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Monotheistic New-Birth & Man's Salvation Print E-mail
Written by Oshea Davis   
Friday, 22 April 2011

Basic Definition of Monotheistic Regeneration:

          In the broadest sense I mean by this that the work of God in the salvation of man is (BY) His mighty working, and this without any contribution of man. Man being affected by God's working does "do" and "will."  See, God acts upon man, gives to man, imparts to man with mighty mercy and divine power in the work of salvation.  Man in the role of salvation only receives gifts from God and is acted upon by God in power.  The reason I have highlighted the word "by" is to demonstrate this: Salvation is by God because it is through His power and working with no thanks to man who is saved by God.  For example, it is irrational to say the universe came into being (by) chance so & so years ago, because chance does not exist nor does it have power therefore, it cannot affect metaphysical reality in any way.  The universe came into being (by) something that has great power and that actually exists.

         Man is said to have no "help" in himself: Psalm 146:3, "Do not put your trust in a son of man, in whom there is no help."  Man is proclaimed by the Scriptures to be "lost", to be "darkness" itself and even spiritually "dead" so much so that man "cannot" submit to God. Furthermore, in regard to man's sin man's outlook of coming back into a friendly relationship to God is as impossible as paying back a debt that is to great and as impossible as a camel fitting through the eye of a needle. This is why the Scriptures label persons who believe they have self-confident as fools for, Proverbs 14:16, A fool is self-confident."  Likewise the Scriptures label those who are safe and saved as not self-confident but God confident: Proverbs 29:25, "Whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe."

       I have written more about this in my book, The Parable of Monergism, but wish to give this summary.  

       "Ephesians 2:1 we discover that "you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." See, in Ezekiel 36-37 it shows us how it looks for a spiritual dead person to suddenly have the Spirit blow on them to then come to life!  Jesus also talks about the Spirit blowing in on spiritual dead people like the wind.  Jesus calls this event "born-again."  Both examples, whether it be dry bones coming to life or the act of birth, both show the miracle of having spiritual life again!  Also, both show how this event is entirely by God's choice and power and not man's choice and working.   God is doing all the hard work, because He loved us!

Did the dry bones ask to come to life; of course not their dead!  Does a baby ask to come into existence and to be born?

        Consider again John 3:3, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  The Greek word for "Kingdom" means a king's royal sovereignty or power over his lands.  Therefore, when king Jesus says you cannot see the "kingdom of God" means that you cannot see what the King (God), the king's Son (Jesus) or the King's decree (the gospel) are, because they are part of the king's kingdom or sovereign rule.  You, the sinner, are not in this Kingdom, and thus, do not know of its King, land or decrees.  John 18:36, "Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world."  Jesus' Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom in Heaven, and although He was in physical form on earth, no human can truly see or understand Him or His message unless they are first a member of His spiritual Kingdom.

        John 3:3, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  The truth of God and of His Kingdom (Including all that is in it: His Son, His beauty and even His grace in gospel) are blinded to you, until you are born again.  The truth is this, how can you repent of your sins to a God who you cannot even see?  The oblivious fact is you do not.  Until you are regenerated or born-again of the Spirit, then of course you cannot see the Kingdom of God and His Son, let alone believe or repent to Him.  This is why Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:25, "If God perhaps will grants them Repentance."  In other words, if God does not choose to blow the wind of His Spirit to you and born you again in Spiritual life, then you cannot even see His Kingdom let alone repent and have faith.  See, it is precisely because we are sinful and unable to change that we need Jesus Christ to save us.  This causing a person to be "born-again" is the act of God -if you would in the technical sense- invading a person, because the sinful person did not asked to be born-again so that they believe and so be lavished with God's infinite love. 

        Here we have a valley of very dry bones of persons died long ago.  God then commanded through the prophet Ezekiel for the dry bones to come to life.  When the bones come together flesh formed on them and finally God puts the breath of life back into them(ver.1-10).  Next God teaches Ezekiel the lesson or doctrine to be learned from this miraculous stunt God pulled.  Ezekiel 37:11-14, then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel... Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your grave... Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your grave... I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD."   

        God teaches us that our salvation is one, which is as marvelous as dead men,  as dry bones, coming to life! 

        See, God could not ask them, because they are dead (dead in sin).  John 3 stated that only a person born of the Spirit has the ability to even see the reality and beauty of His kingdom.  Therefore, God cannot ask a natural man, lost in sin, if they would like to come into His kingdom, because they are dead to its reality and beauty.  They are dead even to understand what it means.  This is one reason why the natural man hates the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the cross pronounces how all men are utter sinful failures, morons and losers.  The natural man is such a failure that he or she cannot even see or understand God!  What a verdict!

