In this wonderful book, Children of the Living God, Sinclair Ferguson carefully discusses the new birth, the glory of adoption, and the ramifications of living together in God’s family.
Regeneration “means to come to share in the risen life and power of Jesus Christ, and to enter into vital fellowship with him” (p. 18). This is the work of God, and no one else can do it. When He does it, He displays the nature of His power — which is infinite. “It is no easier for God to give you a new birth than it is for him to give it to the worst man who ever lived” (v. 21).
“There are, then, two dimensions to our sonship. The first is re-creation (or regeneration); the second is adoption, God’s acceptance of us into his family” (p. 26).
Adoption “is not a change in nature, but a change in status” (p. 36). We are men before God does this, and we are men after. But before God brings us into His family, we are members of another kind of family, with a usurping alien father. The devil is our father, using all the gifts and faculties that God gave our race to hasten the day of our damnation. When someone is truly converted (which is not the same thing as joining the church), he is adopted by a new Father, and his status changes completely. His old faculties are still operational, but they are pointed in a different direction entirely, devoted to a new love.
When we are brought into God’s family, we are being changed into human beings. So with that being the case, what were we before then? The answer is that we were “wreckage of human” — and headed toward the abyss, the outer darkness, where our status would finally become “ultimate wreckage of human.”