Acts 11 and The Gift of God Given When We Believe

In Acts 11, the Bible says the Apostles heard that the gentiles had received the Word of God. Reading between the lines, this was not considered a good thing for in verse 2 and 3 we read, And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” The remainder of the chapter is a record of Peter’s response to their charges.

4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.

In verse 8, Peter acknowledged the tradition that he had been taught. He had no intention of eating what he had been taught about eating what the Scripture had been labeled as “unclean.” Notice something. Peter said, “I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat’.” Now, Peter has no idea whose voice it is that he heard and so his response was the right discussion. One might understand that this is the way temptation comes. Peter’s response to this “voice” is also telling; “Not so Lord!” Our response to temptation ought to always be addressed to the Lord, who is out strength! In speaking to the Lord, God spoke back!

In verse 11, “At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing.” The whole purpose of the vision God let down from heaven, was to let Peter know that he needed to go with these gentile men to their home. When Peter arrived at the gentile’s home, he recounted the following: “13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’”

This statement, “he will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” is very interesting. Some might look at this statement and conclude, “God has brought salvation to the elect who lived in this house.” He sent Peter to share the gospel with them because God has opened their eyes so that they can respond and be saved.” One thing is unquestionably true; God made it clear that these gentiles needed to hear the gospel to be saved. The question remains, how was this household saved?

Listen to Peter’s testimony; “15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” OK; here it is; “the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it did for us at the beginning.” Regeneration preceded their repentance and believing faith and they were saved. God told them to go find Peter and bring him to their house so that he could share the gospel and “you and your household WILL be saved.” How much clearer could the Scriptures be?

Consider verse 17. “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” WOW. God gave these gentiles the SAME GIFT He gave us, notice this, “WHEN WE BELIEVED on the Lord Jesus Christ.” As Peter was sharing the gospel with them, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did for them when they believed, and these gentiles believed and THEN they were saved. God gave THE GIFT WHEN THEY BELIEVED. He did not give THE GIFT and THEN THEY BELIEVED.

It is clear in this passage that “the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation to them who believe.” The GIFT of salvation comes WHEN we believe not so that we can believe.

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27 Responses to Acts 11 and The Gift of God Given When We Believe

  1. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    First some of the quotes and/or formatting is confusing. I cenat tell what words are yours or maybe a quote of someone else. FYI.

    Second, at best you are establishing that regeneration takes place AT conversion and not after. Anyway, a passage like this is difficult to use as a standard for proving an order of salvation.

    God bless brother.

    • sbcissues says:

      I did have one paragraph in blockquotes that should not have been. Sorry. The words are mine.

      Actually I believe regeneration takes place AT conversion which follow repentance and believing faith. How is it difficult to use verse 17 as a standard for “proving and order of salvation” when ti CLEARLY says “God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ?”

      You may be correct in saying this passage is a difficult one to use as a standard for PROVING an order of salvation but it certainly can be used to disprove an incorrect one.

    • Les Prouty says:

      No big argument from me. I think when it refers to “when we believed” the passage is just making clear that these Gentiles are receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit like they had back when they believed. I’m just saying not sure he’s trying to establish an order in this passage.

      God bless.

      • sbcissues says:

        I certainly understand your position here as well; seems there is a LOT of extraordinary rendering of words to prove one perspective or another.

  2. The problem with trying to determine the order of salvation from Acts is that there are four different baptisms of the Holy Spirit mentioned and they are all different.
    The first one, of course, was at Pentecost, and involved Jewish believers. They were already disciples, the Holy Spirit descended upon them, and they spoke in tongues.
    The second one involved Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17). They believed and were baptized with water, but only subsequently were baptized with the Spirit through the laying on of hands.
    The third instance involved Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48). This one was the most extraordinary of all — they were baptized with the Holy Spirit while the sermon was still in progress! They then spoke in tongues and were baptized with water afterwards. This is the case that is discussed in Acts 11.
    The forth case occurred at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7). They were already disciples, but had not yet been baptized in the name of Christ. They were then baptized, and afterwards received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. The gift of the Holy Spirit manifested itself through tongues and prophecy.
    What we do see in Acts, though, is this: The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to receive the gospel (Acts 19:1-7); He grants repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18), and as many as are appointed believe (Acts 13:48). They are then baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
    At what point, then, are they regenerated?

