Has an experience ever happened to you where in an instant your whole life changed? Possibly at the birth of a child or the death of a loved one. The Bible teaches that the most decisive moment of our lives is the moment of regeneration, or when God gives to us new spiritual life.
This moment is completely an act of God apart from anything that we could do to save ourselves. This is one of the distinctions made between the Calvinist school of thought and the Arminian school of thought as seen in the doctrine of election.
The Bible paints a picture that when we are apart from God we are likened to a dead man that cannot save himself. A common analogy is one of a man that has been dead for years at the bottom of the ocean. Arminian theology would state that God throws us a life ring from off the ship and all we have to do is grab on to it (make a conscious choice to be saved). Calvinist theology, on the other hand would say that we are dead in our sins and that God is the one who jumps off the ship, comes down to the bottom of the ocean and makes us alive. Ephesians 2.8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It is this change within us that enables us to cry out to God and believe.
The exact way that this happens is a mystery to us, but God in his grace decides to save some and to give them a new heart. Ezekiel 36.26 states, “And I [God] will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” One moment we hear the gospel being proclaimed, God decides to send his spirit within us, and the next our lives are forever changed and we are saved. Even though the change is instantaneous, it is seen over a lifetime, and you will begin to see that your life truly has changed when you see that you do not enjoy doing the wrong things that you used to do.