Question About Free-Will

Calvinists are critical of the non-calvinists’ position that a man MUST repent and believe to be converted or born again. They argue that salvation or conversion is a sole work of God and that man contributes NOTHING to his conversion.

Here is my question. Can a person be saved or converted or born again without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith? No. Is this decision (calvinist or non-calvinist) a “free-will decision” or is it one that is made by God for the individual? Again, in both systems the answer is “it is a free-will decision.”

If this is true, then the non-calvinist position that a lost person MUST repent and believe the gospel to be saved is the same position of the calvinist who basically says the same thing. So, unless I am missing something here, BOTH systems demand the same decision and bot systems have the lost doing exactly the same thing in repenting of their own volition and exercising believing faith in order to be converted or saved.

I understand there is a conflict that exists concerning man’s ability to repent and believe; but the objection that in one system man participates in the salvific process (synergism) and the other God alone saves (monergism) BOTH require the same volitional choices to repent and believe… for apart from one repenting and believing NO ONE can be saved.

Both systems require man to participate in the salvific process and to the same degree.

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95 Responses to Question About Free-Will

  1. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    I think there is come common ground. But in this piece, you have mixed up and interchanged some terms. Examples:

    1. “Calvinists are critical of the non-calvinists’ position that a man MUST repent and believe to be converted or born again.” Conversion is almost universally the term for repentance and faith (belief). Conversion is not the new birth. But you are correct that we would be critical if your position is that one must repent and believe (conversion) in order to be born again. We would say you have the order backwards.

    2. “They argue that salvation or conversion is a sole work of God and that man contributes NOTHING to his conversion.” Here you interchange several terms. “salvation” is a word which denotes the fullness of the calling, new birth, conversion, etc. When you make a statement like this, mixing words that have different meanings as if they are the same it makes communication difficult. The fact is, Calvinists argue that conversion is NOT a sole work of God in that man actually repents and man actually believes. God doesn’t repent for man and God doesn’t believe for man. We say that the new birth, prior to conversion, is a sole work of God and man contributes nothing to his new birth.

    3. “Here is my question. Can a person be saved or converted or born again without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith? No. Is this decision (calvinist or non-calvinist) a “free-will decision” or is it one that is made by God for the individual? Again, in both systems the answer is “it is a free-will decision.” Here again you ask a question and interchange words with different meanings as if they are the same. “Be saved,” and “be converted”, and “be born again” are not the same. As I said above, to be saved is a common term used for the totality of the person who becomes a Christian. At least I inferred that above. Conversion is repentance and faith and of course being born again is the new birth. So, you question should read, “Can a person be saved…without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith?” NO.

    “”Can a person be… converted…without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith?” Conversion IS repenting and believing.

    ” Can a person be… born again without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith?” The answer is no again. If a person is indeed born again, they will inevitably repent and exercise saving or believing faith.

    Then you state and ask, “Is this decision (calvinist or non-calvinist) a “free-will decision” or is it one that is made by God for the individual? Again, in both systems the answer is “it is a free-will decision.” I would say that after one is born again his will is changed such that it is a free will decision man makes. The WCF says on the will of man,

    “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;” Now here the WCF is talking about a sinner who has been saved. He has been translated “into the state of grace.” So it would seem to me that at the point of conversion his will is free, having been set free from the bondage to sin and satan.

    In no case is man’s exercise of repentance and faith “made by God for the individual” as you ask.

    4. “If this is true, then the non-calvinist position that a lost person MUST repent and believe the gospel to be saved is the same position of the calvinist who basically says the same thing. So, unless I am missing something here, BOTH systems demand the same decision and bot systems have the lost doing exactly the same thing in repenting of their own volition and exercising believing faith in order to be converted or saved.”

    “”If this is true, then the non-calvinist position that a lost person MUST repent and believe the gospel to be saved is the same position of the calvinist who basically says the same thing.”

    Yes we say the same thing. As you know though, the difference is a fine point of order. We say man cannot repent and believe until and unless he is spiritually quickened, new birth, and at that moment he freely repents and believes. You believe that he repents and believes IN ORDER to be born again.

    “…have the lost doing exactly the same thing in repenting of their own volition and exercising believing faith in order to be converted or saved.” Again, a mixing of terms. Believing faith is part of conversion (along with repentance) and both are part of the overall salvation of a man.

    5. “I understand there is a conflict that exists concerning man’s ability to repent and believe; but the objection that in one system man participates in the salvific process (synergism) and the other God alone saves (monergism) BOTH require the same volitional choices to repent and believe… for apart from one repenting and believing NO ONE can be saved.”

    “the objection that in one system man participates in the salvific process (synergism) and the other God alone saves (monergism)” Again, terms mixing. Calvinists believe that the new birth is monergistic. We do not say that all that follows is monergistic. i.e. man truly repents and believes. WCF on the effectual call:
    “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

    Notice, man is passive in the call but “until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,” then man is enabled to answer…

    Non Calvinists, I think, believe that the new birth is synergistic, right? In other words, God will not birth the sinner unless and until man participates by repenting and believing. Right?

    I’ve gone long. Blessings Bob.

    Les

    • james jordan says:

      “Yes we say the same thing. As you know though, the difference is a fine point of order.”

      But that’s the exactly point. If we don’t put the order in the right order in our heads, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in the right order in reality. Calvinism is basically a bunch of lunatics arguing that unless you believe regeneration works in a certain way, it cannot work for you. You limit God’s sovereignty by asserting that election cannot work at all way unless you believe it works in the Calvinistic way.

      I can believe that a TV is powered by magic crystals rather than electricity. But my TV will still work. I can believe that my posts make it to the blog by little troll carrying them in a tunnel and stacking them on a pile, and yet my post will still make it to the blog.

      I think the point being made in the OP is that whether we comprehend how election works behind the scenes, or not, it still works. In other words, You don’t have to comprehend election to be elect.

      Justification is not by comprehending the logistics of election, in other words. That’s what Calvinists refuse to see.

      • james jordan says:

        Yet, these analogies are flawed. Because if one believes that freewill is not involved in election; if one denies freewill, they’ve committed the unforgivable sin and cannot be “elect” nor ever forgiven in this world or the world to come. It is the utmost blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to call him a puppetmaster.

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      You wrote, “Conversion is almost universally the term for repentance and faith (belief). Conversion is not the new birth.” I do not believe you can justify this statement in the Scriptures. You are really advocating two “new births.” I do not see ANY WAY you can build a case for both… When God regenerates the lost person, that person belongs to God at that moment. Reconciliation has taken place and been granted by God. At reconciliation, there is nothing to repent of. Your position has serious difficulties at best as I see it.

      “The fact is, Calvinists argue that conversion is NOT a sole work of God in that man actually repents and man actually believes.” This is the point of my post. Since this is true, and as you acknowledge later, this is man’s free will decision then the calvinists’ argument that non-calvinists “worship at the altar of man’s free will” becomes null and void because calvinists believe and proffer the same thing.

      “Non Calvinists, I think, believe that the new birth is synergistic, right? In other words, God will not birth the sinner unless and until man participates by repenting and believing. Right?” My point is calvinists believe the same thing… but have gotten a free pass in this debate because no one has apparently connected the dots to say… wait a minute… you believe the same thing you are criticizing the non-calvinist for… with the exception of being “born again” before being converted. Conversion for BOTH is the same; it is the result of repentance and faith being exercised.

      Our only REAL difference is the justification of new birth being a different experience from conversion or conversion and new birth being one and the same.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob H.,

        With numerous scriptural references which you can read there, James p. Boyce (Southern Baptist) says about regeneration and conversion:

        “The Scriptures connect the two under the one idea of the new birth, and teach that not only is regeneration an absolute essential in each conversion, but that in every intelligent responsible soul conversion invariably accompanies regeneration. It is not strange, therefore, that they are often confounded. Yet, after all, the Scriptures also teach that regeneration is the work of God, changing the heart of man by his sovereign will, while conversion is the act of man turning towards God with the new inclination thus given to his heart.” See http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch32.html

        He goes on to say about conversion:

        “This is the result of regeneration. The new heart is prepared to turn to God and does actually so turn. Without regeneration, the sinfulness of man keeps him away from God, causes him to set his affections upon self and his own pleasure, and to find gratification in things which are opposed to God and holiness. The regenerated heart has new affections and desires and is, therefore, fitted to seek after God and holiness.”

        Note what I think is really our chief difference here. “Without regeneration, the sinfulness of man keeps him away from God,”

        We contend that man cannot repent and believe without a prior regenerative working by the Holy Spirit.

        BTW, I am not at all advocating two new births. One new birth followed by man’s response since he has been made spiritually alive by God in regeneration. I think you and other non-Calvinists believe that man is not totally spiritually dead, correct?

        “…because calvinists believe and proffer the same thing” about man’s ffee will. No, we do not believe the same thing. We believe, as I quoted the WCF above, that man’s will is not free to seek God or to respond to general revelation because his will is enslaved. We believe he must have a supernatural new birth and be made alive and have his enslaved will set free so he can respond to God’s call. Otherwise, he never will seek God nor respond to general revelation nor respond to the gospel call of a million Billy Grahams.

        ““Non Calvinists, I think, believe that the new birth is synergistic, right? In other words, God will not birth the sinner unless and until man participates by repenting and believing. Right?” My point is calvinists believe the same thing… but have gotten a free pass…”

        No, we do not believe the same thing as I have delineated. We believe the opposite order of regeneration and new birth because man is dead.

        “Conversion for BOTH is the same; it is the result of repentance and faith being exercised.”

        Conversion for the Calvinist is man’s response to God’s regenerating work. See Boyce quote above for an example. And here again you mixed terms. Conversion is not the result of repentance and faith. Conversion IS repentance and faith.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I did not say that you could not explain or justify two separate experiences of regeneration and conversion; I said you cannot justify it Scripturally.

        Do not believe Boyce is Scripture.

      • Bob H.,

        I didn’t mean to imply that Boyce is scripture. Read again what I said. He has numerous scripture references. Check them out.