    • rhutchin says:

      There are four different occasions recorded in Acts where the Holy Spirit is given. In Acts 1, Jesus told the disciples, “you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We see this play out in the instances you note. The example of John’s disciples seems to emphasize that John’s preaching was incomplete – still looking forward to the coming of the Messiah – but made complete through the preaching of Christ.

      The issue Pastor Hadley raises concerns the “gift.” The gift is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s role is essential and necessary to the life of the believer as we read in Romans 8 for example. I see this emphasized in Acts where it appears that Cornelius and John’s disciples were already believers. I don’t see any purpose here to define the order of salvation.

      The real issue here is that some believe and some do not. Pastor Hadley focuses on the individual’s personal decision to believe as the point where salvation begins, and it is at this point that the person is regenerated. So, why do only some believe? Given that all are depraved and unable to be saved absent the preaching of the gospel, why does the preaching of the gospel only affect belief in some and not all. The only resolution to this mystery so far is that which the Calvinists have proposed – God has intervened in the lives of those who come to believe to enable them to believe. No one else has put forth anything else to explain why some believe and some do not.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Rhutchin,

        “No one else has put forth anything else to explain why some believe and some do not.”

        Brother you are absolutely correct. Our non Calvinists have been asked and asked and have yet to provide an answer to this, at least not a scriptural answer. I have stated that the NC has at the end of the day, to attribute one man’s salvation over another man’s destruction, to the one man’s free will. And that leaves man’s destiny in man’s hands not God’s. And that is a patently unbiblical position.

      • sbcissues says:

        Gentlemen,

        No one else has put forth anything else to explain why some believe and some do not.

        For the record, I believe as Les says, one man’s salvation and another man’s salvation is indeed the result of each person’s response to the proclamation of the gospel and the reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit. In John 3:3 Jesus tells Nicodemus “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

        14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[b] have eternal life. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

        I believe we both stand on the truth that God and God alone saves and salvation is of the Lord. We both believe men MUST repent and believe to be saved. So It is fair to conclude that we both believe that those who do not repent and do not believe are as Jesus said, “condemned already.” So the question is as you ask, “why do some believe and others do not?” My answer is simple; I do not know.

        I do know this: I do not believe God determines who WILL repent and who WILL believe. I believe the Scriptures are clear that God saves them who do repent and believe. I do not believe at the end of the day or the beginning or any moment in between that God looks down at His creation and says, you are in… and looks over there and says… you are in… and arbitrarily just decides, who gets into the family and everyone else perishes. Do many perish? Yes. Does God make the sole decision on who those individuals are, I do not believe that to be the Biblical position.

        Why would Jesus stand over Jerusalem weeping? If He knew that God would efficaciously save those He planned to save in the first place, there is no need to weep over people who have no hope and there is no need to weep over those who WILL be saved because that is God’s plan.

        I believe Jesus is the Light of the world but knowing WHERE to go and WHAT to do is only part of the journey. Repenting and believing are the responses God has established as the basis for inclusion in His family. Repentance and faith are the basis for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which I maintain restores our right standing that Adam lost.

        Why does one man say “yes” to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit? I do not know. I am going to stand with Elijah and his charge, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (I Kings 18:21)

        I believe the choice is ours to make. God’s choice has already been made. His choice is to save them that choose Jesus and that is what the Scriptures say and that is what I believe God will do because that is what He says He will do. Why do some or many not believe? I do not know. My responsibility is to present Jesus to them… as many as I can for some till the ground, some plant the seed, some water the soil and then some reap the harvest but the final assurance is that God gives the harvest.

        He has His responsibility and I have mine; He will accomplish what He wants to accomplish perfectly; may we accomplish ours for His glory and the benefit of those around us that need Jesus.

  3. I think Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He had a heart of compassion and He knew what was in store for them. It is a terrible tragedy to see any human being in a state of sin and rebellion, and then pass into a Christless eternity.

    • sbcissues says:

      I was really thinking of Matthews statement where Jesus Laments over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:

      37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”[g]

      I do not believe Jesus wept because He knew that they were facing eternal judgement if He knew that only those God wanted to be saved would be and everyone else were eternally damned from the beginning.

      I believe He wept because He would have gathered them together BUT THEY WERE NOT WILLING… it would seem especially problematic for them to be unwilling in a calvinist mindset.

  4. Someone once said, (I think it may have been John Leland) that he prayed like a Calvinist and preached like an Arminian — he prayed like it all depended on God and preached like it all depended on man!

