And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Matthew 19:28.
One of the chief tenets expressed by Missionary Peter Heisey concerning the definitions of King James bible words has been his unshakable conviction that every word in a King James Bible can be understood from within the parameters of the King James Bible itself. It goes without saying that if a dictionary gives a definition contrary to the obvious meaning of a bible word then that dictionary has more than likely recorded a modern definition and limited its readers scope of learning. The word "regeneration" is a perfect example of that principal.
A good example of that is Webster's 1828 Dictionary which shortchanges its readers with an all too limited definition.
1. Reproduction; the act of producing anew. 2. In theology, new birth by the grace of God; that change by which the will and natural enmity of man to God and his law are subdued, and a principle of supreme love to God and his law, or holy affections, are implanted in the heart.
Webster is to be commended for his piety and I have no doubt that his unabashed credit to God keeps him popular, but if that is all that a bible reader understood about regeneration he would be lacking. To really understand any word in the bible, especially a word such as "regeneration" which is only used twice, the context and related verses are essential.
For one thing, in our opening verse, Matthew 19:28, Jesus Christ himself helped to define the word when he told us that the regeneration is when he would sit on the throne of his glory. The Apostle Peter defined that time by calling it "the restitution of all things". And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began, Acts 3:20, 21.
We can understand the concept of restitution more easily. It is a term still in use in our courts of law and which still retains its meaning. When a crime has been committed, especially a crime of fraud or theft, a judge may order the offender to make restitution. By this the offender is expected to either return the stolen goods or to make payments equal to that which he stole by fraud or otherwise. When Jesus Christ sits on the throne, it is a time in which all things have been properly restored to him. He is the creator.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him, Colossians 1:16. Between the fall of the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14), and the fall of Adam who had been given dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, Genesis 1:26; all things were lost to their creator.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a defeat for the powers of darkness and a redemption for the sons of Adam. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it, Colossians 2:15. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man, Hebrews 2:9. Even though he now has title to all things through having created them, and having redeemed them through his death on the cross, he is not yet on that final throne. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him, Hebrews 2:8.
We as Christians await that glorious day when he has restored all things. We await that day when full restitution has been made and all things are under submission to Jesus Christ. He will regenerate the world and the cosmos. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them, Isaiah 11:6. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD, Isaiah 65:25.
It is clear to anyone who understands the nature of beasts that the world will have to be made over for such a drastic change in nature. In fact we are told of a new heaven and a new earth. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain, Isaiah 66:22. On that new earth (the old earth remade) Jesus Christ will establish his throne forever. All of nature will have been regenerated and the earth will be restored to the state of Eden. The twelve Apostles will rule the twelve tribes in that regeneration.
Now that we have established the meaning of the word "regeneration", we can look at its second usage with more understanding than what Mr. Webster would have given us. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Titus 3:5. Before we look at that second usage, I would like to draw my readers' attention to a remarkable testimony that was recently given by Dr. Michael Cesar of the Grace and Truth Bible Church of Amherst, NY.
Here at the Black Creek Baptist Church we have a series in which we ask various believers how they have profited by being in Christ Jesus. (Click here to listen to the entire testimony.) In that testimony he spoke of being a newly converted medical doctor trying to study many versions of scripture to prepare Sunday school lessons. He made the discovery for himself that the only version of the bible in which a person could take a word or phrase and track that same word or phrase from book to book and have it make coherent sense was the King James Bible. Any such study done in any other bible loses all cohesion since their use of terms is so willy nilly.
We will find that when we examine the usage of regeneration in Titus 3:5, and compare it with its earlier usage, a far greater truth is unveiled than in that the glimpse given us by Daniel Webster. What is the washing of regeneration? It is the cleansing of an individual believer so that that believer is entirely prepared for the regeneration of the rest of creation. Other than getting a new body, the new believer does not need anything else in order to be worthy and fit for that time. God's mercy and grace gave us that washing of regeneration. Mr. Webster is certainly right in his definition of the inward state of the believer, but he has missed the obvious cross reference to the regeneration itself as described by Jesus Christ, Peter and the prophets of old.
The Apostle Paul also speaks of that inward work. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body, Romans 8:22,23. Paul explains that the creation itself groans for that regeneration. What he also tells us is that our inward man is the firstfruits of the Spirit of God's work in regenerating the entire creation. When the Spirit of God goes to regenerate the earth, and when he seeks to establish that eternal state of nature, he will leave the inward man in each believer exactly like it is. It is perfect.
When all things are remade, and when Jesus Christ sits upon his throne ruling all things in righteousness, there will not need to be any tweeking or perfecting of the new creature that dwells in every born again saint of God. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We have the firstfruits of the new heaven and the new earth. All we await is that new body.