        And, may I add that it is also widely believed by Calvinists that regeneration followed by conversion is a logical distinction of order based on other theological truths, chiefly that man is dead in his sins. He cannot therefore believe until he is made alive first. And, many believe that the two are likely virtually indistinguishable in real life.

      • sbcissues says:

        I understand WHAT you are saying; my point is you will have a difficult time distinguishing between regeneration and conversion as two separate and distinct experiences in the Scripture. I do not care if they are logically different or chronologically different; conversion cannot happen apart from regeneration and regardless of HOW you try to verbalize it they are two distinct experiences with regeneration necessarily preceding conversion and that is problematic as I see it, Scripturally.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob is what you need from me to prove my case a verse or verses which unequivocally state that regeneration precedes faith?

      • lydiasellerofpurple says:

        Les, Boyce also justified slavery from scripture. He justified “owning” a human being as from Christ.

      • james jordan says:

        “Les, Boyce also justified slavery from scripture. He justified “owning” a human being as from Christ.”

        Well, if you’re going to attempt to be a consistent inerrantist you kind of have to. And Calvinists love to pretend to be consistent inerrantists. They’d all be doing the same thing today if it weren’t for the fact that they’d probably be lynched today for voicing support for slavery. Look at Douglas Wilson. He wrote that book claiming slavery was great for slaves. Every Calvinist would be doing that if it weren’t for the fact that they fear for their lives what the consequences would be. They don’t want to become the next Zimmerman — that’s all that prevents them from publicly supporting what they all do in fact support in their heads.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Lydia,

        And you’ve sinned today…numerous times. And yesterday and every day before. The scriptures disallow that. Why do you keep on defying the clear scriptural teaching of the bible? Have you been impatient? Unkind? Gentle? The scriptures are crystal clear on that. Why do you keep on violating them?

      • Les Prouty says:

        And Lydia, I realize you want to redirect the focus on the imperfections of the messenger, in this case Boyce. Frankly, that’s apparently all you got. Why not deal with the texts he cites and his argumentation? Refute the scriptures. Because they stand whatever his sins were.

      • james jordan says:

        “And you’ve sinned today…numerous times. And yesterday and every day before.”

        How do you know? Are you omniscient? Its not the Bible that says we sin EVERY DAY in word, thought, deed and so on — that’s your putrid creeds and confessions.

        If you know so much about Lydia’s sins from today which you claim are numerous, list them. Or rather, better yet, list mine, o great omniscient Calvinist subdeity.

        And so what if we did sin today, and if those sins were numerous? None of them was a mortal sin. It wasn’t murder, rape, or adultery. It was, what, getting a little peeved at someone who cut me off on the freeway? Oh my, what a sin! I guess I freshly earned eternal hell today! Get real.

      • JJ, you should just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

      • JJ, sorry. I should have given a better answer.

        How do I know? Because unless Lydia or you or any of us has reached perfection, and we haven’t, we’ve not loved God with all our hearts, souls and minds fully 100% every day all day and we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves fully 100% every day all day. The scripture tells us that if we say we have no sin we are liars and deceive ourselves. See 1 John, assuming you accept it’s canonicity.

      • james jordan says:

        “The scripture tells us that if we say we have no sin we are liars and deceive ourselves.”

        I think it means if we say we’ve never sinned, not if we say we don’t sin every waking second.

      • sbcissues says:

        What does this have to do with the question posed in the original article?

      • james jordan says:

        I honestly don’t know. I was just responding to a question Les asked.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, the excursion about sin came about when Lydia made her comment about Boyce and slavery. I asked her a series of questions in reply about her daily sinning, as we all do and as JJ seemed to question me about. Lydia has not come back yet on the questions I asked.

        JJ, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Present tense. Aged Apostle John even included himself in the statement. No one on earth reaches perfection on this earth.

      • sbcissues says:

        I understand that. Here is the deal… we don’t have to go off on every tangent just because someone gives us a reason to do so.

      • Les Prouty says:

        I know Bob. But Lydia drops in and makes a ridiculous comment trying to discredit Boyce and I just pointed out the fallacy of her comment. She has chosen to stay away since then. I don’t blame her.

  2. james jordan says:

    Calvinists want to make things complicated because they have a great commission from Satan to turn as many Christians they can into atheists by driving them batty.

  3. Bob Wheeler says:

    Suffice it to say, few Calvinists would ever say that “unless you believe regeneration works in a certain way, it cannot work for you.” I think you have to come to understand that there is a fundamental difference between your fertile imagination and reality. In order to for the discussion to be fruitful, you need to produce evidence to support your assertions.
    The Law says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” That means that we have an obligation to represent our opponent’s position fairly. It is one thing to say that he is inconsistent, or that he is unwilling to face the logical implications of his own argument. But it is another thing to put words in his mouth and make him say things that he would never dream of saying in reality. Not only have you seriously slandered others, but in the end you make yourself look ridiculous, because no one can take what you say seriously.
    In the case of Reformed theology it is fairly easy to show what Calvinists say — quote them! There is a wealth of official statements from the Heidelberg Catechism to the Westminster Confession of Faith. There is no excuse for misrepresenting our position.
    I would basically agree with Bob H.’s analysis of the question above. When the Philippian jailor asked, “What must I do to be saved,” the answer given was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:30,31). The technical way of phrasing it is that faith “is the alone instrument of justification’ (Westminster Confession, XI.ii).
    I guess I feel a little uncomfortable calling myself a “monergist” — although I contribute nothing to my salvation in the way of either merit or ability, my intellect, emotions and will are obviously involved in the process. One Lutheran blogger (Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals) has tried to argue that because regeneration is all a work of God, it is entirely possible for an infant to be born again in baptism, even though there is no conscious change or effort on his part, simply because God promised to do it! This, I think, is the triumph of logic over reality!

  4. sbcissues says:

    Bob W.

    Paul’s answer to the Philippian jailer was to “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” I believe you are correct in your statement that “faith is alone the instrument of justification.” I define faith as “believing God is everything He says He is (which is shy the Word is essential) and that He will do everything He says He will do ( why His promises are essential) which is why God has chosen revelation (His Word) and reconciliation (His promises) to save the lost and make them part of His forever family.

    I believe one ought to be uncomfortable with this concept of monergism because as Les indicated, monergism controls ONE MOMENT in the life of the elect… that is it… everything else is synergistic… and as I stated above, I do not believe one can justify 2 experiences of being born again and being converted… I simply do not believe that can be supported Scripturally.

    It is not possible to be a calvinist and not accept the monergistic position, at least as I see it and understand it. The system stands on certain tenets and without them, the system fails.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob H.,

      “and as I stated above, I do not believe one can justify 2 experiences of being born again and being converted… I simply do not believe that can be supported Scripturally.”

      And neither do I support 2 experiences of being born again, as I have demonstrated above.

    • Bob Wheeler says:

      I don’t like to quibble over words, but I think that true saving faith is more than mere assent to a set of propositions. It is an act of the will by which the soul trusts in Christ as its only Savior from sin.
      This was actually one of the major issues debated during the Reformation. The Catholic Church defined faith as “notitia” (a basic knowledge of the content of the gospel) and “assensus” (agreement with the gospel). But the Reformers insisted that something else was necessary: “fiducia” (confidence, trust, reliance). “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” (Shorter Catechism, Q. 86).

      • sbcissues says:

        Bob W

        There is no question that faith is more than mental assent… however mental assent is essential because I must know who God is and what His promises are to me before I can trust Him to do what He says He will do. As I said to JD Hall…

        I do not believe faith is something God gives to one to believe and repent… I believe faith in Christ and the finished work of redemption is man’s response to God’s revelation of who He is and who we are and what it is that He has provided for us to be reconciled unto Him.

        I appreciate your contribution to this thread. Your demeanor is exemplary and your contribution fitting of Christian discussion. May your tribe increase.

  5. JD Hall says:

    “Calvinists are critical of the non-calvinists’ position that a man MUST repent and believe to be converted or born again. They argue that salvation or conversion is a sole work of God and that man contributes NOTHING to his conversion.”

    Hadley’s mistake (which was pointed out in a comment following the post), is to use the terms converted and born again synonymously. Whether regeneration (the equally Biblical but more precise term for being ‘born again’) precedes conversion or follows it, these are two different things. Regeneration is an act of God the Holy Spirit, giving a man a new nature that is inclined toward God and away from sin. Conversion is an act of God the Holy Spirit, leading the man to repent of his sins and believe the Gospel. In short, the Calvinist believes a man does not need to repent or believe to be born again (because this is solely a work of God the Holy Spirit, sans John 3). However, the Calvinist believes a man does have to repent and believe to be converted because that is precisely what being converted is. It seems that self-pronounced ‘non-Calvinists’ are confused because of an inability or unwillingness to divide the acts of God in salvation into the same framework that the Bible itself provides.

    In the second sentence, however, Hadley gives a peek at how he applies labels, particularly ‘Calvinist’ and ‘non-Calvinist.’ By ‘non-Calvinist,’ Hadley clearly means “Synergist,” because any Monergist (many of whom are not Calvinists – take confessional Lutherans, for example) would disagree that man contributes to his own conversion. The Monergist would argue that even though faith and repentance are clearly prerequisites to conversion (in fact, synonymous with conversion), faith and repentance are both gifts or works of God.

    Hadley continues, “Here is my question. Can a person be saved or converted or born again without repenting and exercising saving or believing faith? No. Is this decision (calvinist or non-calvinist) a “free-will decision” or is it one that is made by God for the individual? Again, in both systems the answer is “it is a free-will decision.”

    Yes. I think Calvinists can agree that salvation is impossible without repenting or believing (although we take issue with the term ‘exercising faith’ as redundant – there’s no such thing as potential, unused faith). We would also agree that repenting is a decision taken about by a man’s will that has been freed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Hadley is asking the wrong question. The question is whether an unregenerate man has a will that is free from his depraved or fallen nature. The Calvinist would say no; the Fall of Adam has corrupted the nature of unregenerate men and their will (as Luther argued) is in bondage to their fallen nature. However, once born again, the man has a will that has been freed so as to allow him to follow after Christ with all of his willing heart.

