Regeneration is not something extra to what has gone before, but is a feature or factor in all. It puts its finger upon that which has taken place in us. By regeneration something is present which was not there before, a life from God which only the born-again possess, an indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is not true of any others. This Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has in it all the potentialities of a new creation in every part. There is a new consciousness, a new capacity, a new sense of relationships, a new direction, a new standard, a new vocation. Indeed, it is the birth of a new child. Everything is new and has to be learned from the beginning. We really know nothing of God's thoughts and ways and standards and purposes until we are regenerated. The freedom and fullness in which we move in our new life and all that it means will largely depend upon our recognition of what has gone before, and perhaps especially of our death and resurrection union with Christ, because here, in this new creation order, the old mentality has no place, and it is only to hamper the work of the Spirit in us if we persist in bringing over our ideas, our desires, our judgments, our choices, even if we think them to be in the interests of the Lord. We have to learn that the best of our old makeup may be all out of line with the simplest things of the Spirit of God. Regeneration is a new creation, and it is essentially "new".
Sonship is something more than being born again. It represents growth unto fullness. It is quite a good thing to be a babe while babyhood lasts, but it is a bad thing to be a babe when that period is past. This is the condition of many Christians. Without going into technicalities, the New Testament in its original language makes a very clear distinction between a child and a son. While sonship is inherent in birth, in the New Testament sense sonship is the realization of the possibilities of birth. It is growth to maturity. So the New Testament has a lot to say about growing up, leaving childhood and attaining unto full stature. With this growth comes the greater fullness of Christ and the abundant wealth into which we are saved. The so great salvation has its greater meaning for those who are going on unto full growth. In other words, it is a matter not so much of that from which we are saved, as of that unto which we are saved. The grand climax of the new creation is "the revealing of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19).
Sanctification again is an aspect and not necessarily an addition. Briefly, this indicates an act and a process. Sanctification and consecration are alternative and synonymous terms. Firstly, they mean a setting apart or being set apart unto God. The New Testament is quite clear that, as we are justified in Christ by faith, so also we are sanctified in Christ by faith, and that this precedes the work of making us holy in ourselves. Thus to believers who had many imperfections the Apostle addressed his letter - unto "them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor. 1:2). Thus, when we are in Christ, the Divine mind concerning us is that we are wholly set apart unto the Lord. We are as consecrated as anyone can be as to our position. But the same Apostle who refers to believers as already sanctified in Christ Jesus, also writes to believers telling them that his prayer for them is that they may be sanctified wholly, spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. v. 23). This simply means that what we are by position has got to be made good in our state. Sanctification or consecration is fundamentally a matter of separation. With the fall, an entangling with another nature and order took place. It became organic, therefore constitutional. The Cross of the Lord Jesus cut right in between that order and organism and a new and utterly different one as represented by Christ. Sanctification is, therefore, the working of the Cross in us to make good the nullification of that entangled nature and to bring in, in every-increasing fullness, what Christ is as that 'altogether other." In His simple language of illustration, it is taking up the Cross daily and denying ourselves (Matt. 16:24). But the fuller spiritual explanation of that, which is given us later in the New Testament, is the working of the Cross in us to bring an end to that self-life which is inextricably bound up with a system of evil. Thus, we being regarded as sanctified in Christ Jesus by faith, the process of sanctification is our experimental approximation to the position in which we are placed by the grace of God.
It will be seen that sanctification thus follows closely in the sequence of things and is based upon substitution, redemption, justification, reconciliation, regeneration, sonship.
In the case of the Lord Jesus, the suffering and glory are always kept together; suffering, the foundation; glory, the topstone. Glorification is the spontaneous issue of the working in us of that Divine life, the incorruptible life of God. That life has in it all the potentialities of glorification. What has been said above is of two activities: (1) The setting aside of all that cannot be glorified; (2) The bringing in of the new organism with the new life and its increase unto the fullness of Christ, and this twofold work of the Cross leads on to glorification. Glorification begins in the spirit, that is, the renewed spirit of the child of God, by reason of the indwelling Spirit of glory, the Holy Spirit. Glorification proceeds as the soul - mind, heart, will' reason, desire, volition - is brought into subjection to the spirit and made its servant; in other words, brought under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit through our spirit. The consummation of glorification will be in the body, "to wit, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23), and "when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption: (1 Cor. 15:54) then this mortal body shall have been made like unto His glorious body, or body of glory. Thus sonship will be completed as the out-working of regeneration; sanctification of spirit, soul and body will be the mark of perfect sonship, and glorification the issue.
Surely we are able, in the light of even this very brief and far from complete consideration of this great range of the work of the Cross, to endorse the term "so great salvation." We are also able to appreciate the seriousness of the warning, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3). God has covered every need and requirement and has compassed the whole ground from A to Z in the Person of His Son and the work of His Cross.
(continued with # 18 - "The Cross and the Lord's Coming Again")