  5. Mel Boek says:

    “No one else has put forth any thing else to explain why some believe and some do not.”

    Some questions for rhutchin and Les (and any other Calvinist):
    1. Is there any seed that you know of that produces a harvest, or even sprouts, in the day it was planted?
    2. When was Cornelius regenerated in your opinion (before the angel appeared to him or when Peter was preaching the gospel to him)? We know for certain he was not saved when the angel appeared to him (see 11:14), yet he was described as a devout man who obviously pleased God with his prayers and his alms (they were coming before the Lord as a memorial!). According to Calvinist teaching of “Total Depravity” the unregenerate “will not seek God and they cannot please God”.
    3. If Cornelius was not regenerated until Peter spoke the gospel to him, then how did a man in the state of”Total Depravity” seek God or do something that pleased God? On the other hand, if he was regenerated before the angel appeared to him, is it possible to have along period of time between the point of being regenerated and the point of being saved?

    • sbcissues says:

      Very good response and one I have used, maybe not quite in the same direct manner but I believe you are correct; regeneration as posited by calvinism (not calvinists) cannot be progressive; when it happens it happens and repentance immediately follows; there is no wooing as some try to argue; wooing is not a consistent calvinist concept.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Hi Mel,

      You asked:

      1. Is there any seed that you know of that produces a harvest, or even sprouts, in the day it was planted?

      Me: None that I know of.

      2. When was Cornelius regenerated in your opinion (before the angel appeared to him or when Peter was preaching the gospel to him)? We know for certain he was not saved when the angel appeared to him (see 11:14), yet he was described as a devout man who obviously pleased God with his prayers and his alms (they were coming before the Lord as a memorial!). According to Calvinist teaching of “Total Depravity” the unregenerate “will not seek God and they cannot please God”

      I honestly don’t know when he was regenerated. In fact I can’t say that I KNOW the moment anyone was regenerated, even myself. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

      I’d say we do NOT know for sure when he was saved. The ESVSB says in their commentary on v. 14,

      “Some think this implies that Cornelius was saved for the first time here. Others think he previously had saving faith (as a Gentile “God-fearer” looking forward to the Messiah), but that this meant he would experience the fullness of new covenant salvation in Christ when he heard the gospel message (see notes on 10:2; 10:35).”

      You: “According to Calvinist teaching of “Total Depravity” the unregenerate “will not seek God and they cannot please God” That is true. But when they truly seek God, we can know that they have been regenerated else they wouldn’t see God. “no one understands;
      no one seeks for God.” Romans 3

      3. If Cornelius was not regenerated until Peter spoke the gospel to him, then how did a man in the state of”Total Depravity” seek God or do something that pleased God? On the other hand, if he was regenerated before the angel appeared to him, is it possible to have along period of time between the point of being regenerated and the point of being saved?

      Depends on when he was regenerated and the text doesn’t tell us. Is it possible to have “along (sic) period of time between the point of being regenerated and the point of being saved?”

      I assume you meant “a long period of time.” I don’t know ho long between regeneration and conversion may be. Could there be a period of time? I think so. How long? I do not know. Seconds? Minutes? Anguish and sorrow and troubling stirring in the soul over days? Don’t know. Puritan Ezekiel Hopkins gives several “Signs of the Truth of Grace.”

      “The first one is that the person is “willing to search and examine himself, whether he be gracious or not.” The hypocrite hates the light, much like a thief hates being exposed, but the regenerate says with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Ps. 139:23).”

      How long will he “search and examine himself” in his new nature before crying out in repentance and faith? who knows? Only God really.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Les, thank you for your detailed response. However, it seemed that you attempted to skirt around the issue of whether Cornelius was a regenerate man, according to Calvinistic teaching, when he was visited by the angel.

        Today, in a comment on the post on Matthew 23:37, you quoted from London Baptist Confession 1689:
        “Man in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God… Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a Natural man he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin… when God converts a sinner… He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good.”

        In my understanding of Calvinism, nothing short of regeneration will bring forth a conversion response from men. And only a man who has been regenerated has been “enabled to freely will and do what is spiritually good”.

        Now, in Acts 10: 1-4, Luke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called Cornelius a devout man who feared God, he prayed continually to God, and he gave alms generously to the people. We learn from the angel that his prayers and his alms had ascended before the Lord as a memorial.