    Hadley says, “So, unless I am missing something here, BOTH systems demand the same decision and bot systems have the lost doing exactly the same thing in repenting of their own volition and exercising believing faith in order to be converted or saved.”

    Hadley is indeed missing something. Both Monergist and Synergist soteriologies require men to exercise their will to believe and repent. However, the Monergist believes that God must first do an act in the man’s heart to make him regenerate (just as God had to open Lydia’s heart so she could believe – Acts 6:14). The Synergist, on the other hand, thinks that a man must first repent and believe as a matter of the free will of their unregenerate heart, so that God will change their heart and make them born again. To state it a different way, Monergists believe it’s outside the capacity of a fallen and unregenerate man to have faith (I refuse to acknowledge ‘exercise faith’ as a valid phrase) without God first reaping in them a regenerate heart.

    Hadley ends by saying, “Both systems require man to participate in the salvific process and to the same degree.”

    This sums up Hadley’s misunderstanding of the Monergist and Synergist soteriological systems. Indeed, both require faith and repentance. Monergists, however, give all credit to God for man’s faith and repentance on account of him freeing their will by the power of regeneration. Synergists, on the other hand, argue that faith and repentance are works of man that do not require God’s gifting or working prior to their conversion. These are things, according to the Synergist, that fallen man has within his capacity outside the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

  6. sbcissues says:

    JD,

    Welcome to SBC Issues…

    You wrote… “Regeneration is an act of God the Holy Spirit, giving a man a new nature that is inclined toward God and away from sin. Conversion is an act of God the Holy Spirit, leading the man to repent of his sins and believe the Gospel.” That is an interesting statement indeed. I believe conversion and regeneration are two words describing the same event. I do not see conversion as the Holy Spirit “leading one to repent and believe” but rather conversion is the result of one’s repentance and believing or faithing the gospel. Regeneration or conversion takes place when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in one’s heart. It is at this moment man’s right standing is restored as new life is given and sanctification begins.

    For the record, I am not confused when it comes to man’s ability to respond to God. You make the assumption that total depravity/inability are determined but I do not do so. I believe God has chosen to reveal Himself to man through His Word and revelation demands a response. Man’s response is what determines his eternal destiny. God has also chosen to reconcile the world unto Himself; reconciliation demands a response from men. I also do not believe God gives man faith… as calvinists contend. If you will help me out here… I do not think I have ever heard this question asked or answered… in the calvinist mindset… does faith give man the ability to believe? Does this gift of faith come before or after repentance? Is this gift of faith what one receives when he is regenerated? I am a little confused on just how that works.

    Your argument of potential “unused faith” is just that… an empty argument. I believe we all have faith in something; the issue is not do we have faith the issue for me is where does that faith rest? You are right there is no “unused faith” that would be like saying someone is “almost pregnant.” Faith is that which is exercised; it is not something we possess and then use.

    Ok… with respect to monergism and synergism; is it fair for the calvinist who believes monergism brings about regeneration… but is not conversion synergistic? Is sanctification synergistic as well?

    Sorry for the “misunderstandings” you cite. For me the inconsistencies of calvinism provide gaping holes that there are few answers for. I am simply exploring some of those questions.

    My point in this article is that both systems have man repenting and believing to be saved… call it conversion or whatever one wants to call it. It dawned on me that the calvinist argument that the non-calvinist insistence that man must do something to contribute to his salvation is an empty argument because the calvinist system requires the same thing. I understand there is a difference in how one does repent… but the point is still valid… both systems require man to do something, the same thing to be exact… to be saved…

    So to continue to point to the non-calvinist system as being errant when the calvinist system requires the same thing is a fallacious argument as I see it. That my friend is the point of the post.

    • Bob H, maybe you missed it earlier, but I asked you, “Bob is what you need from me to prove my case a verse or verses which unequivocally state that regeneration precedes faith?”

      What say you?

      • sbcissues says:

        Les… that really is immaterial to the question I posed in the original article… my point was both systems have man repenting and believing to be saved.

        Both are decisions men make so how is it that the non-calvinist is guilty of making man sovereign in his conversion when the calvinist position is the same?

        That is my point.

      • Bob,

        It’s absolutely material to the discussion as you said this to me,

        “I did not say that you could not explain or justify two separate experiences of regeneration and conversion; I said you cannot justify it scripturally.”

        So, must I prove my case with “verse or verses which unequivocally state that regeneration precedes faith?”

        Les

      • Bob, in other words, must any of us have a verse or verses which unequivocally state any and all of our theological beliefs?

      • Les Prouty says:

        I already have. I allowed Boyce to make the scriptural case. He did it well.

        Here’s the deal. You know better than to say I must have “a verse or verses which unequivocally state that regeneration precedes faith” or a verse or verses for every doctrine. If you demand that of me, then you must do the same. But you know that right out of the box you run up against the doctrine of the trinity. That precious doctrine is not supported by any one verse or verses stating unequivocally that God is a triune God. That doctrinal truth comes from several places in scripture.

        So your answer to me is no, you don’t demand a verse unequivocally stating that regeneration precedes conversion. And as I said, Boyce nails it with scripture and no one here has refuted what he wrote.

      • james jordan says:

        There is a verse that explicitly places faith BEFORE regeneration. Its none other than John 1:12.

        The problem is, people forget that (or never knew) that in Semitic Greek the words “merely” or “only” are often left out. “Drink no longer water but take a little wine” = “Drink no longer [only] water but [also] take a little wine”

        But forgetting or not knowing that, people read “not of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of the will of God” as if the human will is not involved at all. Thus they feel the knee-jerk need to go back to verse 12 and REVERSE faith and regeneration to make it match their misinterpretation of verse 13.

        But verse 13 must be read: “not [merely] of the will of man, nor [merely] of the will of the flesh, but [also] of the will of God”

      • Les Prouty says:

        Sorry JJ, that does not make your case.

      • james jordan says:

        Please elaborate rather than pontificate. Your whole theology is based on reversing faith and regeneration in John 1:12 which clearly states he gave the right to be regenerated to those who beleivED. They believed first then received the right to be regenerated. Your objection that reversing the order of faith and regeneration in verse 12 due to verse 13 is demolished, and all you can say is “no.” That’s lame, even for you Les.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Well thanks JJ. The verse reads,

        “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

        I don’t see that I have reversed anything. I have believed in His name. Thus He gave me the right to become a chid of God. Because, I was born of God, not of my will or flesh or descent.

        This in no way unequivocally states that faith precedes regeneration. It does, however, unequivocally state that I was not born of my will but of God.

      • james jordan says:

        If they are already born of God, why give them a right to become sons of God???

        You are reading it like:
        1) They are born of God.
        2) They have faith.
        3) They are given a right to become sons.

        But they already were born of God, so they already are sons.

        It really works like this:

        1) They have faith.
        2) They are given the right to become sons.
        3) They are born of God.

        That’s very clear. But you don’t want to see it.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Here are some helpful verses:

        John 1:13 “born … of God”
        John 3:3 “born again”
        John 3:5 “born of water and the Spirit”
        John 3:6 “born of the Spirit”
        John 3:7 “born again”
        John 3:8 “born of the Spirit”
        Eph. 2:4–5 “God … even when we were dead … made us alive together with Christ”
        Col. 2:13 “you, who were dead … God made alive together with him”
        Titus 3:5 “he saved us … by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”
        James 1:18 “he brought us forth by the word of truth”
        1 Pet. 1:3 “he has caused us to be born again”

        Nothing here about us causing ourselves to be born again because we first believe.

      • Les Prouty says:

        No JJ, not so clear to say what you want it to say. Who believed and received that right to be children of God? Those who had been born of God. Clear as a bell.

      • james jordan says:

        It doesn’t matter anymore, now that I am aware of Calvin’s comment on 1 Tim 4:3,

        And indeed, properly speaking, God has appointed to his children alone the whole world and all that is in the world. For this reason, they are also called the heirs of the world; for at the beginning Adam was appointed to be lord of all, on this condition, that he should continue in obedience to God. Accordingly, his rebellion against God deprived of the right, which had been bestowed on him, not only himself but his posterity. And since all things are subject to Christ, we are fully restored by His mediation, and that through faith; and therefore all that unbelievers enjoy may be regarded as the property of others, which they rob or steal.

        (if anyone needs to confirm for themself)

        Calvinism is more evil than even I ever imagined. Its time to stop playing tiddlywinks with depraved lunatics.

      • Les Prouty says:

        BTW, “were born”: aorist indicative passive verb.

    • james jordan says:

      Although he posted this is a funny place, Les Prouty is agreeing with Calvin’s comment on 1 Tim 4:3 that unbelievers should all be made into slaves and treated as if every morsel of bread they ever bought with money they earned with the sweat of their own brow was “Stolen” just because they are unbelievers.

      Not only is this not what 1 Tim 4:3 says, but even an unbeliever in Jesus or the Trinity or Calvinism or whatever else can believe in God generally and give thanks to God for what he eats, which makes Calvin doubly depraved for interpreting it this way.

      Paul says “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:” — he doesn’t say this to accuse anyone of stealing anything, but only to argue that there is no need for vegetarianism. Every creature of God is good, no need to not eat meat. Calvin was depraved and so is anyone who says this interpretation of Calvin’s “Calvin, so good with scripture.”

      And Hadley, you better not delete this one! This is important. We are in a war for our very physical freedom here. These Calvinists consider ALL NON-Calvinsits to be unbelievers, and on top of that believe everything we own is “stolen.” They want to make us literal slaves!!!!! Lydia bringing up how they support slavery is looking a lot less pointless tangenty to me.

      Let’s see what Calvin said again:

      “and therefore all that unbelievers enjoy may be regarded as the property of others, which they rob or steal.”

      Calvinism is more antithetical to America than Islam.

