Total Depravity and Regeneration: Really?

Read Exodus chapter 3.

2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said,”I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

Where in this passage is there any hint of the regenerative work of God so that Moses could hear or even respond to God? It is not there. Read on.

11 But Moses said to God,”Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 So He said,”I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”

God tells Moses to go to the leaders of the children of Israel and speak to them and tell them “I AM WHO I AM has sent me.” Where is regeneration indicated or even hinted at in the children of Israel so that they will hear and respond and not reject anything good from God? Notice verse 18, God says to Moses, “18 Then they will heed your voice;”

Not there.

Fast forward to Exodus 19, verses 3 and 4.

3And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4`Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto Myself.

Where is there any mention of even a hint that God has regenerated anyone’s heart here so that the children of Israel who are without regeneration nothing more than totally depraved individuals whose only response here apart from God’s efficacious calling is to reject God’s revelation and Word to be spoken to them by Moses? (So say Calvinists)

It is not there because the whole concept is not Biblical. God spoke to His people through Moses and He expected them to respond and their response determined His response. This is what covenant does. God makes a promise and man’s response becomes the determining factor in the application of God’s promise.

It is like accepting a job offer. If one goes to work and fulfills the obligation of the covenant or agreement to work, THEN there is a payday. This is the concept of covenant in both the Old and New Testaments. Conversion is our response to God’s provision and promise to save those who call on Him and by faith trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Seems so simple to me.

I am so Grateful to be in His Grip!

><>”

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29 responses to this post.

  1. Bob,

    I have to ask you…where is the justifying work of God mentioned in this passage? The repentance, faith, adoptive work of God, sanctification?

    If you want to try to prove the absence of a doctrine because of its absence of mention in said passage, then you just disproved all these others. They aren’t mentioned either.

    You’re gonna have to go at this from a different angle.

    Les

    Reply

    • Les,

      I was actually reading Exodus 19 where the Lord told Moses to go tell the children of Israel what He had done and what He was about to do. I suppose you can argue the fact that something NOT being alluded to certainly does not mean it is not applicable. I understand that. However, if as I maintain, TD is not true, it would not be see as well.
      So with Moses’ calling at the burning bush, I will surrender that argument since neither of us can prove our point either way. Perhaps I need to modify my original post here….

      Here is Exodus 19:
      3And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
      4`Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto Myself. 5Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

      My point becomes crystal clear here. God gives the children of Israel a conditional promise. If you do as I tell you to do, here is what I will do.

      Now. Place the Calvinist template over this conditional promise and all kinds of problems come up. Does God regenerate EVERYONE or just certain ones because apart from regeneration, the only response an ungregenerate person can have is to sin for the unregenerate according to TD “cannot not sin.” So apart from regeneration on God’s part, His command to be given to the people through Moses is of no effect apart from His work of regeneration on specific individuals.

      That is the point I was making in my concluding statement about covenant; God give the promise and provides the provision and man’s response is what determines God’s response in the application of His provisions and promises.

      I cannot see HOW the Calvinist tenet of TD can be see anywhere but especially in this passage in Exodus.

      Make more sense?

      ><>”

      Reply

  2. Matter of fact, I don’t see baptism in this passage either. And the Holy Spirit is not hinted at either.

    Reply

  3. Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Bob,

    Both notions of total depravity (total inability) and “regeneration precedes faith” are foreign to scripture.

    The account of Adam rebukes the calvinistic notion of TD.

    Genesis 3:7-10 (NIV)….
    Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked (they understood their condition); so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (they felt shame and tried to cover their sin). Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid (they both heard the Lord and feared Him because of what they had done).”

    Regarding the calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith”, no one prior to the cross had been regenerated. Regeneration, or spiritual life, is only found in those who are “in Christ” and is reserved only for believers, never unbelievers. Only after the sinner has been made righteous is he then given spiritual life.

    God bless.

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

    • wingedfoot1,

      You said, “no one prior to the cross had been regenerated.”

      Where and how do you get that from scripture? Is it the absence of the word regeneration or regenerated in the OT that causes you to think that?

      And according to you, how were people saved in the OT?

      Reply

      • Les,

        While WF1 tries to answer your question, I wish you would point to examples of regeneration in the OT. Remember, regeneration is different from election or selection; regeneration undues TD allowing someone to repent and by faith look to the promises of God, in the case of the OT saint.

        I will look forward to your answer and consider them very carefully.

        ><>”

      • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        Les,

        You asked “Where and how do you get that from scripture…”

        Its due to the biblical order of salvation.

        Faith…..justification…..regeneration.

        Let me ask you this….

        Jesus said in John 3:3 “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

        Jesus clarified that again in John 3:5…

        “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

        If those in Abraham’s bosom (everyone prior to the cross) had already been born again, what prevented them access to heaven?

        wingedfooted1

      • Bob, I’m still waiting on WF1.

      • Bob, I had typed this earlier:

        “I wish you would point to examples of regeneration in the OT.”

