What is first? Life or Faith?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Regeneration is the initial experiential act of sanctification which has to do with the spiritual CONDITION of your own PERSON.

    Justification is the LEGAL POSITION you have before God in regard to the CONDITION and PERSON of Christ.

    Don't confuse the two! One has to do with your actual condition whereas the other has to do with your legal position.

    Your actual spiritual condition is that you are spirtually "dead" in tresspasses and sins. That is why your person needs regeneration which is being spiritually "quickened."

    While dead in sin as your actual spiritual condition, your legal position before God is condemnation to the PENALTY of death.

    Don't confuse the two! Your spiritual state of death is not one and the same as your legal penalty of death.

    Regeneration changes your actual spiritual state from "dead" to "quickened."

    Justification changes your LEGAL POSITION from the penalty of death to the decree of EVERLASTING LIFE.

    Don't confuse the two. Your actual spiritual state of being "quickened" is not your legal position of eternal life.

    Faith in the gospel produces justification in a legal change from the penalty of death to the decree of eternal life based upon the actual condition of the Person of Jesus Christ before the Law in your position.

    Regeneration by the Spirit produces spiritual life in the creation of a believing heart or new heart.

    Don't confuse the two. Spiritual life by regeneration logically precedes judicial life by faith in the gospel.

    However, there is no such thing as an regenerated unbeliever any more than there is such a thing as a unregenerated believer. Regeneration and faith occur simultaneously in a cause and consequence logical relationship. Regeneration is the cause and conversion is the consequence. Regeneration produces a BELIEVING HEART and it is with that new covenant heart man believeth unto righteousness - Ezek. 36:26-27

    If you learn the difference between regeneration and justification, between your own person and your legal condition, between spiritual life versus judicial life then the foolish argument that faith precedes spiritual life is completely exposed as error. and you won't be caught up in the endless debate between Calvinism and Arminism
     
  2. Darrell C

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    I agree with this in large part, yet it may not clarify for those who have fallen into the Calvinist/Arminian debate how exactly one spiritually dead and separated from God comes to place faith in Christ. What leads to regeneration and justification.

    What would tell them?


    God bless.
     
  3. Deacon

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    I'm troubled by the last sentence.

    What exactly was Jesus saying that Nicodemus needed to do in John 3?
    The answer is believe.

    John's gospel was written to encourage people to believe.

    Rob
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    Rob, what did Jesus tell Nicodemus that that the Spirit of God needed to do to him (Jn. 3:3-11) previous to telling him what he needed to do (Jn. 3:15-16)?
     
  5. The Biblicist

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    preaching of the gospel and Worldly sorrow precedes regeneration (2 Cor. 7:10). Worldly sorrow is the natural conviction due to conscience in conflict with God's Word. It is regeneration that transforms worldly sorrow into godly sorrow or true repentance (conversion). Repentance is the human experience of regeneration. God changes us (regeneration) and we change (repentance). Repentance is a change of mind from unbelief to belief. A change of affections from hating the light to loving the light. A change of will from resistance to submission.
     
  6. Darrell C

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    What Kingdom was the Lord referring to?

    Would Nicodemus have been privy to that which was kept secret from the foundations of the world? Or would Nicodemus have understood the Lord to speak of the Kingdom prophesied, which the Disciples believed would appear through Christ?

    Did Peter understand the spiritual Kingdom the Lord would establish when he took up the sword to prevent Christ from dying?

    Does the Lord identify Peter's intentions here...


    John 18:10-12

    King James Version (KJV)

    10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.

    11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

    12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,



    ...?

    God bless.
     
  7. Darrell C

    Darrell C
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    So we hear the Gospel and repent and then are regenerated? It begins with worldly sorrow which the Lord changes to godly sorrow?

    Repentance is conversion? Worldly sorrow leads...to salvation?

    God bless.
     
  8. The Biblicist

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    Repentance is the experiential side of regeneration. Regeneration is the cause and repentance is the consequence. Prior to Regeneration there is exposure to the Law of God which pricks the conscience where natural conviction occurs. At God's appointed time he empowers the gospel to be his creative word whereby INSIDE you he creates a new believing heart or regeneration which is manifested by repentance.
     
  9. The Biblicist

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    I believe he was referring to the present spiritual kingdom that eventually is manifested into a physical kingdom on earth.
     