        God created the children of His love, well, out of His love.  But sin drastically alienated us from our God and Father.  We were so alienated we were called "dead in sins ."  And although we made God angry with us in the truest sense of anger, yet, God looked through His anger, if you would, and choose out of the depth of His moral beauty to save many sinners by His Son's suffering.  Therefore, just like the lover who brought back his friend from the grave without their permission so is everyone who is born of the Holy Spirit and saved.  And also like the true lovers the person who is brought back to life is always happy that the other took the liberty to bring them back to the other's arms of love although they had no choice in the matter, because nothing matters more than to be embraced by their only true love.

        Another example of this would be as the following.  Who in the right mind would be upset if an unknown person freely and legally deposited a million dollars into their bank account?  The person receiving the free money would not say: you stole my free choice, you should have asked before you gave me a gift of a million dollars.  Who would react like that, except an insane person?  Instead, the person would be overjoyed for the gift.  They will say, I will gladly receive a million dollars whenever you would like to give it.  If anonymously giving a person a million dollars you do not think, am I violating a person's choice by not asking them if they want a million dollars?  Instead you will rightfully understand that anybody will be glad to know a million dollars was deposited in their bank account.

        It is the same with God, who without asking a sinner, proceeding to save them from their sin gives them eternal and infinite enjoyment by knowing Him.  God so loved His bride the church that He predestined Her to be with Him in heaven to enjoy infinite pleasure.  What nonsense it is to voice up: why didn't God ask me first if I wanted to enjoy infinite happiness?  My response is: why would He need to?  God, therefore, set out and predestined the children of His love to be with Him in Heaven, and made it infallibly absolute by the binding everlasting covenant He made with His Son, Jesus Christ.  Love never fails!  Jesus never fails!

       This is how God is both able to insure every person who He wants to be saved is saved and at the same time is not manhandling a person to believe in Christ when they don't want to.  We were dead in sin and dead toward God's reality, but God like the valley of dry bones without asking us breaths the "Spirit's" life into us.  Then as the lovers being united the person who is now alive will always embrace their true love -God- for nothing matters more than to be united in true repentance to a Person who is infinitely lovely.  Once our God breaths the Spirit into a person they will always follow with true repentance and faith; it is impossible for them not to do so.  It is impossible not to be alive if you're alive!  It is impossible for a man with sight not to see if he already has sight.  It is impossible for man not to think if he already has a functional brain.  If the Spirit gives you spiritual life then you have faith, the gift is irrevocable, because faith is spiritual life itself!  From the beginning God gave the sinners whom Jesus died for as a Savior, and so He will save them! 

       God is not a failure like we are.  He designs, but He also accomplishes.  He sows, but He also gathers a harvest.  He initiates, but He always sees through.  He plans, but its fulfillment always lay before Him.  He sets sail, and He always finds His harbor of achievement.  He runs the race, but He wins the prize.  He spreads His nets, but success is always the catch of the day.  He named sinners by name and said I will SAVE YOU, and, through His Son's death His net of salvation brings every last one of them home."

 

Every Aspect of Salvation BY God:

        What will be shown here is a brief survey of how all man's salvation is by God in every form.  This is sometimes presented as the Triune work of God in man's salvation.  The (1) Father planned or predestined, the (2) Son accomplished in His death, and the (3) Spirit publically applies the accomplished benefits to the church according to God's sovereign time.  Without going specifically into the acts of the individual acts of the Trinity in this, nonetheless we shall briefly browse through these 3 stages of salvation.

 

        I. Where was man when God the Father and Son entered into the Everlasting Covenant of Grace regarding man's salvation before the world began?  Where was man when the Lamb's book was written with all the names of those who would be in Heaven? NAU Revelation 13:8, "All  who dwell on the earth will worship [the Devil], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." See, God predestined and elected by His eternal decrees who He would save by the Lamb slain and who He leave as vessels of wrath, when man did not exist.  Jesus had all the names for whom He was going to die and intercede for as a High Priest in a book.  Father as Jesus for die for these and Jesus said it was His pleasure to do so.

          Psalm 2:8, 40:7-8, 110:4; Isaiah 49:6.[1]  Herein these passages and many others God the Father and the Son enter into a covenant to save mankind.  God the Father says that Jesus Christ will be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek.  Jesus Christ responds by saying He knows that His Father is not satisfied with the blood of goats and bulls for sin, and therefore, Jesus says it is His pleasure to be the Priest and true sacrifice for the sins of the church.  The Father responds by saying, I except, and not only will You save Israel but many from the gentiles as well, for Your Name will be great.  The Father is so please with His Son's willingness He asks His Son if He wants the Nations as an inheritance and if so they will be all given to Him, and the Son says regarding us, "Here I am and the children whom God has given Me.  In Romans 9 Paul answers who, why and how God chooses: "the older shall server the younger...[for the twins not] yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who call [made His choices]."

