Regeneration Before Faith

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by uhdum, Apr 28, 2010.

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  1. uhdum

    uhdum
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    I am rather new around here, and was reading the "I'm no Calvinist but..." thread that was closed. I posted this question on that thread; it was not answered, so I decided to start a new one.

    I had noticed a dialogue between Iconoclast and Winman, in which Winman made the statement that Calvinists believe in regeneration before faith.

    Winman said, "But Calvinism teaches that a man is regenerated, made spiritually alive without repenting and without believing the gospel."

    Iconoclast replied, "This is not at all correct.Why do you say such a thing? This is bearing false witness. If you want to disagree that is one thing.But make sure you know what you are opposing."

    I am seeking to understand the positions of Calvinists on this subject of regeneration before faith. Do some Calvinists believe this, and others do not? I ask that, because upon looking at some old Baptist confessions, I found the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession, which states:

    "We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again (Jn. 3:3, 6-7; 1 Cor. 1:14, Rev. 8:7-9; 21:27); that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind (2 Cor. 5:17; Ez. 36:26; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:28-29; 5:5; 1 Jn. 4:7); that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth (Jn. 3:8; 1:13; Jam. 1:16-18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 2:13), so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel (1 Pet. 1:22-25; 1 Jn. 5:1; Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-11); and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life (Eph. 5:9; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:16-23; Eph. 3:14-21; Matt. 3:8-10; 7:20; 1 Jn. 5:4, 18)."

    This particular confession seems to teach regeneration before faith. Also, in his book "The Holiness of God," R.C. Sproul says,"Christ made it clear that dead people cannot choose anything, that the flesh counts for nothing, and that we must be born of the Spirit before we can even see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it."

    Piper, OTOH, seems to state that regeneration and belief happen simultaneously. So, is this an issue that divides Calvinists? I am seeking to understand as clearly as I can.

    God bless!

    Adam
     
  2. Cutter

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  3. quantumfaith

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  4. gb93433

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    Titus 3:4-7, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    The New Hampshire Confession not only appears to teach regeneration before faith, it actually does teach it.

    However, it does not speak to the question of how soon faith follows regeneration, so it leaves room for Sproul and Piper to actually agree.

    One may also hold that salvation follows repentance and faith. One may say faith precedes salvation, while another may hold that salvation immediately follows or is simultaneous with faith, and both be right. Repentance, faith, and salvation are the logical order, even though chronologically there may be a split-second's difference.

    No one suggests that one may repent and believe, and days or weeks later salvation follows.
     
  6. jbh28

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    Thanks Cutter for the article. I agree, regeneration and faith happen at the same time.
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    Let me throw another question into the discussion with a hypothetical situation.

    A young man walks to the pastor during an invitation and says to him, "I want to repent of my sins and I have a strong desire to trust Christ for my salvation."

    Another young man walks down and says to the pastor: "I repent of my sin and trust Christ for my salvation."

    Are both of them saved?

    Or is there a difference between stating the desire to repent and trust, and stating that one actually repents and trusts Christ?

    Can one have the desire to repent and trust and not actually do it?

    And, cannot such a desire spring from a regenerated heart?

    Can a carnally-minded man be subject to the law of God (Ro 8:7-8)? Paul says no.
     
  8. gb93433

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    Isn't that kind of like ten frogs were on a log and one decided ot jump off. How many were left? Ten. One only decided to.
     
  9. Allan

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    Yes, most Cals/Reformed brethren hold to regeneration preceding faith. There are others of the Cal/Reformed view who do not. On the BB, there is 1 or 2 Cals who hold to faith preceding regeneration - Pastor Larry and I believe TCGreek.

    What most people do not understand is that the Reformed view itself does not state that scripture specifically says regeneration precedes faith but that it is a 'logical' argument based upon their understanding of scripture.

    In fact, on the BB, there have been a few times where members wish to state .. this is an end all verse to prove regeneration precedes faith.. but when it is examined .. it has either not been found to be so or at the very least found not be as 'solid' as believed.

    I for one do not believe, scripturally, regeneration can precede faith. And while I can live with the statement - they happen at the same time (and agree they do happen almost simultaniously at the same moment) of necessity, one must precede the other.

    My point on the issue is that there are certain things that must happen in order for a person to be scripturally regenerate. Which are - the propitiation applied (Christ work on the cross imparted to you), justified (sin removed), sanctified (seperated unto God), Righteousness (made into a right standing with God), indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And due to all of these one is said to be regenerate and thus 'in Christ'. Does not the scritpure state -

    We are a new creation- old things are passed away (no more, removed) behold all things have become new (without taint, stain, or blemish). - This one who is regenerate. Yet all of the above mentioned ONLY transpire through faith.