  10. Darrell C

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    Not just that, but we see the new birth result in a number of experiential changes, repentance being only one aspect of it (and repentance is maintained within our walk, meaning there are times when repentance is necessary when we fail. Not salvific, but practical). We also experience relief, joy, et cetera. The new heart and new spirit impacts every aspect of our experience.


    And this lends itself to a Calvinistic view by which those that embrace free will continue the debate. If we want to see it resolved in the Body, then we must go beyond the typical view and the Word of God affords us just that.

    When the Comforter ministers to the unbelieving, He enlightens them to truth. It is not unusual for this Ministry to take time, rather than an immediate response, right? I know for myself I believed the truth long before I turned to Christ in faith. I understood I was a sinner that was headed for Hell. I sorrowed over my sin. I did not attain to that perspective through anything in my own ability, simply acknowledged what God showed me.

    But I did not place my faith in Christ immediately.

    Therefore I would suggest regeneration is the result of first the Ministry of the Comforter (Who showed me my condition, which previously I was unaware of), secondly the acknowledgement of truth, and third turning to Christ in faith.

    Again, it has nothing to do with ability that Scripture acknowledges that I did not have. It is a process of understanding, believing, repenting, and then faith.

    To put this ministry in perspective, many will go through the same process, believe the truth they are shown...and reject it. A non-response is still rejection.

    I agree. That has been the case from the beginning. Men respond to the revelation provided by God and the result depends upon the response.

    Again the three primary means of revelation are the internal witness we are born with, Creation, and direct revelation. I would suggest that when Christ stated "I will send another Comforter" that implies an existing "comforter." Prior to Christ's earthly Ministry there was the Word of God which was the primary comforter, which prophesied Christ the Comforter, Who sent "another" Comforter, the Spirit of God with the specific ministry of enlightening men to the Gospel...which was not revealed to men prior to His Coming.

    But exposure to the Word of God apart from the enlightening Ministry of the Comforter does not allow natural men to understand the spiritual things of God, the Gospel being at the very top of the list.

    A natural man can pick up a Bible and be saved but that result will be due to the Spirit of God making the truth known.

    Regeneration is possibly best defined here:


    Ezekiel 36:24-27

    King James Version (KJV)

    24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

    25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

    26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

    27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.



    Regeneration results in the new creature: cleansed, new heart, new spirit, and the indwelling of God.

    A friend of mine is fond of saying "Regeneration is not the indwelling," which is true enough, however...we cannot separate the two. Regeneration and all that it implies (the new creature) is the result of the reconciliation of man and God. It is because God indwells us that we are made new, something we were not before. And what we were not before was in union with God, we were separated from Him and incapable of understanding that.

    One passage to consider for now:


    Hebrews 6:4-6

    King James Version (KJV)

    4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

    5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

    6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.



    The assumption most will make about this passage (which begins in Ch.5 and could be bracketed at v.12) is that in view are born again believers, because it is forgotten that the Comforter came to minister to...unbelievers. To glorify Christ.

    The Heavenly Gift is the Work of Christ in it's totality, and unbelievers taste of this gift when they are ministered to by the Comforter. Look at this statement as referring to the same thing, rather than a list of disassociated aspects of salvation:


    4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

    5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,


    Can we ascribe all of this to one Ministry? I think we can. Because this is exactly what the Comforter does: enlightens (which implies the "tasting" and "partaking"...and keep in mind this is said of the "Gift," not salvation), and the "tasting" of the Word of God refers to the truth being revealed to the natural man. The "powers" would, in the historical context, look back to the many miracles witnessed by those in view, which if you back up to ch.5 has as a focus those associated with the Lord though severely rebuked for their ignorance of the Lord and the Word of God. They should have been teachers but were in need of being taught again basic principles which were found in the Word of God, again in the historical context meaning the Hebrew Scriptures, not the New Testament. While the New Testament was being circulated among the Body, the principles of Christ in view are that which was foundational contrasted with that which was complete, meaning that which was being revealed to men at the time.

    The key to putting the Calvinist/Arminian debate to rest is to stress the necessity of the Comforter's Ministry to the natural man in order that he might understand the spiritual things of God, namely...the Gospel.


    God bless.
     