          This Covenant of Grace is the first acts of God, Hebrews 9:16-22.  The divine decrees are purely the invisible will or choices of God, but the covenant of the Son and Father is a personal agreement promised from one another that actually happened (before time) and so they are truly the first acts of God regarding our marvelous salvation.  According to this divine treaty the Father has promised to give to His Son all the people He said he would die and intercede for.[2]  This is so because the Father swore Jesus would do this by being a Priest for us.  The role of the High Priest is to shed the blood of the sin offering (the first goat) and then taking its blood into the Holy of Holies, to then intercede for the people to whom the blood was shed for.  For example: the high priest did not pray for Moab or the Philistines, but for only for the Children of Israel, to whom the blood was shed for. God's loving-grace is special and particular and very personal.

 

        II. The Father sends His precious son to earth as the God-man to actually die for the sins committed by all person whose names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life. What Jesus accomplished in His death was 3 basic things for the church: propitiation, expiation and imputed righteousness.

        First. At a definite place and time Jesus Christ was a wrath bearing sacrifice so that He tasted and endured hour after hour of God's hell and wrath instead of those sinners who should have endured it: i.e. propitiation.  Therefore, at a place and time God's finished expelling out all His anger for the persons Jesus endured it for.  By doing this Jesus brings God to man as a reconciler and mediator.  God's wrath toward these persons are gone, and so Jesus reconciles God toward man by being a propitiation.

        Second.  Jesus Christ was an expiation for all the persons He died for.  He was their escape goat.  The sins and sinfulness of the people were transferred to Jesus as He was forced outside the gate as an accursed thing for them.  By doing this Jesus cleanses many sinners by having their sin imputed and translated to Him; on the cross Jesus became the most ugly and hideously sinful person ever to have lived and died.  The churches sin and sinfulness was removed by the death of Jesus Christ.

        Third. Jesus Christ not only had the sins of the sinner imputed to Him and His account but He had His beautiful righteousness imputed to theirs. This makes them worthy to be sons and daughters of God and to be the Bride of Christ.

        All these things were done by Jesus Christ at a definite time and a definite place and accomplished.  This is why the gospel means good "NEWS" because as an event that happened and accomplished something it is reported and told as news to all.  The good news is the Jesus has already finished salvation; Jesus has already died and resurrected from the grave.

         The High Priest, He [1] sacrifices to get the blood, (which is the currency for life), and [2] then goes to the Holy of Holies (the bank) and [3] then intercedes (tells the bank to whose account He wants the money to go.) Now, what I just said was very simplified, but for some I hope it will help you to understand why Jesus did what He did.

        The point to examine is that God does not give us a means so that we might save ourselves later in a choice, but gives us Jesus as a High Priest, who at a definite place and a definite time, did shed His own blood for us and paid it personally to the Father (Hebrews 9:12) and interceded for His elect by name; the names written in the covenant.  Because the covenant is like a last-will so that the Father must do something upon the Son doing something first, it shows beyond all doubt that the death and resurrection of Jesus was an accomplished act and not merely a means.  If the Son pays our life-sentence with the currency of His own blood-telling the Father to whose account it goes to-then the Father is bound by contract to free every last one of them and given them to the Son as an inheritance forever. Isaiah 53:11-12 

        One capable way to analysis this is the manner in which Jesus Christ and the New Testament so often referred to His bloodshed as a payment.  Indeed, Paul even said that the church was "purchased with His own blood."  Jesus taught us to pray that the Father would forgive us of our "debts."  Leviticus 17 shows us that in the blood of the animal is its life so that we are to understand from the very beginning that blood to God is like money, or life-currency.  Then when one adds to this scenario that God the Father and the Son had a previously signed contract then the idea of payment truly becomes clear.  As I said before, God guaranteed something to Jesus if Jesus would pay Him: (not Jesus plus a third party called human choice or whatever) i.e. would die, at a place and time.  The agreement was only between the Father and the Son.  Man was not even in existence when this divine deal was made,\.

          It is because of the above reality that Jesus' death is called the gospel, or good NEWs.  Again, this is so basic.  News is something that has happened.  If Christ's blood-currency was only deposited into my account upon my faith, then the death of Jesus is no longer the gospel, or good NEWs: it is no long news because it has not happened yet, understand? 