        1. From a Calvinist perspective, does the Word of God call a “natural”, unregenerate man, “devout”?
        2. From a Calvanist perspective, does an unregenerate man fear God(see Rom.3:18 “there is no fear of God before their eyes…”)?
        3. Luke records the angel’s commendation, that Cornelius’s alms and prayers had ascended before the Lord as a memorial. Am I wrong to understand that these acts were “spiritually good” in God’s eyes?
        4. From a Calvinist perspective, if Cornelius had been an unregenerate man, would he have had the “freedom of will” to obey the command given by the angel?
        5. Or is there some reason that I have missed that leads you to believe that Cornelius was a “natural man” (unregenerate) “all together averse to spiritual good” when the angel came to visit him?
        6. Is there some reason you are reluctant to merge God’s description of Cornelius with Reformed teaching and conclude that Cornelius must have been regenerated before the angel came to visit him?

        There are other things from your reply that I would like to ask you about, but first things first.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        Consider your final comment;

        How long will he “search and examine himself” in his new nature before crying out in repentance and faith? who knows? Only God really.

        If it is true that regeneration is God’s initiative that brings salvation to the unregenerate as calvinism contends, then HOW can it be progressive? If it is indeed new life, then repentance MUST necessarily immediately follow. Is this not what calvinism contends?

        It would seem to me to be inconceivable that one could be regenerated and it take an hour or a day or God forbid months for that person to repent. Repentance is the natural response to regeneration.

        If this is true and I believe it HAS to be, then Mel’s questions are especially telling. A KEY verse in this whole discussion is found in 11:14… where Peter himself says, ” he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’

        It is clear from this statement that Cornelius was NOT saved BEFORE Peter came to his house; even in 10:6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.[a] He will tell you what you must do.”

        It would most certainly appear that the whole total depravity issue which is conjecture by the way, is a difficult concept to read into this event recorded in chapters 10 and 11.

        I believe this text stands to debunk total depravity and inability as presented in calvinism and obviously if that fails the whole system fails with it.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “I believe this text stands to debunk total depravity and inability as presented in calvinism and obviously if that fails the whole system fails with it.”

        Well you’ve finally done it brother. You’ve overturned Calvinism. :)

        Back later for more and Mel, Haven’t forgotten you. Just busy this am.

        Les

      • Les Prouty says:

        Hi Mel.

        You: “However, it seemed that you attempted to skirt around the issue of whether Cornelius was a regenerate man, according to Calvinistic teaching, when he was visited by the angel.”

        No I didn’t attempt to skirt around the issue. I said, “I honestly don’t know when he was regenerated. In fact I can’t say that I KNOW the moment anyone was regenerated, even myself. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

        I’d say we do NOT know for sure when he was saved.”

        That’s an honest answer. Frankly, over the years I’ve read several commentaries and see both views advocated by both Calvinist theologians and non Calvinist theologians. i.e. some say he was already converted and some think he wasn’t converted until Pater came to him.

        My answers generally do not come from necessarily a Calvinist perspective but from a biblical perspective.

        1. From a Calvinist perspective, does the Word of God call a “natural”, unregenerate man, “devout”?

        “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.” Unregenerate people can be quite devout.

        2. From a Calvanist perspective, does an unregenerate man fear God(see Rom.3:18 “there is no fear of God before their eyes…”)?

        If we are still talking about Cornelius, called a “God fearer,” yes. A God fearer was a particular term used by Luke to describe a Gentile who was adhering in some manner to Judaism. Yet he was not yet a full proselyte. If we are talking in general terms, then no, an unregenerate person cannot properly be described as truly fearing God.

        3. Luke records the angel’s commendation, that Cornelius’s alms and prayers had ascended before the Lord as a memorial. Am I wrong to understand that these acts were “spiritually good” in God’s eyes?

        That depends on if Cornelius was regenerate at the time. If not, then they were odious to God.

        4. From a Calvinist perspective, if Cornelius had been an unregenerate man, would he have had the “freedom of will” to obey the command given by the angel?

        Yes he would have had that freedom to follow the instructions given to him. Same as an unregenerate me as a teen had a free will to follow the evangelist’s instructions to come forward at the crusade…many times. But of course none of our wills are truly free as unregenerate persons.

        5. Or is there some reason that I have missed that leads you to believe that Cornelius was a “natural man” (unregenerate) “all together averse to spiritual good” when the angel came to visit him?