  7. Waldensian says:

    Hi James,

    So let me just understand this, you make a claim about John 1:13…

    …who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13 ESV)

    …That where it reads “nor of the will of man” you insert the word “only” to read “not ONLY of the will of man” and as such completely change the meaning of the text without any exegetical ground for doing so, and even though no translation committee I know of has ever interpreted the text in the way you do. So when it is shown to you that you are wrong you immediately jump to 1Timothy 4:3 a passage that has nothing to do with the discussion at hand and assert that John Calvin is trying to enslave people.

    Wow!!

    For the record John Calvin or any other bible-believer for that matter does not need to “enslave” unbelievers because as Jesus stated the unbeliever already is a slave.

    Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36 ESV)

    As far as your diatribe on Calvin’s commentary I was thankful that you posted the link so people could actually read that comment in its context. Calvin was stating that all things that we possess are subject to Christ and the believer recognizing that fact are want to thank God for those blessings thus bestowed, his comments regarding unbelievers robbing others is in regards to God’s initial blessing to Adam that the creation was for his enjoyment and benefit conditional on his covenantal relationship with God, as a result the unbeliever enjoys that which was not made for them in the sense that the creation is meant to be a blessing for God’s people, I’m not sure why anyone claiming to be a Christian would not get that or in fact attempt to turn that statement into a mandate for slavery.

    Perhaps you should stop your infantile bashing of Calvinist’s and John Calvin in particular and make your positive presentation from the scriptures.

    As far as Calvinist’s believing that all non-reformed Christians are unbelievers what a ridiculous statement, one only has to read the interaction between the Calvinist’s on this blog to see that we have engaged respectfully and in love to our non-reformed brethren and have never once made the statement that non-reformed folk are unsaved. I do however have no doubt James that you are not a Christian and I do so not because of your hatred for everything reformed, but based upon your denial of so many of the fundamentals of our faith shared by both Arminians and Calvinist’s alike, including the deity of Christ, the inerrancy of scripture and most importantly justification by faith alone.

    May God grant you belief and repentance that you might turn to him with an empty hand of faith and be saved.

    …yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16 ESV)

    As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:9 ESV)

    Sola Gratia
    God bless

    • Waldensian, great response. I appreciate that you went into a deeper and stronger response than I did. We were packing up the last of our five to take him to college today and I was attempting to quickly answer James in between loads of stuff to the vehicle.

      God bless,

      Les

      • Waldensian says:

        Hey Les,

        Cheers Brother, and BTW congratulations on your emancipation, make the most of it, cause as soon as the grand-kiddies come it starts all over again lol

        God bless ya!

      • Les Prouty says:

        Thanks Waldensian. Actually our last one off to college yesterday is out 5th one. His two older brothers are also still in college. And their two older sisters have already given us 5 grandchildren! What blessings.

  8. Waldensian says:

    p.s. I would ask the readers to consider what is more wicked in light of James’ comments that Calvin is evil because he apparently is trying to enslave people – Is the man who declares that unbelievers are enslaved and points them to the only one who can emancipate them evil or is it the one that attempts to convince people they are already emancipated and therefore have no need of being freed that is truly evil??

    I’ll take Evangelist in Pilgrims Progress over Mr Wordly Wiseman any day. God bless

    • james jordan says:

      The greatest evil that ever entered our world was the worship of a man as God. The result of this has been endless persecution. Thank God for the Arian and Socinian “heretics” who threw this barabarism in the trash and saved us all, giving us civilization and freedom. But the evil of man worship abides with us still. Although its illegal for you man worshipers to burn people at the stake, you persecute everyone by casting aspersions. And you particularly persecute your children by brainwashing them into an evil view of God t hat he is a perfectionist loon who wants to broil us all in hell simply for being born. You laden your offspring with this horrible guilt trip over nothing, and therefore either ruin their lives in the sense of making them miserable for the duration, or in the sense of driving them against religion to become immoral atheists who do every evil thing under the sun because they’re convinced God cannot exist sense you portrayed him so horribly. If only we could get past this man worship nonsense to believe in the true God. If only society could be rid of the man worshipers and their evil cults. Here are all the differences between atheists and you man worshipers: You worship one dead man — they worship many dead men.

  9. MEN ARE NOT SAVED BECAUSE OF WORKS

    1. Meritorious works cannot save you.
    2. Works of the Law of Moses cannot save you.
    3. Works of righteousness (good deeds) cannot save you.

    Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (NKJV)

    Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (NASB)

    Titus 3:5 then he saved us—not because we were good enough to be saved, but because of his kindness and pity— by washing away our sins and giving us the new joy of the indwelling Holy Spirit(The Living Bible —Paraphrased)

    Ephesians 2:8-9….you have been saved…9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

    Ephesians 2:8-9 …have been saved…9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (NASB)

    Ephesians 2:8-9 …you have been saved…9 Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take credit for it.(The Living Bible—Paraphrased)

    Galatians 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law….. (NKJV)

    Galatians 2:16 and yet we Jewish Christian know very well thatwe cannot become right with God by obeying our Jewish law,…(The Living Bible–Paraphrased)

    WATER BAPTISM IS NOT A WORK.
    1.It is not a work of righteousness.
    2. It is not a good deed.
    3. Men are not baptized because they are good enough.
    4. Water baptism is not administered as a reward for good deeds.
    5. Baptism is not a work of the Law of Moses.

    Water baptism is so men can be saved. (Marl 16:16)
    Water baptism is so men can have their sins forgiven. (Acts 2:38)

    FAITH, REPENTANCE, AND CONFESSION ARE NOT WORKS.
    1. They are not works of righteousness.
    2. They are not good deeds.
    3. Men do not believe, repentant, and confess because they are good enough.
    4. Faith, repentance, and confession are not works of the Law of Moses.

    Faith, repentance, and confession are so men can have their sins forgiven and be saved. (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10)

    SALVATION IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD. But men have to accept that gift through faith, repentance, confession and water baptism.THERE IS NO WORK REQUIRED.

    Men can be saved in the time it takes to believe, repent, confess, and be immersed in water.

    (Note: Repentance in Acts 2:38 means to change from unbelief and to make the commitment to turn from sin and to turn toward God)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG> Google search>>>steve finnell a christian view

  10. Waldensian says:

    Hi Steve,

    Just wondering if you believe faithlessness is a sin? and if so how faith is not therefore a good work?

  11. Drew Mery says:

    Bob,

    There are just two paragraphs from your post that I wish to respond to (the first and last). If someone already pointed these things out, I apologize.

    First, you said:

    “Calvinists are critical of the non-calvinists’ position that a man MUST repent and believe to be converted or born again. They argue that salvation or conversion is a sole work of God and that man contributes NOTHING to his conversion.”

    From the very start you misrepresent the Calvinist position. I know of no Calvinist or Reformed document that criticizes the idea that we must repent and believe to be saved. Sadly, many non-Calvinists have caricatured Calvinists as believing that repentance and faith is not necessary, because that would just be a work of man. This is a gross misunderstanding of what we actually believe and teach. Now, you said, “to be converted or born again.” Do you equate the terms converted and born again? Because you shouldn’t. Converted is a broader term, whereas born again (or regeneration) is a more particular or narrowly focused term (falls under the broader category of conversion). I would agree that we must repent and believe to be converted, but I would not agree that we must repent and believe to be born again. Why? You should know this if you’ve been looking into Reformed writings. We believe that regeneration or being born again precedes repentance and faith. The reason, simply put, is that natural man cannot repent and believe apart from being born again/regenerated (Jn. 3:3-5). This is the sovereign and gracious work of the Spirit to give us new hearts, eyes to see and ears to hear, so that we can respond in repentance and faith to the gospel call. Yes, man is morally responsible to repent and believe, but apart from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit (regeneration) they cannot. [See the Third and Fourth Head of Doctrine in the Canons of Dort.]

    Second, you said:

    “I understand there is a conflict that exists concerning man’s ability to repent and believe; but the objection that in one system man participates in the salvific process (synergism) and the other God alone saves (monergism) BOTH require the same volitional choices to repent and believe… for apart from one repenting and believing NO ONE can be saved.”

    The concepts of synergism and monergism deal specifically with the doctrine of regeneration. If the new birth follows repentance and faith, then it is synergism — the Holy Spirit requires the cooperation of man. If the new birth precedes repentance and faith (i.e. they are the result of the Spirit’s regenerating work), then it is monergism — the Holy Spirit does not require the cooperation of man, but sovereignly works this giving of new life in the person. In synergism, man has something to boast about, because the final say in their salvation was themselves. On the other hand, in the monergistic view, man has no room for boasting, for salvation is all of God from start to finish. Even our repentance and faith is the result of God’s sogvereign and effectual grace in our lives (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:26-31; 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).

    • sbcissues says:

      Drew,

      I certainly appreciate your contribution and comments. The following statement is grossly in error. “Sadly, many non-Calvinists have caricatured Calvinists as believing that repentance and faith is not necessary, because that would just be a work of man. This is a gross misunderstanding of what we actually believe and teach.”

      I did not say Calvinists do not believe that Calvinists do not believe that these are not necessary. What I said was, calvinists are heavily critical of the non-calvinist position that repentance and faith are necessary TO BE SAVED… as if these are works as opposed to God’s work…

      So don’t give me this “From the very start you misrepresent the Calvinist position.” I have not misrepresented anything. Even in your own analysis of monergism and synergism you allude to the problem I mention in my article… when you say “man has something to boast about, because the final say in their salvation was themselves.”

      What you are saying is basically “if repentance and faith are what brings about salvation then it is man’s final say… ” that is exactly what I am referring to except most of the time the rhetoric is even more vitriolic as if the calvinist position is very different;

      My point is both systems require the same repentance and believing faith and without them, no one is saved in either system. It is no more boastful or a work of man in either system… that is the point that you apparently did not get.

      The following statement makes no sense to me… Even our repentance and faith is the result of God’s sovereign and effectual grace in our lives.

