Regeneration Precedes Faith

In post 7 of the thread titled http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-does-regeneration-precede-faith]Does Regeneration Precede Faith? I wrote:

Quote:
I intend to write an article for my blog on the subject of regeneration preceding faith. I will start a new thread on SI to discuss my article as well as post a link to that article here.

I have titled my article http://canjamerican.blogspot.com/2010/02/regeneration-precedes-faith.html Regeneration Precedes Faith . This paragraph explains my purpose:

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My purpose in writing this article is to show that regeneration, as it is understood by Calvinists, must precede faith. To that end, we will first look at the Canons of Dordt, specifically the section presenting man's spiritual depravity. Following that, we will see from the writing and preaching of selected Calvinists that they affirm the idea of regeneration preceding faith. This article will conclude with a look at the story of the raising of Lazarus from John 11. In my opinion, it is one of the best illustrations of regeneration preceding faith.

I do not moderate comments on my blog so feel free to post comments there or here, whether you agree or disagree.

Here are links to archived SI discussions on the same subject.

http://20.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=7755]What is first – repentance or belief?

http://20.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=1738]Which came first -- Regeneration or Faith?

http://20.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=2844]"That Spurgeon's sermons teach that regeneration precedes and gives rise to faith is impossible to deny."

The link in the first post has changed to http://sharperiron.org/spurgeons-sermons-teach-regeneration-precedes-and...this but Mike Riley’s link has expired.

If you would like to have a PDF of my article you may email me.

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JohnBrian's picture

In my article I quote from Spurgeon's sermon titled http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols16-18/chs979.pdf ]Faith and Regeneration (1871) .

Spurgeon - page 6, paragraph 4 wrote:
There never was a grain of such faith as this in the world, except in a regenerate soul, and there never will be while the world standeth. It is so according to the text, and if we had no other testimony this one passage would be quite enough to prove it. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

Spurgeon - page 6, second to last paragraph wrote:
To believe in Jesus is a better indicator of regeneration than anything else, and in no case did it ever mislead. Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man.

I found another message by Spurgeon titled http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols7-9/chs531.pdf ]The Warrant of Faith (1863) , where he uses the term regeneration as a synonym for salvation.

Spurgeon - page 3, paragraph 3 wrote:
If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already. It is unnecessary and ridiculous for me to preach Christ to him and bid him to believe in order to be saved, when he is saved already, being regenerate.

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In my article I quote from both Spurgeon and Piper regarding 1 John 5:1. The Spurgeon quote is in the previous post. Here is what Piper wrote:

Piper wrote:
That’s plain in 1 John 5:1: “Everyone who believes [that is, has faith ] that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” Having been born of God results in our believing. Our believing is the immediate evidence of God’s begetting.

This morning I viewed http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3783 ]a video by James White , which he posted yesterday, on the same passage. The video is slightly under 19 minutes and here is what he said.

White wrote:
(5:18) Now, when you have a perfect tense verb with a present tense participle, what's the relationship at the time, and the vast majority of instances, that action accomplished in the perfect tense verb is going to precede, it's antecedent to, the action of the participle. What that would mean here, is that being born of God preceded this saving faith and in fact, I would argue, gives rise to it. One might be able to argue in some cases for a contemporaneous action, but that wouldn't make much sense here and as we will see, doesn't make any sense in John's repeated usage of this particular grammatical form, and that’s what’s very important.

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In reading through the blogs I subscribe to with Google Reader, I came across a YouTube link of John Piper titled, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsPzSKI6jvY ]Believing is the Evidence of the New Birth . He is teaching on 1 John 5:1 and the video is slightly longer than 6 minutes. In the video, while doing hand actions, he states:

Piper wrote:
(4:49) When God touches the dead heart, it goes like this, and this is faith.

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So as not to derail the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-lordship ]Lordship discussion, I am responding to Bob's statement on regeneration in post 3 here.

Bob T. wrote:
I also agree with Calvin that regeneration follows faith. His definition of regeneration as continuing and being sanctification does not set aside his view of what it is with regard to salvation. It starts at salvation following faith and is not prior to saving faith.

Bob, I assume you reference Calvin as an argument against the title of this thread. After all, if Calvin rejected the idea of regeneration before faith, then any Calvinist affirming the idea must be more extreme than Calvin. It is that same idea that Geisler uses in his book to establish the difference between moderate and extreme Calvinists.