  11. Darrell C

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    Do the foundational principles of the Word of God describe this Kingdom. You and I both know this was the result of the Work of Christ, but the question remains, was this Kingdom revealed to them?

    Just as a suggestion I would ask you to consider the teachings of Christ within His earthly ministry in light of the possibility that this Kingdom was not revealed before Pentecost. Can we look at Christ's teachings and consider the revelation of the Mysteries revealed through the Spirit not to be in view, and the Lord ministering specifically to Israel with a base of Scriptural Prophecy in view. Twice He stated He was come unto the Lost Sheep of Israel...only (another sola, if you will, lol).

    Consider:


    Luke 19:12-15

    King James Version (KJV)

    12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

    13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

    14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

    15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.


    Note the Nobleman went into a far Country to receive a Kingdom. When is the Kingdom established for those left behind? It is not established until...His Return. Clearly Christ is in view.

    So in regards to Nicodemus and his understanding, again just as a suggestion, consider that the Kingdom in view is not the Spiritual Reign of Christ but the actual Kingdom. This is the Kingdom which the disciples went out to preach (enabled by the Holy Spirit) which they were commanded...


    Matthew 10:5-7

    King James Version (KJV)

    5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

    6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.



    To mistake the "gospel" they preached as the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which specific revelation of the Atoning/Reconciliatory Work of Christ is in view is a mistake, in my view.

    Just give it some thought, and again, consider Christ's teaching in light of that.


    God bless.
     
  12. DHK

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    He told him he must be born again.
    He told him how to be born again in the simple language of verses 14-16:

    Joh 3:14-16
    (14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
    (15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
    (16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Those who looked in faith, believed and were healed.
    Those who in faith, believe in Christ will be saved.
    So it was with Nicodemus. He had to look to Christ and believe, not only Him, but the words that he was telling him.

    The only kingdom a Jew was thinking about at that time would be an earthly kingdom which Jesus answered him. Even on the day of His ascension the disciples asked Jesus about Him establishing His Kingdom. A Jew would have no thought of a "spiritual kingdom" this early on his Jesus ministry.
    Nicodemus was a rabbi who knew the OT scriptures well. There are dozens of Scriptures that speak of a literal kingdom that God will establish for His people, the Jews.
    Nicodemus had to believe by faith what Jesus was telling him.

    So it is with every one of us. The gospel comes first. Faith comes second. And then regeneration and justification. Regeneration and justification all happen simultaneously. They cannot, for all intents and purposes be separated. However, the gospel and faith can be separated from the latter.

    Repentance and regeneration do not go together; rather repentance and faith go together. Repentance is the flip side of faith.
    Repentance is a change of mind with respect to one's attitude toward God.
    At one time man lived in rebellion to God. Then he repents. He changes his attitude toward God. Instead of rebellion or living in a state of rebellion he now, by faith, lives in a state of submission to God.
    This happens when by faith he trusts Christ as His Savior. The Holy Spirit now indwells him and he wouldn't want to live any other way. His live is changed. The two (repentance and faith) go together. When one comes to Christ by faith he repents. They are two aspects of the same thing or two sides of the same coin which result in change or regeneration.

    Justification/conversion/salvation/sanctification, etc. all take place at the same time. They are all simultaneous. It is an event, not a process.

    Many Calvinist will take the example of Cornelius and say it is possible for one to be regenerated four days before salvation. This is ridiculous. It is all one event. We don't have regenerated but unsaved individuals running around.
    The gospel and faith are necessary to salvation.

    1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
     
  13. The Biblicist

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    Be careful not to merge initial complete sanctification or regeneration with progressive sanctification. We do not continue in gospel repentance, as that is a one time initial action that occurred in the regenerate heart. Repentance toward later sins are not to be confused with regenerative gospel repentance.


    When the Comforter ministers to the unbelieving, He enlightens them to truth.[/QUOTE]

    The ministry of the Spirit as the Comforter is to God's elect period. Prior to regeneration both elect and non-elect undergo natural enlightenment by and exposure to the Law of God with its interaction with conscience. True repentance occurs at the precise point of regeneration. Gospel repentance is not a prolonged feeling, experience or action, but is the instantaneous transaction or change of the intellect from unbelief to belief as there is no middle stage. It is the instantaneous change from resistance to submission as there is no middle stage. It is the instantaneous change from love of sin to love of light there is no middle stage. That instantaneous change is regeneration and the experience is gospel conversion.

