Our Lost Estate – By Joseph Morrison

Chapter 4

The Process Of Recovery – Regeneration

How can a person be saved from sin? This is one of the ‘greatest questions that has ever been asked. Upon its answer, so the Bible teaches, hangs the weal or woe of a conscious soul for eternity. It has profoundly affected human beings for ages. An answer to it has been sought in hundreds of different ways. Men have enacted extreme penalties upon themselves in their effort to obtain peace with the God whom they had offended. Superstition, witchcraft, necromancy, spiritism, and religious cults have been developed in an effort to find peace for the soul, and a sense of the favor of God. God has a simple, feasible, workable plan whereby a lost soul can find salvation, and an estranged heart may obtain rest with Him.

There are a few special characteristics that God’s plan must possess. Our familiarity with the account of how the estate was lost, is helpful in order for us to understand what we must possess when the estate is restored. For, in the last analysis, when salvation is complete, the race must have back all that Adam had before he fell. Indeed, the race may, and we believe that it shall, have more than he had, but at least it must have as much as he possessed. Otherwise the enemy will have gained some sort of an advantage over God, and put something into effect, that He can never overcome. When the whole sin episode is finished, and the restored race is again inhabiting a renewed earth, the character of God requires that everything lost to man by the fall, must be fully restored.

The first characteristic of the redemption that God offers to a fallen race, is, therefore, a solution of the sin question in each person’s case. Any kind of a so-called salvation that makes an allowance for remaining sin cannot be the kind that God plans to bestow. His plan is never to save a man in his sins, but to save him from his sins. Such was the promise to Mary when first the angel broke the news to her that she was to be the mother of this mighty Savior. “Thou shalt call his name Jesus,” said the angel, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

The second characteristic of a salvation that really saves, is a transformation of the moral and physical life of the candidate in order that he shall be enough like the Creator, so that he may live a life here below free from sin, and be comfortable with Him when he is called on to dwell with Him in heaven. Anything less than this would break up the whole plan. The original arrangement in Eden, called for a constant and habitual fellowship with God that would be absolutely intolerable if the candidate were not like Him. We must like what He likes, we must hate what He hates, and we must love Him and desire to enjoy His holy presence forever. Unless we can be like Him, this is unthinkable. The very thought of anyone with sin in his being,. enjoying the burning, holy presence of God is incredible.

A third characteristic is service. A salvation that does not eventuate in service is spurious. The very ground work of salvation is missionary. God’s efforts to redeem the race were purely unselfish missionary efforts. The moment that the salvation of Jesus Christ begins to take effect in the heart of a candidate, he begins his life of service. Such a service cannot cease or salvation will cease. It is tireless and never ends. Death simply transfers its efforts to another sphere.

When we inquire how these characteristics are obtained, we find that the first step is to hear the truth I The truth is contained in the Bible. It is revealed chiefly through the church, which is an organization of those who have experienced the saving truths of the Word of God, and are banded together for the care of one another and the salvation of those who have not found the light. While the entire church is charged with the revelation of the truths of the Bible, nevertheless, the ministry, a special portion of the church, is peculiarly obligated with its propagation. The Bible contains the history of God’s dealings with the human race. In it can be found the exhortations and predictions of the prophets, the religious songs and ecstatical utterances of the hymn writers of past ages; the story of the life of Jesus Christ, and His marvelous truths, and the teachings and exhortations of His disciples.

The Bible is inspired. It was dictated by the Holy Spirit. It claims that for itself, and its effect upon the lives and actions of many millions of people proves the claim to be correct. The first great step in the salvation of a human being, is to lay upon his sinful heart the truths of the Bible. This is done chiefly by preaching. It can also be done by singing, testimonies, private admonitions, teaching, and by the printed page. We are assured that God’s Spirit especially blesses and accompanies His Word. The prophet Isaiah declares that it will not return unto Him void. The psalmist David states that when the Word enters a human heart, it bringeth light. Another sacred writer avers that God’s Word breaks the heart to pieces, and is a discerner of its thoughts and intents. Preaching is not supposed to be the views and opinions of the preacher, but a faithful presentation of the teachings of the Word of God. Testimonies are not supposed to be mere emotional utterances, but the faithful delineation of the effects of the Word of God upon the speaker’s own heart, and the consequences that came of it. Scriptural preaching, scriptural testimonies, scriptural singing, will ever, when accompanied with the Holy Spirit’s presence, result in a profound conviction for sin, on the part of the hearer. Men cannot bear the plain preaching of the Word of God. They either yield to its convicting power, or they resent it, and fight against the hold that it takes upon them.

