Justification and Regeneration | Charles Leiter
These four sermons by Pastor Charles Leiter are an introduction to the doctrines of justification and regeneration, both foundational to an understanding of the gospel. Charles endeavors to make clear that justification and regeneration are connected, though they are essentially different. They are connected in that they both occur at the outset of every believer’s spiritual life, but the two acts accomplish very different things. Justification is the action of God in His heavenly courtroom; God deals with man’s sinful record by declaring the sinner righteous when he trusts in the saving work of Christ. Regeneration is the action of God in the soul of a believer, dealing with our moral corruption, causing us to hate sin and pursue righteousness. These messages present the “nuts and bolts” of salvation. Much of the current misunderstanding of the gospel is caused by misunderstanding or ignorance of these two doctrines.
As for justification, Charles shows that it would be unjust for God to justify (declare righteous) sinners without dealing with their record of sins. Proverbs 17:15 and 24:24 say that anyone who would justify the wicked and condemn the righteous is an abomination to the Lord. Much like the trial of a criminal, when there is an account of the charges against the criminal, every sinner has an account of every sin which they have committed and ever will commit. On the basis of this account, and God’s holy justice, every sinner is condemned and must be destroyed. However, the Lord Jesus Christ has gone to the cross to pay the eternal penalty for the sinner’s account. Because of what Christ has done on the cross, God can justify sinners and remain just Himself.
Nonetheless, when God saves someone, He goes far beyond dealing with a person’s sinful account. God also miraculously deals with a person’s moral condition. This is regeneration. Some of the ways that Scripture defines regeneration, which Charles discusses in these messages, include: a new creation, a new heart, the crucifixion of the old man and the resurrection of the new man, a new birth, and a fundamental change of realms. As justification is tied to Christ’s victory on the cross (the payment of the sinner’s just penalty), regeneration is tied to Christ’s victory over the grave. In regeneration, every Christian’s old self was put to death on the cross; their new self, who they really are now, is raised with Christ out of the tomb. Charles’s primary exhortation on the topic of regeneration is for Christians to live according to who they really are, no longer an old, sin-natured man, but a new, God-loving man. May everyone who hears these messages be helped in the Lord.