There are 2 problems with the argument though, the first being that Calvin is not the founder of Calvinism. John died in 1564, more than 50 years before the Synod of Dordt met to resolve the issues raised by the Remonstrants. Whether Calvin would have held exactly to the Canons of Dordt does not diminish their truth. You also did not provide quotations from Calvin’s writings so that SI readers can determine what view he held with regard to the issue. I think his words and reference to the source would be helpful to this discussion.

Secondly, it is quite possible, that he used the term regeneration as a synonym for salvation. In post 1 of this thread, I show that Spurgeon did the same in his 1863 sermon, but in his 1871 sermon he distinguishes between regeneration and salvation

Bob T. wrote:
The conviction of the Spirit is necessary for faith to be aroused in any person. but the work of regeneration occurs with Justification at the time of our union with Christ (Titus 3:4-7). Once there is an understanding of the pre salvation work of the spirit and of the salvation work of the Spirit, there is a better understanding of what saving faith is
If I understand you here, you are saying that faith is internal to man and is what man contributes to his salvation after conviction. Calvinists affirm that this conviction of the Spirit is regeneration, and that faith is a part of the gift of God given at regeneration, as Ephesians 2:8 shows. The Piper video linked in post 3 of this thread shows the relationship of regeneration to faith.

I recognize that there exists a gender dispute in the Ephesians 2 passage, which Jim McClarty dealt with at the 2008 Sovereign Grace Bible conference. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfEZZOeflL8 ]This video (7:50) explaining the neuter demonstrative pronoun is from that sermon.

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Pastork's picture

I just watched the video of Jim McCarty on Ephesians 2:8, and I think he is correct that the neuter pronoun can refer collectively to the concepts preceding it because the preceding statement as a statement is considered a grammatically neutral thing.. But i don't agree that Greek pronouns always have to agree with their antecedents in gender. There are exceptions, however. The most famous one would probably be the use of a masculine pronoun to refer to the Spirit in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:7,13-14, even though the Greek pneúma is grammatically neuter. The obvious reason for this is that the Holy Spirit is a personal being who is God, and God is always referred to in the masculine. So, conceptually, it is perfectly proper for Jesus to use a masculine pronoun, even though grammatically it isn't a normal usage. For other similar examples you could read Daniel B. Wallace's paper "Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit," where he offers a number of instances for consideration. Wallace makes an important and, I think, obvious point when he says:

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A word should be mentioned first about the use of natural grammar in the NT. All exegetes recognize that natural gender is sometimes used in the place of grammatical gender in Greek. Robertson notes that "substantives have two sorts of gender, natural and grammatical. The two do not always agree. The apparent violations of the rules of gender can generally be explained by the conflict in these two points of view."

In my view, the use of toúto in Ephesians 2:8 is a similar type of exception (even though in this case we are dealing with a demonstrative pronoun). The nearest antecedent in the Greek text (pístis, faith) is that to which the pronoun (toúto) most likely refers, and it uses the neuter because, although faith is grammatically feminine, it is nonetheless a concept that as such is in reality is neither masculine nor feminine, and so the neuter pronoun is used.

For what it's worth, here are some of my own teaching notes on Ephesians 2:8:

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When Paul says “and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” the pronoun that most naturally refers back to the aforementioned faith. So Paul is indicating that saving faith itself is a gift of God's amazing grace.

There are some, however, who deny that Paul intends to teach here that faith itself is the gift of God. They argue that since the grammatical gender of the pronoun – translated by the English pronoun that – is neuter, but that the grammatical gender of the noun – translated by the English noun faith – is actually feminine. So, the word that cannot refer to faith but must rather refer to our having been saved as the gift of God.

There are several responses that present themselves:

First, I am not convinced that it is accurate to assume that a neuter pronoun can never refer to a feminine noun in Greek.

Second, as Vincent Cheung has persuasively argued:

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Since the divine "grace" in salvation is by definition something that God gives and exercises, and is not at all something produced or exercised by us, it would appear redundant and unnecessary to say that the "grace" is "not from yourselves." On the other hand, since faith is something that happens in our minds instead of in God's mind, it is much easier to mistake it as a product of our own will and power, thinking that we have faith because we decide to believe by our own "free will." Since sinful man tends to think that faith is a product of his own will, but since faith is in fact a gift from God, then it makes sense for the apostle to clarify it here, so that we do not mistakenly think that grace comes from God (which again, is true by definition), but that faith comes from us. (Ephesians, p.71-72 [PDF ])

In other words, to say that the pronoun that refers back to the idea of being saved by grace would be unnecessarily redundant.