        I have said I cannot say for sure whether he was regenerate or not.

        6. Is there some reason you are reluctant to merge God’s description of Cornelius with Reformed teaching and conclude that Cornelius must have been regenerated before the angel came to visit him?

        Not enough information given in the text, and the nature of the genre of Acts. As one writer says,

        “n Acts 10, Peter assumes that Cornelius already knows many facts of the gospel (10:37ff.), and offers only a short recap. When he explains his charge to preach the gospel, the only thing he lists is that the apostles have been ordered to “preach to the people” about Jesus, and “solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.” He does not even exhort them to faith and repentance, and we have no explicit mention of their faith or repentance. That these elements necessary for the process of salvation actually did take place, is made evident by Acts 11:18 where the church admits that these people were granted “repentance that leads to life.” The biblical record does not give us all the details, but only those details that are relevant to the story. In the case of Acts 10-11, the point is not “how is one saved,” but “Gentiles can be saved too.””

        Blessings Mel.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “It would most certainly appear that the whole total depravity issue which is conjecture by the way, is a difficult concept to read into this event recorded in chapters 10 and 11.”

        See the quote I just posted to Mel about this passage.

        Here’s the deal and it’s the same deal where you and I always end up. Calvinists see man as completely spiritually dead and unable and unwilling to lift even an eyelash (as it were) toward God regarding salvation. Nothing. Man can pretend to love God. Man can do “good” things. But they are not pleasing to God if not done in faith, true faith.

        You and other NCs apparently believe that man is not totally spiritually dead. NOTE: I’m not talking TD. I’m talking spiritual life or spiritual death.

        So you believe that man does not need a miraculous intervention into a man’s soul before (and so that) he can exercise faith and repent.

        Calvinists: man=dead=needs to be made alive=repent/believe. Holy Spirit accomplishes what he desires to accomplish.

        Non Calvinists: man=not totally dead=he can repent/believe=then born again (made rest of the way alive. Holy Spirit only accomplishes some of what he wishes to accomplish.

        That about right?

  6. Mel Boek says:

    Les,
    Thank you again for another thoughtful reply. I have one question from this last response, and then I want to go back to the question I put on hold from your first response.

    You said,
    “That these elements necessary for the process of salvation actually did take place, is made evident by Acts 11:18 where the church admits that these people were granted “repentance that leads to life.” 

    my question:
    In your opinion, what is the “life” which follows repentance -(“…repentance which leads to “life”)?
    In my opinion the “life” one receives after faith/repentance is the gift of eternal life, which one immediately obtains when Jesus comes to live inside of our heart (1John 5:11, 12- “…God has given us eternal life… He who has the Son has the life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” & Eph.3:17- “Christ (the Son of God) dwells in our hearts through faith.”)

    Your view of Calvinism is a little different from what I’ve been exposed to. My understanding of soteriology in Calvinism is that God has always saved men in the same way, from the very beginning before the cross, and after the cross. The ‘method’ of God’s plan of salvation is expressed in the “Ordo Salutis” (order of salvation). (Election, call, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification). therefore I was pleasantly surprised with the following comment from your first response to my first post.

    ““Some think this implies that Cornelius was saved for the first time here. Others think he previously had saving faith (as a Gentile “God-fearer” looking forward to the Messiah), but that this meant he would experience the fullness of new covenant salvation in Christ when he heard the gospel message (see notes on 10:2; 10:35).”

    What is “the fullness of New Covenant salvation in Christ”?

    As I look at the Scriptures I see verses such as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”, or “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. In my opinion, the work of God that saves a man occurs immediately after conversion. as I look at the I only see two things that God does a mediately after conversion

    • Les Prouty says:

      Mel,

      Thank you for the back and forth.

      “In your opinion, what is the “life” which follows repentance -(“…repentance which leads to “life”)?”

      I agree with your answer. “Life” here is referring to eternal life.

      “My understanding of soteriology in Calvinism is that God has always saved men in the same way, from the very beginning before the cross, and after the cross.”

      That is my view as well. Salvation has always been by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone.

      “What is “the fullness of New Covenant salvation in Christ”?”

      I think what this is talking about is how that in this pivotal period in Acts, as the faith is spreading, God is demonstrating clearly that this is much more expansive than these disciples ever imagined. Not just Jews. But even these hated Gentiles.

