You must be born again.
Regeneration is a subject that lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to make sure that we really are "born again," for there are many who imagine they are, who are not. Be assured that to be called a Christian is not the same nature as being a Christian, and that being born in a Christian country and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no significance at all unless there be something more added to it.
Being "born again" is a matter so mysterious that human words cannot describe it. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change that is known and felt--known by works of holiness and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation that a man performs for himself: A new principle is infused that works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects his whole life.
It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: Man can do the one--God alone can do the other. If you have, then, been "born again," your declaration will be, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, You are my spiritual Parent; if Your Spirit had not breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I would still be dead in trespasses and sins.' My heavenly life is wholly derived from You; to You I ascribe it. My life is hidden with Christ in God.' It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."
May the Lord grant us assurance on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.