Third, even if the pronoun that refers back to the whole idea of salvation by grace as the gift of God, this would also include the faith by which God saves us. That is, even if it does refer to something more that just faith here as the gift of God, it certainly wouldn't exclude faith as a part of that gift.

Fourth, there are a number of other passages which either directly declare or demand by way of necessary inference that saving faith itself be seen as the gift of God. For example:

NKJ John 6:65 “And He said, 'Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.'”

Recall that earlier in the context Jesus used the terminology of coming to Him as equivalent to believing in Him (vs. 35).

NKJ Acts 13:48 “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

As Anthony Hoekema has correctly argued, “the faith of those Gentiles who believed was a fruit of divine election and therefore clearly a gift of God” (Saved By Grace, p. 143).

NKJ Acts 18:27 “And when he [Apollos ] desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace....”

Luke indicates clearly here his belief that it is God's grace that enables sinners to believe in Christ. Clearly he sees faith as the gift of God.

NKJ 1 Corinthians 12:3 “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

Paul clearly has in mind not merely a mouthing of the words 'Jesus is Lord,' but a genuine statement of faith in Jesus as Lord, when he asserts that “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” This faith is, then, seen to be a product of the Spirit and thus a gift of God.

NKJ Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been *granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake....” *Greek charízomai (from cháris, “grace”) = “show favor, give freely”; lit. perhaps begrace.

NKJ Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

ESV 1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God [perfect tense ], and everyone who loves the Father loves whomever has been born of him.”

Recall Jesus' teaching in John 3 that only those who are born again can “see” (vs. 3) and “enter” (vs. 5) the Kingdom. John has clearly understood Jesus to mean by seeing and entering the Kingdom the act of believing in Him.

Anthony Hoekema has correctly observed, (Saved By Grace, p. 145):

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The Apostle John tells us, 'Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God' (1 John 5:1, JB). The word rendered 'has been begotten' (gegennetai) is in the perfect tense in the Greek, a tense which describes past action with abiding result. Everyone who has faith, John is therefore saying, reveals that he or she has been begotten or born of God and is still in that regenerate state. Since God is the sole author of regeneration, and since only regenerated persons can believe, we see again that faith is a gift of God.

So, as these passages have shown, when Paul says that even saving faith itself is the gift of God, he is only agreeing with what the rest of Scripture indicates must be the case.

The early church father Jerome (c. A.D. 347-420), commenting on the words, “and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” rightly concludes: “Paul says this in case the secret thought should steal upon us that 'if we are not saved by our own works, at least we are saved by our own faith, and so in another way our salvation is of ourselves.' Thus he added the statement that faith too is not in our own will but in God's gift” (ACC, Vol.8, p.).

So, we can now go beyond my earlier assertion that the basis of our salvation is God's grace, but that the means by which we appropriate this grace is faith. We can now further assert that faith is not in the end something by which we obtain salvation from God, but rather that faith is the means by which God Himself applies salvation to us (see Vincent Cheung, Ephesians, p.71 [PDF ]).

Hope this has been helpful in the discussion.

JohnBrian's picture

An individual identifying himself as "anonymous" posted a few comments on my blog. I have added those comments and my responses here.

Anonymous wrote:
Can anyone answer my question? Is the following reference to "eternal life" in regard to the quickening which happens prior to faith?:

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (Jn.5:24).

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

J. Brian McKillop wrote:
John 5:24 – The hearing precedes the believing, which results in the having of eternal life. It appears then that the eternal life is not the quickening but is the ultimate result of the quickening.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Anonymous wrote:
Brian, thanks for your answer. However, I still remain a little confused.

"He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).

Is the phrase passing "from death unto life" in regard to the "life" which is described as being eternal earlier in the verse?

Or does that phrase refer to the regeneration which prcedes faith?

Thanks!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Anonymous wrote:
Earlier I asked:

"Is the phrase passing "from death unto life" in regard to the "life" which is described as being eternal earlier in the verse?"

After further study I see that it must refer to the eternal life mentioned in John 5:24. Here the Apostle John makes it plain that "life" does not come BEFORE faith but instead it comes when one believes:

"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a ] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

Regeneration comes at the time of faith so therefore it is impossible that it occurs before faith. After all, one must be dead before he can be regenerated so therefore one is not alive before he comes to faith.

Friday, April 02, 2010

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JohnBrian's picture

This is a lengthier reply to the preceding post and the questions from "anonymous."