    One can not be 'spiritually alive' unless they are IN Christ, and one can not be in Christ while still in their sins, and one can not have their sins removed unitl they by faith receive work of Christ's propitiation.

    This is my main crux.. while I agree whole-heartedly with my reformed brethren about what regeneration IS, what must ALSO be looked at is when those things transpire and this is only found out when we look at HOW they come about.
     
    #9 Allan, Apr 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2010
  10. Allan

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    While no one currently on here (the BB) might state such, there are quite a few who DO believe this.

    I personally have spoken with quite a few myself, and one or two on here before they were removed. (I believe one was a Preby and the other - just within the last couple of months, a Lutheran, I think).

    One gentlemen (a moderator at the time) I debated with at another Baptist site.. had stated that a person can be regenerate for years and though probably rare, even for decades before he professed faith in Christ.
     
  11. Cutter

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    That is so alien to my interpretation of scripture that it sounds absurd.
     
  12. Allan

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    If we understand the verse properly... no a person who is not regenerate can not live their lives as a child of God. The point of Paul here is not about an action but a lifestyle. Yet we also find Paul stating that the Gentile (unbelievers) do by 'nature' those things contained in the Law.. (Rom 2:14) not meaning they live godly, but that even they can do things/actions which are according to God's laws. Yet this does not make them saved but proves their sinfulness in that knowing the truth they do not live unto it. This is why they are become a law (actually God law) unto themselves. Even in their law which is nothing more than a shadow of God's, they can not live up to it.

    And yet.. they can still choose 'by nature' to do those things contained there in.
    Is salvation about works? No.

    It is about acknowledging that you are a sinner, deserving of your eternal destiny and yet, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. It is not about doing but believing God and in that belief, crying out for God to have mercy upon us, who will call out to Him. He chooses to save us, not we ourselves. We must lay it all into His hands of mercy and grace and trust Him to keep His word, not because we told Him to, but because He chooses to.
     
    #12 Allan, Apr 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2010
  13. Allan

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    I agree.. :)
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    And so do I.
     
  15. Mississippi John

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    I wish that TRUE Baptists would quit tryin' to be Presbyterians, Calvinists, Armenians, Methodists, Charismatics, And Conservatives....and just be "Plain Old- Baptists:smilewinkgrin:"....you know...the kind we ALL learned about in Training Union on Sunday nights in our youth and childhoods.
     
  16. HankD

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    Here is my take FWIW:

    In physical birth there is a period of incubation.

    So with spiritual birth, it's called (for the most part) conviction of sin.

    When the moment of regeneration happens we are born intact, able to breath, have faith, desire the milk of the word, etc, etc... (through the indwelling Holy Spirit, our "life blood").

    Since the Spirit of God is dealing with us before regeneration in this conviction then IMO some/many of these embryonic elements will be manifested in our lives.

    e.g. Before I was born from above and under conviction of sin, I couldn't put the Bible down though it (especially via the Law) tortured my soul with the guilt it produced. I knew there was a God and I was separated from Him. Condemned (a kind of morbid faith).

    We are whole and intact at birth.

    Babes in Christ.

    HankD
     
    #16 HankD, Apr 29, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2010
  17. Winman

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    The problem is the teaching of Total Depravity. The reformed folks say an unregenerate man cannot be convicted, but the scriptures clearly show they can.

    Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
    30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
    32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
    33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.


    I think it is obvious that the Philipian jailer was under deep conviction. But he had not yet placed faith in Christ, he could not, as he did not know and understand the doctrine. If he were already a believer Paul would not have told him to believe on Christ. And we see that after hearing the preaching of the word of God that he and his family received Christ and were baptized.

    That the unregenerate can be convicted by the word of God is shown several places in scripture, as with the woman taken in adultery.

    John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
    4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
    5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
    6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
    7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
    8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
    9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.


    These men were unregenerate, in fact they were attempting to tempt Jesus to sin. But after Jesus spoke to them they were convicted of their sin. That is especially shown because it says they began at the eldest unto the last. An older person is absolutely more aware of their sin and foolishness than a young person.

    The scriptures do not show unregenerate man to be like a corpse. They can hear the word of God and understand it to a degree as shown in John 8. They can be convicted by it, and they have the ability to respond to God's word. But this is not regeneration, these men did not go away saved. And the Philipian jailer needed to be taught about Christ before he could believe on him and be saved.
     
  18. MB

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    I'd just like to know what is logical to believing something that clearly isn't in scripture. How can a man be saved by faith and yet not have any?
    MB
     
  19. gb93433

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    Rationalism.
     
  20. Iconoclast

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    Hello Adam,
    A few weeks ago I recommended the book A Baptist Catechism..with Commentaty by W.R.Downing.... here is the answer in part from question 83 in the catechism; it is lengthy, but worth the read; I have to post it in two parts
     
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