In Baptist history, there are certain distinctives that have always charact-erized Baptists. Over the last several weeks we have been looking at some of them. We have looked at the fact that we are not Protestants; we have looked at our unique position on the Word of God; and we have looked at the two ordinances observed: baptism and the Lordís Supper.
Tonight, we want to look at another of the distinctives held by Baptists. We believe in a regenerated church membership. You might say, "Well, doesnít everyone?" and the answer is NO.
I. The Biblical Pattern for Church Membership.
A. The New Testament teaches that the church is to be composed of a reqenerated people.
1. Regeneration comes from two words.
a. genesis - "origin", "beginning" (gene or generate)
b. a word meaning "repetition"
2. Thus the meaning "to begin again" or to be "born again".
3. "Regeneration": The act by which God gives eternal life, cleansing of sin, and imparts His divine nature within us.
B. Some may consider this view to be narrow exclusivism, but what does the Bible say?
1. "...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)
2. "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 1:7)
3. There is no record in the New Testament of an unsaved person ever admitted to church membership.
a. Saved; the saints; born- again; converted; believers
b. Those who have received Christ as Lord and Savior.
4. Does that mean that every person whose name is on the membership roll is a believer?
a. No, unfortunately.
b. But it does mean that no person will be considered for membership who has not made a public profession of their faith in Christ.
II. What is Regeneration? (John 3:1-8)
A. It is synonymous with the "New Birth", "born again", "born of God", etc.
B. Regeneration is not:
1. A natural birth. (John 3:4; 6)
2. A psychological experience. (religious high, etc.)
3. Religion (Nicodemus was religious) v.10
4. Intellectual knowledge. v.2,10
a. Even the devils believe. Jas. 2:19
b. "You donít go to heaven head first-you go heart first."
5. It isnít morality (Rich young ruler; Saul, etc.)
6. It isnít reformation.
7. It isnít church membership, good works, self-effort, or "doing the best I can." (Eph. 2:8,9)
8. It isnít rites, ceremonies, or sacraments.
C. Regeneration is a spiritual change!
Eph. 2:1, "You hath he quickened who were dead."
1. A change from spiritual death to spiritual life.
2. A divine change (something done for you by God).
3. It is being "born from above" (John 3:3;7).
2 Pet. 1:4, "that ye might be partakers of the divine nature..."
The Word of God + the work of the Spirit of God + faith in God = New Birth!
D. It is a radical change.
1. God does not alter or patch up the old nature, but gives us a new nature.
2. Regeneration is not an over- haul, a remodeling, a rennov- ation, or a reformation.
3. It is a new nature. cf 2 Cor. 5:17
4. Note: 5 specific evidences of Regeneration:
a. A new love for the Word of God.
b. A new love for the brethren.
c. A new desire to witness.
d. A new set of problems and struggles.
e. A new awareness of right and wrong.
Illus.: Christian and a Communist standing on a street corner...a beggar walked by, unclean, unshaven, and unkempt. "There is capitalism," said the Communist. "If we were in power, weíd put a new suit of clothes on that man." The Christian said, "If Christ were in him, he would put a new man in that suit of clothes."
E. It is imperative-not optional.
1. George Whitefield: (When asked why he preached so much on John 3:7)
2. "Because ye must be born again."
3. Sincerity is not enough.
F. It is a mysterious change.
1. Jesus compared it with the blowing of the wind (John 3:8).
2. Illus.: Radio signals
3. As the Gospel is preached, some hear, and repent.
a. The Holy Spirit begins His mysterious work of drawing and speaking.
b. The person trusts Christ, thus experiencing the New Birth!
G. It is a personal change.
1. It is not a group action; no mass evangelism.
2. Regeneration is a personal (one at a time) relationship;
III. How to be Regenerated. Jn 3:14-15
A. Note the story of the Serpent in Wilderness. cf Num. 21:9
1. We have been "bitten" by sin and are dying.
2. One look in faith at Jesus, who was lifted up for our sins, is the only "remedy".
B. 1 Pet. 3:18, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"
C. 1 John 5:1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God."
Tonight, are you a regenerated church member? If not, why not come now and receive Christ? Are you trusting in the fact that your name is written on some church roll? Trust in Jesus Christ, and He will write your name in the Lambís book of Life!