        Bob this an important, but big can of worms. We all know that so much of the OT was more concealed and less explicit than what we see after Christ’s first advent. For example the doctrine of the trinity is much more revealed in the NT than the OT. We know more about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the NT than the OT. That does not mean the trinity is not in the OT or that the work of the Holy Spirit is not shown in the OT. But rather, it shows a progression of revelatio of these matters.

        So, first I don’t believe that the bible teaches a different way of salvation for OT people than the NT. If you do, the burden is on you to prove that from scripture. People were and have always been saved by Jesus Christ alone with no accompanying works. Faith has always been the means by which God saved people. See Abraham for example. To be sure the OT folks were expressing faith in God’s promised Redeemer yet to appear in the flesh. But the OT and the NT make clear that salvation has always been by faith.

        Regeneration (or born again) as a word never appears in the OT (same as trinity). But the idea is certainly there…getting a new heart.

        And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
        (Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)

        Sound familiar? It should:

        But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
        (Romans 2:29 ESV)

        In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
        (Colossians 2:11-13 ESV)

        Man has always since the fall been unable to believe apart from the Holy Spirit.

        For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
        (Romans 8:7 ESV)

        Here is a specific example of God moving men’s hearts:

        However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD.
        (2 Chronicles 30:11-12 ESV)

        Bob, it is obvious that what is revealed to us in the OT is less than we have in the NT revealed to us. That does not mean God was saving people differently in the OT. Now, whatever order you see in salvation (faith or regeneration first) I hope you’ll at least agree that man was saved the same way in the OT as the NT, and that includes regeneration.

        Back later.

  4. WF1,

    You replied to my question: “Its due to the biblical order of salvation.
    Faith…..justification…..regeneration.”

    My question was, “Where and how do you get that from scripture?”

    So I’ll hold off on switching over to John 3 and the implications from there and await your answer to the question.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Les,

      Spiritual life, or regeneration, only occurs when Christ’s Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer.

      Romans 8:10….
      But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

      This permanent indwelling of the Spirit of Christ was not given to believers until after He had been glorified.

      John 7:39…
      By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

      wingedfooted1

      Reply

      • WF1,

        Are you saying that regeneration is the same as the indwelling of the Spirit? Where do you get that from in the bible. The two passages you included do not teach that.

        So you still have not answered, “no one prior to the cross had been regenerated.”

        And, you have not answered How you believe people in the OT were saved.

      • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

        Les,

        You asked “Are you saying that regeneration is the same as the indwelling of the Spirit?”

        No. I am saying that it is only believers who receive the permanent indwelling of the Spirit of Christ. Regeneration is the result of His imputed righteousness which occurs only after Christ’s Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer.

        For further clarity regarding Romans 8:10, please consider these other translations….

        Romans 8:10 (NASB)…..
        If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

        Romans 8:10 (Barclay)……
        But if Christ is in you, even if because of sin your body is mortal, your Spirit has life through righteousness.

        Romans 8:10 (Phillips)…..
        Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.

        Romans 8:10 (Hendriksen)…..
        But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is life because of your justification.

        Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
        But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

        Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
        And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

        You asked “How…..people in the OT were saved.”

        Believers, both in the OT and the NT are saved by the finished works of Jesus Christ.

        wingedfooted1

  5. WF1,

    Thanks for the reply. But note what you said, “I am saying that it is only believers who receive the permanent indwelling of the Spirit of Christ.”

    You even call them “believers.” Was not Abraham a “believer?” As you know, “believe” is just “faith.” Verb and noun.

    As you now, those other translations are simply someone else’s interpretive translation. They can be helpful for sure. I think Hendriksen is close:

    “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is life because of your justification.”

    This is just saying that the presence of the Spirit is testimony that they have new life because they have Christ’s righteousness. It says nothing about the timing or order, and does not deal with all of the “parts” of salvation…calling, regeneration, conversion, etc.

    So that verse proves nothing about when regeneration occurs. And, it says nothing about regeneration in the OT. I don’t think you’ve proved your case yet.

    Reply

    • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Les,

      You asked “Was not Abraham a believer?”

      Yes. So if Abraham was a believer (as everyone in Abraham’s bosom was prior to the cross) and had already been regenerated, why was he denied access to heaven until after the cross?

      Les, you believe you have been given more grace than me and Bob. Use that grace and provide an exegesis of this verse…..

      Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
      But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

      What causes our spirit to be alive (regenerated)?

      Does this spiritual life occur before or after Christ lives in us?

      Are we imputed with Christ’s righteousness before we believe or after?

      wingedfooted1

      Reply

  6. Dear Bob: Jesus said, No man can come to me, except. You finish the sentence (jn.6:44,65). When I was a child, I learned that can refers to ability…so no man can, means no man is able. May means permission. If no one can, then no one has the ability. Hence, Total Depravity, Total Disability. As to Regeneration. Tell me is the Baby born the same day it is conceived? No, of course not. What about the Lord using the idea of conception in Jn.3, born from above, conceived from above, and James using the idea of a child being dleivered at birth in Jas.1:18, so hence, regeneration and conversion, conception and birth. I think, if you are willing to do a little research, you will find some back in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s and even into the 1900s who took such approach.

