Instantaneous or Progressive Regeneration

Monergism.com makes reference to statements made by R.C. Sproul in an excerpt from his book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. Sproul makes the following statements concerning regeneration in salvific process.

One of the most dramatic moments in my life for the shaping of my theology took place in a seminary classroom. One of my professors went to the blackboard and wrote these words in bold letters: “Regeneration Precedes Faith”

In this scheme of things the initiative falls with us. To be sure, God had sent Jesus to die on the cross before I ever heard the gospel. But once God had done these things external to me, I thought the initiative for appropriating salvation was my job.

These words were a shock to my system. I had entered seminary believing that the key work of man to effect rebirth was faith. I thought that we first had to believe in Christ in order to be born again. I use the words in order here for a reason. I was thinking in terms of steps that must be taken in a certain sequence. I had put faith at the beginning. The order looked something like this:

“Faith – rebirth -justification.”

I hadn’t thought that matter through very carefully. Nor had I listened carefully to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. I assumed that even though I was a sinner, a person born of the flesh and living in the flesh, I still had a little island of righteousness, a tiny deposit of spiritual power left within my soul to enable me to respond to the Gospel on my own.

A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person. The prefix mono means one. The word erg refers to a unit of work. Words like energy are built upon this root. A synergistic work is one that involves cooperation between two or more persons or things. The prefix syn – means “together with.” I labor this distinction for a reason. At issue was this: Is regeneration a monergistic work of God or a synergistic work that requires cooperation between man and God? When my professor wrote “Regeneration precedes faith” on the blackboard, he was clearly siding with the monergistic answer. After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone.

These giants of Christian history derived their view from Holy Scripture. The key phrase in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is this: “…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)” (Eph. 2:5). Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place ‘when we were dead.’ With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed. Again, dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.

This says nothing different from what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Unless a man is born again first, he cannot possibly see or enter the kingdom of God. If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to giants of Christian history but also to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.

You may read the summary of Sproul’s book in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.

According to Sproul’s understanding of the salvific process, the unregenerate man is dead in his trespass and sin and as a result, he is totally incapable of responding by faith to God and as Sproul notes, “there is no possibility of faith.” Sproul also indicates the point at which regeneration takes place is instantaneous; while the lost person is in a depraved state, dead in his sin and totally depraved, he is infused with “one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation” which is according to Sproul the irresistible initiative in regeneration that brings about repentance and saving faith and justification is accomplished.

Now with respect to this “one thunderbolt of revelation” or irresistible grace or effectual calling, regeneration would have to be instantaneous or otherwise it would have to be by default progressive and that would mean that at some point an individual would no longer be depraved or unable to begin the process of responding to God. So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or the absence of regeneration, one would have to understand that for the Calvinist, the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate is useless. Sharing one’s testimony with the unregenerate is a waste of time because they are not even effective much less effectual because of the totally depraved state of the unregenerate individual. Since God’s efficacious calling is solely what brings about regeneration, preaching and teaching and witnessing prior to regeneration have no bearing on one’s repentance and saving faith and justification. Regeneration occurs at God’s sole command and conversion is automatically the result.

This must be understood. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God to the unregenerate cannot be made the means God uses to accomplish the end unless one is willing to relegate the role of regeneration to a progressive one. This would be tantamount to accepting a picture of prevenient grace followed by or leading to irresistible grace. For if regeneration is progressive, then what you have is a form of prevenient grace with an irresistible conclusion and then the question comes into play, what determines when and how prevenient grace becomes irresistible. To counter this possibility is the work of effectual calling in the regeneration process. Effectual calling cannot be progressive but rather must be instantaneous or else it could not be considered effectual.