This conviction of the truth of the Bible, the fact of sin, and its damning awfulness, the wrath of God and the certainty of endless punishment, is an indispensable preliminary to salvation. It is true that small children may be led to a saving knowledge of the Lord, without feeling the pungent horrors of conviction, but often even in children, the Holy Ghost works a very keen and distressing sense of need, before He applies the forgiveness of God, and acceptance though our Lord Jesus Christ. But for adults, who have rejected Him, and lightly evaded the requirements of His grace, and possibly hardened their hearts repeatedly to the approaches of His Spirit, there cannot be any forgiveness without a deep contrition, and convicting sense of merited ruin. Sometimes such a conviction carries with it the consciousness of keenest distress. Bowed under the heavy burdens of guilt and estrangement from God, some are disposed to yield to Satan’s artful temptation that their days of grace are over. But the darkest hour of a genuine realization of the soul’s lost condition, is often the nearest moment to pardon and relief. If the soul will that moment throw itself without reserve upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and truly accept the atonement in His shed blood, extending to Him a sincere faith in the verity of His promises, and the efficacy of the cross for curing sin, there will something happen that is real and entrancingly delightful. A genuine miracle will be performed in the consciousness of that person. He will be justified from all his sins, before the Judge of all the earth. That is, he will be forgiven, and his transgressions will be blotted out of the memory of the Lord and of heaven’s record. Oftentimes they are blotted out of the candidate’s own memory. He is a changed man. Instead of being a refugee from the vengeance of broken laws, and burdened with the demerit of sin and unrighteousness, he is pardoned; he is forgiven. The book containing the charges against him is destroyed. He is clear before the court of heaven. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12).

Simultaneously with the forgiveness of his sins, there is another marvelous change takes place in the heart and mind of that person. A new Christ-nature is imparted unto him. A spiritual life is given. When the first pair sinned they died spiritually, and, but for the immediate intervention of God, would have perished physically; and, finally, years after, did so. Since that day, every child of the race has entered this life with the penalty of spiritual death upon him. Spared during infancy through the unconscious application of the atonement of our Lord, he seals the doom of spiritual death upon himself when, at the years of accountability, he chooses the way of sin. All the days of a sinner’s life are spent in spiritual death. Only when he comes to God, through the atonement of His Son, and, confessing all, he penitently falls at His feet, and trusts the atonement of His blood, does there pass upon him, simultaneously with the pardon of his sins, the impartation of the new life of God. It is the same kind of spiritual life that Adam lost in the garden. The life which he forfeited there, is now restored to each humble believing soul. That soul which was dead in trespasses and in sins, is now alive from the dead. This is called regeneration. Living again with the life of God. This is what is called the “New Birth,” without which no person may see the kingdom that Jesus founded. This is the first great experience necessary to the restoration of our lost estate. This is the spiritual transaction that admits one to the invisible “church,” or “called out ones,” that Jesus denominated as His body, and which is His representative here on earth.

Reader, if there is any question in your mind, or any doubt in your heart, as to the possession of this experience that makes of you a “new creation” in Christ Jesus, you ought not to wait a moment, but hasten to assure yourself of the possession of this necessary step toward that holiness which God demands of every soul who enters His heavenly home.

The chief evidence of having passed from death unto life, and of having possessed oneself of this gracious experience of regeneration, is the “witness of the Spirit.” This is mentioned in Romans where St. Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16). This witness consists of an inner consciousness that God has accepted the merits of His Son, has approved of our sincere penitence’ and surrender, and has operated over the medium of our faith, and accomplished the work of forgiveness and regeneration.

No person should be satisfied that regeneration is really his, without the witness of the Spirit, for without it we have no proper means of telling when we are truly born again. However, many in their anxiety to possess the witness of the Spirit, have fallen into the unhappy habit of seeking directly for that witness. Instead of abandoning themselves to the mercy of God, through repentance and faith, leaving Him to bestow the witness when He is assured that such repentance and faith are complete, they have struggled and agonized with their hearts set upon some special sort of “feeling,” which they are willing to accept as the witness. Because that did not occur, they have tortured themselves sometimes for days and weeks, and even gone years without a satisfying consciousness of sins forgiven.

