let’s see how he finishes it here though. “Having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. Which was contrary to us and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. And that having spoiled principalities and powers He made a show of them openly triumphing over them in them. Let no man therefore judge in meat or in drink or in respect to a holy day or of the new moon of the Sabbath. Which is a shadow of things to come but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility in worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he had not seen vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind and not holding to the head from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together increaseth with the increase of God.” And then he says, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ.” And he begins the third chapter, “If ye then be risen with Christ.” All of these things, verse three, “ye are dead and your life is head with Christ in God when Christ our life shall appear, ye then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Do you see what this regeneration is? It’s not got anything to do with the sinner being born again. But I tell you what, those who have used that term to describe the new birth have gone off into that error that the old man is changed in this process. Have they denied the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”? They deny the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote to the church at Rome when he said in chapter seven verse fourteen, “we know that the law is spiritual but I am carnal sold under sin, for that which I do, I allow not, for what I would that do I not, but what I hate, that do I. Now it is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me for I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” And we can say that with the apostle just as much as he could. I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Because I have had this same experience that he had, for how to will is present with me. Now where is that will, brethren? It’s not in the flesh is it? Because the will of the flesh is contrary to the spirit. In fact, Paul told us already in this same book of Romans that the flesh is contrary to the spirit and the spirit to the flesh so that you cannot do the things that you would. He has told us the carnal mind is enmity against God. So, it’s not that mind that he is talking about. He’s talking about the mind that he wrote to the Corinthians about. When he spoke to the church there and said, “Ye have the mind of Christ.” You don’t have it in the flesh, you’ve got it in the spirit. For how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would do, I do not, but the evil which I would not do, that I do. I find the law that when I would do good, evil is present with me. Not when I am trying to do good, but when I would do it, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. Oh, brethren, if there’s an inward man there’s an outward man. If the inward delights after the law of God, the outward hates it and wants to go with the law of the flesh. The inward loves the law of God, the inward man is that which is born of the spirit. The outward man is that which is born of the flesh. And neither one are changed by the other one. They are affected, but they are not changed. That which is born of the flesh stays flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit and remains that. See when you talk about regeneration and you mean being born again, those folks mean that that fleshly man is changed something spiritual. They may not say so, but that’s what they mean. Some part of him is made different. Brethren, something new has been generated in the children of God. Something, that wasn’t there in Adam. Nothing molded again or made over. The potter has the power over the clay and he made a vessel. And he made a vessel to hold a treasure. And he made a vessel unto dishonor that wasn’t going to get a treasure. It was just going to hold the offscour, it was going to hold the refuse. But another one was going to hold the treasure. Think about this for just a moment in the parable that our Lord spoke about the kingdom of heaven that was like a treasure hid in the field. It couldn’t tell you what it doesn’t say, it doesn’t say that the man that found it went out and sold all he had and bought the treasure. He bought the field! He bought the field! He didn’t buy the treasure, but he bought the field. Our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t die for the spiritual man, He didn’t die for the inward man. That what was united to Him is that seed, that is which died with Him on the cross, that is what was reanimated at the resurrection and experienced the regeneration and is now seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus on the throne of his glory. That was always His. But that which needed to be bought was that fleshly man, that old man, that corrupt one. And he paid the price for it. And it’s not going to be regenerated. It’s going to go down and die because of sin and be resurrected by the power of His resurrection and be raised up and adopted and changed. You know if something in that old man was born again, if something in that old man was made spiritual, why does the body die in me? Why would it need to be changed? Why, if that’s the case?