         But it gets even clearer when Hebrews 10:14 says, "by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."  See, we were "perfected" pass tense in the mediation of Jesus Christ as our High Priest-at that place and time.  We could not have been "perfected" if the Father did not credited Christ's blood to the elect's accounts, for in the context of the mediation of the High Priest the blood is particularly viewed as life-money and sin as debt.  Therefore, for us to be "perfected" in the context of this passage when referring to Christ as our High Priest it means our accounts are perfected-at that place and time, with infinite righteousness or blood-currency of the Messiah. But it was to the Father who Jesus paid and gave His blood to, therefore, at that place and time, God the Father Himself deposited the infinite righteous-currency of Jesus into all the accounts whom Jesus died and interceded for! Salvation is finished; the receipt has already been printed off. Is it now, my readers, you understand what Jesus accomplished in His death of deaths?

         Therefore, we do not add or contribute to the gospel; rather, this gospel being accomplished (BY) Jesus' death affects all today to whom it was accomplished for!  We do not live the gospel or add to it; it adds, re-creates and affects us![3]

 

        III. Now we will pick up right from the last line of the above paragraph: The gospel being accomplished comes to us, it finds us, it unearths sinful worms of the dirt, it pull sinners from falling into hell, it shines its light in the darkness and discovers many sinners shivering in the cold, it unchains, and upon finding them it effects them by adding to them; it gives and imparts to them, it re-creates them, it cleanses them, it sets their feet upon the rock, it takes hearts of stone and makes them hearts of flesh, and without fail it leads them all safely into the marriage supper of the Lamb!

        This applying of the gospel accomplishments is by almighty Power; this is why the gospel is called the "power of God." But this power has a precious name to all those who have been affected by it: The Holy Spirit.  This is why 1 Peter 1:3 sums up being born-again as "through" the "resurrection of Jesus", for by doing so the verse is saying "though almighty power." Indeed, the act of a person believing in the gospel is accredited to "the exceeding greatness of His power"; the same power that took Jesus out of that lowly grave and into the highest of heights, even to the right hand of the Infinite Existence. Ephesians 1:19-20, "The exceeding greatness of His power [is] toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places."

       By the power of the Spirit a spiritually dead person is made alive at God's pre-appointed times. This is the first gospel accomplishment that is transferred, infused, given, or put into the elect in the public sense.

        Image if Bob was in debt for a hundred million dollars to the bank and I one day showed up at the bank he banks at, without consulting Bob, and anonymously gave the bank teller a hundred million dollars, specifying it to be given to Bob's account.  See, relative to human to human, I predestined Bob's future to be a better one.  I did not ask Bob if he wanted to be saved and predestined to a better future, I did all this on my own choice and initiative.

          See, here's the big idea.  If God without asking me, at a place and time, paid for my own sins and credited His own righteousness to my account and the transaction finished, then of course I've been predestined!   Of course I've been elected!  If, at a definite place and at a definite time, Jesus gave His blood as life-currency for my life and the Father, at that same place and time, (Hebrews 9:12) received this life-currency and put it to my account then of course I have been predestined and elected!  Just like Bob, without my involvement or choice I was predestined to a better future.  And those who did not receive this blood-currency, at that place and time, were predestined to remain the sinners they have been.

          Because Jesus has already paid and the Father already received the payment, the Father will therefore, give to His Son all whom and what He purchased.  If not, then the Father would be ripping of His beloved Son for things already paid for!  It would be the ultimate burn and defraud of all time.  Jesus could not purchase people who would believe Him, but purchased people for the reason that they were so lost and sinful they could not and would not chose Him. Romans 8:7 shows in no unmistakable terms how all people in their sinful state could Not submit or could Not trust God and His law.  Thus, Jesus purchased people who were really so hopelessly enslaved to sin they would have never chosen God for all eternity.   Jesus came to save that which was lost, who needed a physician, who needed to be saved because they were hopeless and bound by sin in biting chains of darkness and cold.

        Jesus in His death purchased for all whom He died for to have Spiritual life, spiritual faith, spiritual cleaned mind, spiritual fruit expressed through the physical, spiritual affections for Him, and a spiritual lead life leading them to Himself.  This is all (By) the Person of the Holy Spirit.  See, even our public expressed goodness is not credited to be (by) us, but (by) the Spirit for they are "Fruit of the Spirit."  Our future bliss in Heaven is accredited to the Holy Spirit or the rivers of life that proceeds from the Father and Son is the precious Spirit Himself that will overflow and be poured into the saints.  The accomplishments of Jesus' death are given securely and irrevocably BY the Holy Spirit in mighty power: irrevocably, because the actual possession and enjoyment of His gospel benefits is what Jesus paid for, and thus, it will be reality; the Father sees to it personally that all what His Son paid for is public reality.

