Regeneration: An Act of Sovereign Grace

Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes  When a sinner who is dead in sin comes to saving faith in Christ, it is a sovereign and gracious work of God.  We cannot take even 1% of the credit for coming to Christ; we cannot pat ourselves on the back or seek an award for coming to Christ.  Instead, we stay at the feet of Jesus where we first came, realizing that from first to last it is all of grace, love, mercy, and the sovereignty of God.  In his grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he has drawn the Christian to Christ, enlightened the Christian’s mind, renewed his will and made him willing and able to answer the call and embrace Christ (Titus 3:5, John 6:44-45, Acts 16:14, 2 Cor. 4:6, Ezek. 36:26-27, etc; see also WLC Q/A 67).  I like how Charles Hodge noted that regeneration is an act of sovereign grace:

“No believer ever ascribes his regeneration to himself. He does not recognize himself as the author of the work, or his own relative goodness, his greater susceptibility to good impression, or his greater readiness of persuasion, as the reason why he rather than others, is the subject of this change. He knows that it is a work of God; and that it is a work of God’s free grace. His heart responds to the language of the Apostle when he says: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Tit. 3:5.) Paul says of himself that God, having separated him from his mother’s womb called him by his grace. (Gal. 1:15.) There was nothing in him, who was injurious and a persecutor, to demand the special intervention of God in his behalf. So far from his referring his vocation to himself, to his greater readiness to yield to the influence of the truth, he constantly represents himself as a monument of the wonderful condescension and grace of God” (p. 707).

“…Regeneration is an act of sovereign grace. If a tree must be made good before the fruit is good; the goodness of the fruit cannot be the reason which determines him who has the power to change the tree from bad to good. So if works spiritually good are the fruits of regeneration, then they cannot be the ground on which God exerts his life-giving power. If, therefore, the Scriptures teach the doctrine of efficacious grace in the Augustinian sense of those terms, then they teach that regeneration is a sovereign gift. It cannot be granted on the sight or foresight of anything good in the subjects of this saving change. None of those whom Christ healed, pretended to seek the exercise of his almighty power in their behalf on the ground of their peculiar goodness, much less did they dream of referring the restoration of their sight or health to any cooperation of their own with his omnipotence” (p. 688-689).

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, p. 688–689.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hammond, WI


One comment on “Regeneration: An Act of Sovereign Grace

  1. […] This truth of the bondage of the will shouldn’t make us despair about our sinfulness or the salvation of others who are stuck in sin.  It should make us run to the grace of God, who in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, powerfully gives life to cold, dead hearts!  In other words, the doctrine of the bondage of the will leads us by the hand to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in regeneration. […]


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