The Nature of Regeneration


BY THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732)

I. For the better understanding of the nature of regeneration, take this along with you, in the first place, that as there are false conceptions in nature, so there are also in grace: by these many are deluded, mistaking some partial changes made upon them for this great and thorough change. To remove such mistakes, let these few things be considered:

1. Many call the Church their mother, whom God will not own to be His children. “My mother’s children,” that is, false brethren, “were angry with me” (Cant. 1: 6). All that are baptized, are not born again. Simon was baptized, yet still “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8: 13-23). Where Christianity is the religion of the country, many are called by the name of Christ, who have no more of Him than the name: and no wonder, for the devil had his goats among Christ’s sheep, in those places where but few professed the Christian religion. “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 John 2: 19).

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Salvation by Grace

(About this series)




Once upon a time, I met, on board an Australian liner, an aged man of genial temperament, and of sound and extensive learning. He managed to dwell in well-nigh perpetual sunshine, for he followed the sun round the globe year after year, and he was himself so sunny that the passengers made friends with him, and sought information from him. It fell out that a discussion having arisen as to what “Grace” was, someone said, “Let us ask ‘The Walking Encyclopoedia’; he will be sure to know.” So to him they went with their inquiry as to the meaning of the theological term, “Grace.” They returned woefully disappointed, for all he could say was, “I confess that I don’t understand it.” At the same time he volunteered the following extraordinary statement: “I don’t think that they understand it either who so often speak of it.” Like the medical man of whom the Rev. T. Phillips told in his Baptist World Congress sermon who said of Grace, “It is utterly meaningless to me,” this well-read traveller comprehended it not. Some among us were hardly astonished at this, but it did occur to us that he might have allowed that it was just possible that on this particular theme, at all events, some less learned folk might be more enlightened than himself. Now, it chanced that on that same vessel there was a Christian seaman, who, if he could not have given a concise and adequate definition of “Grace,” nevertheless knew perfectly well its significance, and would have said, “Ay, ay, sir; that’s it,”

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1 John 2:2 - Does Grace Extend to Everyone? (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

An Exegesis of 1 John 2:2

To adequately handle any passage we must work through some important exegetical steps. We need to (1) verify the text and translation, (2) identify background and context, (3) identify structural keys, (4) identify grammatical and syntactical keys, (5) identify lexical keys, (6) address Biblical context, and (7) consider theological context. Then we would verify our work, put it into practice in our own lives as appropriate, and communicate it with others as God gives us opportunity.1

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1 John 2:2 - Does Grace Extend to Everyone? (Part 1)


A literal translation of 1 John 2:2 reads as follows: “And He a propitiation He is for the sins of us, not for those of us only, but also for those of the whole world.” At first glance the verse seems simple enough, but there has historically been startling disagreement regarding its intended meaning.

John MacArthur concludes that the passage cannot mean that Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world, insisting that, “Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Judas … or Adolf Hitler.”1 MacArthur supports his view with an appeal to John 11:52,2 which he says indicates that Jesus died only for the children of God. The passage reads, “… and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”3 John Piper’s explanation of the passage is similar, as he, like MacArthur, supports his 1 John 2:2 interpretation from an appeal to John 11:52.4 R.C. Sproul explains 1 John 2:2 as follows: “He is the “propitiation” for us, the one who endured the wrath we deserve so that divine justice is fulfilled, not set aside. Christ is the propitiation for “the whole world,” not because He made atonement for every sinner, but because He redeemed not only Jews but people from all parts of the world” [emphasis mine].5

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The Science of Conversion

(About this series)




The penetration of scientific investigation into the erstwhile unknown regions of things is one of the wonders of the age. All departments of creation are yielding up their secrets to the searching eye of science.

The causes of things are being sought after, not only in the natural world, but in all realms as well, so that things may be brought more certainly and directly under the human will. The unseen operations by which powerful results are produced are forced to yield and tell their secrets. New powers are discovered in all realms of investigation and subdued as never before to the service of man. Practically everything is reduced to science, and men are learning the how and the wherefore of things physical, mental and spiritual. The better these things are understood, the more completely are we the masters of the world for whose subjection man was commissioned.

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How I Became Convinced of the Effectual Call

I grew up with a semi-Calvinistic understanding of salvation. I knew that people were dead in sins and that dead people don’t do anything. But I did not understand much of how salvation actually worked.

When I first heard someone teach on the effectual call (also poorly described as irresistible grace) I balked at it. It didn’t seem to match up with my conception of salvation and my experience of life. When the gospel was preached, it seemed that the Spirit was working generally in people’s hearts, and they either responded to that work or rejected it. But that was all that was happening.

While in graduate school, I took a class on Romans. When studying through Romans 8—specifically verses 28–30—I became convinced that the effectual call was a biblical teaching.

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