The Order of Faith and Regeneration in the Gospels

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by swaimj, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. swaimj

    swaimj
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    On the Lydia thread, TCGreek stated that
    Let us focus on the gospels and see if regeneration is portrayed as occurring prior to faith or afterward. Consider twelve miraculous works of Jesus recorded in the gospels. These miracles involve acts of physical healing or physical regeneration performed by Jesus. Often the text indicates that spiritual regeneration occurs in the person’s heart as well, although this is not always made clear. These miracles also involve expressions of faith or confessions of faith. In these, which comes first, the faith or the regeneration?

    The Man with the Withered Hand (Matt 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 4:38-39)
    Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. There was a man present with a withered hand. Jesus said to him “Stretch out you hand!” The man stretched it out and he was healed.

    Here the obedience to the command of Jesus and the healing are simultaneous.

    The Centurion’s Servant (Matt 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
    The Centurion, as a gentile, knew that Jesus was not permitted to enter his house. So, he actually requested Jesus to heal his servant without coming. Jesus was astounded at the man’s faith. He exclaimed that he had not found anyone with such faith in Israel. Then Jesus said “Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.” Those who returned to the house discovered that the servant was healed the hour that Jesus spoke the words.

    Notice the great faith that the Centurion had. Jesus marveled at his faith. Why would Jesus marvel at his faith if the man had been unable to believe?

    Notice that the man believed before he met Jesus, so the faith preceded the regeneration.

    The Nobleman’s Son (John 4:46-54)
    This story is remarkable similar to the story of the centurion in that it is a “long-distance” miracle. However the details are so different that it is a separate event. The nobleman went a good distance to see Jesus and ask him to heal his son. Jesus said “Go your way; your son lives.” John records, “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off.” The servants of the nobleman meet him later as he travels home and tell him his son is well. They determine that the healing occurred at the same time Jesus pronounced that he was well. John records that the nobleman believed and his entire household.

    Note that the man believed and then the son was healed. The healing results in deeper belief by the nobleman and the salvation of his household.

    The Woman with the Issue of Blood (Matt 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48)
    This woman, who was very weak physically because of her constant bleeding pressed her way through a crowd to get to Jesus just for the chance to touch his garment for she believed this would heal her. She touched it and was healed. This would have gone unnoticed, but Jesus stopped so as to call attention to what she had done. He called her out and encouraged her to tell what she had done, which she did. Then Jesus said “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

    Notice that her faith preceded her healing.

    Notice that Jesus referred to her faith as “her faith”.


    The Caananite Mother (Matt 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30)
    This woman was a Gentile. She followed Jesus and begged him to heal her daughter who was oppressed by a demon. Jesus ignored her and told her he was “sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel“, not to Gentiles. She continued to beseech Jesus. Finally Jesus answered her “O woman great is your faith! Be it done to you as you desire”. Immediately her daughter was healed.

    Notice that the woman gave clear evidence of faith, so much so that Jesus marveled at her faith. THEN he healed the girl. The faith preceded the regeneration.

    Notice also that Jesus refers to the woman’s faith as “her faith”.

    The Epileptic Boy with the Demon (Matt 17:14-19; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42)
    This man brought his demon possessed son to Jesus’ disciples while Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James, and John. Jesus’ disciples were unable to help the boy. The man said to Jesus, “if you can do anything, take pity on the boy and help us!” Jesus replied, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” The man replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Then Jesus cast out the demon and physically regenerated the boy.

    Notice, the faith was weak, but it was there. The man asked for help with his unbelief.

    Notice that the faith was expressed first, then Jesus healed the boy.


    The Daughter of Jairus (Matt 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56)
    Jairus approached Jesus and asked him to come heal his daughter. Before Jesus could get the to house messengers came and reported that the daughter had died. Jairus became greatly discouraged, but Jesus said to him “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she shall be made well.” Then Jesus went to Jairus’ house and raised his daughter from the dead.

    Notice that Jairus was first commanded to believe, then the regeneration of his daughter took place.


    The Raising of Lazarus (John 11)
    After it was reported that Lazarus was dead, Jesus told his disciples, I am glad that I was not there so that you may believe. Jesus met Martha and encouraged her to believe. Then he met Mary and encouraged her to believe. Next Jesus raised Lazarus and it is reported that “many of the Jews who had come to Mary and beheld what he had done, believed in him.

    In this story, Jesus allows the tragedy to occur. In the face of the tragedy, he encourages his followers to believe and, after raising Lazarus, their faith is strengthened and others believe. So the faith is both before and after the regeneration.


    Two Blind Men (Matt 9:27-31)
    Two blind men followed Jesus crying out “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord” they said. Jesus healed them.

    Faith precedes the regeneration of their eyes in this story.

    Blind Bartimaeus (Matt 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43)
    As Jesus passed through Jericho, blind Bartimaeus called out continually after him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd tried to quiet him, but he persisted. Jesus had them bring Bartimaeus over. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartmaeus replied, “Lord, I want to receive my sight!” Jesus replied “Receive your sight, your faith has made you well.” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight.

