rss

CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Author: Charles Simeon

About the author:  Charles Simeon, (Sept. 24, 1759-Nov. 13, 1836), Anglican clergyman and biblical commentator who led the Evangelical movement.  Simeon was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, where he became vice provost (1790–92).  In 1782 he was presented to the living of Trinity Church, Cambridge, where he remained until his death. Renowned as a preacher, Simeon helped found the Church Missionary Society (1797).


The Nature and Necessity of Regeneration

The Nature and Necessity of Regeneration

The Nature and Necessity of Regeneration

John 3:3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

AS there is an essential distinction between divine and human knowledge, so is there a very great difference in the ways by which each of them is to be obtained; the one being attainable only by rational investigation, the other only by faith. Reason indeed must judge whether such or such things be revealed; but when that point is clearly ascertained, faith must receive the truth simply on the authority of God; and that too, no less when it lies beyond the sphere of our reason, than when it may easily be comprehended by it. The manner in which revealed truths are inculcated seems to imply this; for the prophets enforced their declarations, not with arguments, but with, “Thus saith the Lord:” and our Savior, with an authority which none but himself ever presumed to exercise, and which strongly marked his equality with the Father, disdained to use any other confirmation than that of his own assertion: this appears, as in numberless other passages, so particularly in his conversation with Nicodemus; when, instructing him in the mysterious doctrine of regeneration, he required a full assent to it upon the testimony of his own word. May we bow to his authority, while we consider,

I.    The nature of regeneration—

The mistakes which very generally obtain respecting this subject being first rectified, the truth will be more clearly seen—

Many suppose that baptism is the same with regeneration—

In the early ages of Christianity these terms were often used as synonymous, because it was taken for granted that none but truly regenerate persons would submit to a rite which engaged them to separate themselves from an ungodly world, and exposed them to the most imminent peril of their lives. But there is a wide difference between the two; regeneration being absolutely necessary to salvation, while baptism, as in the case of the dying thief, may under some circumstances be dispensed with. Besides, it was doubtless the great design of our Lord and his Apostles to regenerate and convert men: but were they so intent on administering the rite of baptism? Our Lord, we are told, “baptized no man;” and it is said of Paul, that “God sent him not to baptize;” yea, he himself “thanks God that he had baptized none but Crispus and Gaius:” but if he had regenerated none other, would he have thought that a proper ground for thanksgiving? Again, if baptism and regeneration be the same thing, we may use them altogether as synonymous terms: now it is said that “Whosoever is born of God overcometh the worlda,” and that “he neither doth sin nor can sin, because he is born of Godb.” But if we should say the same of all that are baptized, would not the worldly and sinful lives of many flatly contradict us? It appears then from the superior importance of regeneration, from the design of Christ and his Apostles respecting it, and from the properties ascribed to it in Scripture, that it neither is, nor can be, the same with baptism. Baptism is an outward work of man upon the body; regeneration is an inward work of God upon the soul.

Others think that regeneration imports no more than an outward reformation, or at most, a partial change of the inward man—

But can we conceive that, when a ruler of the Jews came to our Lord, acknowledging him to be a teacher sent from God, and desiring to be instructed in those things which he was come to reveal, our Lord would tell him that wicked men could not be saved without reforming their lives? Did Nicodemus need such information as that? Or, if this was all that our Lord meant, would this teacher in Israel have been so astonished at it? And would not our Lord have instantly rectified his misapprehension, and shewn him that there was no cause for astonishment? Can we imagine that our Lord would have confirmed the mistake, by representing this doctrine as an incomprehensible mystery, which man can no more fathom, than he can ascertain the hidden causes, or mark the exact boundaries, of the wind? Yea, would he have left this man so bewildered, saying, How can these things be! if he had meant no more than, that a wicked man must reform his life? Nor is it less evident that regeneration does not consist in a partial change even of the inward man. To what purpose should we boast of having experienced the illumination of Balaamc, the humiliation of Ahabd, the confession of Judase, the faith of Simon Magusf, the confidence of the unbelieving Jewsg, the attention of Ezekiel’s auditorsh, the reformation of Herodi, or (what perhaps includes all these together) the promising appearance of the stony-ground hearersk, if, like them, we rest in any partial change? Surely, if our righteousness exceed not theirs, we cannot hope that we shall be happier than they in our final doom.