In John 5:24 we see a process, which begins with hearing and ends with eternal life. There is no everlasting life prior to believing “in Him who sent Me,” and hearing the word is a prerequisite to believing. Hearing precedes believing and believing precedes eternal life. What verse 24 does not address is the whom that is capable of hearing. For that we must go back to verse 21.

John 5:21 NKJV wrote:
For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

Here we note that the Father raises the dead and gives life to those He has raised. So the order of this process is – Father raising the dead to life, those now raised hear the word, believe, and are promised everlasting life. The phrase “passed from death into life,” summarizes the process. Those who were once spiritually dead have been raised by the Father, which provides them with hearing ears, leading to belief and eternal life.

The huge difference between Monergistic Calvinism and Synergistic Non-Calvinism/Arminianism is the question of whether God raises all men (without exception) to life. This passage seems to affirm the monergistic approach as the second half of verse 21 speaks of the Son giving life to “whom He will.”

A friend of mine in a recent email to me posed this question:

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As regards regeneration before conversion there is no verse in Scripture that teaches that, but if it were true then when does or did this regeneration take place? Before we were born? At birth? During our childhood? In our adult life?

I believe that regeneration and faith are simultaneous activities, with regeneration being the cause and faith being the effect, I don’t believe an individual can be regenerated and them sometime later exercise faith. In the case of Lazarus, his body was regenerated and he immediately exited the tomb. Another excellent example is in Acts 16 where we read about Lydia’s salvation.

Acts 16:14-15 NKJV wrote:
14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

Notice that when the Lord opened her heart she believed. God regenerates her heart, she hears Paul’s message, and responds in belief. Clearly the cause of belief is God opening her heart.

Anonymous wrote:
Regeneration comes at the time of faith so therefore it is impossible that it occurs before faith. After all, one must be dead before he can be regenerated so therefore one is not alive before he comes to faith.

I agree that regeneration comes at the time of faith as there is no time lag between regeneration and faith, but it is regeneration that causes faith, not vice versa. Since I affirm monergistic salvation I recognize faith as being given at regeneration. A synergistic approach identifies faith as that which man contributes to his salvation. There is a vast gulf between those positions!

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JohnBrian's picture

In the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-monergism-vs-synergism-%E2%80%93-part-1 ]Monergism vs. Synergism – Part 1 thread, Kevin Miller in post 14, asked some questions. I am responding to them here.

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Are you saying that we cannot semantically use the word "force" to describe God's condemnation of sinners even though we can use it in regards to God's regeneration of sinners?

If we understand that all men stand under God’s condemnation, not because God caused them to sin, but because Adam, as our representative, sinned. Also that God would be completely just to cast all mankind into hell because of our sin. The fact that he extends mercy to some (the believing ones) does not indicate injustice on His part. All are due wrath, some receive wrath, some receive mercy. He “forces” His mercy on some of His sworn enemies, but none of these so forced wish they had not been.

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…in evangelization classes, one of the steps is often refered to as "calling for a decision," yet is the word "decision" a semantically correct way to describe man's response to the gospel, if in the monergistic framework, man is inherently unable to respond to the gospel?

I intend to cover the “how” of evangelism in Part 4 of this series, and will look at decision-ism then. Since preaching (proclamation) of the Gospel is the ‘means’ the Holy Spirit uses to cause the elect to be converted, preaching that focuses on the decision (the end result) is, to my way of thinking, faulty.

When I have opportunity to preach my main focus is to faithfully say what the text says, while leaving the results to the Spirit. I look at preaching as providing the Holy Spirit with tools He can use in the conversion of the elect, and I want to make sure I give Him plenty to work with. I have eliminated most of the stories and illustrations I used to use in favor of quotes from dead preachers (Spurgeon is my favorite) and lyrics from theologically sound music. I think there is a danger in calling for a response, other than the response required by the text. Passionate preaching of the text is required but decisions are the Spirit’s job.

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…does a monergist believe in the "age of accountability" in regards to the evangelization of children?

There is no unanimity amongst monergists with regard to the age of accountability. I have a view, but am not convinced that my view is correct, as I find arguments opposed to my view to be very sound. I am unprepared to state that there is NO age of accountability, as each individual has differing mental capacity.

Here are some links that might be helpful:

http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html?mainframe=/calvinism/boettn... Infant Salvation, excerpted from The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, by Loraine Boettner

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1245734/posts ]Calvinism: Its Doctrine Of Infant Salvation

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Is there any Scriptural reason why God could not regenerate a one-year-old, since regeneration in entirely God's work and has nothing to do with man's ability to respond?