Given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are clear, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV) It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion. Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion. Consider the following passages of Scripture:

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:14-17 NKJV)

25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith — 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. (Rom 16:25-27 NKJV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17 NKJV)

Even as Paul speaks about the power of the gospel to save those who believe, it is the power of the spoken Word that brings new life; not God’s effectual calling. The gospel has no appeal whatsoever to the person who has not been regenerated. Dead people cannot hear spoken words. This is the foundation to total depravity. It is simple. According to the Calvinist platform, effectual calling and regeneration bring about conversion, not the preaching of the cross or the gospel.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor 1:18-25 NKJV

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:14-16 NKJV)

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
(Luke 7:22-23 NKJV)

Jesus says it plainly here; blessed are those who hear this message being preached to them and are not offended because of Me. It is the power of the spoken Word that has the power to touch men’s hearts and change their lives! This is the real emphasis of John chapter 1 where Jesus is
Identified as the incarnate Word, Who “was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5 NKJV) The Word that spoke the world into existence and breathed life into Adam is the same Word that can breathe spiritual life into our sin hardened hearts and make us whole again.

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:6-10 NKJV)

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:8-13 NKJV)

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Cor 15:1-11 NKJV)

It is crystal clear; the Bible does not speak of nor even support a salvific possibility of God regenerating an individual outside of the work of the Word of God and its proclamation. It is the proclamation of the gospel that causes lost men to see their sin and their need of a Savior and to hear God’s promise to save those who believe. Calvinism errantly seeks to establish new birth as the sole result of God’s predestined will and subsequent effectual calling, which is not contingent at all upon the proclamation of the gospel because prior to that effectual calling, the gospel has no effect at all on the lost, unregenerate person.

Now this brings up another point. Monergism posits God and God alone in the salvific process. The Calvinist will contend that God and God alone regenerates the lost person and that person repents and is saved. Man plays no part in the process whatsoever. So when it comes to believing, it is God plus nothing (any response from the individual prior to regeneration) that brings about conversion. Why is it then that the Calvinist will argue that it is God plus man that is responsible to bring the message to the unregenerate man? Why would monergism not apply in the sharing of the gospel as it does in the receiving of the gospel? If God does not need man’s participation in receiving the gospel, why does He need man’s participation in the sharing of the gospel? The truth is, it is not necessary for that sharing has no effect unless and until God makes the unregenerate able to hear and understand and then gives him the ability to respond to that message.

Calvinism which posits salvation by regeneration or effectual calling simply is not supported by the Scriptures and needs to be once and for all put to rest.

Here is a question:

Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to those who are not first regenerated?

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Bob,

    Appreciate this post. Of course I disagree. Let me start with this. I think you are misplacing Sproul’s use of the “thunderbolt” phrase. He said,

    “With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed.”

    Later you say, “Sproul also indicates the point at which regeneration takes place is instantaneous; while the lost person is in a depraved state, dead in his sin and totally depraved, he is infused with “one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation” which is according to Sproul the irresistible initiative in regeneration that brings about repentance and saving faith and justification is accomplished.”

    Yes, Sproul says that when regeneration takes place, it is instantaneous.

    While the person is in a depraved state…

    Dead in his sin…

    And totally depraved…

    I agree with those phrases and I agree that is what Sproul is saying.

    But the next phrase, “he is infused with “one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation” which is according to Sproul the irresistible initiative in regeneration that brings about repentance and saving faith and justification is accomplished.”

    Sproul did not indicate that the depraved man is “infused with “one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation.”

    If you go back and read what Sproul said, “With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed,” he uses the thunderbolt sentence to say that the the Ephesians 2 passage is the “thunderbolt of apostolic revelation” which smashes all attempts by non monergists to say (“give”) that the initiative belongs to man in regeneration.

    That is just to point that out.

    Now, you say, “So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or the absence of regeneration, one would have to understand that for the Calvinist, the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate is useless.”

    I don’t follow how you conclude that. Sproul says elsewhere that preaching is absolutely necessary. He subscribes to the WCF which says so as well.

