Galatians 1:15-16 "But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood."
The salvation of a sinner in their life begins with the miracle of regeneration unto saving faith. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 defines regeneration and its role in salvation: "Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."
The BFM 2000 then specifies how regeneration functions in relationship to faith and repentance: "Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour."
How the Apostle Paul illustrates the miracle of regeneration in salvation
Whenever we read of the dramatic conversion of the Apostle Paul from deadness in sins, trespasses and presecutions of the church to becoming Christ's greatest spokesman - and all in the same chapter (Acts 9) - we realize that we are dealing with the miracle responsible for such a conversion. That miracle is described in the Bible as regeneration unto saving faith. Several other New Testament passage enable us to view Paul's salvation experience from several angles.
First, we see Paul's testimony of his encounter with the risen Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:8 "and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." In three places in the Book of Acts we find Paul's testimony (Acts 9; 22 and 26). Then of course we come to Galatians 1:13-24 and see Paul's writing about his "former way of life in Judaism (Galatians 1:13-14), how he then was converted to Christ (Galatians 1:15-16) and then what he had begun to do following such a conversion (Galatians 1:17-24). We will use the following headings to describe Paul's regeneration unto saving faith:
3). Definite Change: A murderer becomes a missionary. Galatians 1:17-24
To corroborate these accounts, Paul retells the story in Galatians 1:13-14 - "For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions."
Make no mistake about it - Saul of Tarsus was the last man anyone would had ever expected to be the greatest missionary for the cause of Christ. In his spiritually dead, unconverted state, Saul was the church's public enemy #1. This man was desparate and in need of a resurrection from tomb of religious rebellion and unbelief.
If you have ever gotten a splinter in your finger and responded with a quick pulling back of your hand - then you know what it means to be "quickened". Or better still, the word "quickening" is still used today to describe the first movement of a baby in a mother's womb - whereby she feels the "first signs of life" within her - i.e "quickening". If I were to call your name - you would look my way. If I did not call your name, there would be no response. The Bible connects the quickening, or the work of regeneration to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) states - "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." Ephesians 2:1 (KJV) "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
1). Desperate Situation: A Murderer persecutes the church
2). Direct Encounter of Paul by Christ
3). Definite Change: A murderer becomes a missionary