REGENERATION AND SHEPHERDING—THE PROPAGATION AND NOURISHMENT OF THE DIVINE LIFE
In this message we want to see the matters of regeneration and shepherding in the organic aspect of God’s salvation. God’s organic salvation begins with regeneration and continues with shepherding. Regeneration is the propagation of God’s life by the imparting of God’s life into the believers that they may be regenerated and partake of God’s life. Shepherding is the nourishment of God’s life that the regenerated believers may grow and have their existence in the divine life, thus manifesting the function of the divine life in them.
Regeneration Being the Center of God’s Complete Salvation and the Commencement of God’s Salvation in Its Organic Aspect
It is neither easy to speak nor easy to understand the truth concerning regeneration as an organic matter. When I first believed in the Lord, I, too, did not know what regeneration was. When I went to ask the Chinese pastors, most of them would say that regeneration means that all the things in the past died like yesterday and all the things henceforth are born like today. One day while I was attending a meeting of the Brethren Assembly, I noticed they had a book entitled A True Explanation of Regeneration. When I saw it I was very happy. I obtained the book and finished reading it quickly. Eventually, I found out that the book did not give a clear explanation of regeneration. Later, I read a book by Brother T. Austin-Sparks, in which he said that regeneration is to have the life of God in addition to our natural life. When I read it I was greatly enlightened within. From that time on, I have become more and more enlightened. From my depths I thoroughly realize that God has His heart’s desire, His good pleasure, that is, to obtain a group of people and to make them the same as He, with His image without and His life and nature within.
To Regenerate and Re-create the Believers in Their Spirit through the Spirit of God
How does God achieve this? It is through His Spirit. After we repented and believed in the Lord, our sins were forgiven and we were reconciled to God. Then this God who loves us and who is the life-giving Spirit comes into us to regenerate our spirit. John 3 refers to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He respectfully addressed the Lord Jesus as One who had come from God as a teacher to Israel, and he therefore came to get some advice from Him. However, the Lord Jesus said to him, “Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3). Nicodemus did not understand the meaning of regeneration. He thought that regeneration was for a man to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born. So he said to the Lord Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (v. 4). However, the regeneration which the Lord Jesus referred to was for one to be born of water (that is, death) and the Spirit (that is, life) (v. 5). Then the Lord went on to say, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (v. 6). The first Spirit is the divine Spirit, referring to God. God is Spirit. When we are born of Him, we are born of the Spirit and eventually, we are spirit, the second spirit referred to in John 3:6. This is to be regenerated.
Through God’s Word of Life
First Peter 1:23 says, “Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.” This shows us that regeneration is through God’s word of life. A great majority of the regenerated ones were regenerated through the word of God. The word of God as a gene enters into us and operates in us. In this way we were regenerated.
(The Organic Aspect of God's Salvation, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)