    What you FELT and EXPERIENCED as conviction prior to that instantaneous change was NATURAL conviction that varies with sensitivity of conscience being exposed to light. This MISERABLE experience can continue over a long period of time in different degrees of intensity but it is not to be confused with the gospel repentance wrought by instantaneous regeneration. Regeneration is always conveyed by perfect and Aorist tense verbs as a completed punctiliar action.
     
  14. The Biblicist

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    Where in verses 14-16 does he every say "this is how" to be born again? He says no such thing. Indeed, he says the very opposite in verses 17-21 and concludes that anyone who does COME (believe in) the light is merely evidence of a prior work "wrought in God" = new birth.


    You are confusing regenerative life with life by justification. Regenerative life has to do with changing your SPIRITUAL condition from "dead in sins" to being spiritually "quickened" (made alive spiritually). Life by justification is the reversal of your LEGAL POSITION from the PENALTY of EVERLASTING DEATH to the reverse of that judgement or declaration of ETERNAL LIFE.

    Think about it. The lost unregenerate SPIRITUAL STATE is not the consequence but the cause for Judicial condemnation to eternal death is it not. You would never say that you are condemned in order to become spiritually dead because you were born spiritually dead as your spiritual condition and then the manifestation of sin brings you under the legal condemnation and penalty of death by the Law.

    Likewise, the justification by faith for the change from legal condemnation with the legal penalty of eternal death is due to the spiritual change from the condition of spiritual death to spiritual life. Legal life is the manifestation of spiritual life, as spiritual life is the cause and legal life the consequence but simultaneous action in regard to time.



    Jesus clearly taught a PRESENT SPIRITUAL kingdom within a present professing kingdom throughout the parables on the kingdom. In the Sermon on the Mount the first beattidues have to do with what you "ARE" not what you do. The concluding beattitudes are consequences of what you "ARE" rather than doing such things to become what you ARE NOT! Think about it. Matthew 12-13 clearly teach a present spiritual kingdom or rule of God within man where the tree must first be made good BEFORE the fruit can be good. The "strong man" or "evil spirit" must first be bound and cast out before good can be done. The heart must first be made good before it can do good. One must first have a "good" heart (only one soil was "good") or else they cannot be the "good seed". If you think the new birth or in the INTERNAL RULE of God did not exist at this time then why tell Nicodemus that he must be born again and what is born again is not PHYSICAL but SPIRTUAL????





    Wrong! Here is the right way of saying it "so it is with every true child of God. The gospel comes first EXTERNALLY. The internal CREATIVE WORK of God produces a believing heart second, which is manifested by a confession of faith.



    Wrong again! For example, think through what I am about to explain to you. To "repent" literally means a "change of mind." The intellect is in unbelief and thus the change is to belief. The affections are in love with sin and hate the light, therefore, repentance is a change of affections from love of sin to love of light. The will is in resistance and thus repentance is a change of will from resistance to submission. YOU do not affect that change, as this is a completely internal change by the power of God. Repentance is merely the simulataneous experience as there is no middle ground between unbelief and belief, or resistance and submission or love of darkness and love of light. This is the act of God whereby one is "CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS" and YOU cannot create anything and yet you cannot be "IN CHRIST" without faith can you? Can you? Hence, faith is part and parcel consequence of that CREATIVE work of God.
     
  15. Darrell C

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    Positional Sanctification was not in view, but repentance and the fact that believers will continue to repent of their sin even after salvation.

    Not sure I would agree with the term "Gospel repentance." What is the basis for this term?


    Not at all:


    John 16:7-9

    King James Version (KJV)

    7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

    8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

    9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;



    This assures us that the Comforter ministers to the unbelieving.

    And it is just a given that those who are saved are the Elect.


    So you take an Arminian view that men have the ability to comprehend the spiritual things of God?


    One is not regenerated apart from repentance, thus it must precede regeneration.

    Again, repentance does not equate to regeneration.

    We can call it "true repentance" when the result is regeneration but that does not preclude repentance among unbelievers which results from the Comforter's Ministry.

    This implies no participation of the one repenting which negates the necessity of the Gospel itself. While we do not negate the truth that men are born without ability to comprehend the spiritual things of God, we do not negate the teaching that God enlightens natural men that they might believe, repent, and turn to Christ in faith.