 

 

Regeneration's Definition explained a little More:

        Scripturally the terms of "born-again" or "regeneration" can be somewhat challenging to some because the terms are used slightly different in some passages. These two basic meanings are (1) used specifically to describe the causality and logical order of being made spiritually alive so that faith and conversion is accomplished.  (2) Used as a general term for public and full meaning of conversion and salvation.[4]

          I. I would assume the most famous passage concerning new-birth is Jesus Christ's words to Nicodemus when He says: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see (understand or perceive) the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." 

          Here we see the very specific truth being taught by Jesus Christ: You are not spiritual alive, but My Father, Myself and My gospel are of a Spiritual world, therefore, if you are to see, believe, understand and enter into the Kingdom of God you "must" be born spiritually of the Holy Spirit: being physically born as a Jew or in a good family in a foreign land is of no help in aiding you to see, believe and enter into a Spiritual kingdom when you are devoid of Spiritual life.  You must be born-again of the Spirit!

          Here Jesus is not talking about the full meaning of conversion but only of the logical necessity of being Spiritually alive so that one can enter into full conversion and salvation of repentance, faith, and love to Jesus Christ.  See, how can one repent, have faith in and love something they cannot understand: they don't.  The word for "see" in John 3:3 means to perceive or understand.

          II. For the second meaning consider the following passages. Titus 3:4-5, "He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 18:3, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children (i.e. trust as a born-again spiritual child), you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:28, "In the regeneration (or renewal or re-creation of all things), when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones."

          In Titus regeneration or born-again is synonymous with being "saved" in the broads sense.  Then Jesus also puts being born-again and conversion in a similar broad light, then lastly Jesus uses this term to refer to the total salvation of the universe in His second coming.

 

          For those of simple minds and unaccustomed to pressing hard into the kingdom of God with belief and study of His words might be perplexed by such things. The principle is this: read the terms in contexts and you will understand their meaning.

          For definition and essay explanation sake I find it better to use "born-again" with the more limited and particular sense of John 3:3: one must have Spiritual life in order that they will understand the Gospel, or kingdom of God that is and thus, be enabled to repent (etc.).  Conversion already implies being born-again along with repentance and faith in Jesus so that for explanation sake it is good to use born-again in the particular sense so that terms are clearly presented.

 

The Deal Breaker:

          For affirming purposes of a local church and doctrinal purity, the first meaning of being born-again needs to be affirmed.

          In just a moment I will show how some in the reformed camp differs over a minor particular in regards to how new-birth is applied. But this small difference is not an issue for church discipline or excommunication. The Deal Breaker issue is this: The logical and causal affirming that a Spiritual regeneration is before and gives way to irrevocable faith. 

          See, without this then the gospel accomplishments of Jesus Christ' death is not guarantee to the persons He died for.  This is a denial of the gospel!  For predestination and election are part of the Gospel itself and not "doctrines of grace," for we were "predestined" (BY) Jesus Christ's death[5], for He paid for our sins, at that place and time without the ones He died for being asked or involved in the business transaction.   The gospel is the accomplishment of Jesus' death that will be applied to all who He died for.  What this means is that those who Jesus died for will have His gospel accomplishment of forgiveness, cleansing, sanctification, and glorification applied to them.  This is why Jesus said: John 6: 39, 63-65, "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. But there are some who do not believe. Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."

          It is the gift of regeneration that gives causality to faith that is true to the biblical account of Jesus' proclamation of His sovereignty and grace in the salvation of man.  If this most basic but necessary understanding of regeneration is denied then it is an attack against gospel, in the sense that the gospel ceases to be an accomplishment of Jesus and as finished good news, and it is an attack against the sovereignty of God. At this point a complete denial of the Christian God has happened, for both his Divine Nature (Christ's death) and His infinity (i.e. Lord GOD, or The Sovereign Infinite Being, that is) are denied. We are now in the realm of paganism: of Zeus, dragons, witches and gingerbread houses.

          It is this basic understanding that is to unite the believers of Christ together in love, believing together in the same Christ and same faith.

 

The Tension:

          My study of this doctrine, in the scripture, lead to a place of feeling the tension.  What I mean by this is when in different passages a doctrine is expounding on in a way that the complication of it might at first makes things feel against each other.  Take for example; James when he talks of not being justified by faith alone but faith working with works. For the immature student this might seem contradictive to Paul's explanation of being justified by faith alone, for if one works it is not accounted as grace but works, but we are saved "by" grace.  But for the serious student they realize James is not saying we are saved "by" works, but we have been saved by grace through faith and that we "prove" this by works and just not our profession of faith.  For the child of God these are explainable complications or multilayer, but for the hypocrite they appear contradictive; their minds are itself contradictive and so they see the Scriptures and all life through their irrational lens; when they act sinful and irrational they are only doing what is natural for them.