      Either a person repents of his sin or he does not… does he do so of his own free will or does God do it for him? I believe we are on the same ground here… I fully understand the issue of regeneration and its role in the calvinist system but that is not my point…

      My point is does a lost person “repent and exercise believing faith of HIS OWN FREE WILL AND ACCORD in the calvinist system to be saved? That is a yes or no question. If the answer is yes THEN our positions are the same; if the answer is NO then someone has some serious problems, at least as I see it.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        It seems that you’re trying to level the differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists to make it seem like we’re all pretty much saying the same thing. This is not true, however.

        You said:
        “What I said was, calvinists are heavily critical of the non-calvinist position that repentance and faith are necessary TO BE SAVED… as if these are works as opposed to God’s work.”

        No, we’re not heavily critical of the view that repentance and faith are necessary to be saved. One cannot be saved without repenting and believing in the gospel. My initial response to you was accurate, I simply responded from a different angle. To say that we’re critical of this is to say that we believe that repentance and faith are not necessary to be saved. It’s not that we’re critical of the view that repentance and faith are necessary, it’s that we’re critical of the view that man can repent and believe whenever they want, by their so-called “free will,” prior to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (see below).

        You said:
        “My point is both systems require the same repentance and believing faith and without them, no one is saved in either system. It is no more boastful or a work of man in either system… that is the point that you apparently did not get.”

        No, I get it. I just think you’re mistaken. You’re basically asserting that since both systems view repentance and faith as necessary, then we’re both saying the same thing. The question is, does repentance and faith precede or follow regeneration? If it precedes regeneration — that is, when man is still dead in trespasses and sins — then man’s repentance and faith brings about regeneration, and man therefore has the final say or final determinative factor in bringing about their salvation. On the other hand, if repentance and faith follow regeneration — that is, after man has been “quickened” — then the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit effectually brings about repentance and faith — that is, they are graces or gifts. These views are very different. Man cannot repent and believe on “their own free will,” because their wills are ensalved/in bondage to sin, and the natural man cannot do that which is pleasing to God (Rom. 8:5-8). Unless man is born of water and the Spirit, they cannot see and enter the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3-5; cf. 1:12-13; 1 Cor. 2:14-16; 1 Jn. 5:1).

        You can’t just throw around this term “free will.” Please explain how you understand it, because the Bible repeatedly speaks of man being enslaved/in bondage (Jn. 8:43-47; Rom. 6:20; Eph. 1:1-3). You act like man’s will hasn’t changed all that much since the Fall; yet the wickedness of mankind completely goes against that.

  12. Drew Mery says:

    I suppose I should also ask, do you or do you not believe that fallen man is enslaved to sin? And if so, what do you think that entails?

    • sbcissues says:

      I believe he is enslaved to sin yes but that does not mean he is incapable of responding to God’s initiative of revelation and reconciliation, both of which require a response from man.

      Here is my question to you; is regeneration possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? I do not believe new life is possible without the indwelling; this puts the calvinist position of regeneration prior to repentance and faith in serious jeopardy as I see it.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        Your view completely goes against the clear testimony of Scripture:

        “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:8)

        “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ he power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:22-24)

        “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4)

        “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. BUT GOD…” (Eph. 2:1-4a; emphasis added)

        Now, I would agree that fallen man is not incapable of responding to God’s redemptive revelation; however, apart from God’s gracious regenerating work in them, their response will always be unbelief and even hostility. They are enemies of God. In their fallen state they hate God. They are not willing to come to Him. Yes, man is morally responsible to repent and believe (their fallen state does not change their moral responsiblity to their creator, nor do they have an excuse; Rom. 1:18ff).

        You said:
        “Here is my question to you; is regeneration possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? I do not believe new life is possible without the indwelling; this puts the calvinist position of regeneration prior to repentance and faith in serious jeopardy as I see it.”

        I don’t exactly understand your reasoning here. Perhaps you can clarify. I will still attempt an answer though. Simply put, regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit there cannot be new life. But our repentance and faith does not bring about regeneration, as mentioned above, but is the result of the regenerating work of the Spirit. Where does the Calvinist attempt to sever regeneration from the Holy Spirit?

      • sbcissues says:

        Sorry… I repeated this question in the other comment to yours. You wrote…

        I don’t exactly understand your reasoning here. Perhaps you can clarify. I will still attempt an answer though. Simply put, regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit there cannot be new life.

        I can see you are not understanding my question. You say “regeneration is the WORK of the Holy Spirit.” I am saying that regeneration is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart; that is what brings new life. If regeneration precedes repentance and believing faith then that means the indwelling takes place prior to repentance and therefore the Holy Spirit is taking up residence in an unrepentant heart. I believe that to be highly problematic.

        The indwelling takes place after repentance and believing faith and not before… AND since new life is the result of the indwelling that new life MUST come AFTER repentance and believing faith as well.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        Thanks for your clarification. I think the fundamental problem here, along with many of your other comments/views, is that you keep mixing terms and realities. Regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are not one and the same thing. Why you assume this is beyond me. So much of what has been said would be cleared up if you stopped confusing terms with each other. According to what you’ve said thus far, throughout this comment thread, regeneration, conversion, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are all the same thing. You’re taking related, though distinct, terms and realities and morphing them together. You might as well just say justification and sanctification are the same thing (the error of Rome).

        If you want to hold that regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit are the same thing, then how do you account for the apostles’ obvious regeneration (since they repented and believed) prior to the indwelling of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? Now, while this “gap” (so to speak) can be accounted for due to the redemptive historical transition taking place, what can’t be denied is that regeneration and indwelling are distinct from each other. While these things may be simultaneous now, it does not follow that they are one and the same thing.

      • sbcissues says:

        Drew,

        Regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are not one and the same thing.

        My point is really very simple. New life is the result of the indwelling I maintain there is no new life until the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the unregenerate heart. The calvinist position is that regeneration is new life.

        The apostles were saved just like Abraham was; faith in the coming promises of God. When they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they were THEN born again as we are today. Some might make the case that when Jesus told the disciples, “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) that they were “born again” at that point but that is after the resurrection.

        I am not so sure that you are correct in your assertion that “what can’t be denied is that regeneration and indwelling are distinct from each other.”

        Again, new life is the direct result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as I see it and that is problematic for this regeneration prior to repentance in my estimation and that is the basis of my argument.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        We currently have three different threads/conversations going on here. I’m going to combine them all in this post, since it’s starting to get a little confusing keeping track of them all. Also, could you please enclose my statements in quotations. I’m not sure why you haven’t been doing that. It makes it more difficult to follow your posts. I have to see if that’s what I’ve said or if that’s what you’re saying. Thank you.

        Below, you asked: “So are you arguing that my position that new life is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and apart from the indwelling, new life is not possible???????” No Bob. I believe that the indwelling Holy Spirit is necessary for new life. Apart from the Spirit there can be no new life. Your main contention has been that our faith brings about this new life, whereas I’m saying that the Spirit brings about new life in us (since we are previously dead in trespasses and sins), making it where we can respond to the gospel in repentance and faith. However, my main point in my post, the one who responded to with this question, was that I would like to see you start discussing Scriptures, rather than just throw out there what you think is right. That’s all I was asking for; I wasn’t arguing against any of your positions at that point.

        For now, let us lay aside the discussion of whether or not regeneration and the indwelling are the same thing. Instead, let us look at passages that specifically discuss the new birth (i.e. being born of God) and see whether or not faith is said to bring about this new birth or if the new birth is what brings about faith. This, after all, is the main issue. However, for a brief discussion on the relationship and distinction of regeneration and indwelling, see here: http://thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/category/th/file/99739.qna

        1 John 5:1 “WHOEVER BELIEVES THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST IS BORN OF GOD, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

        Now, many would like to say that this verse teaches that our believing in the Son causes us to be born of God. This is indeed the position that you are affirming. However, in 2:29 the same construction is used: “…you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” If one wants to say that in 5:1 our believing brings about our new birth, then they also have to affirm that our practicing righteousness brings about our new birth. This, however, would make salvation by works, not grace. Rather, those who practice righteousness have been born of God, and those who believe in Jesus Christ have been born of God.

        John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [or privilege] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, WHO WERE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD.”

        Now, many instantly think that this passage teaches that our believing brings about our new birth simply because of the order of the verses; that is, John here talks about faith first, then about the new birth. However, this does not necessitate that we interpret the passage as such, and in fact, such an interpretation goes against the explicit teaching within the passage. In v. 13, John is speaking retrospectively. In other words, those who have believed are those who have been born, not of man (in any way, shape, or form), but of God. If you want to maintain that our believing brings about our new birth, then v. 13 is senseless. John gives this three-fold denial of our new birth being the outcome of man, whether it be by physical descent, works of righteousness, or of our own choosing. The new birth, simply put, is all God’s doing. Yet, if you maintain that we believe by our free will, and this believing brings about our new birth, then you’ve contradicted John’s statement that the new birth is not the result of the will of man. That God must first graciously work within us to bring about life in our dead, stony hearts so that we can respond in faith is also the point Jesus makes in John 3:3-5. Unless one is born again they cannot see or enter the kingdom.

        Below, you said: “conversion is what takes place in the human heart and regeneration is the result of that process.” Actually, it’s the other way around: regeneration is what takes place in the human heart (by the Spirit) and conversion is the result of that process (repenting and believing). To say otherwise, as I’ve noted with the passages above and elsewhere, is to make our salvation the result of man, rather than of God. If the Spirit does not regenerate our stony, lifeless hearts, then there will be no life, no repentance, no faith. Until then we are spiritually dead, hostile to God, and we cannot do that which is pleasing to Him.

  13. Drew Mery says:

    Bob,

    I noticed above that you keep affirming that regeneration and conversion are the same thing, although it has been shown and explained to be otherwise. They are not the same thing. John 3:3-5 is enough to prove this (as you seem to think there is no biblical evidence for this distinction). Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [i.e. regeneration] he cannot see the kingdom of God [i.e. conversion; "see" is synonymous with believing and entering the kingdom]…. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit [i.e. regeneration] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [i.e. conversion].” To convert means to turn. Regeneration does not mean this; rather, regeneration precedes and brings about conversion. Both Biblically and historically regeneration and conversion are understood to be distinct, though related, terms. It’s you who is seeking to redefine terms here. This only causes confusion when discussions on these matters arise.