    Reply

  7. WF1,

    Whoa! You said, “why was he [Abraham] denied access to heaven until after the cross?”

    What?

    And this…”Les, you believe you have been given more grace than me and Bob.”

    There was no need for that.

    Reply

    • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Les,

      The question(s) still remain. With the grace you have been given, please provide an exegesis of this verse and answer the short questions that follow (hint: each answer is provide in this text)….

      Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
      But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

      What causes our spirit to be alive (regenerated)?

      Does this spiritual life occur before or after Christ lives in us?

      Are we imputed with Christ’s righteousness before we believe or after?

      wingedfooted1

      Reply

  8. “But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]”

    WF1, As you wish:

    But if [since; as in contrast to the last phrase of v.9] Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin [that is, although you are still in a physical body and subject to physical death], the [Holy] Spirit is life [contrasted with death in previous clause; life now and resurrection life after death] because of righteousness [all this takes place because of the imputed righteousness of Christ].
    (Romans 8:9-10 ESV)

    Now, what is your point? Is it that the righteousness of Christ is imputed after we believe? But of course. No argument from me.

    “What causes our spirit to be alive (regenerated)?”

    Of course God causes the new birth. Maybe you are coming around to see the biblical order of new birth—faith. We are all dead in sin prior to faith. God has “made us alive” (love that biblical language; “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—)

    “Does this spiritual life occur before or after Christ lives in us?”

    Christ comes to dwell (live) in us after the new birth which is a monergistic act of God.

    “Are we imputed with Christ’s righteousness before we believe or after?”

    Are you seriously asking this? Of course we are imputed the righteousness of Christ after we believe. Imputed righteousness is not to be confused with either the quickening of the Holy Spirit or the indwelling by the Holy Spirit.

    Have you ever studied any on the ordo salutis?

    Reply

  9. WF1, let’s clean up something prior before going on. You said above,

    ““why was he [Abraham] denied access to heaven until after the cross?”

    I said, “What?” That was a real question. Let me expand…Do you believe Abraham was not with the Lord upon his death?

    Reply

    • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Les,

      We can come back to that after you answer my previous question.

      I asked “What causes our spirit to be alive (regenerated)?”

      Of course God causes the new birth.

      You dodged the question. Yes, God causes the new birth, but how?

      Romans 8:10 (NASB)…..
      …….yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

      Romans 8:10 (Barclay)……
      …….your Spirit has life through righteousness.

      Romans 8:10 (Phillips)…..
      ….. but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.

      Romans 8:10 (Hendriksen)…..
      …….yet the Spirit is life because of your justification.

      Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
      …….the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

      Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
      ……the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

      Romans 8:10 (ESV)….
      ……the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

      All of these translations are saying the exact same thing.

      So, again, I ask, based on this text, what causes our spirit to become alive/regenerated?

      wingedfooted1

      Reply

      • WF1, if you’re trying to tease out of me that “righteousness” causes regeneration, that ain’t gona happen. Because righteousness can’t DO anything. It is. God causes our spirit to become alive/regenerated. That’s no dodge, just plain bible. I even provided a clue above for you.

        “God has “made us alive” (love that biblical language; “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—)”

        Here is the more complete verse:

        ” But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

        (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)”

        See that “made us alive” part? That’s the clue. The sentence begins with “God.”

        You seem to be desperately seeking a verse (Romans 8) to support..I don’t know what.

        Now can we move on back to Abraham?

  10. Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Les,

    You said…. “if you’re trying to tease out of me that ‘righteousness’ causes regeneration, that ain’t gona happen. Because righteousness can’t DO anything.”

    “…your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.”

    “…your Spirit has life through righteousness.”

    “…the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

    Then you are refusing to be honest with the text, because that is precisely what that verse says.

    Your disagreement is not with me, but with the Lord. I suggest you take it up with Him.

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on February 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      WF1,

      I’ll certainly take it up with Him. And I’ll note that you completely ignored the Ephesians passage that definitively shows that God causes regeneration. And that you have yet to deal with the Abraham question.

      Have a great evening.

      Reply

      • Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm

        Les,

        As I noted earlier, I confirmed that God causes regeneration, or spiritual life. And I did not “ignore” the Ephesians passage. In fact, it lines up perfectly with Colossians 2:13 (which you provided to Bob)….

        “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.”

        Notice our being made alive together with Him was contingent on having our sins forgiven. This is a form of justification and aligns itself perfectly with Romans 8:10…

        “…the Spirit gives you life BECAUSE you have been made right with God.”

        “…..yet the Spirit is life BECAUSE of your justification.”

        Also consider Romans 5:18….
        “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings (spiritual) life for all men.”

        The scriptures make it abundantly clear that spiritual life (or regeneration) only occurs after being justified. Without justification, there is no spiritual life (regeneration).

        Again, you need to be honest with what Romans 8:10 says.

        God bless.

        wingedfooted1

  11. Bob, et al,

    As a FYI I have posted a statement of faith (originally penned by BB Warfield) at my blog. I can heartily affirm it as my own. Please read it and see where you can or cannot so affirm.

    Thanks,

    Les

    Reply

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