So what's next? As a pastor, that's the question I find myself answering to new believers. We Christians say a lot about repentance from sin and belief in Christ, but do we say much about regeneration? Many know that they are sinners and want to change, but do not know how. Too often we offer cheap grace turning the gospel into a get-out-of-hell-free card where sin following our "conversion" isn't that big of a deal. Other times we turn to legalism turning Christianity into a religion of rules.
Both of these are wrong and heretical. It is Martin Luther's proverbial horse. He said that in Church History, we are like a drunken German (Luther being German can get away with saying that) trying to get on his horse. He jumps on and falls off one side. He then tries to get back on and falls off the other. Luther said that the Church falls off the side of legalism and then falls off the side of licentiousness. It seems the Church can never find the balance.
So what is the balance? In a word: regeneration. John Piper in his new book Finally Alive offers the reader a biblical survey and theological treatise on the subject of regeneration and how it an important and necessary part of the gospel. Unfortunately such books are far and few and that is to our own shame.
Piper does what he always does. He walks the reader through what the Bible says on the subject at hand. He lays out the gospel, substitutionary atonement, repentance, belief, and regeneration. He explains the meaning of being "born again" and how that applies to regeneration. What Piper wants is for the reader to understand that when we are redeemed, we are new creations. We are not who are once were (even though we still aren't what we ought to be).
Piper offers a very good thorough introduction to the subject and should be read by a lot of Christians, especially new believers. Many Christians want their sins forgiven, they just don't want to be changed. And unfortunately, the Church has accommodated.
Though at times I became annoyed by Piper constantly saying, "I'm going to show," or "as we just discussed," or "in this chapter . . .", it was an excellent book that I would recommend. Christians need to understand this doctrine whether your a pastor, a new Christian, or a seasoned saint. The doctrines of the Bible are more relevant than we are willing to admit and Piper shows us how relevant the doctrine of regeneration truly is.