    • james jordan says:

      “Bob,

      We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.”

    • sbcissues says:

      Drew,

      I am sorry but the following statement is a pitiful example of exegesis… John 3:3-5 is enough to prove this (as you seem to think there is no biblical evidence for this distinction). Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [i.e. regeneration] he cannot see the kingdom of God [i.e. conversion; "see" is synonymous with believing and entering the kingdom]….

      How on earth you can get “see the kingdom of God” as believing and entering the kingdom of God” is beyond me. No one and I do mean NO ONE would read that text and walk away with that concept. You brought it to the text.

      Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit [i.e. regeneration] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [i.e. conversion].”

      Once again, your entering the kingdom of God meaning conversion is a far stretch… if one is not saved he will not enter the kingdom of God is what a NORMAL person would read from this text.

      To convert means to turn. Regeneration does not mean this; rather, regeneration precedes and brings about conversion.

      Actually… to repent is to turn; conversion brings new birth or regeneration…

      I think I asked you if regeneration is even possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit… I see you failed to answer that question. New life is impossible apart from the indwelling and the indwelling is impossible apart from repentance and believing faith… I believe that it highly problematic for the regeneration preceding repentance and faith position.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        First, I didn’t fail to answer your question about whether or not regeneration is even possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What I did is I asked you to clarify your view before givign a fuller response. I have since responded to that above.

        Now, when Jesus talks about seeing and entering the kingdom, He is essentially talking about experiencing, being part of the kingdom. Faith is absolutely necessary for this. Prior to the regenerating work of the Spirit, the person is blind to the things of God. They can neither see, much less enter, the kingdom.

        You said, “Actually…to repent is to turn; conversion brings new birth or regeneration.” This is very interesting. Earlier in this thread you said, “I believe conversion and regeneration are two words describing the same event.” And my whole purpose in replying to you before was that you made this same assertion. Bob, it can’t be both ways. Either conversion and regeneration are the same thing or they’re not. If one brings about the other, then they can’t be the same thing. You’re contradicting yourself. Again, I will assert that they are certainly related to each other, but it’s in error to say they are the same thing.

        Bob, conversion simply refers to a person transitioning from their false way of life and worship, to the true way of life and worship (i.e. to God in Christ). Such a person is described as a “convert”. Now, I agree that repent means to turn. Conversion and repentance are very similar words. Take, for instance, 1 Thessalonians 1:9b “…and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.” The concepts of repentance and conversion are bound up here. Repentance emphasizes a turning from sin and falsehood, whereas conversion is broader, focusing on the full-scale disavowel of one’s false way of life to the true way of life in Christ. Conversion tends to be used to speak of what one turned unto (in this case, unto God). We could very simply say, in regards to these Thessalonians, that they repented of their idol worship and turned (converted) to God.

      • sbcissues says:

        I disagree that conversion and regeneration are the same thing; conversion is what takes place in the human heart and regeneration is the result of that process. So it is accurate to state that these are indeed two words that describe the same event; one brings about the other. It is like being born brings life; life is not possible apart from being born; so new life is not possible apart from being born again or converted.

        Again, my point is really very simple; new life is the direct result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; I do not see how it is possible to believe that new life or regeneration in the calvinist system is possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If that is true as I believe it is, THEN regeneration prior to repentance is problematic. That is the point of contention that separates our respective positions.

        PS… saying these are two words describing the SAME EVENT is not the same thing as saying they are one and the same…

  14. Drew Mery says:

    Bob,

    In looking back through this post and the comments, I’ve noticed that NOT ONCE (did I perhaps overlook one?) have you referenced and attempted to make your case from Scripture. While I and others have referenced and discussed numerous Scriptures, you keep writing without making any such attempt. I think this is a huge indicator of your position, which is based more on personal presuppositions and tradition, rather than the word of God. Perhaps we can make some better progress in this if you start to incorporate Scripture in your posts. Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Drew

    • sbcissues says:

      So are you arguing that my position that new life is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and apart from the indwelling, new life is not possible???????

      • sbcissues says:

        I would think Romans 8:9-11 would end that discussion…

        “9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

        Notice the statement, “but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” What is righteousness but right standing granted to the believer because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which brings about new life. If one does not have the Spirit dwelling in him, he is not God’s and there is no new life.

        Seems convincing enough to me.

  15. sbcissues says:

    Drew,

    Just for kicks… you DO realize that the calvinist position is NOT THE ONLY POSITION ON SOTERIOLOGY OUT THERE RIGHT?

    Look back at your own words… “No Bob. I believe that the indwelling Holy Spirit is necessary for new life. Apart from the Spirit there can be no new life.” Your main contention has been that our faith brings about this new life, whereas I’m saying that the Spirit brings about new life in us (since we are previously dead in trespasses and sins), making it where we can respond to the gospel in repentance and faith.”

    Two things. My main point is not that faith brings about new life; my main point is that new life is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which you agree with. So, since regeneration IS NEW LIFE regeneration is the result of the indwelling and IF regeneration takes place BEFORE repentance that is problematic for me but that is exactly what calvinism posits and you concur. That is one of my main points.

    Now to the point of this article itself… my position is really very simple. Both calvinists and non-calvinists believe that man makes a “free-will choice” to repent and believe for without repentance NO ONE CAN BE SAVED. So neither position magnifies God any more or any less than the other for both believe repentance and saving faith are essential for conversion.

    I fully understand the calvinist position of regeneration… that is not my point in this post; my point is that in BOTH systems man MUST repent and MUST BELIEVE in order to be “born again” or converted.

    • Drew Mery says:

      Bob,

      Sorry I haven’t responded. Since you didn’t reply to my post I didn’t receive a notification. I just decided to check in and I saw that you posted a comment. I likely won’t get to it tonight, because I have other things going on, but I might get to it tomorrow (Saturday). Thanks.

    • Drew Mery says:

      OK, I changed my mind. Having read through your comment I’ll just briefly reply.

      Obviously, I don’t think that the Calvinist position is the only position on soteriology out there. What is that even supposed to mean? I mean, I’m arguing against someone holding to a DIFFERENT position than me (though you keep trying to make it seem like Calvinists and non-Calvinists are basically saying the same thing, when they’re not). Of course I don’t think my view is the only one out there. But, obviously, I believe the Calvinist view is the biblical view. It seems like you’re suggesting that it’s wrong for me to argue you on this issue of free will and regeneration. Is that what you’re suggesting? If so, then I’ll have to simply call you out on double-standard.

      Lastly, you said, “I fully understand the calvinist position of regeneration… that is not my point in this post; my point is that in BOTH systems man MUST repent and MUST BELIEVE in order to be “born again” or converted.” Bob, I don’t think you do understand the Calvinist position, at least not fully. Because what you just said is contradictory to the Calvinist position. Basically, what you just said is that repentance and faith precedes and brings about the new birth. This is exactly the point I’m arguing against. The biblical teaching is the the new birth precedes and brings about repentance and faith in an individual. I’ve actually been typing up an article on this issue, and I hope to have it finished either tonight or tomorrow. It will be posted on my blog (I’ll probably put a link to it on here as well).

    • Drew Mery says:

      Bob,

      As promised, here’s the link to my post on this issue of free will and the new birth: http://reformedbaptistdaily.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/the-new-birth-before-or-after-repentance-faith/

      Again, I’m glad we’re having this conversation. It’s an important one, and it needs to be discussed. Such conversations should force us to study the Scriptures, as well, which is never a bad thing.

      Blessings.

      • sbcissues says:

        Me too. Here is my problem: If God “re-births” someone then what does repentance and faith do? Begin the sanctification process? When does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the individual’s heart?

        Here is another comment; what IF your position on total depravity and inability are wrong… there is a difference in saying that a person CANNOT choose God on his own AND saying that a man cannot respond to God’s initiative of revelation and reconciliation and repent. I believe TD/TI in the calvinist system and arminian system for that matter are equally incorrect.

        I believe man was created in the image of God which is his created nature and sin is his acquired nature and that we are enslaved to our sin because we sin and we are dead in our trespass because we sin; now I also believe we sin because we are separated from God and as long as we are separated from Him every decision we make will fall short of His Glory and that is a Scriptural definition of sin. (Romans 3:23b) So the incarnation makes provision to correct the separation problem because in Christ the Creator became the created.

        What does the indwelling do? It corrects the separation problem because Christ is now IN US… and it is at this point that man’s right standing is restored and relationship becomes possible which restores man to his created state in the garden of Eden.

    • Drew Mery says:

      Bob,

      You bring up a lot of good things. I will respond to them in order.

      YOU SAID: “If God “re-births” someone then what does repentance and faith do? Begin the sanctification process? When does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the individual’s heart?”

      To answer your last question first, the sealing of the Holy Spirit takes place when one believes (Eph. 1:13-14). However, I think I’m picking up two problems with your whole thought process. One of them I have discussed previously, and that is that you’re confusing or equating regeneration/new birth with the indwelling or sealing of the Holy Spirit. These are not one and the same thing, and until you recognize this, there will continue to be much confusion on this issue. Further, it seems to me that you’re neglecting to consider the ordo salutis (order of salvation; the application of salvation). When you ask, “If God ‘re-births’ someone then what does repentance and faith do? Begin the sanctification process?”, it seems like you’re viewing the new birth as the sum of salvation, or the summation of the complexity of salvation. That’s wrong though. It is one of the beginning elements in the order of salvation. To answer your question, therefore, repentance and faith are necessary for justification, positional sanctification, and adoption (which is linked to the sealing/indwelling of the Holy Spirit; Rom. 8:14-17). I would encourage you to look at Robert Reymond’s wonderful and thorough analysis of the order of salvation in his A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (pp. 707-801).