    Notice that Jesus acknowledged Bartimaeus’ faith before he healed him.

    Notice that Jesus referred to Bartimaeus’ faith as “his” faith.


    The Man Born Blind (John 9)
    This man was healed of his blindness by Jesus, for the glory of God, as Jesus said. After his healing, a great trial ensued as the Pharisees tried to discredit and disprove what had happened. The more they investigated, the more irrefutable the miracle became. Eventually, they excommunicated the man from the synagogue. After this Jesus found the man and approached him about his faith. Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “And who is he Lord that I may believe in Him?” Jesus revealed himself and the man said “Lord, I believe.”

    Here, regeneration occurs first and faith comes later. However, the man was healed before he knew Jesus’ identity. He could not believe on one whom he did not know. Once Jesus revealed himself, the man believed.


    The Man and His Four Friends (Matt 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:18-26)
    In this story, four men bring their lame friend to Jesus for healing. They could not get into the house because of the crowd so they went on top and dug through the ceiling and let the man down in the room before Jesus. Luke says “And seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then after making a point to the Pharisees, Jesus said “Rise, take up your bed, and go home.” The man did so.

    Notice that faith precedes the forgiveness of sins which precedes the physical regeneration in this story.

    Notice that Jesus saw “their” faith.


    These stories deal with Jesus healing physical conditions like blindness, lameness, and death which illustrate man’s lost spiritual condition. In all but one story, faith precedes or is simultaneous with regeneration. In the one exception, the man in question did not believe in Jesus because he did not know who he was at the time he was healed. This is powerful biblical evidence that the norm is that faith precedes regeneration. Comments or feedback?
     
  2. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    1. What really is regeneration as understood by the Calvinist?
    2. Should we understand regeneration as physical healing?
    3. What really is the biblical teaching on regeneration?
    4. Does the case of Lydia correspond to these physical healing narratives?

    Maybe you might want to redefine Regeneration as understood by classic Calvinism in light of Scripture.
     
  3. swaimj

    swaimj
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    You tell me. And since this thread is limited to the gospels, how about giving us an example of it from the gospels.

    To take a dead limb and give it life is regeneration. To take blind eyes and give them sight is regeneration of the eyes. To take a dead person and bring them back to life is regeneration. To take a lame person and restore their body is regeneration. To take deaf ears and give them hearing is regeneration. These acts by Jesus picture spiritual regeneration and, on some occasions, they occurred in conjunction with spiritual regeneration. I bet I could find a whole bunch of sermons by Spurgeon (by the way, has anybody ever told you that you resemble him?) in which he uses the passages I have cited as illustrations of salvation.

    That is a topic that is so broad that no single thread could do it justice. That is why I limited the topic of this thread to regeneration in the gospels. Perhaps you will address the topic...

    The thread on Lydia is still open. I would love to see you address the problem with your position that I pointed out, but please do it on that thread. This thread has a different topic.

    That would be an interesting thread. Perhaps you will start it. It is not the subject here.
     
  4. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    Well, you used a quote from me to begin this thread. The burden of proof is on you, not me.

    You have not defined what regeneration is in classic Calvinism, which you are refuting, yet you use these healing-narratives to show that regeneration precedes faith. I really don't get it.

    When did spiritual regeneration become physical regeneration.

    Spurgeon, by the way, was a Calvinist. Notice that the operative word is illustrations, not the same of what they actually teach in their respect context.

    It is an actual picture of Spurgeon. That is not me. As a pastor/theologian, Spurgeon serves as a heroe for me.
     
  5. swaimj

    swaimj
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    I quoted you to introduce the topic. I have given my evidence in some detail. Care to comment on it!?!

    If it makes no sense to you, then why are you concerned about it and why are you responding? Please, feel free to interact with the topic.

    TCGreek, physical objects and realities are used throughout scripture to explain spiritual truths. A story about a blind man who is given his sight is a story explaining how spiritually blind men can gain spiritual sight. Read the story of the man born blind in John. At the end, the Pharisees ask "Are we then blind?" They understood that the episode that had just occurred was a commentary on their spiritual state. They were not asking if they were physically blind. Come on TC, the kids in the Sunday School classes at your church know that Bible stories make spiritual analogies. How did you miss this?

    I am no expert on Spurgeon and this is off topic, but I'm getting used to you being off topic.

    I know, TC, I know!!! :laugh:
     
  6. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    Because it is part of the topic. As you know, definition of terms is at the heart of any discussion, or we will find ourselves worlds apart.

    I would only accept that when a biblical writer does it under inspiration, or we would have all kinds of eisegesis taking place and allegorizing.


    Again, only when Jesus and a biblical writer makes the connection would I accept it, because they were under direct inspiration of the Spirit of God. In that way, there is a control of interpretation.

    For example, Jesus moved from the physical water in John 4 to spiritual water, from the physical to the spiritual. Such method of teaching was common among the rabbis and for Jesus to do that was understood culturally.

