The Link Between Regeneration and the Scripture

            The Author of regeneration according to John 3 is the Holy Spirit. John 3:6-7, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Demarest writes, “The Holy Ghost is the Author of regeneration: but the truth, word of God, or gospel, is the instrument he uses in imparting this spiritual life.”[1] Ames and Demarest recognize the continuity of the relationship between seed and word, “seed” a commonly used symbol for the natural generation of new life (Psalm 126:6; Luke 8:11; Mark 4:14-15; 2 Cor. 9:10; 1 John. 3:9) and the literal “word of God.”

            Commenting on 1 Peter 1:23 Ames asserts that “The word is the incorruptible seed or principle”[2] for the regeneration the Apostle writes of. He does not separate the message of the Scripture with the words of the Scripture. God’s words are in the words of the text. He writes,

“Because it is the word of God, (as it is in the Text); which liveth and abideth for ever, whose nature it resembleth in this, that the operation is not momentary or temporary, but abideth for ever.”[3]

            The living word used by the Holy Spirit to regenerate a lost soul, to continue to be used to regenerate those who would be saved, must be an eternal word. To eternally save, the word must itself be eternal. Ames’ quote assigns the eternal life-giving power of God’s Word not simply to the substance of the truth but to the words that convey the doctrinal substance he identifies as the “Text.” The apographa (the original language copy – apo, from) as the Protestant Reformers’ exemplar of the autographa (Original) served as the basis of their translation work. Upon translation to a receptor language the authoritas verborum, “the external and accidental authority that belongs only to the text in the original languages,” was lost.[4] That is, the words of Ames text did not look like the Original’s words. They had changed their shape; the Greek and Hebrew being translated into English characters. However, what remained in translation was the authority of the substantia, or res, the “formal, inward authority that belongs both to the text of Scripture in the original languages and to the accurate translations of Scripture.”[5] The substantia doctrinae or the doctrinal substance of the receptor language is what Ames says is the means the Holy Spirit uses to regenerate a lost soul. The substantia doctrinae abideth forever.

In other words, viva Vox Dei, “the living voice of God,” that lives and abides forever in God’s word performs an everlasting operation of bringing lost men eternal life. The everlasting words of God’s voice that perform an everlasting function are in the text of Scripture. Ames so says,

“Because to speak properly, it is the word of eternal life, John 6:68. For the end and use thereof is, to bring men to eternal life.”[6]         

Upon this truth Ames argues for the eternal security of the believer, and serves

“to refute the error of those that they which are truly regenerated, usually fall away from the grace of God, and so are born again and again after they have been regenerate. This is contrary to…the operation of the Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, and to the nature of the life itself, that is communicated unto them, which is incorruptible and eternal, as it is in the text.”[7]

Ames then says that the Spirit and the nature of eternal life is communicated to the believer by an “incorruptible and eternal” word as it is found in the propositional revelation of holy Scripture, the “text.” An incorruptible and eternal written word, because it is the voice of God, produces a believer who possessed eternal and incorruptible life. The nature of the text and the nature of the regenerated life for Ames are inextricably linked. Because the doctrina substantia of the English Bible is incorruptible and eternal, the spiritual life it imparts is also incorruptible and eternal.

            Ames writes, because “the word of God endures forever,” we ought “to have a singular respect unto the dignity and excellency in the word of God, as it is preached unto us by the Gospel.”[8]

[1] John T. Demarest, Translation & Exposition of the First Epistle of the Apostle Peter, 1851,

[2]Ames, Commentary, 30.

[3]Ames, Commentary, 31.

[4] Muller, Dictionary, 51-52.

[5] Muller, Dictionary, 51.

[6]Ames, Commentary, 31.

[7]Ames, Commentary, 31.

[8]Ames, Commentary, 32.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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