      YOU SAID: “Here is another comment; what IF your position on total depravity and inability are wrong… there is a difference in saying that a person CANNOT choose God on his own AND saying that a man cannot respond to God’s initiative of revelation and reconciliation and repent. I believe TD/TI in the calvinist system and arminian system for that matter are equally incorrect.”

      Well, first of all, I’m not one for constructing my theology on “what if’s”; I’d rather think of “what is?”. The simple fact of the matter is, the Scriptures are abundantly clear on this issue. Natural man, apart from the sovereign and gracious work of God, will continue to reject the gospel: (Jn. 6:44,65; 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:10-16; 2 Cor. 2:3-6; etc.). When I read the Scriptures, I see an effectual work of God’s grace to bring sinners to repentance and faith, not a partial work (a potentiality of salvation), where the determining factor rests in man’s decision. But, by all means, you may attempt to justify your position from the Scriptures. The simple fact of the matter is, however, that you have not yet attempted to do this. I’m waiting for the Scriptures. I’ve referened and discussed numerous Scriptures in this discussion thread to support my position, as well as numerous Scriptures in the recent article I wrote.

      YOU SAID: “I believe man was created in the image of God which is his created nature and sin is his acquired nature and that we are enslaved to our sin because we sin and we are dead in our trespass because we sin; now I also believe we sin because we are separated from God and as long as we are separated from Him every decision we make will fall short of His Glory and that is a Scriptural definition of sin. (Romans 3:23b) So the incarnation makes provision to correct the separation problem because in Christ the Creator became the created.”

      So man has two natures? One is their created nature and one their acquired nature? Do they maintain both throughout their life? Please explain and show from Scripture what you’re talking about. The way I see it, man’s “created nature” (as you put it) was corrupted at the Fall, and now all those after Adam are born with this corrupted nature (Gen. 5:3; 6:5, 11-12; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3). “we are enslaved to our sin because we sin and we are dead in our trespass[es] because we sin.” So you don’t believe that we’re born enslaved to sin or dead in trespasses and sin? If I’m understanding you correctly, then you’re denying the doctrine of original sin.

      “So the incarnation makes provision to correct the separation problem because in Christ the Creator became the created.” Bob, your statement reminds me of Hebrews 2:14-18, and that doesn’t teach that Christ simply made a provision for correcting the separation from God, but actually accomplishes and effectually brings about redemption for “the descendant[s] of Abraham.” That being said, I don’t see how this is supposed to help your position anyways. You seem to be suggesting that Christ made salvation a possibility; that because of what He did, all of mankind now (somehow) has the ability to believe the gospel (if they so choose). Is this not what you’re asserting? And if so, where is this taught in Scripture?

      Thanks.

      • sbcissues says:

        You said…. One of them I have discussed previously, and that is that you’re confusing or equating regeneration/new birth with the indwelling or sealing of the Holy Spirit.

        My point is that new life is NOT POSSIBLE apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So regeneration takes place WHEN the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the lost person’s heart.

      • sbcissues says:

        Natural man, apart from the sovereign and gracious work of God, will continue to reject the gospel:

        My point is that revelation and reconciliation ARE God’s initiative that elicits a response. Are you saying that God is incapable of revealing Himself to a lost person or reconciling a lost person unto Himself without FIRST giving him new life? I simply disagree with that position.

      • sbcissues says:

        So you don’t believe that we’re born enslaved to sin or dead in trespasses and sin? If I’m understanding you correctly, then you’re denying the doctrine of original sin.

        I believe man is born without “right standing” before God and therefore everything he does apart from that position of being rightly related to God is sin.

        Obviously I believe there was an original sin; I do not believe the penalty for that sin was imputed to all men.

      • sbcissues says:

        You seem to be suggesting that Christ made salvation a possibility; that because of what He did, all of mankind now (somehow) has the ability to believe the gospel (if they so choose).

        I am saying God has chosen to save those who believe; those who do not believe are condemned.

        I do not believe that God decides who will or will not believe and therefore be saved. That is a philosophical position that calvinism posits and I do not believe that to be a position the Scripture supports.

    • Drew Mery says:

      Bob,

      You said: “My point is that new life is NOT POSSIBLE apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So regeneration takes place WHEN the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the lost person’s heart.”

      I don’t know what more to say on this. Not only have you neglected to respond to my biblical argumentation, but you continue to neglect to present a positive biblical argumentation for your position. Keep in mind, however, that certain aspects of the ordo salutis are, from our (human) perspective, simultaneous (regeneration, repentance/faith, justification, adoption and indwelling, positional sanctification); however, there is a logical order that must be maintained.

      You said: “My point is that revelation and reconciliation ARE God’s initiative that elicits a response. Are you saying that God is incapable of revealing Himself to a lost person or reconciling a lost person unto Himself without FIRST giving him new life? I simply disagree with that position.”

      Bob, natural man rejects the revelation of God in the gospel. It is foolishness to them; but to the called, Christ is the power and wisdom of God (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:10-16). When you say “reconciliation,” do you have in mind “Christ dying on the cross for the sins of every single human being”? If so, and if Christ truly achieved reconciliation on the cross, then every single human being will be saved, otherwise He fails in His reconciling work and mediation. There is a unified work in the Godhead for salvation: to plan salvation, or elect and predestine (the Father), accomplish salvation (the Son), and apply salvation (the Holy Spirit), as evidenced, for example, in Ephesians 1:3-14. The Son accomplishes in time that plan of salvation for the elect from all eternity, and then the Spirit effectually applies that salvation accomplished to the elect in due time. You continue to posit this concept of salvation as a possibility; that God did His part, now He’s just waiting for man to make the proper response.

      You said: “Obviously I believe there was an original sin; I do not believe the penalty for that sin was imputed to all men.”

      The Scriptures teach that all of mankind is by nature sinful and children of wrath. The very core of man is sinful (e.g. Gen. 6:5, 11-12; Mk. 7:20-23; Eph. 2:1-3). I treat this in more depth in the recent article I wrote. Further, your position fails to account for the fact that “death as the punishment of sin passes on from Adam to all his descendants. Rom. 5:12-19; Eph. 2:3; 1 Cor. 15:22″ [Berkhof. 246.]. Not to mention there’s an inconsistency here, of rejecting the imputation of Adam’s guilt while embracing the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. James Ussher has some good works on this topic of original sin. I posted his thoughts here: http://wp.me/p2D428-nZ

      You said: “I do not believe that God decides who will or will not believe and therefore be saved. That is a philosophical position that calvinism posits and I do not believe that to be a position the Scripture supports.”

      Well, I’m aware you don’t believe God’s sovereign and effectual grace in the salvation of sinners to be a biblical position; but I find it extremely interesting that you call the Calvinist view “a philosophical position” when I’ve done nothing but reference and expound Scripture after Scripture in support of the Calvinist view, yet you continue to neglect to do so for your own position. It’s easy to throw things like that out there, but it’s a whole different matter to prove it.

      • sbcissues says:

        Drew,

        With reference to the indwelling and new life I quoted Romans 8:9-11 earlier… which apparently you missed… here is that comment;

        “9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

        Notice the statement, “but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” What is righteousness but right standing granted to the believer because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which brings about new life. If one does not have the Spirit dwelling in him, he is not God’s and there is no new life. Therefore, I do NOT believe regeneration is possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is “new life” and there is no new life if His Spirit does now dwell in you.

        Seems convincing enough to me.

        Now… one of the problems I have with the argument… “you quote no scripture and I have done nothing but quote scripture after scripture” is that the passages I quote are never relevant and the passages you quote are always relevant… ” ( I do not mean me and you, I am talking about discussions in general as I have been engaged in this for some time) .

        Lets take your use of scripture to justify your positions. You wrote the following:

        Bob, natural man rejects the revelation of God in the gospel. It is foolishness to them; but to the called, Christ is the power and wisdom of God (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:10-16).

        While it is true that the cross is foolishness to them that perish… and to us who ARE SAVED it is the power of God… this does not support your position that the “natural man rejects the revelation of God in the gospel.” That is NOT what I Cor 1 18 says. In fact, verse 21 sort of stands in opposition to your purported conclusion: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” As the Word is revealed through preaching, people respond one way or the other… and those who believe are saved.

        To chapter 2… 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

        Here Paul is building a case for the benefit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; notice verse 12… “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

        Without the Spirit living and dwelling in our hearts, we cannot know God and we cannot have right standing before Him. “14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: (because the Spirit is not dwelling in him) for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

        What is interesting in the context is that Paul is justifying his calling to preach the gospel to the Corinthians! See vv 1-9.

        It is fine to parenthetically include scripture passages with your conclusions but in a majority of cases folks list em to back up their conclusions but when you read the texts they do not support the conclusions being drawn… even your take on John 3 earlier, I disagreed with your conclusions drawn concerning regeneration because that was NOT what the text said; it was your interpretation of the text.

        So, I often will try to discuss the concepts as I understand them… I do not do much cut and paste of what everyone else says… what I write is my own discussion and to document every statement would be too time consuming… although I can do it and when I do, those posts often go without comment, as was the case with you in our discussion.

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob,

        The reason I didn’t respond to your reference of Romans 8:9-11 is because you quoted it in regards to making the point that without the indwelling Holy Spirit there is no new life. I didn’t think this was really the issue being discussed. The point I was making is that regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit are not the same, and that regeneration must precede faith. Romans 8:9-11 really doesn’t respond to this issue. At the very least it affirms that those who possess the Spirit have life, and therefore they will live unto God. Now, you said, “What is righteousness but right standing granted to the believer because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which brings about new life.” Actually, that’s not accurate. Our right standing is not based on the indwelling Holy Spirit, but upon the merit of Christ received by faith. The Holy Spirit is the seal of God’s love and promise in the gospel, a pledge of our future inheritance as the children of God (Rom. 5:5; 8:14-17; Eph. 1:13-14). That hope of future resurrection is also what’s expressed in Rom. 8:11. In short, in salvation the Spirit first quickens the dead sinner by giving him/her a heart of flesh and opening their minds to understand the things of God, leading then to repentance and faith, and then justification, sanctification, and adoption by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is a pledge of our inheritance, and empowers us for godly living. The simple fact of the matter is, this passage doesn’t really get to the heart of our discussion, about the will of man, about whether or not regeneration and indwelling are the same thing, and when these things take place. I do find it interesting though, that the preceding passage (Rom. 8:5-8) does speak to the topic of man’s will (an inability to do that which pleases God). I devote more time to this passage in my article.