    Perhaps you are trying to draw an inference. But it does not follow from instantaneous regeneration that preaching the word to sinners is negated. No one of knows exactly how and when the Spirit does his work.

    When I share the gospel, using the word, does the Spirit regenerate right at the beginning of the conversation? I don’t know. Does he regenerate a few sentences in, a few points of the gospel message in? I don’t know. No one knows.

    Surely the man can mentally understand the words of the gospel I’m explaining to him. And surely the Spirit can supernaturally take those words of scripture and transform what was just mental understanding into spiritual understanding, can he not?

    So, well written article. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of comments over at SBC Today. I won’t be there. But as expected, I disagree.

    Blessings brother!

    Les

    Reply

  2. Les,

    You asked, “Surely the man can mentally understand the words of the gospel I’m explaining to him. And surely the Spirit can supernaturally take those words of scripture and transform what was just mental understanding into spiritual understanding, can he not?”

    My point is that this is inconsistent with the tenets of total deprative and inability because the preaching falls on dead and deaf ears until God regenerates that individual. Apart from regeneration, the preaching of the gospel is ineffectual. That is the primary principle of calvinism. It is the basis for regeneration being essential for repentance and saving faith in the first place as God “calls the unregenerate to life” and he THEN repents and is saved.

    It is as if the gospel takes hold after regeneration and not before.

    Since we BOTH agree that the Scriptures are clear that the gospel IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, my simple contention is that it cannot be effectual calling as calvinists posit because the gospel has NO effect on the individual UNTIL he has been regenerated.

    Now… some will say… but the gospel is the means God uses to regenerate. If the dead unregenerate person cannot respond UNTIL regeneration, it is not possible to claim preaching as the means to accomplish regeneration and that is the fundamental problem I am attempting to establish in this article.

    My point is that this is inconsistent with the tenets of total deprative and inability because the preaching falls on dead and deaf ears until God regenerates that individual. Apart from regeneration, the preaching of the gospel is ineffectual. That is the primary principle of calvinism. It is the basis for regeneration being essential for repentance and saving faith in the first place as God “calls the unregenerate to life” and he THEN repents and is saved.

    It is as if the gospel takes hold after regeneration and not before.

    Since we BOTH agree that the Scriptures are clear that the gospel IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, my simple contention is that it cannot be effectual calling as calvinists posit because the gospel has NO effect on the individual UNTIL he has been regenerated.

    Now… some will say… but the gospel is the means God uses to regenerate. If the dead unregenerate person cannot respond UNTIL regeneration, it is not possible to claim preaching as the means to accomplish regeneration and that is the fundamental problem I am attempting to establish in this article.

    ><>”

    Reply

  3. Yes Bob. I understand what you are trying to show. Besides the thunderbolt thing, which I think you should fix in the post, I later also said that we don’t know when and how the Spirit works His regeneration. He is the missing link in your analysis. All our musings and wonderings about precisely when and how He does his work are pointless in a sense. Somehow He uses the preached word, somehow, mysteriously, in conjunction with His supernatural working in the heart of the sinner, to bring about a change from death to life and repentance and faith. As I asked above, can He not take mere human spoken words which happen also to be quotes from scripture and transform them into life saving words? Midway thru a gospel presentation? I think he can.

    BTW, I’m on vacation at Table Rock Lake and probably won’t be able to interact much.

    Have ablesssed day.

    Les

    Reply

  4. Les,

    Enjoy your vacation. I do not disagree with your statements that Somehow God uses the preached word, somehow, mysteriously, in conjunction with His supernatural working in the heart of the sinner, to bring about a change from death to life and repentance and faith.

    I am saying that the inconsistencies in the calvinist tenets of total depravity and inability coupled with the nuances of effectual calling necessarily do not allow for the power of the gospel to do ANYTHING prior to regeneration.

    So, as you suggest, we do not know these things, but holding onto TD and effectual calling if they are inconsistent with Scripture’s clear teaching of the power of the spoken word on those who believe… not those who are regenerated to believe…

    is at least a point to be discussed. One, I might add, which I have never seen made until now.

