The title of this post is a phrase I saw. Regeneration is a moment but it begins a process. Just as a baby is born at a specific time, the birth is the necessity that leads to the process of growth. The Bible repeatedly illustrates spiritual growth with physical growth.
That being said, is it radical? A tree does not radically grow does it? It grows slowly, bit by bit. However, if a guy were to plant a seed and then return to it many years later, one would see radical growth.
I think that is an adequate way to describe spiritual growth. Unfortunately, two main ideas have distorted this process. And, of course, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
1) “Now that I’m converted I’m perfect! All temptation magically melts away. Resisting sin is no longer hard work. All problems are, poof, gone!”
2) “I was born again, what else do ya want? As long as I said the prayer I’m in. Growth is possible but I don’t really have to worry about it, it’s God’s problem not mine.”
View 1 sees regeneration as a lucky rabbit’s foot that cures all ills and struggles. This shows a total lack of understanding of why we have armor, why faith is a fight, why we run with patience. It jumps to the ends without the means. It sees the tree as full grown right after being planted.
View 2 sees regeneration as just something else we did. Like going to the store. “Yeah, I have groceries now, I might cook later.” It eliminates the power of the Spirit, it undermines the sufficiency and power of Jesus Christ, it darkens the illuminating light of the quick and powerful Word of God, it completely ignores Scriptures that tell us to wake up, change, cleanse yourself, put off the old and put on the new. It denies the active role of grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly. It squarely blames God for its lack of maturity. It views a perpetual seed as being good enough.
Both views are wrong. Allow me to present a third view.
3) “Christ has begun a good work in me, a work that He will complete. It’s a work I’m all for so I join in, using all that Christ has offered me. I now see sin for what it is and it disgusts me, so I resist the devil, put off the old man and make no provision for the flesh. I now see the great beauty in doing what is right, in loving the Lord and loving my neighbor as myself. I see life for what it is. I am departing from the world already and headed toward heaven. Bring it on!”
View 3 sees the whole deal, it sees the seed, the humble beginning, but it also sees the potential for the tree. It views Christ as the perfect man and starts moving in that direction. Regeneration is our need, ask Nicodemus, and it is also all we need. If it truly happened, it won’t keep you the same, but it won’t do it immediately either. Run with patience, finish the course, fight the fight!