        You said: “Now… one of the problems I have with the argument… “you quote no scripture and I have done nothing but quote scripture after scripture” is that the passages I quote are never relevant and the passages you quote are always relevant… ” ( I do not mean me and you, I am talking about discussions in general as I have been engaged in this for some time).”

        Well, I can’t speak for other Calvinists, so I really can’t respond much to that point. However, make sure you’re not confusing argumentation with outright rejection. In other words, someone responding to passages you have referenced in support of your position with an argument of why those passages don’t support your position, is not the same thing as saying they’re “never relevant.” It’s just a matter of disagreement of the interpretation of the passage, which is obviously expected, but one’s arguments must be weighed. Now, that being said, we do need to make sure we look at relevant texts (i.e. those passages that specifically speak to the things being discussed). It very well may be that you’ve brought up passages in the past that really don’t speak to the issue at hand; but I don’t know. I do think your reference of Rom. 8:9-11 is certainly related to our discussion, but I don’t think you can provide a clear-cut case for your position from it.

        You said: “Lets take your use of scripture to justify your positions. [and the rest of your response].”

        I’m afraid you neglected to take notice of key verses in the passages I referenced. First, you quote 1 Cor. 1:21 as if this contradicts the Calvinist position. Not at all. Yes, those who believe will be saved. However, apart from God’s sovereign grace, we won’t believe. And this is Paul’s emphasis throughout the entire passage (1:18-31). For instance, notice that in v. 23 Paul says the gospel is foolishness to Jews and Gentiles (i.e. all mankind); but in v. 24 he goes on to say, “BUT TO THOSE WHO ARE THE CALLED, [from among] both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” That is, there is an elect, chosen, called out people from the Jews and Gentiles. And vv. 26-31 continue with this point on God’s sovereign choosing. And why? “so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.’” (v. 31). Second, 1 Cor. 2:10-16 (and really we should include 2:1-9 as you made brief reference to) is directly related to 1:18-31. In 2:1-16 Paul explains his approach to preaching/ministry among the Corinthians as grounded in God’s sovereign grace as we saw in 1:18-31. In 2:1-5 he tells us that he was relying on, not the wisdom of man, but the power of God in his preaching. He wanted their faith to rest, not in the wisdom of man, which would lead to a vain faith, but on the power of God, which leads to true fiath (cf. 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). He knew that if anyone would be saved, they would be saved by God powerfully working through the preaching of the unadulterated gospel to bring them to repentance and faith (cf. 2 Cor. 4:1-6). Then Paul continues to discuss this glorious mystery of Christ crucified, and how God has revealed this glorious truth to them through the Spirit. In 2:14-16 Paul explicitly states that the natural man cannot understand these things. Again, they’re foolishness to the natural man. It takes a work of the Spirit to bring about spiritual understanding.

        In regards to John 3, I’ve given fuller discussion on that passage, as well as other passages that teach that the sovereign and gracious work of God in regeneration must precede repentance and faith, in my article that is already linked to on this thread.

      • sbcissues says:

        Think about WHAT you just wrote…

        The reason I didn’t respond to your reference of Romans 8:9-11 is because you quoted it in regards to making the point that without the indwelling Holy Spirit there is no new life. I didn’t think this was really the issue being discussed. The point I was making is that regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit are not the same, and that regeneration must precede faith.

        If regeneration is new life… and that it exactly what it is… THEN there is no new life (regeneration) apart from the indwelling of the Spirit. There is no other way to interpret or just plain read verse 9… “9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Regeneration iS the result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a person’s heart and that as you note only takes place AFTER repentance and believing faith. My position is that regeneration or new life comes AFTER faith and not before.

      • sbcissues says:

        Drew,

        We both know that one can make an argument with any text say pretty much what we want it to say; it does not have to be logically accurate… there are a lot of arguments out there that are just that… arguments for people who do not take the time to look at the text and context to see if that is what the passage is actually saying. The theological presuppositions we bring to the text also cloud our understanding of the text as well and those presuppositions determine our view… kind of like looking at a white wall through rose colored glasses… your comment… that was is not white; it is rose colored and from your perspective that may be correct but the truth is it is white.

        I do not believe total depravity/inability can be Scripturally justified; I don’t. Given that, effectual calling and regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith are not necessary for a person to be saved but rather regeneration is God’s promise to those who do believe. Can a man believe on his own, no… his repentance and faith are responses to God’s initiative in his life of revelation and reconciliation. Can a man respond to God’s initiative… I believe he can and does IF he is saved. If he does not respond in believing faith then he will not be saved.

        Why do some believe and be saved while others do not? I have no idea. All I know is that saying God decides is not the answer to that question and that is what calvinism does. God’s choice concerning my eternal destination is based not on Him but on my answer to the question, “What am I going to do with this man called Jesus?”

      • Drew Mery says:

        Bob, anyone who is regenerated by the Spirit is going to have the Spirit dwell in them. Paul is simply contrasting those in the flesh and those in the Spirit. His focus is on the manifestation of one’s life. Is it of the flesh or of the Spirit? He’s not talking about what takes place at the moment of salvation. I think you’re reading too much into this passage.

        You said: “I do not believe total depravity/inability can be Scripturally justified; I don’t. Given that, effectual calling and regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith are not necessary for a person to be saved but rather regeneration is God’s promise to those who do believe. Can a man believe on his own, no… his repentance and faith are responses to God’s initiative in his life of revelation and reconciliation. Can a man respond to God’s initiative… I believe he can and does IF he is saved. If he does not respond in believing faith then he will not be saved.”

        I really wish we would’ve spent more time on the nature of man and the will. That is, after all, foundational to what our conversation has focused on. Well, at least I do give a lot of focus to the nature of man and the will in my article (e.g. Gen. 6:5, 11-12; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 8:5-8): http://wp.me/p2D428-qM. Now, what do you mean when you say, “Can a man respond to God’s initiative… I believe he can and does IF he is saved.” That last part is confusing to me, specifically the “IF”. It sounds like you’re saying, a man can respond to God’s initiative if the man is saved. Is this a typo? Anyways, I think Scripture is abundantly clear in teaching the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. Yes, man is morally responsible to God, to repent and believe, but apart from God’s grace they will continue in their stubborness (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:18-2:16; 1 Thess. 1:4-4; 2 Thess. 13-14).

        You said: “Why do some believe and be saved while others do not? I have no idea. All I know is that saying God decides is not the answer to that question and that is what calvinism does. God’s choice concerning my eternal destination is based not on Him but on my answer to the question, “What am I going to do with this man called Jesus?””

        But Bob, you do know why. Or at least you have a particular view as to why: because certain people, according to their free will, choose to believe in the gospel, whereas others choose not to. Don’t try to hide that. It’s as clear as day. That’s what you believe. At least I as a Calvinist can confidently assert that the Scriptures are clear on this matter, and I need not blush at affirming my position: because of God’s sovereign and effectual grace in the lives of wicked, undeserving sinners (Eph. 1:3-14; 2:1-10; Rom. 8:28-9:24; Jn. 6:44, 65; etc.). This doesn’t mean that those who end up being condemned aren’t responsible for their condemnation. This is often misunderstood and misrepresented. I’ve heard people say things like, “So people are going to hell because God didn’t choose/elect them?” No, their end is hell because of their sin, and they won’t turn to God because of their stubborn and hard hearts. The only reason why some are saved and some are not is because of a five letter word: G.R.A.C.E. “God’s choice concerning my eternal destination is based not on Him….” Behold, the all-mighty clay pot.

        Well, I have tons of things going on, so I’ll leave this as my final post. You may have the last word. I’ve enjoyed our conversation, and I appreciate your time.

        Blessings

  16. sbcissues says:

    If a comment has no relevance to the article, it will be deleted.

  17. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
    The doctrine of unconditional election states that some of mankind were predestined to everlasting life and the remainder of mankind were foreordained to everlasting death, an eternity in hell. Is unconditional election supported by Scripture? The short answer is, NO!

    Philippians 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

    Why would the apostle Paul tell the Philippians to work out their salvation, if they had been unconditionally elected for eternal life? They would have not had to worry, if God saved them against their will, and kept them from falling from grace. —–THERE IS NO UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION!

    John 8:24 ‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins,”

    Why would Jesus warn the Jews that they would die in their sins unless they believed. The preselected Jews would have been force to believe and be saved.

    According to the false doctrine of salvation by grace alone, God imputes faith to the unconditionally elected so they will be saved.

    1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

    Would Paul tell the Corinthians to be careful that they did not fall, if they had been unconditionally elected for salvation?
    The apostle Paul was taught doctrine by Jesus Himself. Did Jesus forget to tell Paul about unconditional election and once saved always saved?

    1 John 2:1-2……Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

    Jesus died for the whole world, not just the so-called unconditionally elected few! Everyone who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    1 Timothy 2:5-6…the man Jesus Christ 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

    How arrogant would I have to be to claim that God unconditionally selected me for salvation, but unconditionally selected my neighbor for eternity in hell? Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, NOT AN UNCONDITIONALLY SELECTED FEW!

    THERE ARE CONDITIONS!

    ALL THOSE WHO MEET GOD’S TERMS FOR PARDON WILL BE SAVED! THE TERMS ARE- FAITH (John 3:16)-REPENTANCE (Acts 2:38)- CONFESSION (Roman 10:9-10) WATER BAPTISM (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16) THESE ARE THE CONDITIONS FOR SALVATION.

    (All Scriptures quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

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