    ><>”

    Reply

  5. Posted by earl on July 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Well all I can say is that you are correct Bob. I remember hearing the Word and feeling a tug each time I heard IT. The idea that God picks people even before that are born to go to hell just does not fit with the reasoning that He gave to humans. The TONE just does not fit the Word I read!!!

    Reply

  6. Posted by Mike on August 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    @earl. I agree with you that God does not pick people for hell. We all did that in Adam, it is the election of the Father in eternity past, the work of the Son and the application of the Spirit that makes the difference for the elect.

    Of course you felt a “tug” before you were converted. The point is you WERE converted. Paul said the gospel is foolishness but to the “called” it is wisdom (1 Cor 1)

    As for the “reasoning” God gave to humans. I would not trust it to sit in judgement on revelation or expect reasoning to connect all the dots in revelation. 1 Cor 2 is all about the inability of “wisdom” to grasp “God’s wisdom.”

    We should not be surprised if in God’s revelation there are some things hard to grasp, it is God’s revelation. To subvert God’s revelation under our reason is to make our understanding “god”

    My .02

    Reply

  7. Mike,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Do you really believe the statement you made, “God does not pick people for hell; we do that. God picks people for heaven.” (I know I shortened it some) This concept really does amaze me. God just picked you for no known reason… you are among the elect. Remember EVERYONE making this argument is in the safe and secure company of the elect and it is the unregenerate who get what THEY deserve. Wow… I really do find serious problems with that picture. Do you not consider that this position runs the risk of seriously impugning the character and nature of God? You are basically saying that God and God alone is the One who determines who gets to go to heaven and who does not. Really. No, People decide to go to hell, not God. OK!

    You last statement is equally interesting. You wrote, “To subvert God’s revelation under our reason is to make our understanding “god”.

    You do understand that your own understanding of the Scriptures falls victim to your own assertion, correct? You seemed to use this statement with respect to Earl’s comment; I remember the 5 finger rule I was taught in school… when you point one at someone else remember there are 4 pointing back at you.

    So, did the article I wrote not warrant any particular comments or concerns?

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by Mike on August 3, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Hi Bob,

      Yes I do believe in God’s sovereign election from eternity past. Meaning that God for reasons found only within Himself choose out of the fallen mass of humanity those whom He would ransom in Christ. Damnation is all of man and salvation is all of God.

      I don’t believe it because it’s easy to understand but because I see it in scripture (which is the context of my last line regarding revelation and reason). There are many philisophical arguments against this doctrine, my point is reason must bow to revelation.

      Reply

    • Hi Bob. I think Mike is exactly right. All we have to go on is what scripture tells us, and try under the Spirit to interpret scripture with scripture.

      We know from scripture that all deserve hell and damnation and that deserving is on all of us…every one of us. That is undisputed. We also know that not everyone will avoid that damnation. Some will be saved. That is grace. Undeserving sinners, deserving damnation, plucked from the fires of hell.

      We also know that whatever God’s reasons for choosing to save some, but not all, are His alone (though hinted at in Romans 9) and are likely beyond our understanding.

      And we know that we have no right to question His wisdom in His choices (again, Romans 9).

      Beyond that, any attempts to apply logic behind His choices and logical implications from His choices are simply man trying to discern God’s ways where He has chosen to not reveal everything to us.

      Blessings brother.

      Reply

  8. I do understand what you both are saying. The point that I was making is that we all approach the Scriptures in the same way and it always seems that criticism cloaked in mystery is always leaning toward our side of seeing things.

    What is amazing to me is the discussion is on these minor points while NOTHING is being said about the point of the article.

    Here is a comment I left at SBC Today, where this article was also posted.

    Here is the answer I would give to my question with respect to your statement: You wrote: “It is the Word AND the Spirit. They work concurrently. The Word goes forth in preaching, and the Spirit operates on the depraved heart and uses the word to sound forth the effectual call to bring the dead man out of death to life.”