      And several instances in Acts stand out as demonstrative of that. Cornelius is one. If he was truly born again previously, then this meeting with Peter was demonstrative of “even this Gentile” has been granted eternal life as we were.

      “As I look at the Scriptures I see verses such as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”, or “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

      I see those verses too and heartily concur with them.

      Now I’ll copy here your question you posted right after this post…corrected I suppose.

      “My question was,
      in what way is “the experience of the fullness of New Covenant salvation” different from the Reformed Order of Salvation? And, if God’s saving work follows conversion then what saves an individual in the Reformed system? Justification? Adoption?”

      The comment about “the experience of the fullness of New Covenant salvation” I deal with just above. I don’t think the order is different. I do think several times in Acts we see something unusual and transitional, for us to see but also of course for them to see as the gospel was plowing through societal barriers.

      “And, if God’s saving work follows conversion then what saves an individual in the Reformed system? Justification? Adoption?””

      I think part of this question is not quite precise enough. “if God’s saving work…” All aspects of the ordo are part of God’s saving work. Election is part of God’s saving work. Sanctification is part of God’s saving work. So all of this “saves” a person in our understanding.

      God bless,

      Les

      • Mel Boek says:

        Les,
        The text gives us an order, “…repentance that leads to life”. Repentance proceeds the reception of “life”. And you have agreed that the “life” in this passage refers to eternal life, given when Jesus Christ indwells a believer’s heart. In other Bible verses, faith precedes the reception of eternal life, such as, “…that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31). As a side note I find it interesting that there are two different Greek words which are both translated into the one English word “life”. One of these Greek words always means eternal life, even if only the word “life” is used, as in the two verses above. We find these two different Greeks word contrasted in John 10. 10:10- “I am come that they may have life (ZOE), &10:28- “I give unto them eternal life (ZOE)”, contrasted with John 10:11- “the Good Shepherds give His life (PSUCHE) for the sheep” (see also: verse 15 and 17). Psuche is the kind of life we recieve in our flesh, and zoe is the eternal life that Christ over and over said He came to give.

        Earlier in our discussion you said there may be some time between the moment of regeneration and the moment of conversion. Here is your quote:

        ” I don’t know ho long between regeneration and conversion may be. Could there be a period of time? I think so. How long? I do not know. Seconds? Minutes? Anguish and sorrow and troubling stirring in the soul over days? Don’t know. Puritan Ezekiel Hopkins gives several “Signs of the Truth of Grace.”“The first one is that the person is “willing to search and examine himself, whether he be gracious or not.” The hypocrite hates the light, much like a thief hates being exposed, but the regenerate says with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Ps. 139:23).”How long will he “search and examine himself” in his new nature before crying out in repentance and faith? who knows? Only God really.”

        My question:
        In your understanding, what kind of life is given in regeneration? And, can you give me some verses where this kind of life is spoken about?

        (From the Calvin this perspective, regeneration is entirely God’s work, then the man expresses faith and repentance. Then as we’ve established above, the believing man receives eternal life, even though eternal life isn’t in the Reformed Order of Salvation.)

        May you have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

      • sbcissues says:

        Mel,

        One of my arguments with respect to regeneration preceding repentance and believing faith hinges on the argument you presented here. You approach that argument from a little different perspective but I really like it and will begin to use it. Thank you.

        You are correct, Regeneration for the calvinist is more than a consciousness to respond to God. Sometimes calvinists try to gloss it over as if that is all it is but it is necessarily new life given by God to the unregenerate who has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes.

        There is no concept in the Scriptures that says God gives one kind of life at regeneration and another kind of life at conversion! Very well worded response!

      • Les Prouty says:

        Good morning Mel,

        I saw your comments Easter morning but was refraining from blog stuff until today. Anyway, I trust you had a blessed day worshiping our risen King.

        You said, “The text gives us an order, “…repentance that leads to life”. Repentance proceeds the reception of “life”.”

        I don’t agree that this text can be used as an “order” of salvation. Eternal life has broad meaning here and encompasses the fullness of new life in Christ…the now and the future. It’s a general statement much like if I said to someone, “If you’ll repent and believe you’ll be a child of God.” That is true, but it’s not everything. I left out election, calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, etc.

        But I do love seeing here in the text the reminder that repentance is a gift from God (as faith is shown to be in Eph.2). Some NC brothers do not acknowledge that repentance is a gift. They deny that it is God who gives us the gift of repentance.