I can’t think of a verse that would deny the possibility, but one-year-olds are not able to comprehend much about much. Regeneration precedes faith logically, as regeneration is the cause of faith, I don’t know any monergist who would say that an individual can be regenerated without simultaneously expressing faith. There is no time gap between regeneration and exercise of faith.

The best illustration from the Bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus. God, in the person of Christ, proclaimed life to Lazarus corpse; the corpse came to life, and exited the tomb. For Lazarus, one moment he was dead, and the next moment he realized he was alive, and also realized that he didn’t cause his life to be restored. Once life was restored he did the natural thing – he left the tomb. Regeneration and faith (marked by his obedience to the command to come forth) are evident in that event.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
So the order of this process is – Father raising the dead to life, those now raised hear the word, believe, and are promised everlasting life.

JohnBrian, according to your idea the receiving of life logically precedes the hearing of the Word. So according to your idea, logically the receiving of life is totally separate from the hearing of the Word. However, that idea is contradicted by the following statement of Jesus Christ:

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn.6:63).

Quote:
The phrase “passed from death into life,” summarizes the process. Those who were once spiritually dead have been raised by the Father, which provides them with hearing ears, leading to belief and eternal life.

Let us look at the verse which speaks of passing from death unto life:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).

According to you the sinner passes from death into life before he even hears or believes--despite the fact that the Lord Jesus says that those who hear and believe are "passed from death unto life."

In his commentary on these verses John Calvin says:

"For it would not be sufficient to understand what he formerly taught, that he came 'to raise the dead,' unless we also knew the manner in which he restores us to life. Now he affirms that life is obtained by 'hearing' his word, and by the word 'hearing' he means 'faith,' as he immediately afterwards declares" [emphasis mine ] (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Volume Second, ed. William Pringle [Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

JohnBrian's picture

Jack,

Thanks for pointing out my contradiction of myself.

I agree with you and the text - it is by the hearing of the Word that the elect come to faith, In my last post I worded it:

Quote:
Since preaching (proclamation) of the Gospel is the ‘means’ the Holy Spirit uses to cause the elect to be converted...
whereas in the quote you referenced I said:

Quote:
So the order of this process is – Father raising the dead to life, those now raised hear the word, believe, and are promised everlasting life.

Let me clarify:

The raising to life comes By MEANS of the hearing of the Word. It is the Holy Spirit who causes the hearer to hear the word - Monergists refer to that event as regeneration. Then they believe, and the life which has begun is life everlasting.

I should have, in my earlier post, listed the process this way:

The Holy Spirit causes the dead to hear the word (by changing their stony hearts into fleshly hearts); they believe (the exercise of faith, which is gifted to them by the Holy Spirit; they have a life that is everlasting.

All of that happens because the Father seeks the sinner, not because the sinner seeks the Father.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
The Holy Spirit causes the dead to hear the word (by changing their stony hearts into fleshly hearts); they believe (the exercise of faith, which is gifted to them by the Holy Spirit; they have a life that is everlasting.

JohnBrian, according to your view you have the "hearing" of the gospel logically preceding "believing" the gospel. But here the Apostle Paul reveals that one's regeneration is through a process that is described as being "together" with Christ:

"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.2:12-13).

According to Paul this quickening results after or as a result of forgiveness of sins:

"...hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

Therefore the quickening cannot possibly happen until the sinner believes because this forgiveness is entirely dependent upon faith:

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43; NIV).

Are you willing to argue that the sinner can be quickened "together" with Christ while he remains defiled by his sins?

ChrisC's picture

what about simultaneously?

Sproul, R. C. (2005). What Is Reformed Theology?. p. 195.

Quote:
…Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith… the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order… We believe that at the very moment faith is present, justification occurs… They occur simultaneously.

Jack Hampton's picture

ChrisC wrote:
what about simultaneously?

ChrisC, the arguments on this thread have been based on the "logical order." See post #12 on this thread.

As Sproul said:

Quote:
…Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith… the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order…

Kevin Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
ChrisC wrote:
what about simultaneously?

ChrisC, the arguments on this thread have been based on the "logical order." See post #12 on this thread.

