Last Sunday saw us complete our regeneration sermon series that we held over the month of November. Having started at the beginning of the month by looking at the regeneration of community, and then narrowing in on the area of church the previous week, we finally planned to finish by looking at the regeneration of an individual. Except we didn’t!!
Because unbeknown to me when we planned the series, whilst I had taken for granted that there would be endless passages to draw on – I discovered that the word used for regeneration (palingenesias in Greek) is used only two times in the entire Bible, and relating to two extremes, not community, church and the individual, but just the WORLD - and then the individual.
In Matthew 19:28. Jesus says to the twelve apostles;
“Truly, I say to you, in the new world (a very loose translation of “in the regeneration” [Greek en te palingenesia]) when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
This a reference to the rebirth of the whole of creation. It’s similar to references concerning “in the new heavens and the new earth” that Isaiah speaks about in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22. in the Old Testament, which is much later re-inforced in the book of Revelation. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, ….” Now although this was an unexpected discovery, what great timing, especially as this coming Sunday we approach the season of Advent next week where as well as anticipating Jesus’ first coming, we look forward to his second coming and of his restoration of all things, at his Second Advent to the earth. At this time, God’s purpose is that the entire creation will be born again. That is, the whole universe will replace all that’s wrong with the world – we will have a whole new order – a new heaven and a new earth. This will be the great, universal regeneration a great, universal new birth.
The second use of the word regeneration comes later in the New Testament whereby the apostle Paul (who knew a thing or two about new starts) in his pastoral letter to Titus writes in chapter 3 v5, that;
“[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
We concluded our time together reflecting on how we might continue to enjoy and experience that rebirth and regeneration that Jesus through God’s Spirit offers us, how we might remain open to the new possibilities He has in store for us.
This afternoon, Tim, Gordon and myself, again sought to be open to new possibilities as we started the process of selecting a new architect to work with us as we seek to renew and refurbish our church building. Whilst perhaps not a rebirth, (for the existing structure of our fine building still has much going for it), we nevertheless look forward to working up plans together with the church and wider community concerning how we can continue to serve God and all made in His image, in this place.
In the meantime, before the inevitable hubbub of the Advent season, I trust in our different ways, we will all be able to draw alongside our God, finding in Him our own personal renewal and spruce up!!