The Holy Spirit’s Role in Salvation: Part 4

The act of a sinner turning to a belief in the work of Christ, accepting his shed blood, and inviting the Holy Spirit in to forgive and renew himself is often called regeneration.

“Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is a change. It is a radical change into a new kind of being.”[1] We are changed from a spiritually dead being into a spiritually alive being. This regeneration is an absolute must for a person to be reconciled to God.

Earlier, we looked at a passage from the book of John, beginning with the famous quotation from John 3:16. This was from a conversation Jesus had with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was no ordinary man. He was, as Edward Bickersteth describes, a member of “one of the select and exclusive cast, a Pharisee; of eminent learning—a distinguished master in Israel.”[2]

After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:1-3).

Notice Jesus’ reply. He passes by all the credentials Nicodemus holds, and goes straight to the point. “When speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus was careful to use the word, ‘unless.’ This means that regeneration through the Spirit is an absolute necessity.”[3]

The word, ‘cannot’ is also used here. This is a strong and decisive statement. It is impossible to enter God’s kingdom without a rebirth. No one is born a Christian.

When Nicodemus still asks how, Jesus’ reply infers that this truth was elementary even in the Old Covenant. David knew well of the Holy Spirit; and there is evidence the prophets and writers of the Old Testament knew of the indwelling and work of the Holy Spirit too. Bickersteth said that as much as we attest to Christ as the way to salvation, He is; but also, even before Christ (on earth), there was the Holy Spirit.


[1] R.C. Sproul, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House), 93.

[2] Edward Henry Bickersteth, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications), 120.

[3] Sproul. 94.

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5 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit’s Role in Salvation: Part 4

  1. Pingback: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Salvation: Part 5 | A Closer Look

  2. Pingback: Drawing near to God that lives in you. | From the Father, Through the Son, By the Holy Spirit

  3. Pingback: Called | daily meditation

  4. Pingback: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Salvation: Part 6 | A Closer Look

  5. Pingback: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Salvation: Part 7 | A Closer Look

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