As Sproul said:

Quote:
…Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith… the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order…

I think that the use of the word "precedes" makes it a bit difficult to think of 'logical order" rather than "temporal order." We usually use "precedes" in a time line sense, but it can legitimately be used for logical order instead, if everything is happening simultaneously. So my question then is: what factors involved in salvation DO happen temporally rather than logically? Is there anything that happens first in a temporal sense? When I asked earlier about the age of accountability, JohnBrian wrote, "I am unprepared to state that there is NO age of accountability, as each individual has differing mental capacity." According to that statement, "mental capacity" has to come before salvation, or at least that's what I seem to be reading. I would agree with that. Some degree of language development must be in place to be able to understand the actual words that are used to present the gospel. When I asked whether a one-year-old could be regenerated, JonhBrian responded, "I can’t think of a verse that would deny the possibility, but one-year-olds are not able to comprehend much about much." So the human factor of an ability to comprehend, in some way or another, is necessary before faith can be possible. Isn't that correct?
Also, being exposed to the Gospel must take place temporally before one can respond to the gospel, right? I can see as how this exposing of a person to the gospel is done by someone else through preaching, but it is still something that has to take place temporally before the regeneration, doesn't it? I just want to make sure I do not confuse the logical order things and the temporal order things.

Kevin Miller's picture

What is the temporal role of conviction? Can the Holy Spirit bring a feeling of conviction to a person through their exposure to the gospel without first (temporally) indwelling a person? Personally, I don't see why He couldn't. After all, Satan can bring feelings of fear and depression on people without indwelling them. Satan can oppress believers but not possess them. So if Satan can bring feelings to people without indwelling them, then why couldn't the Holy Spirit, who is even more powerful than Satan?
I think we have all known of people who we could tell were under conviction, but who, for whatever reason, just would not turn to God for salvation. Perhaps they are worried about their family's reaction, which would be especially true for Muslims who are under conviction, so they don't get saved.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

First, perhaps the term we are looking for is causation. Regardless of whether things are happening temporally simultaneously or temporally sequentially, the issue of this thread seems to be which things are causing other things, or leading to other things.

Second,

Kevin Miller wrote:
After all, Satan can bring feelings of fear and depression on people without indwelling them. Satan can oppress believers but not possess them. So if Satan can bring feelings to people without indwelling them, then why couldn't the Holy Spirit, who is even more powerful than Satan?

Are we certain that Satan/demons don't indwell? Isn't that what possession is? Further, feelings are our response. They are initiated by us, not someone else. Satan does not "cause" fear. We choose how we respond to everything we face; it is incorrect to say our feeling are somehow placed inside us by some outside force.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JohnBrian's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
First, perhaps the term we are looking for is causation. Regardless of whether things are happening temporally simultaneously or temporally sequentially, the issue of this thread seems to be which things are causing other things, or leading to other things.
Causation is exactly the right term!

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James K's picture

I personally find this discussion to be unfruitful and borders on intentionally delving into the unknown that wittingly or not creates strife and division.

There is no explicit text that tells us the order of salvation. The scriptures do tell us what happens at conversion. However it is entirely possible that what is mentioned first is done so for the sake of emphasis or because it is the author's point without trying to create an order.

Take 1 John 5:1. Even the "great" James White could not definitely say that his view must be the correct one. He could only argue that it is probably the correct one.

The scripture has so much in it that we need to know that we don't need to make stuff up to talk about.

Calvinists do not even agree on this issue. It is a theological nonissue.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

JohnBrian's picture

In my article I wrote:

Quote:
The confusion over the issue of regeneration preceding faith arises from the different understanding and usage of the term regeneration. Geisler and other non-Calvinists use their own understanding of the term to critique Calvinism...

In his sermon titled http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols4-6/chs178.pdf ]The Work of the Holy Spirit Spurgeon notes the difference between regeneration and conversion.

Quote:
And now, my Brethren, I must just enter into the subject very briefly, by showing what the Holy Spirit does in the beginning. Permit me to say that in describing the work, the true work of salvation in the soul, you must not expect me to exhibit any critical nicety of judgment. We have heard of an assembly of Divines who once debated whether men did repent first or believe first. And after a long discussion, someone wiser than the rest suggested another question, whether in the new-born child the lungs did first heave, or the blood did first circulate. “Now,” said he, “when you shall ascertain the one, you may be able to ascertain the other.” You shall not know which comes first. They are, very likely, begotten in us at the same moment. We are not able, when we mention these things in order, exactly to declare and testify that these do all happen according to the order in which we mention them. But we only, according to the judgment of men, according to our own experience, seek now to set forth what is the usual way of acting with God the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation.