    Here is my question. You indicate that the Word and Spirit work together concurrently. Does this happen prior to regeneration or after?

    Here is the deal… if a man is totally depraved according to RT the gospel has no effectual power over him BECAUSE he is dead. So in order for the the Word and the Spirit to work concurrently, regeneration HAS TO TAKE PLACE.

    This is what RT posits. It is the basis of RT. It is calvinism 101.

    That is POINT A. I state the calvinist position that man is dead in his sin and a slave to his sinful nature and as such according to calvinists, he MUST be regenerated or made alive for the gospel to have any effect on him. That is Point A… which I am assuming you agree with.

    Point B is as follows… (which is a conclusion based on the actual calvinist tenets expressed in point A) Please understand, I NEVER said this is WHAT calvinists believe… I am not misstating what calvinists believe. I am saying what calvinists say with respect to the gospel being the means of regeneration is by necessity inconsistent with the tenets established in Point A…

    Point A establishes the FACT that the gospel has no effect on the unregenerate individual AND because regeneration MUST take place BEFORE any sign of life can be seen, Point B states that for the calvinist ” it is regeneration and not the gospel that gives the TD/TI individual life and THEN the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for that person.

    Now… that is the point A defined and point B clarified….

    This is what I wish SOMEONE or ANYONE would actually comment on.

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by Mike on August 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Bob, I am not sure if I grasp your point. It is no doubt my fault, I had a late night.

      In regards to regeneration and faith, they are distinct but never separate. We would no more separate light from fire than to separate regeneration and faith. They are distinct but never separate.

      Regeneration consists of giving a holy disposition to the mind and heart to see and savour Jesus Christ in all His beauty – this is faith. Regeneration is the cause and faith is the result.

      The Gospel is God’s chosen means of enacting this divine resurrection, this new creation. (Pictured in Ez 37). Does this address what you are saying?

      Reply

    • Mike,

      Actually your statement that regeneration and faith, they are distinct but never separate is actually a VERY GOOD statement that I will use again to correctly articulate my point.

      Since faith is impossible apart from the distinct process of regeneration, then it is my position that the gospel is only effectual AFTER regeneration or at best because of regeneration. THE gospel has NO effect on the unregnerate.

      So, because the gospel has NO EFFECT on the regenerate, I maintain that the gospel CANNOT be the means God uses to regenerate the lost sinner. The gospel is for the elect, the regenerated person whose heart has been changed from one of stone that cannot or willnot respond to the gospel to a heart of flesh that is now alive and WILL respond to the gospel.

      See my point? Thanks for the dialogue.

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike on August 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Bob, I think you are trying to draw conclusions where the scripture does not. We know from scripture that the gospel is foolishness to the lost man, not through any shortcoming of the gospel but due to the inherint falleness in the sinner.

        How God makes the sinner see Christ as the wisdom of God, all we know is God calls (1 Cor 1:24) through the preaching of Christ, some never see it as wisdom (1 Cor 1:18 +23).

        It seems that God has constructed it like this to destroy “the wisdom of the wise” (1 cor 1:19) I think this is the way you are attempting to reconcile things….. it can’t be done by God’s design.

        “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:30–31, ESV)

        Blessings in Christ

  9. Mike,

    I like our discussion because you correctly point out points that I am trying to make.

    You said, “Bob, I think you are trying to draw conclusions where the scripture does not.”

    Really what I doing is pointing to conclusions calvinism posits that draws conclusions that Scripture does not.”

    Once again, this is calvinism 101… “We know from scripture that the gospel is foolishness to the lost man, not through any shortcoming of the gospel but due to the inherint falleness in the sinner.”

    What is it that changes the “shortcomings of the gospel” for the lost man? According to calvinism, it is regeneration.

    Once regeneration occurs, the gospel has power to save THAT person.