          Some might ask: Oshea why are you going out your way to point out a tension within a doctrine when this might add more confusion?  I do this because as a teacher it is my job to do so. See, for Christians who actually read their Bible they will sooner or later pick up on these tensions and will need them explained.  As a teacher my job is look out for things that could cause someone's faith to doubt.  This is why it is the job of teachers and preachers to find these tensions and explain them so the confusion is cut off and in its place faith and peace.

          I was a little disappointed in my study of this doctrine of others, for I rarely read any taking the time to point out and explain this tension.  If you noticed I have already explained the tension of the two meanings of regeneration and am happy to say there are many writers who at least take time to explain this such as Abraham Kuyper when he says, "the word regeneration is used in a limited sense, and in a more extended sense."

          I would also add that this tension is on an application issue of regeneration and so is a minor issue, as far as I am concerned, but it still needs to be addressed.  This is not an issue to un-unite or excommunicate over.

          This other tension: (1) Is that John 3:3 shows a logical order: new-birth and then faith in the word of God, for "seeing" in this passage means to "understand" so that one cannot have faith until they are born-again, for one cannot believe what one does not understand.  So the order is: new-birth, faith and (or as I call it public) justification.  Also Matt. 13:23[6] shows this logical order since the cause of the "understanding" is credited to the soil already being good "not" to the seed. But then in (2) 1 Peter 1:23 it shows that being born-again is "through" the "word of God."  But this seems to displace the logical order of John 3:3 in that the word makes you understand, whereas in John 3:3 and Matthew 13:23 you are born-again to make you understand the word?

          What does this mean?  First, a little more into the Scripture. 1 John 5:4, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith." Here the apostle John says we are "born of God" and this was by "faith," or our believing in the word of God.  But then 1 John 4:6, the apostle appears to say the opposite by saying that we must be first born of God in order to hear God's word or believe in it that is:  "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us."  Also  1 Corinthians 2:12 states we believe freely of God's truth "by" being of God and or His Spirit that is: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."

          Now that I have shown the tension it is time to answer it.  Is it born-again so that we can believe in the word of God or are we born-again by the word of God?  The answer is both. 

          This is similar to the question: Does God delight to kill people or does not delight to kill people.  The answer is both.  In Ezekiel 18:32 God says He does not delight in the death of the wicked.  But then in Deuteronomy 28:63 it says to the wicked that He does delight to kill them.  The basic rule of Biblical hermeneutics is to allow all scripture to stand on its own two feet and proclaim truth and not to take one passage and cancel out another one as if it makes the other disappear.  By playing this devil's game one is able to make the Bible say whatever they wish.  Therefore God, for the sake of "justice" does delight in killing the wicked, but for the sake of a "wasted life" God does not delight in the death of the wicked.  In this both scriptures proclaim truth being witnesses of God's revelation to man.

          See, we are (1) first born-again of the Spirit so that we will be able to receive the word (seed) of God with faith, understanding and love.  (2) But also we are born-again by the word of God, in the sense, that this is vast ordinary way God starts or initiates the process of being born-again and conversion.  This understanding allows both scriptures to proclaim its truth.

As to the second part we need to elaborate. John Owen put it like this.

         The word of God, thus dispensed by the ministry of the church, is the only ordinary outward means which the Holy Ghost makes use of in the regeneration of the adult unto whom it is preached. &  The effect of regeneration or conversion unto God is assigned unto the preaching of the word, because of its efficacy there-unto in its own kind and way, as the outward means thereof, 1 Cor. 4: 15; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23.  The Holy Spirit doth make use of it in the regeneration or conversion of all that are adult, and that either immediately in and by the preaching of it, or by some other application of light and truth unto the mind derived from the word.[7]

        Or in other words, the principle of Scripture is that God desires to regenerate sinners when the gospel is in some direct form preached to them, whether they read the Bible, a friend shares, they go to church, hear a gospel centered song (etc.).  Paul plants and Apollo waters but only when the Spirit blows does new-life spring from the ground.  This is the means God uses, because it is His soverengly pleasure to make this the only ordinary outwards means.  God does it this way not because He is bound to, but because He desires to.  Therefore, to please God in obedience to what He commands and takes pleasure in we will follow this, by constantly preaching the gospel in many sundry ways.

