Brother Van Gelderen,
In your answer to question #43, you seem to indicate a belief that spiritual regeneration is a privilege for New Testament believers that Old Testament believers did not experience. I wonder how it is possible for an individual to be sanctified spiritually at all if that individual is not spiritually regenerated, since that individual would still be spiritually dead unto God in trespasses and sins and would be completely alienated from the life God. How could Old Testament believers be spiritually sanctified unto God if they were still spiritually dead unto God and spiritually without the life of God? Does not spiritual sanctification require the prerequisite of spiritual life?
Pastor Scott Markle
Hello Brother Scott,
Great follow up question! The article could have been clearer. My focus has been more on the New Testament than the Old, but I’m glad for the opportunity to investigate New Testament emphases in the Old Testament. I am indebted to Jim Bickel, senior pastor of Brooklyn’s Bethel Baptist Fellowship, for his excellent help in Old Testament study.
The Old Testament saints were regenerated. In John 3, when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, their conversation took place under the Old Covenant, and Jesus emphasized the necessity of being “born again” to enter the kingdom of God (3:35). The new birth is regeneration. Therefore, when Jesus spoke of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,” being in the kingdom of God, He implied they were regenerated (Luke 13:2829).
The difference between regeneration in the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant is that God guaranteed the new heart as a part of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:3134). Every Jew in the Old Testament entered the Old Covenant through birth and circumcision—but this entrance is not the same as regeneration. Thus, many were not regenerated while others were (as indicated by Hebrews 11). Although the Old Covenant demanded Jews to have the law in their hearts (Deut. 6:56), the Old Covenant did not provide this new heart for them. In contrast, the New Covenant cannot even be entered without regeneration.
The finished work at the cross provided the way for the New Covenant to demand regeneration. This opened the way for the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the regenerated human spirit. Paul wrote under inspiration, “ye…are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead (Rom. 7:4).
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