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Regeneration and Total Depravity

Regeneration and Total Depravity

We would like to call your attention to a special issue of The Standard Bearer on the topic of regeneration, Vol 63 Issue 05 12/1/1986. The entire issue is worth reading, but especially we call your attention to Rev. Thomas C. Miersma's article, "Regeneration and Total Depravity."

The opening paragraph notes: "Regeneration, as the first work of God’s grace in our hearts, is the answer of God to our spiritual and moral pollution, to that total depravity of nature which is ours according to our first birth after the flesh."

The article protects against the error of perfectionism: "That does not mean that that work of God is perfect in us. We are yet in the flesh though we are not after the flesh. The work of regeneration in our hearts is a spiritual renewal of our nature. That renewal must yet be perfected and will be when also our bodies are raised from the dead in the resurrection."

It also makes clear the glorious reality of regeneration with this confession: "The spiritual knowledge of our sin and misery belongs to the fruit of regeneration, wrought by the preaching of the Word, and God’s grace working by the law upon the regenerated heart. The result is that while the regenerated child of God is no more dead, nor is he totally depraved, yet we may well feel as if we were so, for sin is present with us and depravity, though not total, cleaves to us, for in our old man of the flesh dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18). It is important therefore in this matter of regeneration carefully to distinguish the reality of it and our experience of its fruit. Failure to do so can lead to and has lead to the error of antinomianism, to the idea that the blessings of salvation are only imputed unto us legally but leave our nature unchanged so that we remain totally depraved and dead in sin. It can lead also to spiritual discouragement in the Christian life because we behold continually the greatness of our sin and seem to see so little of the life of Christ within us. We are not to confuse, therefore, total depravity with the knowledge of our depravity by nature in our regenerated experience."

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