        But there is a warning given by Jesus, and now Jonathan Edwards will expound on this for us:

       This question, How is a man born again? may be asked out of a vain curiosity, and with a conceit of men's own wisdom and ability to trace the footsteps of the Spirit of God in this work, and a sufficiency to describe and mark out with exact limits the course that the Spirit takes, in order to bring this work to effect from the very first rise to the issue of its operations. We know the wind blows by hearing the sound of it, and by the sensible effects of it, but know not "whence it comes, nor whither it goes." So we ought to judge of the operations of the Spirit in regeneration by the sensible effects of it, and not by any precise order and sensible method and steps of its proceeding. Isaiah 40:13, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him?" [8]

        In other words, Edwards is saying that we cannot know perfectly how the Spirit blows His Spiritual life into people.  We know you must be born-again to understand the gospel and that God mostly does this when the word is preached but the rest is left to the sovereign mystery of the Spirit.

        J.C. Ryle says this:

Now, with respect to the means which the Holy Spirit does ordinarily use (preaching the gospel), I would not have you for one minute suppose that I wish to limit or set bounds to the Holy One of Israel. I do not for an instant deny that some have been born again without any outward visible machinery having been used-by a sort of secret impulse which cannot be well explained.

         I would not, then, have you ignorant that a man is seldom born again of the Spirit, without the preaching of the Gospel having something to do in the change. This is a special instrument for turning men from darkness to light. It was the command which Jesus gave to the apostles before his ascension, they were "to preach unto the people and to testify." No means is so blessed in all the experience of Christ's Church as the plain preaching of the Gospel; no sign so sure of decay and rottenness in a Church as the neglect of preaching; for there is no ordinance in which the Holy Spirit is so particularly present, none by which sinners are so often converted and brought back to God. Faith comes by hearing; and how shall men believe-unless they hear? Therefore it is that we press upon you so continually to be diligent in hearing Christ preached; for none are so unlikely to be born again as those who will not listen to the truth. [9]

         See, what these men are pointing to is that God, for example, caused John the Baptist to be born-again in his mother's womb, for he jumped with joy at the coming of Jesus by the Spirit.  See, there are degrees of the Spirit moving and convicting a person that does not mean they are born-again: take for example, Hebrews 6 says some can partake of the Spirit in a non-saving way.  How you know the difference is if you continue steadfast in your faith to the end.  By perseverance you prove the move of the Spirit was the regeneration type, if you do not it was merely the convicting type that does not "company salvation" (6:9).  Because John persevered to the end he showed the type of "partaking of the Holy Spirit" he had was the regeneration or new-birth type.  Thus, John the Baptist was born-again from within the womb, for new-birth means your nature has been changed to love God, and John felt, by the Spirit, pleasure for God in the womb.  This is more than merely being prodded by the Spirit; this is being born-again; this is a new-creature with a new heart.

         What this means is that although God enjoys and prefers to give new-birth almost always through the preaching of the gospel He does sovereignly take pleasure to do things differently as well.  Because this is not revealed how God chooses to do this differently we have no business trying to unravel or figure it out, for the revealed things are for us but secret, or not revealed things, are for God.  We have been commanded to preach and so that is what we do.

       Yet, there are some who would say that the Apostles and people like John the Baptist are onetime exceptions that died away with the last Apostle.  Although the Bible says no such thing they wish to spy out the liberty of those of us who enjoy the freedom of the commands of God (to seek the spiritual gifts) and wish for us to be enslaved to the history of men over Gospel commands and so wish to tell us that the gifts of the Spirit for church and things like John being born-again in the womb are over, or other expectations of being born-again are over.  They champion themselves for being true to God's Word, and that we are to be Sola-Scripture, but when it comes to this issue they begin to quote history and their arguments, therefore, look similar to a dog walking on its hind legs.  Just because they cease to obey God's word here does not mean we do; it seems not only the gifts ceased when the Apostles died but obeying God's word over history ceased as well.  As yet I have not found how one is able to cause 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 to cease being scripture, and thus, the gifts have not ceased, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect (i.e. Jesus' second coming) has come, then that which is in part will be done away." That is to say there will be gifts of the Spirit with us until Jesus' second coming (v.12) when we will see Him "face to face" and "then [we] shall know (Jesus) just as [we] also are known," which corresponds to 1 John 3:2, "not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see (i.e. the Greek for see is to understand and perceive) Him as He is."  Meaning we will not perceive Him as "He is" in all His glory until we see Him face to face when He comes a second time: this does not mean we do not know "fully" all the propositions of the scriptures, for by the Holy Spirit we can; it means the scriptures do not contain every proposition about God.