In opposition to all such erroneous notions, the Scripture itself defines regeneration to be “a new creation, wherein old things pass away, and all things become newl.”

The author of this work is the Holy Spirit, who by a supernatural agency renews our inward man, and makes us partakers of a divine naturem. Our faculties indeed remain the same as they were before; but there is a new direction given to them all. Our understanding is enlightened, so that we behold ourselves, and Christ, and the world, yea, every thing else too, in a very different light from what we ever did beforen———Our will is changed, so that instead of following, or even desiring to follow, our own way, we surrender up ourselves altogether to God’s government, saying most unfeignedly, Not my will, but thine be doneo———Our affections also are exercised in a very different manner from what they were before, so that, instead of being called forth principally by the things of time and sense, they are set upon things spiritual and eternalp———We say not that this change is perfect in any man, (for there still are sad remains of the old and corrupt nature even in the best of men; the leprosy is never wholly removed till the walls be taken down.) But the change is universal in all the faculties, and progressive throughout our lives: nor can it be effected by any efforts of man, or by any other power than that of Godq.

As the Scriptures give this extensive view of regeneration, so they fully declare,

II.   The necessity of it—

“The kingdom of God” sometimes imports the kingdom of grace on earth, and sometimes the kingdom of glory in heaven. Indeed both are one and the same kingdom, subject to the same Head, composed of the same members, and governed by the same laws: grace is glory begun; glory is grace consummated. But for the purpose of illustrating our subject, we observe that, without regeneration,

1.   We cannot enter into God’s kingdom of grace—

There are many duties to be performed, and many privileges to be enjoyed, by the subjects of God’s spiritual kingdom, which an unregenerate man can neither perform nor enjoy. Who can doubt whether it be our duty to “repent in dust and ashes,” to “live by faith on the Son of God,” or to “crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts?” But can an unregenerate man do these things? We acknowledge that he may restrain in many respects his outward conduct; but can he root out from his heart the love of the world, and the love of sin? Can he truly lothe and abhor himself as well for the unhallowed corruptions of his heart, as for the grosser transgressions of his life? As well may he attempt to create a world as to effect these things by any power of his own. Again; it is the Christian’s privilege to enjoy that “peace of God which passeth all understanding,” to “abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost,” and to be transported with that “joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.” But can an unregenerate man possess that peace, when his iniquities are not forgiven? Can he look forward with delight to the coming of the day of Christ, when all his desires and pursuits terminate in this lower world? Can he be so elevated with holy joy, when there is nothing in his state which does not rather call for rivers of tears? But if any one doubt what answer he must return to these questions, let him go to his chamber, and see whether he be competent to form his mind to these sublime employments; and he will soon find that no power but that which created our souls at first, can form them anew after the Divine image.

2.   We cannot enter into the kingdom of glory—

There is a meetness for the heavenly inheritancer, which every one must attain, before he can enjoy the felicity of the saints in light. As, on earth, no occupation can afford us pleasure, if we have not an inward taste and relish for it, so, in heaven, we must have dispositions suited to the state of those above. But where is this disposition to be obtained, if not in this life? Can it be thought that there shall be “repentance in the grave,” and that we shall become regenerate in a future state? Shall he, who never supremely loved his God, become at once inflamed with devout affection towards him? Shall not he, who never was renewed after the Divine image, rather behold with dread and horror the holiness of God, and tremble at the sight of that Lamb, whose dying love he despised, and whose blood he trampled under foot? Shall he, who never sought one hour’s communion with God in secret, delight to have no other employment to all eternity? No; “as the tree falleth, so it lieth;” “he that was unjust will be unjust still; and he that was filthy will be filthy still.” As there is this reason on the part of man, so is there a still more cogent reason on the part of God. God has declared, with repeated and most solemn asseverations, that “except a man be born again, he shall never enter into his kingdom.” And has he spoken thus merely to alarm us? “Is he a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent?” Will he dishonor himself to favor us? Will he violate the rights of justice, holiness, and truth, in order to save those, who, to their dying hour, rejected and despised his proffered mercy? If all the world tell you that you shall be admitted into heaven, believe them not: for the Judge of quick and dead has with the strongest possible asseverations declared, you never shall. Let us not then deceive ourselves with such vain hopes: for they can terminate in nothing but disappointment and ruin.