The first thing, then, that God the Holy Spirit does in the soul is to regenerate it. We must always learn to distinguish between regeneration and conversion. A man may be converted a great many times in his life, but regenerated only once. Conversion is a thing which is caused by regeneration, but regeneration is the very first act of God the Spirit in the soul. “What?” you say, “Does regeneration come before conviction of sin?” Most certainly. There could be no conviction in the dead sinner. Now, regeneration quickens the sinner and makes him live. He is not competent to have true spiritual conviction worked in him until, first of all, he has received life.

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James K's picture

While interesting, maybe, the question is always: what does the text say? Since the text does not say, this is mere speculation and theory.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
While interesting, maybe, the question is always: what does the text say? Since the text does not say, this is mere speculation and theory.

James, to you it may be mere speculation and theory but I believe that the Scriptures reveal in no uncertain terms that "life" or "regeneration" comes as a result of faith. Here the Apostle John says:

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

It is not until the sinner believes that he receives spiritual life, and the only life that the Scriptures speak of is the life which is in the Son:

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn.5:11).

Upon believing the gospel the sinner is made alive by being completely identified with the Lord Jesus Christ:

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:5-6).

This quickening or giving of life is identified with "salvation," and salvation is the result of faith:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Ro.1:16).

Upon believing the sinner is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the death of the Lord Jesus and at the samer time is baptized into His Body:

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor.12:13).

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Ro.6:3).

In order to cling to their false theology the Calvinists must invent another regeneration which precedes the one which brings eternal life, a life which is in the Son.

James K's picture

Jack, while I find myself disagreeing with a vast number of things with you, on this point I agree.

Acts 11:17-18
17 Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?”
18 When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God, saying, “So God has granted repentance resulting in life Or repentance to life even to the Gentiles!”

The scriptures are plain. My objection is to the theory and speculative aspects of this. By the way, Calvinists do not agree on this point, so it isn't Calvinists who must invent anything. Focus Jack.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

JohnBrian's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
In order to cling to their false theology the Calvinists must invent another regeneration which precedes the one which brings eternal life, a life which is in the Son.
No Jack, not another regeneration. There is only 1 regeneration. You are confusing the Calvinist definition of regeneration with conversion. Calvinists do not see the term regeneration as synonymous with salvation/conversion. That is the whole point of my article!

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
Jack Hampton wrote:
In order to cling to their false theology the Calvinists must invent another regeneration which precedes the one which brings eternal life, a life which is in the Son.
No Jack, not another regeneration. There is only 1 regeneration. You are confusing the Calvinist definition of regeneration with conversion. Calvinists do not see the term regeneration as synonymous with salvation/conversion. That is the whole point of my article!

JohnBrian,

Is the following verse in regard to "regeneration" or to "conversion"?:

"...even when we were dead *in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph.2:5).

And this one?:

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col.2:23).

Thanks!

JohnBrian's picture

Yesterday Jeff Peterson at the http://thelightheartedcalvinist.com/ Lighthearted Calvinist posted http://thelightheartedcalvinist.com/2010/11/09/a-baptist-catechism-part-8/ Lesson 8: Regeneration of John Broadus Baptist Catechism.

A PDF of the entire catechism is available as a http://www.baptisttheology.org/documents/ACatechism-Broadus.pdf ]FREE download .

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JohnBrian's picture

in post 11, I responded to questions that Kevin Miller raised in the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-monergism-vs-synergism-%E2%80%93-part-1 ]Monergism vs. Synergism – Part 1 thread, about the issue of the age of accountability.

There is a previous discussion (now closed) from 2008, titled http://20.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=8789 ]do all babies go to heaven?

Any internal links in that thread require the "www" to be replaced by "20"

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Kevin Miller's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
In my article I wrote:
Quote:
The confusion over the issue of regeneration preceding faith arises from the different understanding and usage of the term regeneration. Geisler and other non-Calvinists use their own understanding of the term to critique Calvinism...

In his sermon titled http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols4-6/chs178.pdf ]The Work of the Holy Spirit Spurgeon notes the difference between regeneration and conversion.

Quote:
And now, my Brethren, I must just enter into the subject very briefly, by showing what the Holy Spirit does in the beginning. Permit me to say that in describing the work, the true work of salvation in the soul, you must not expect me to exhibit any critical nicety of judgment. We have heard of an assembly of Divines who once debated whether men did repent first or believe first. And after a long discussion, someone wiser than the rest suggested another question, whether in the new-born child the lungs did first heave, or the blood did first circulate. “Now,” said he, “when you shall ascertain the one, you may be able to ascertain the other.” You shall not know which comes first. They are, very likely, begotten in us at the same moment. We are not able, when we mention these things in order, exactly to declare and testify that these do all happen according to the order in which we mention them. But we only, according to the judgment of men, according to our own experience, seek now to set forth what is the usual way of acting with God the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation.

