If Regeneration is instantaneous, why do some grapple with faith for a long time?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Skandelon

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    There are many people I know, like Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell, who testify that they went through a process of weighing the facts and evidence of the scripture's claims before coming to faith. In other words, it didn't really happen in an instant. Their faith was established over a period of months or even years of research and deliberation. They testify that the evidence was overwhelming and lead them to leave their doubts and place their faith in Christ.

    Their books, "A Case for Christ" and "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" have lead many intellectual doubters to faith in Christ over the years.

    This along with the scriptural evidence that Paul used much persuasion to lead some of his Jewish brethren to faith (Acts 28 etc) leads me to question the idea that there is one instant act of regeneration that miraculously births a new nature with new desires.

    New believers notoriously struggle with their old sinful desires and struggle with doubt. These experiences suggest that the act of regeneration is a birth of the Holy Spirit (as seen at Pentecost) within the hearts of those who believe. The HS begins the process of sanctification by which the man is conformed to the image of Christ OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. This NEW NATURE with NEW DESIRES is not something that happens overnight, but is a process by which man's faith is strengthened and his nature is conformed.

    If Regeneration does as it claims in the Calvinistic system, then what does Sanctification accomplish that the work of Regeneration has not? In other words, if the act of Regeneration irresistible causes a man to repent and believe because of the new nature, then why does it fail to irresistibly cause a man to stop lusting or lying immediately? Isn't belief in Christ and repentance more difficult than resisting sin? How can the new nature be "good" enough to have faith in Christ, but not good enough to resist sin at least as well as anyone else who has that same new nature?
     
  2. RAdam

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    Because regeneration and conversion are two different things. Regeneration is an instantaneous action. Conversion is a process.
     
  3. RAdam

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    Also, read Romans 7. Paul is obviously a born again man, yet he describes a battle within himself. God did not do away with our sin nature when we were regenerated, rather He gave us an inward man, and these two sides are locked in a war.
     
  4. SolaSaint

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    Good replies RAdam, Yes I would say that exactly. Lee Stroble was instantaneously regenerated, and that is what softened His heart to search like he did which lead to his conversion. If I remember correctly it was his wife that shared the gospel with him, and of course he had to have heard the gospel first and then the Holy Spirit does His mighty work of the heart. After this it isn't always an instantaneous conversion in my opinion, it may take some time or it may not. :thumbs:
     
  5. pinoybaptist

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    Thank you, kind sir.
    Couldn't have said it better.
    And therein is the likes of skandelon and company stumbling in their desire to ground the doctrine of Grace to the ground like one does a cockroach.
    They fail to understand the differences.
    [​IMG]
     
    #5 pinoybaptist, Feb 4, 2010
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  6. preachinjesus

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    Yep.

    While jsutification is a single, sealed act...it often takes time to get to it. I grappled. Doesn't make my salvation less efficacious. :)
     
  7. Allan

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    I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you here, but I 'am' curious..

    Do you believe that a person can be regeneration for week, months, even years before coming to faith in Christ for their eternal salvaiton ?

    I only ask since the mainline Reformed is and has been that regeneration and faith are almost instintanious with no discernable time lapsing between the two events.
     
  8. The Archangel

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    Allan,

    I'm not SolaSaint but I think regeneration can be for an undefined period of time before salvation. This is basically what the Puritans thought. They held that there were periods of awakening, ultimately leading to true faith and salvation.

    Just my $.02.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  9. Allan

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    Hmmm.. that makes me even more curious.
    Refresh my memory please.. Did they also hold, like most of the reformed and Calvinist, that if one is regenerate then they are 'in Christ', justified, sanctified and indwelt (this one not so much) or any combination of these?

    The reason I ask is because I have found that what regeneration is is pretty much, across the board, the same (even to non-cals and Arminians - bringing life, a new nature, and new desires). However what it entails seems to differ from reformed camp to reformed camp (and quite obviously differ from those 'not' reformed). Take John Calvin for instance here regarding 1 John 5:1:
    Notice that he seperates being born from regeneration, where as other reformed men, like J.I. Packer state they are one and the same.
     
    #9 Allan, Feb 5, 2010
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  10. The Archangel

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    Let me see what I can find out. It may take quite a bit of time. Keep on reminding me.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  11. Allan

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    No prob :thumbs:
     
  12. zrs6v4

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    I personally believe I can remember the time where I was regenerated. I can narrow it within a 1-2 week period. Im not sure that mere searching means one is regenerated.

    I hadnt been to church in 6-7 years and was invited by my grandma. I was very materialistic and worldy although I claimed to be a Christian (long story). The pastor preached on materialism oddly enough and it caught my attention like no sermon has before (I dont think I was regenerated here). I spent the next week or so just going straight home and thinking about what he said and following thought paths about different things. I didnt know how to deal with it, so I decided to start going to church every Sunday to "get right with God" hah. Well, it seemed like there was much more than that, and I couldnt understand. I asked everyone I knew for answers and they couldnt really help me. I decided that I needed to not only go to church, but I needed to read the bible a little to get right with God, hah. I was trying to justify myself by slight moves to please God and remove the religious guilt. I think I was even willing to give God 10% so I could go back to living it up my way :)...