Address—

1.   The unregenerate—

You cannot surely be at a loss to know your real state, if you will examine candidly whether you have ever experienced such a change in your views, desires, and pursuits, as has been before described? O, let every one put home to his conscience this question, Am I born again? And know that neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision will avail you any thing, but a new creations. You must be born again, or perish———

2.   The regenerate—

St. Peter, writing to such persons under the severest persecution, begins his Epistle with congratulationst: and St. Paul bids us under the heaviest calamities to be thankful for renewing graceu. Do ye then bless God in every state, and “shew forth the virtues of him who hath called you to his kingdom and gloryx”———Let your renovation be progressive; and never think that you have attained any thing as long as any thing remains to be attained.[1]

 

 

a 1 John 5:4.

b 1 John 3:9.

c Numb. 24:4.

d 1 Kings 21:29.

e Matt. 27:4.

f Acts 8:13, 21, 23.

g John 8:41, 42.

h Ezek. 33:31.

i Mark 6:20, 27.

k Matt. 13:20, 21.

l 2 Cor. 5:17.

m 2 Pet. 1:4.

n Acts 2:37–47.

o Acts 9:6.

p Col. 3:2.

q John 1:13.

r Col. 1:12.

s Gal. 6:15.

t 1 Pet. 1:1, 3, 4.

u Col. 1:11–13.

x Ἀρετὰς. 1 Pet. 2:9.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: Luke XVII to John XII (Vol. 13, pp. 245–250). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

 

The Christian Risen With Christ in Newness of Life

The Christian Risen With Christ in Newness of Life

By Charles Simeon

Rom. 6:8–11. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospel in every age, when freely and faithfully delivered, has been calumniated as injurious to morality.  But St. Paul, though he well knew how his doctrines would be misrepresented, did not on that account mutilate the Gospel, or declare it less freely than it had been revealed to him: he proclaimed salvation altogether by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without any works or deservings on our part: but at the same time he showed that good works, though excluded from any share in justifying the soul, would of necessity be practiced by every believer; because the believer, by his very profession, was, and could not but be, “dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness.”  He showed, that there would of necessity be in the believer’s soul a conformity to his Lord and Savior, since he bound himself to it in his baptismal engagements, or rather professed to have the actual experience of it before he was baptized; so that he must be a hypocrite, and no true believer, if he was not holy both in heart and life.  To this effect he speaks in the whole of the preceding context; (ver. 1-7)—and in the words which we have just read, he confirms the idea, and founds upon it an animated exhortation.

To elucidate this difficult, but important subject, we shall consider,

I. The truth he assumes—

In close connexion with this is,

II. The persuasion he intimates—

“We believe,” says he, “that we shall also live with him.”

This persuasion is founded on a firm and solid basis—

From hence is deduced,

III. The duty he inculcates—

In this subject we may see,

1. The proper tendency of the Gospel—

2. The true criterion whereby to judge of our faith in Christ—

[We will not disparage other parts of Christian experience; but the only safe test whereby to try ourselves, is, the degree in which we are dead to sin, and alive to God—“The tree must be known by its fruits”—]

3. The connection between our duty and our happiness—

About the author:  Charles Simeon, (Sept. 24, 1759-Nov. 13, 1836), Anglican clergyman and biblical commentator who led the Evangelical movement.  Simeon was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, where he became vice provost (1790–92).  In 1782 he was presented to the living of Trinity Church, Cambridge, where he remained until his death. Renowned as a preacher, Simeon helped found the Church Missionary Society (1797).

 


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

  • Address:
    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: Office@cmfhq.org

Webmaster

Book Offers