    I do not believe this position is sustained in Scripture and as a result, it is my position that one cannot justfiy the tenets of calvinism and ought to abandon them.

    ><>”

    Reply

  10. Bob,
    If I may jump into the discussion, God’s Word preached to the unregenerate man, may be used as a means later in that man’s life. Mike is correct that we cannot analyze how the Spirit uses the Word. It is a mystery to us. Although I cannot identify the day or the hour when I was regenerated, I can remember the season. I did not understand the Scripture I was given at the time, but God set me about learning of Him, directing me to a church, and to hearing the Gospel on a regular basis. Sometime, in that process, I received saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that it was all God’s doing, and that I was that prideful sinner until God called me to be His own.
    We are commanded to preach the Gospel to every person, simply because we do not know the condition of the heart. It is all God’s business, and we should be faithful, all the while leaving the results of our preaching up to Him.
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Mike,

      Thanks for “jumping into the dscussion.”

      I agree 100% with the statement you make here.. “God’s Word preached to the unregenerate man, may be used as a means later in that man’s life.” My point is that calvinism does not allow for this statement.

      The real point of my article is that Calvinism teaches that man is dead in his sin and the gospel falls on deaf ears and dead hearts until God gives the unregenerate man ears to hear and a heart that can and will respond. It is regeneration that makes the gospel effectual. The gospel has NO EFFECT on the unregenerate… so my contention is that according to Calvinism, the gospel cannot be the means God uses to bring about regeneration.

      Let me carry this a little further. Is it not accurate to say that Calvinism teaches that God chose before the foundation of the world those who would be saved? Answer, “yes.” Does Calvinism not also maintain that Jesus died on the cross to save those that God chose before the foundation of the world and these WILL be saved or are already saved? “Yes.” Given this foundation, according to Calvinism the elect are saved or will be saved because that is God’s will and what God wills WILL take place. According to Calvinism, effectual calling is what brings the dead man out of his unregenerate state and THEN the gospel has power to save. According to Calvinism, effectual calling gives the gospel its power; for apart from effectual calling, the gospel has NO POWER to save.

      I understand this is not what most confessing Calvinists believe nor preach. My point is, it is what Calvinism teaches. It would seem to me that one must choose to bring his belief and preaching in line with the theology he espouses. If one believes that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, which includes conversion… THEN Calvinism presents some serious challenges because it contends that conversion is a gift of God, that faith is a gift from God and it is His efficacious will and effectual calling that makes us His child, NOT the preaching of the gospel that falls on deaf ears and dead hearts UNTIL He regenerates His elect.

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Paul-N on January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

        I know I am late, but THANK YOU!!!
        I see quite clearly what you are saying. If Paul says that the Gospel is the power unto salvation but the calvinist says that one must be regenerated (saved) then it cannot be that the gospel is the power unto salvation for one must already be born again to believe the gospel. The gospel (in calvinism) is rendered powerless and must bow to regeneration.

        One who believes in Calvinism must not hide behind “it is a mystery” but be consistent with their doctrine.

        Like Mike saying that God chooses who goes to heaven while men choose to go to hell. That really does not add up because if all men died in Adam and Adams fall was ordained by God and God elects a few, then it stands to reason that God is sending people to hell. And, since the wages of sin is death and men are held in bondage by the sinful nature passed down through Adam, then the reprobate no more chooses to go to hell than a lion chooses to eat meat because he (the reprobate) must sin at some point. There is no choice, it is the rebrobates nature. He did not ask for it but he can do nothing about it unless he is elected.

      • Paul

        Thank you for your comment. You did get the gist of the post. For the Calvinist, the gospel is the power of God unto sanctification but cannot be conversion because until one is regenerated by God’s effectual call…. the gospel has NO power over him to do ANYTHING.

        I think you will find a lot of interesting reading here and I hope to be reposting some interesting articles in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for stopping by!

        ><>”

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