It is useless to dictate to the Holy Spirit, as to how He shall assure one of forgiveness and the new birth. The only thing to do is to examine carefully one’s penitence and contrition, and, satisfied that this is perfect, then examine one’s faith. If these are genuine and as near perfect as a seeking sinner, assisted by the Holy Ghost, can make them, then there is nothing more that one can do, and the Holy Ghost who is faithful, will bestow a consciousness of pardon and regeneration. He never mocks His creatures, and if there is not a realization of a finished work, it is because there is something lacking in surrender or faith. But we beg of our reader, if he is not already enjoying the marvelous work of regeneration, not to rest in his efforts, till he is positively assured by the witness of the Holy Ghost that the work is truly done.

The matter of restitution should be considered here. That is, of correcting as far as is within one’s power, the wicked deeds of his now past life. Some spiritual leaders allege that no surrender and repentance can be complete until one has made restitution. We agree that a perfect willingness to make restitution must be reached, before one’s surrender is complete. But as for actually putting restitution into effect before accepting Jesus Christ, and becoming possessed of His salvation, we do not believe it to be necessary. If the willingness to make all possible restitution, and every correction of past sins and offenses, is sincerely made before God, He will accept the will for the deed, and ,will accord His forgiveness. Then the Holy Ghost will grant soul joy in the possession of that salvation, and such ability to make wrongs right, and such an unction in testimony when apologies are tendered, crooked paths straightened out, borrowed articles returned, and thefts and purloinings paid for with interest, as greatly to further the blessed Kingdom of God, in the very act of restitution. If one attempts all this before he has received the assistance of the Holy Ghost, he will do it with such sadness and compulsion, and so appear to have it literally wrung from him by force of his feelings of necessity, as greatly to lessen the usefulness of it to the spread of the Kingdom. Many people have been known to be put under deep conviction by their own sins, by the apologies, restitutions and confessions of those who had newly found the light of salvation. But let the new born soul remember that when a pledge of restitution is made, be very faithful to keep it.

In addition to the inner consciousness of salvation mentioned above, there are also some corroborating evidences. There is the presence of joy, because of the fact that one has been brought from darkness to light, and the sins that were dogging one down to hell are now blotted out. There is a sweet and tender love for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They seem personally real, and graciously near. The cross and Calvary take on a hallowed meaning. Songs concerning the blood or the wounds of Jesus become sacred and affecting. Worship takes on a new meaning, and the fellowship of the saints, even with some whose friendship seems far from desirable, ordinarily speaking, becomes precious indeed. Prayer is real and often keenly enjoyable. The passion for the salvation of others becomes aroused, and oftentimes the best soul-winning days that a person knows is when one has been newly won to Christ. If these corroborating evidences are lacking, one may well doubt his acceptance with God.

One of the especially corroborating evidences of regeneration we desire to consider at a little greater length. That is the matter of testimony. A truly regenerated soul will at once begin to testify. While making allowance, with all consideration, for the timidity of many persons, and realizing that often there are some who cannot easily express themselves even when moved by the regenerating powers of God, yet we must insist that every new born soul must testify. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10), so states the Apostle Paul. Our divine Lord also declares that “whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Testimony is necessary. There seems to be a finishing touch to salvation that is not accorded till one has openly confessed Him. We can readily see, if we stop to consider, the need of this. Depending, as the Kingdom of Jesus Christ does, for its spread, on telling the news to other people, either through the lips of the ministry, or through that of the laity, then testimony takes on an importance second only to the preaching of the gospel. Indeed, unless a sermon is reinforced by the testimony of the preacher, and some of his fellow Christians who have already found the Lord, much of its convicting force will be lost. A fine body of testifying church members is almost necessary for any very wide spread of a salvation revival.

It strengthens the faith and power of a new born soul to testify. Such a person will find that the oftener he can witness for God, salvation and the Bible, the oftener will he be blessed, and the stronger will he become. While wisdom should be employed as to witnessing among the enemies and rejecters of our Lord, nevertheless it has been known to result even there, in a great conviction falling on the unsaved, and of being the means of leading those who were total strangers to His grace, to mercy and salvation.

Let every regenerated soul beware how he ceases studying the Scriptures, testifying, and praying. Nothing will cool one off so quickly and completely as neglecting any of these three. It only takes a few neglectful spells to deprive you of the joy and confidence which belongs to a child of God. It is rare for anyone to grow cold, subside and become indifferent where he maintains these three assistances in an earnest and faithful manner.