I said there are only two places in the whole of the Bible where that term was used. I want to bring up the second place for you. Just to show you again that it’s not a verb, it’s a noun. Nowhere is the term regenerate used in the bible, nowhere is the verb form brought in, but it’s always a noun. Titus 3:4-7, “after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” If I understand the language, the word “regeneration” there is the object of the preposition of; “By the washing of regeneration.” In other words in this regeneration that our Lord hath been through, there is a washing or a cleansing and we can go straight to if you will, to the book of Revelation, I believe it’s in the first chapter, where the Scriptures tells us about Jesus Christ. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead...” Stop right there with me just for a moment and take this in reference to the term we just used, “regeneration.” Here He’s called the first begotten from the dead. Think about this for just a moment with me, how many people were raised from the dead in the Old Testament? How many people did Christ Jesus himself, during his earthly ministry, raise from the dead? There was several weren’t there? We could read about them, the widow’s son. In the Old Testament, Elijah stretched himself out on the widow’s son. We can read of the ones in the New Testament where Jesus took the little girl by the hand after they laughed him to scorn because she was dead and He said; “leave her alone she’s just sleeping.” How is He the first begotten from the dead? By this regenerating power of God coming onto Him and making Him alive, not just Himself but as the prophesy that we quoted earlier stated, “thou will raise us again the third day.” Thou shalt raise us up again the third day. In other words He was begotten from the dead. He had the power, He said to lay down His life and He said I have the power to take it again. And in taking it again, and by the Father giving him life and declaring him to be the son of God with power and by the Spirit coming on him and reanimating that dead body so that his dead men would live. He was begotten by God from that stage. He is the first begotten from the dead, the first to experience the regeneration and the only to experience it, and the only one I believe who shall. He is the first begotten from the dead, of the dead. “...and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood...” We’re a people that have been washed and made clean. Not because we’ve gone down and laid in the fountain. Not because we have taken a bath. But because Jesus Christ has washed us by that which was acceptable to the Father and the only thing that was acceptable to him was the sacrifice that the Son made. “Declared to be the son of God with power, first begotten from the dead.” He washed us from our sins in his blood. It’s the washing of regeneration because if He had not experienced the regeneration what good would his washing had done? Would He had been able to even wash us? Think about that, brethren. If our Lord had simply laid in the grave for three days and three nights and not come forth after that time as all the prophetic witness had been. Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. According to our Lord, that was the sign to be given that generation. The prophecy that we quoted. And then that day come, the Sabbath had fully come, and they go to prepare the spices body again, and they find his body laying there. There would have been no washing, there would have been nothing for you nor I. All of the faith of the apostles would have been vain had He not been raised from the dead and His blood accepted by the Father as the sacrifice above any lamb that ever existed. The lamb of God! He washed us. Unto Him that loved us and washed us. A lot of people try to wash themselves, brethren. But the washing is from our sins in His blood. That’s the washing of regeneration! That’s the washing that comes from Jesus, the one who’s been regenerated. That’s the washing that comes because He now sits on the throne of His glory. And has made us, if we continue on reading there, who hath “washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” He shall sit on the throne of His glory. In Ephesians the fifth chapter, he says; “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” How is that done? By the washing of water by the word. Now you are clean through the word I have spoken to you, Jesus told his disciples. You know there are a bunch of people trying to get clean by the washing of water by the word and they say it’s the preacher, or they say it’s the bible. But if you look at the words of Lord Jesus to his disciples He says, Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken to you. You are not clean because you have read the book. You are not clean because you heard the sermon. You are clean through His word that He speaks. And He has the right to speak it to whom He will, and He has the right to give this eternal life to all that the Father hath given Him. Ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my names sake shall receive in hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life. You know I think it’s interesting here, and I’ll close with this, Peter says we’ve forsaken all and followed thee, what shall we have therefore. This same Peter, I’ve always thought this was the predestination of God, He says what shall we get. That when he writes his first epistle he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” Now notice that brethren, we’ve got to pause right here and look at that in light of what we just talked about. He hath begotten us again, in other words He has generated us unto a living hope. Not because we’ve done such wonderful work, but by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, by the regeneration that came upon Him. By that which God accepted, by that which He went to His Father aglore and to sit on the throne of His glory. “To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled...” Peter, what shall ye have, you asked Jesus. Expected temporal riches and they today are wanting the temporal riches aren’t they. Listen to the speculators out there, the ones who are going to make cain out of trying to tell you what’s going to happen in the future. Oh, there’s going to be some rulers over 10 cities on this earth. Others just fight, some just warn, but they will probably get a hundred. There’ll be a governor over a great class state. They’re looking for a carnal inheritance just as much as Peter because that’s all he could see was the rich man having the upper hand. He says you’ve been begotten again to “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Oh, Peter what shall ye get? A glorious inheritance! Why are you going to get it? Because Christ is set on His throne of glory and Jesus reigns now. And we have been begotten again by the resurrection!
Elder Robert Lackey
A message given on: October 14, 2001
Transcribed by Tom Adams on 1/11/06
Edited by Elder Robert Lackey