The first thing, then, that God the Holy Spirit does in the soul is to regenerate it. We must always learn to distinguish between regeneration and conversion. A man may be converted a great many times in his life, but regenerated only once. Conversion is a thing which is caused by regeneration, but regeneration is the very first act of God the Spirit in the soul. “What?” you say, “Does regeneration come before conviction of sin?” Most certainly. There could be no conviction in the dead sinner. Now, regeneration quickens the sinner and makes him live. He is not competent to have true spiritual conviction worked in him until, first of all, he has received life.


I was just reading through some of the posts that I hadn't read completely. I had never heard of this distinction between regeneration and conversion. I had always heard them both used in a way synonymous with salvation. If a man is converted many times in his life, does the very first experience of conversion have to happen at the same time as regeneration, or can there be a delay? Spurgeon mentioned conviction, which is a term I had a question about in another thread. There are so many similar threads that I can't keep track of them. Can a person who is regenerated resist their conviction? I suppose they can, or why would they have to be converted over and over again? Does there even have to be conversion as long as there is regeneration? Is Spurgeon just using the term conversion in the same way we would use confession, which is something God wants Christians to do over and over again? If a person does feel convicted about their sins, does that mean they have already been regenerated, even though they may not yet have taken any steps to deal with their conviction?

JohnBrian's picture

Kevin wrote:
I had always heard them both used in a way synonymous with salvation.

Yes, and most often when synergists argue against the Calvinistic use of the tem “regeneration” they are arguing against its’ use as a synonym for salvation.

From http://canjamerican.blogspot.com/2010/02/regeneration-precedes-faith.html my article :

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/regeneration_kuype... Kuyper

Quote:
It is used in the limited sense when it denotes exclusively God's act of quickening, which is the first divine act whereby God (t)ranslates us from death into life, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. In this sense regeneration is the starting-point. God comes to one born in iniquity and dead in trespasses and sins, and plants the principle of a new spiritual life in his soul. Hence he is born again.

http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/etc/printer-friendly.asp?ID=603 ]Hodge

Quote:
In the development of Protestant theology the term has been still further narrowed: first, to express the opening stage of this subjective work as distinguished from its continuance in sanctification; and then, since the seventeenth century, to express the initial divine act in this opening stage itself, as distinguished from the broader term conversion, which includes, along with the act of God, revivifying man, also the act of man in turning to God.

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/regenerhodge.html Hodge

Quote:
11. What is the difference between regeneration and conversion?

The term conversion is often used in a wide sense as including both the change of nature and the exercise of that nature as changed. When distinguished from regeneration, however, conversion signifies the first exercise of the new disposition implanted in regeneration, i.e., in freely turning unto God.

Regeneration is God's act; conversion is ours. Regeneration is the implantation of a gracious principle; conversion is the exercise of that principle. Regeneration is never a matter of direct consciousness to the subject of it; conversion always is such to the agent of it. Regeneration is a single act, complete in itself; and never repeated; conversion, as the beginning of holy living, is the commencement of a series, constant, endless, and progressive.

Kevin wrote:
If a man is converted many times in his life, does the very first experience of conversion have to happen at the same time as regeneration, or can there be a delay?
No delay! Lazarus exited the tomb immediately upon returning to life.

Kevin wrote:
Can a person who is regenerated resist their conviction?
No, regeneration always causes conversion.

Kevin wrote:
Does there even have to be conversion as long as there is regeneration?
Yes! But they happen simultaneously with regeneration being the cause.

Kevin wrote:
Is Spurgeon just using the term conversion in the same way we would use confession, which is something God wants Christians to do over and over again?

I’m not sure exactly how Spurgeon was using the term “conversion.”

Kevin wrote:
If a person does feel convicted about their sins, does that mean they have already been regenerated, even though they may not yet have taken any steps to deal with their conviction?

C. Matthew McMahon, from an article titled http://www.apuritansmind.com/christianwalk/McMahonHSRegenSanct.htm The Holy Spirit, Regeneration, and Sanctification .

Quote:
When dealing with the work of the Spirit, there is also a preparatory work that He may do upon the soul of an individual in the work of conviction and instruction before He changes their heart. Extent, duration and the result of such work differ in degrees between men, for they are constitutionally different in makeup.

McMahon also touches on the issue of regeneration of infants in the article.

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