Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Imagine being in a room that is completely dark. You can't even see your hand in front of your face. You stumble around the room, banging into walls and tripping over furniture. You have no idea where the light switch is or if there is even one in the room at all. You're trapped in total darkness.

Suddenly...*CLICK*...someone flips on the light switch and you can see.

Now, it's true that you were able to see immediately when the lights came on. But which came first, your ability to see or the flipping of the light switch?


Anonymous said...

Parallel question, "Can a dead man do anything?" When Paul says that we were "dead in our trespasses" (Eph. 2:5) how dead were we? Were we "dead" in that we were separated from God, or were we really "dead" dead -- could not respond to God's grace whatsoever? Christians shall not be in one accord in the answer to this question until Christ comes, but the older I get, and the longer I observe, the more I believe that only God "turning on the light" can explain an individual's response to God's grace.

He regenerates THEN we believe.

Bill T.
St. Louis, MO

Lee Shelton said...

True. It's like a dead heart being shocked to life. The result is virtually instantaneous, but the shock still precedes the heartbeat.

Kevin Williams said...

Does Regeneration precede faith? I preached on this on Sunday and it does in my Bible.

Anonymous said...

Ephesians 2:5 and 1 Peter 3:18 explain this clearly! I think most folks in the Arminian camp get hung up on whether man is TOTALLY depraved, to which Peter and Paul would respond- you were DEAD! Thanks for the post!

Rustin J. Umstattd said...

I am not sure that either Ephesians 2:5 or 1 Peter 3:18 make the point you are wishing to make. In the ephesians passage, Paul says we are saved by grace, but because he leaves off faith here, we are not justified in concluding that the overwhelming evidence that we are saved by grace through faith is not operative. the 1 Peter does not speak to the issue at all as far as i can see. Also, the other comments here have offered no Biblical rationale for your position. All that has been offered is an adherence to a system that demands regeneration before faith. It would be helpful to have a Biblically based reason for this position instead of a nice analogy about light switches.

Lee Shelton said...

Rustin, take a look at Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 11:19-20, Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 1:12-13, John 6:63, James 1:18, and 1 John 5:1. All are examples of God acting first. You may also want to check out the explanation of the ordo salutis.

No one is saying there is any time lag between regeneration and faith. Regeneration preceding faith is a logical order, not necessarily a chronological one. When we are regenerated, out belief is instantaneous, just as light floods a room the instant someone flips on the switch.

Having been regenerated, we believe (i.e. repent and have faith). Christ does the work, but the belief is ours. He doesn't believe for us.

Rustin J. Umstattd said...

According to Deut. 30:1 the person must call to mind the things God has told them and then he would recall them to the land and circumcise their hearts.

Jer. 24:7 says God will give a good heart, but that in it self does not address the issue of regeneration and faith. It only addresses the issue of what takes place in regeneraiton.

The same issue applies to Ezek. 11.

Likewise, the verses in John do not speak to the issue of faith and regeneration. I agree that God works on our dead hearts, but this is done in the effectual call, not in regeneration. While there is a logical order to putting regeneration first, it is not the Biblical order. We repent and believe and then we are born again, regenerated. Our ability to repent and believe comes from the Spirit, on this we are agreed, but that ability to respond is not regeneration. Regeneration is the result of our repentance and faith.

I am fully aware of the ordo salutis of Calvin, but I humbly submit that it is a order that is based upon logic and not Scripture. The issue here is not over whether people are totally depraved, they are, but over how we are going to employ the Biblical terms. Regeneration is the result, not the cause of faith.

Will L. said...

If regeneration precedes faith then
why would we need faith? Granted that they both come instantaneously at conversion, but when the Philippian jailer asked Paul, "What must I do to be saved," Paul responded: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" Acts 16:31.
John 3:16 is very clear
"Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Acts 17:30 commands us to believe; "But now (God) commandeth all men to repent." Why would God command us to repent if we could not?
Read John 1:12 and see for yourself: "To those who believed in His name he gave the right to become children of God."
Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon, "The Warrant of Faith" said "If I am to preach the faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is unnecessary and rediculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerated.Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed. Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine.
Jesus called upon lost sinners to repent and believe the gospel message.
I am not a pastor but I am a Bible teacher and I teach my class that what Jesus asks us to do we must do, and we must instruct others to do it also.
Will Longenecker

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