    But I would not accept it to push a theology when it is not there. You are grasping at straws. What you are avowing is not there in these healing-narratives.

    You got me on that one.:thumbs:
     
  7. swaimj

    swaimj
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    The pattern is clear over and over again in these stories. Faith precedes regeneration. Oh well, I don't expect to convince you and that's OK. Others reading the thread can evaluate the arguments and draw their own conclusion. Ultimately, none of us can come to the truth in these matters unless God illuminates our minds and shows us. BTW, I hope I have not spoken to you harshly today. I have re-read my posts and I don't think I have. I have no personal hard feelings toward you and I do count you as my brother in Christ.

    It is not allegorizing to use the images of the blind, the lame, the deaf, the dead to illustrate a spiritual condition. Certainly calvinists use the image of physical death and apply that analogy to spiritual death all the time. If you denied the use of the analogy of death applied to the spiritual realm calvinism would not exist!

    Also, we cannot know anything about the spiritual realm apart from such human analogies anyway. The spiritual realm is beyond the grasp of men. We cannot detect it with our five senses, therefore it is beyond us. All explanations of the spiritual rely on physical analogies. This is the only way we can comprehend them and even then our comprehension is limited.

    Finally, in at least two of the stories the analogy I am making is made in the story itself by the biblical writer. In fact, Jesus himself explains that he is healing the lame man dropped through the roof precisely because he is making the claim to forgive sin; a claim that cannot be physically verified. Thus he heals the lame man to verify in the physical realm the claim he is making in the spiritual realm. Read the story. That is Jesus' own explanation.

    Again, blindness, deafness, deadness, and lameness are used repeatedly in the New Testament as analogies to explain the state of the lost. I am not making anything up. You are ignoring the biblical material that deals with this matter because you are convinced of the calvinistic system of logic. You are exhibit A in the evidence that calvinists are driven by a system of philisophical logic rather than by the simple statements of scripture.

    With that I will probably be off the board for a while. I was off work to day by have an 11-hour shift tomorrow. Gotta go see if I can sell some Subarus! :thumbs:
     
  8. christianyouth

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    Rule for Biblical interpretation : Always allow the clear and explicit to interpret the vague and implicit. These stories of Jesus healing the blind could be interpreted two ways. The first way is that they are just miracles that were well accepted and recorded to substantiate the claims of Jesus' diety, and the second is that they are somehow 'spiritual analogies'. If we go with the second, good luck with trying to discern what spiritual lessons they are teaching!

    We could look at the parable of the 10 lepers who were healed, and yet only one returned, and we could use that to support our modern evangelistic results. You know, 9/10 back sliders? We could say, "See, Jesus is teaching that although 10 were saved, only one continued in the faith!" We should not do that.

    Usually when Jesus is speaking on a spiritual truth, he actually tells his disciples. "Hearken, Behold, a sower went out to sow.." Then he explains it. The parables, for example, those were stories specifically designed to teach spiritual truths. But these miracles are just historical narrative, a recording of events. While you put a lot of time into that post, I'm not sure that it actually proves that Faith proceeds Regeneration in the Gospels.
     
  9. swaimj

    swaimj
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    Christianyouth,
    A question for you: Do you ever sing the song Amazing Grace in your church?
     
  10. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    I will only be convinced from what the Scriptures teach and not from the grid you are imposing on it. Your argument is: Because these people were healed physically through faith, we have clear examples that faith precedes regeneration. Again, I do not accept this interpretation, unless it is made by Jesus or one of the NT writers. Where do we stop with is type of interpretation.



    Calvinists use death as an analogy because the Scriptures clearly allows it: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet.1:3, ESV, emphasis mine).

    1. A dead person does not cause his own rebirth. God causes it.

    2. By the way, how were those people raised from the dead able to exercise faith when they were clearly physically dead.


    Again, I would only accept those text as sufficient data that faith precedes regeneration if Jesus or a NT writer does so. I will not accept any arbitrary imposition, unless the text allows it.[/QUOTE]

    Hey, I hope you sold some Subarus, because this debating thing is not working out for you.:laugh:
     
    #10 TCGreek, Jul 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2007
  11. swaimj

    swaimj
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    I'm still at work but it is raining so not many customers will be in today, I predict. I've sold lots of Subarus in the last five years, but, in the last five years I've never converted a single calvinist! Oh well, when the seed falls into fallow ground....:wavey:

    Lazarus was a believer before he died in that gospel account. He, Mary, and Martha were all believers and faithful followers of Jesus. All believers have hope of the physical resurrection, TC. In fact, that really bolsters my argument. Jesus miracles were evidence of his deity as christianyouth has said, they also provide a spiritual picture of regeneration by faith, and they point forward to the culmination of history when Jesus comes in his fullness and all things even in the physical world are made new. So the faith of the people in these stories leads to immediate physical regeneration, immediate spiritual regeneration, and ultimate physical and spiritual regeneration. Wow! The case for what I am saying is even stronger than I had considered!
     

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