Saturday, June 10

Does regeneration precede faith?

The following is from the comments of Jazzycat from another blog site where he is debating whether regeneration precedes faith which would make faith a gift of God. Jazzycat (actually Jazzycat's humble servant W.H.) is asserting the reformed view that regeneration precedes faith and that faith is a gift of God. Bud is taking the other view. The entire debate can be read at the Altitude site of Bud Brown at.........

http://spaces.msn.com/budmansedona/PersonalSpace.aspx

Bud,

One small correction in your explanation of Calvinism…. You said, “God must regenerate so that they can believe and be born again!” Leave off the, “and be born again” and the statement is correct.

I offered the following verses as proof of regeneration preceding faith:

Ephesians 2:1-5 (NIV):As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

In verses (1-3) it is clear that Paul is speaking to saved people and he is referring to their condition before they were saved. He describes it as dead in sin and goes on to tell who they followed and what their desires were. This is a clear picture of lost sinners and their desires, thoughts, and actions. Then in verse 4, he explains where their help came from while they were still in this lost condition. He says, “But God, who is rich in mercy” (KJV). They are lost and dead in sin and Paul tell us that God did something in verse 4 because of his love and mercy. He intervened unilaterally. In verse 5 he tells us what he did and re-emphasizes that they were still unsaved and dead in sin when he took action. Paul says that God made them alive with Christ while they were dead and says that this is grace. I believe this passage is clearly teaching that spiritual death has rendered sinners incapable of responding to the gospel message without God taking action. The action he took was clearly that he made them alive. God changed them from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. This making them alive was done so they could respond to the gospel and come to faith which he goes on to explain in verse 8 & 9. If God making an unsaved sinner alive with Christ in verse 5 is not an example of being born again (regenerated) that Jesus refers to in (John 3:3ff), then I don’t know what is. Jesus goes on and defines it as spirit giving birth to spirit. God making and unsaved sinner alive with Christ sure sounds like spirit giving birth to spirit to me. At birth one becomes alive. Jesus says that spirit gives birth to spirit and Paul says that God made a sinner alive with Christ…. Gives birth/makes alive sure sounds like the same thing. Since verse 5 is not talking about making physically dead people alive, it can only mean that God is making Spiritually dead people alive. This is quite simply the Spirit giving birth which is regeneration.

Conclusion:
Therefore, it is clear from Eph. 2:1-5 that God takes unilateral action and changes unsaved people by making them spiritually alive. This grace allows them to respond in faith to the gospel. If these sinners had the ability to respond in faith to the gospel, why did God have to intervene and make them alive. If unsaved sinners have the ability to come to faith without God’s intervention, then verse 4&5 should have said something like the following instead of but God: but you, because of the gospel, came to faith in Jesus and God who is rich in mercy provided this grace due to his great love for us. But it didn’t say that. The exact extent of spiritual death can be debated, but in this passage there is no doubt that God intervened and made unsaved sinners alive with Christ without any cooperation on their part whether or not they were capable. God takes action and saves sinners. The context here would sure suggest that ‘dead in transgressions’ means inability, or else why would they have needed for God to make them alive with Christ. This makes the whole salvation package a gift including the faith to believe.

2 comments:

ambiance-five said...

Amen Jazzy!
Praise the Lord!

jazzycat said...

Yes, we should praise God because he first loved us.

Jazzy