By Donald G. Bloesch
Necessities of Evangelical Theology, quantity 2: existence, Ministry, & desire
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Extra info for Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Volume 2: Life, Ministry, & Hope
This means that our regeneration is both complete and incomplete. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, we are cleansed from all sin (1 John. 1:7), but an inclination to sin lingers on, and this is why sin can take root within us once again. It was a man of God who declared: "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me" (Ps, 51:10-11). This must also be the prayer of the born-again Christian who, though united with Christ, nevertheless falls away from the ground of his being again and again and must therefore be restored to the state of grace.
Now we taste and live in that forgiveness which is already ours by virtue of our election in Christ. Now we seek the glory of God and not simply the help of God. On the road to Damascus Paul was confronted by the blinding light of grace, but the new birth did not take place until he received the Spirit at his baptism by Ananias (Acts 9:17,18). Then he was not only blessed with true faith but empowered to confess his faith before the world. Regeneration must continue into sanctification, where we take up the cross and follow Christ in costly discipleship.
Yet baptism is more than a sign: it is a means by which the Holy Spirit comes to us and works upon and within us. Baptism plays a prominent role in our conversion and is not just a symbol of our conversion. This is because the God of the Bible works in and through human instruments to accomplish his purposes among people. CONTINUAL CONVERSION While the new birth happens only once, conversion is a broader term which applies to the whole ofthe Christian life. Conversion is both an event and a process in that what has been begun must be carried forward and completed.