        Anyway, on the order, conversion must necessarily follow regeneration. S. Lewis Johnson says well in commentary on Lydia having God monergistcally opening her heart,

        “We’re not born again because we believe, we believe because the Holy Spirit has already wrought in our heart and given us new life and the first expression of it is to believe. That’s the divine order. Listen to what the Bible says, “Every man who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” 1 John 5:1. Plain as day; “has been,” is perfect tense. “Everyone who believes,” present.

        Everyone who is a believer has been born. That was true yesterday, the day before, it was true the very moment you believe; the very moment you believe you had then born of God. You know that from other things too. Does faith please God? Does it? Of course, faith pleases God. The Bible says, however, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” So if a man is in the flesh, if he is lost, he cannot believe. If he could believe, he could please God in the flesh. What happens? God takes him out of the flesh, puts him in the Spirit, as Paul says in Romans 8, then he believes. That’s his first act as he hears the word of God. He’s taken by the Holy Spirit out of the flesh, put in the Spirit, given new life, and the expression of it is to believe. She believed. Faith, knowledge, assent, trust. Scientia, acquiesco, fides. Knowledge, assent, trust. ”

        Blessings brother.

        Les

  7. Mel Boek says:

    Sorry, my tablet let me correct my mistake, erase, or type anymore in that post. My question was,
    in what way is “the experience of the fullness of New Covenant salvation” different from the Reformed Order of Salvation? And, if God’s saving work follows conversion then what saves an individual in the Reformed system? Justification? Adoption?

  8. Mel Boek says:

    Bob,
    (I assume this is your name since this is how Les addressed you.)
    I hesitate to write this morning because I really hope Les will answer the question above. But as I contemplate the death, burial, and marvelous resurrection of our Lord, I can’t help but be astounded that some Christians do not see the numerous things that we (belivers in the Lord Jesus Christ) now have because of it. (because of time constraint I will not put in all my references).

    In the Old Testament God the Father said that he would come to dwell among men. Moses, a type of Christ, set up a tabernacle, and first he cleansed it by sprinkling it with the blood sacrifice, and then he sanctified it by it sprinkling it with a holy anointing oil, before God made it his dwelling place. Later a similar thing would happen with the temple. Near the end of the Old Testament, God foretells He will dwell in men. And then much later came a Man, born of the Holy Spirit, whom even the demons declared that He was the HOLY (pure, undefiled) One of God, made a very startling claim. “The Father is in me, I am in the Father, and the Father and I are one.” (Jn 10 & 14 & ?) God, in flesh, was tabernacling among men once again. And then before Christ died, he prayed for those who believed in him, that they could be One even as the Father and He were one.

    “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us… that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfect in one…” Jn 17: 20-23

    This was a prayer for something He declared to them earlier. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” – Jn 14:23 Because of defilement, no one in Adam’s race had been in inwelt by the Father before this time.

    Only Jesus could shed the blood that could take away sin. The veil of the temple was torn into at His death, and after he died he entered into the heavenly Temple, through his own blood, as high priest, and after He had made purification for sins sat down at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 9, & 1:3).
    (ran out of time…) Now because of the work of Jesus Christ each new believer becomes a holy temple of God, just as Jesus told His disciples, and petitioned the Father. There are over 20 verses which reference Jesus Christ living in us, and several verses in 1John 4 that speak of Jesus and the Father in us. Christ dwelling in us gives us the promised gift of eternal life. We were born again when we receive that life. Peter says that we are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Pet 1:3) Thank God but Jesus rose from the dead, for if Christ be not raised we are still in in our sins. Thank God for the blood of Jesus Christ that can cleanse us from all of our sins. And it is Christ in us, giving us eternal life and the new birth that, saves us.
    “Made alive with Jesus Christ, by grace we have been saved!”– Eph 2:5
    “SAVED BY HIS LIFE!” (Rom 5:10)
    “Saved by regeneration” (Titus 3:5)
    In John three Jesus told Nicodemus the Father sent Him to save men and give them eternal life, and after his death and resurrection Jesus does save us by giving us His life, God’s long promised gift of eternal life.

  9. John White says:

    Well said brother. I would love to hear you expound especially on “SAVED BY HIS LIFE!”. In my view a lot of us, (Christians), are missing out on that verse.

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