REGENERATION BEING DISTINCT
FROM THE BREATH OF LIFE IN GENESIS 2:7
The breath of life that God breathed into man in Genesis 2:7 was only a part of God’s creation, for the purpose that man could live. At that time, however, God did not commit Himself to be within man. The dust with which God created man became his body, whereas the breath of life became his human spirit. That breath was not God Himself. Some Christian teachers have made a serious mistake, teaching that at the time of creation God put Himself into man. At that time God only gave the breath of life to man to cause man to live. That produced merely a created human life.
The proper definition of regeneration is to have a second birth, to be born again. We all have been born once of our parents; by that birth we received the human life from our parents. Now we have a human life within us. However, this life is good only for us to exist on this earth. It is not good enough for us to fulfill God’s purpose. God’s intention is to put Himself into us as the eternal life, the divine life, to fulfill His purpose. Therefore, we need to be born again, to have a second birth to receive the divine life into us. That is why John 1:12-13 tells us that as many as received Him were born of God, and John 3:6 says that these were born in their spirit of the divine Spirit. Regeneration is to be born of God, to receive God into us in Christ through the Spirit as the divine life, which is a life other than our natural life. It is by this life that we can fulfill the eternal purpose of God.
WHAT WE OBTAIN THROUGH REGENERATION
The Divine Life
The first thing we obtain by regeneration is life, and because we obtain life, our human spirit is made alive. What is this life that we have obtained? Before we were regenerated, we already had the human life, the created life that we received from our parents. This life is not the real life. It is only temporary, a shadow of the real life, just as the food we take in day by day is not the real food but a shadow of Christ as our real food. Now through regeneration we have received the uncreated life, which is the divine, spiritual, heavenly, real, eternal life, without beginning and without end. This life is nothing less than God Himself in Christ through the Spirit. All other lives are merely shadows of this one.
John 3 proves to us that when we were regenerated, we received the divine life. Verses 14 through 16 say, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes into Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.” John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; and 1 John 5:11 and 12 also show us that by regeneration we receive the eternal life, which is God Himself. The law of life, the fellowship of life, the sense of life, and the light of life all come from life. We may say that these are “by-products” of the life we received in regeneration.
The Divine Nature
With life there is also a nature. By regeneration we have received the essence of the divine life, and we have also received the divine nature. Second Peter 1:3 says, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and virtue.” Life is the inward content, while godliness is the outward expression. The divine power of God has given us all things relating, pertaining, to life within and godliness without. Then verse 4 says, “Through which He has granted to us precious and exceedingly great promises that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world by lust.” By the precious and exceedingly great promises we are partakers of the divine nature, the nature of God. Have you ever realized that we have the nature of God within us? In the first Epistle of Peter, verse 3 of chapter 1 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The first chapter of the first book of Peter speaks of regeneration through the resurrection of Christ, and the first chapter of the second book speaks of partaking of the divine nature. This shows us that we receive the divine nature by regeneration.
By regeneration we have also received the Spirit into us. Ezekiel 36:25 through 27 is a passage dealing with regeneration. Verse 25 speaks of cleansing on the negative side, and verse 26 tells us that our old heart and deadened spirit have been renewed. After this, verse 27a says, “And I will put My Spirit within you.” After cleansing us and renewing us, God put His own Spirit into us. This is the best verse to show that in regeneration we received the Spirit into us.
(Dealing with Our Inward Parts for the Growth in Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)