    Anyway, I began to read the bible and the first few days it was a real work and I really was forced to do so. At this point I was a little frustrated, confused, and all sorts of things were going on. I began to pray honestly for the first time, I just said it how it was, and if I remember right it wasnt pretty. I kept reading the bible and at some point I began to really desire it, start to understand, and it literally came alive. What really got me was I began to see my sin in great depths and it nearly killed me with sorrow, shame, and a broken heart. I was upset that I had lived in rebellion to the Savior and never realized at heart what he had done for me or what I had done to Him. I literally had a very dramatic change and realization that changed my entire life radically (I believe new birth at this point). I went from doing everything I could to get the Holy Spirit off my shoulders to have a very desperate and deep desire to change completely and serve God with all I had to offer along with a deep agony for mercy and new found humility. So in my case it was very much close to my forgiveness, understanding, lights on, and dramatic change of life although I had been thinking and searching a week or two prior.
     
    #12 zrs6v4, Feb 5, 2010
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  13. Winman

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    zrs6v4

    That was a nice testimony, and followed scriptural order. You #1 heard the word of God and were convicted, #2 believed the word of God, #3 turned to Christ. That is what the scriptures show every time without exception.

    If you read the scriptures, men knew when they believed. Look what the scriptures show of the Samaritan woman at the well and when she testified to the people of her town.

    John 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
    40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
    41 And many more believed because of his own word;
    42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.


    Notice in vs. 39 it says many people of the city believed on Jesus. And it gives the reason why. It doesn't say they were regenerated, it says they believed "for the saying of the woman". A person can be saved by hearing the testimony of another who received Christ. There is no magic here.

    But there is a little more to this story revealed in vs. 42. We see that these people declared Jesus indeed to be the Christ, the Saviour of the world. This shows that these people already had a knowledge of the scriptures and the promises of God. They knew the OT prophesies of the Christ who would come and save them from their sins and believed these promises. When they heard the testimony of the woman, then they knew that Jesus was the promised Christ and believed on him personally. They did not receive the Holy Spirit at this time because believers did not receive the Spirit until after Jesus was glorified.

    John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

    This verse proves a person can believe without the indwelling Holy Spirit. All those who believed on Jesus during his ministry did not receive the Holy Spirit until after he was resurrected and glorified.

    And even Paul was saved in the order of hearing the word of God, believing, and then receiving the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
    4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
    5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
    6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.


    People might try to teach that Paul was miraculously regenerated, but that is not what this passage shows. Yes, he did first see a light from heaven, but he was not saved yet. Notice the Lord spoke to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" So, here he is hearing the word of God.

    Notice the strange question Paul asked, "Who art thou, Lord?". Now, that is a strange question because Paul knew very well who he was persecuting. He had been persecuting Christians for some time and was on his way to capture more who had fled to Damascus. So, Paul seems to be in a little denial here, I do not believe he was saved at this point.

    Then notice Jesus said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

    Paul was resisting the Holy Spirit, Jesus said so. But now Paul could pretend no longer, he was faced with the undeniable reality that Jesus was the Lord. He had a choice to make, he could continue to resist the Holy Spirit, or he could submit, which he does. Now notice he says, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?". This was when Paul was saved. For the first time he confessed that Jesus was the Lord and submitted himself in obedience.

    But now, very important, Paul did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit when all this took place. He did not receive the Holy Spirit until 3 days later.

    Acts 9: 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

    After 3 days Ananias came and laid hands on him and at this time Paul received the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
    18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.


    So, even in the case of Paul you see him #1 hearing the word of God, #2 believing, and #3 receiving the Holy Spirit. You will always see this order in scripture without exception. If you know of any exceptions I would like to see it.
     
    #13 Winman, Feb 5, 2010
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  14. RAdam

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    When one is regenerated, one is saved.
     
  15. Allan

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    On that I agree. That is why it is biblically sound to state like Jesus did - whoever believes.. will have eternal life/salvation.
     
  16. kyredneck

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    Then eternal life is not really a 'free' 'gift'. It is a reward for one's act of faith.
     
  17. Allan

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    Check your bible, it refutes the above types of statement:
    Therefore Jesus statement stands - whoever believes.. will have eternal life/salvation

    Justifcation and righteousness are both aspects of our eternal salvation
     
    #17 Allan, Feb 5, 2010
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  18. zrs6v4

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    It is really hard to tell to be honest, and as you know I hold that regeneration precedes faith. I personally don't think I was ever willing to fully trust in Christ, nor did I see the need until I began to see Him and the scriptures came alive. I believe when my eyes were open I immediately fleed to Christ for mercy. I dont think I came to Christ and fully trusted in Him before my heart was opened to the word of God. Yes, there was searching and prayer prior to regeneration, although I was only interested in getting out of my burden rather than seeking Christ in relationship and forgiveness,
     
  19. RAdam

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    What Jesus said was whoever believes has (present possession) everlasting life. John 5:24 and John 6:47
     
  20. RAdam

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    To be justified means to be declared righteous, not made righteous. If you'll look up the greek word translated "counted" there, you'll find it is "logizomai". Logizomai is an accounting term. According to Strong's it means to take an inventory of. Furthermore, Strong's gives this illustration of the term: "This word deals with reality. If I reckon (logizomai) that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers more to fact than supposition or opinion."

    When you take an inventory of something, say items in a grocery storeroom, you don't make those items appear or place items in the storeroom, you simply reckon/count those items to be there. They were already there, you simply came to a knowledge of them and counted them. In the same fashion an accountant does not make the company gain profit or lose money, the accountant simply takes the real numbers from the books and reckons/accounts what the end result is. That's what this term refers to. Abraham, by faith, did not make himself righteous. He was not saved to heaven at this point in time (a study of his life up to this point should prove that - he's walking by faith after God and consistently worshipping God). Abraham was already righteous, but now his faith perceived that fact. Faith looks at the object, sees His righteousness, and trusts not in self but rather in Him.
     

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