    One can believe...and not be saved.

    One can repent...and not be saved.

    One can do both and resist the Holy Spirit.

    It is only when one believes that which is shown them, repents and turns to Christ in faith that they are born again.


    And for those who do not submit and continue to resist? This is not a middle ground between those who are natural and have not come under conviction?


    So when you were born again you immediately ended all sin? Even for the believer there is a middle ground, that is why we have a Doctrine of Progressive Sanctification.

    Progressive Sanctification involves both the efforts of God and the believer. The believer is going through a continual process of growth whereby the former can be helped or hindered by the latter.


    It is true regeneration is instantaneous but we have to separate the individual aspects as well.

    To deny the Comforter's Ministry to the World (unbelieving) denies something very basic in Scripture. No natural man, of his own free will or ability...seeks after God. They are blind to their condition and incapable of repentance...because they do not have an eternal perspective of sin and it's consequence.


    This implies an Arminian view, almost. It points to the ability of men to do that which Scripture states they cannot. It implies that within our own ability we hear, comprehend, and believe the Gospel.

    It neglects the Ministry of the Comforter.


    So one does not truly repent until after regeneration?

    Can one be born again apart from repentance? Or be born again with "natural repentance?"


    That does not change the issues that have to be examined.

    The question remains "How is one born again, is this something he chooses, or something God does for him."

    We know that the natural man does not understand his condition, thus he will not choose salvation in Christ.

    Thus is it written, "We love Him because He first loved us."

    Before we became aware of God He was aware of us, and has made Himself known to us that we might be saved.


    God bless.
     
  16. The Biblicist

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    You are confusing progressive justification which has to do with SINS with initial justification justification which has to do with the gospel. The latter is a completed action whereas the former is never completed until glorification.

    "repent and believe the gospel"???








    The "world" here refers to the Gentiles or all nations, races, genders and classes of people as in Romans 11:11 or the ministry to the elect of all tribes, nations, genders and classes.


    Of course any rational human being can understand sentences, grammar and statements in the bible. The Bible does not deny mental comprehension of the Word of God or spiritual things. I know lost people who know the bible and theology better than many saved people. What 1 Corinthians 2:14 refers to is to the framework of thinking. For example, take a 500 peice puzzle. Anyone can see and understand that a puzzle peice is a puzzle piece, its color, size, shape. However, unless they have a framework for placing that puzzel peice it makes no sense to them. That is why most first find the corner peices and straight edged peices in order to provide a framework to make sense of that peice. Lost people do not have a spiritual framework to fit spiritual things into their thinking so they make sense to them. They understand the grammar, words, sentence struture and what is being said, they just don't have a spiritual framework for it to make sense to their own experience.




    The term "repent" translates a greek term that means "change of mind." The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said "O God, turn us and we shall be turned." God is doing the turning but if He is we are turning and experiencing it.

    The intellect of the lost man is in a state of unbelief and needs to be changed to belief - there is no middle stage between unbelief and belief - you are either one or the other. Therefore, the CHANGE is instantaneous.

    The affections of the lost man are in a state of enmity against God, love sin, hate light and must be CHANGED to love light and hate darkness. There is no middle twilight zone, you are either one or the others.

    The will of the lost man is in a state of rebellion against God and is not subject to the Law of God, the gospel of God and neither indeed can be and must be CHANGED to submission. There is no middle ground, you are either in rebellion or in submission.

    Regeneration is the CHANGE as it removes the OLD heart and gives you a NEW heart that is believing, is submissive, is loving light. Your experience of that change is called repentance.
     
  17. robustheologian

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    I'm glad you said that regeneration LOGICALLY precedes faith. People get thrown off when someone says regeneration comes before faith to think that we're talking about CHRONOLOGICALLY (even though scripture doesn't eliminate that from being a possibility.

    Well said. Spiritual life gives us the right to eternal life. :thumbs:
     
  18. The Biblicist

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    Nice to make your acquaintence!:applause:
     
  19. robustheologian

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    Same here. :wavey:
     
  20. Jerome

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    "Regeneration must precede faith. This, though assumed as a certain fact, may be justly doubted: for the page of inspiration does not warrant our supposing, that any one is born of God, before he believes in Jesus Christ" —Abraham Booth, "Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners"
     

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