        ( I pray my cessationist friends will receive this as a kind prodding.  For I believe that, not based on scripture, but this view is the reason for ceasing to believe what the Bible teaches about God's sovereign choices, how at times He may give new-birth differently to some different from the ordinary way.  It might be a stretch to say it could be a few years before a clear gospel is preached, as Dutch Reformer Peter Van M. says, but there is no Biblical warrant to deny that spiritual life could be sovereignly blown to a person, yet, a direct expression of the gospel in full might not be given until a little time afterwards.  Still, such things are mysterious and we will leave it to the wind to blow as it wishes with out forcing our limitations on God's sovereign freedom and pleasure to do what He normally enjoys and what He enjoys to do on occasions. )

 

         

Seeing with the Two Perspectives:

          Again part of the trouble with this doctrine comes from what I call: The Two Perspectives.  See, the Bible often times when looking at the same object will give the Divine perspective and then also the human (for lack of better words) perspective.  I have written about his in my article: Seeing with Two Perspectives, found on my website, or in my book: The First Importance of the Gospel and Redefining Calvinism.

        This is why some confused individuals see contradictions; first, because their own minds are sinful and contradictive they see the life through this lens, and secondly, they do not investigate the difference between multilayered and a true contradiction.  See, a contradiction is when you say A and B are the same (thing) and in the same (way).  For example, the Trinity is not a contradiction because it does not say 1 Being (thing) exists also as 3 Beings (way), for that would be a contradiction.  But to say 1 Being (thing) exists as 3 Persons (way) is not a contradiction.  Understand?  Being and Personhood are not the same, and thus, not a logical contradiction.

        Now, although God's viewpoint and the human are both on same object "regeneration"(thing) it is not a contradiction for there to be slight differences because they are not the same viewpoint (way). 

          I.  God's Perspective:

          God is causality itself, for He is the Infinite Existence. He causes all things.  He preordains all; He predestines all.  All live, move and have their being in Him.  Thus, from God's viewpoint regeneration is about the logical and causality order, for He is the cause of it.  He gives new-life so that a sinner will love and know and believe in Him through His Son Jesus Christ.  God's perspective heavily revolves around what He soverengly causes in a logical order, for that is what He is, and does: He is the Infinite Existence.

          Therefore, God looking at regeneration will speak like Jesus did in John 3:3 for this is from His viewpoint.

          II. Human Perspective.

          From our human perspective we do not detect the logical or causality order in how God divinely moves in us and gives us regeneration and the word of God and convictions and repentance. At times some things may appear a little more clear what God did in a particular moment but for the most part God's inner work is hidden. What we see is not so much the causality, but the effects of His working.  From our viewpoint we see the preached word in some form and remember being "affected" by it.  This is why the Bible comes down to the human perspective and speaks how we are regenerated by the word of God.

          These two perspectives are not to confuse but to reveal a full understanding of God's glory in our salvation.  The two perspectives are to help and bring in clarity.  The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.  One way man does this is to see more fully God's glory so that they re-communicate this back to God in holy praises and love and thanksgiving.  By giving us the full perspective (heaven's and earth's) we see more fully God's beauty, wisdom, power, mercy, justice and glory in our salvation.  May our praises be as such as we see Jesus Christ better with every new day.

 

Application & Development:

 

(I) The Beauty,

 

          First. In light of the glory, power and love of God displayed in His church in His monotheistic work of redemption there ought to be praises, thanksgiving and awe rebounded to Him from those who have been affected by His powerful regeneration.

          One of the many inexpressible glories of God's wisdom for why His work in our salvation is so monotheistic is for the inexpressible joy of His saints.  The saints, as they trace out the glory of redemption, from the covenant of Grace since before time, to the suffering of the cross and also to the power of God giving new-birth so that we might live, breath, see and believe in Spiritual life, see endless acts of God coming to them, rescuing them, finding them in the darkness, discovering them in their sin and saving them before they asked for help.  They see God doing everything to save them.  Psalm 40:2, 5, "He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted. They are more than can be numbered." 

          Tracing out the monotheistic redemption of Christ in our lives is a common practice of the saints of old and an example of Scripture to which we are to follow.  Consider the Psalmist (107) as he describes God's working to save His church and then every few verses say: Give thanks to the LORD for His is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed for the LORD say so.  Whom He has redeemed.  The Psalmist in 105 and 106 does a similar thing.  Furthermore, Moses and King David sang songs that also traced out God's redemption of them, highlighting God's monotheistic work, with no thanks to them.  Steven the martyr in Acts 7 trances out God's work of our redemption in a similar manner.

          It is our reasonable service to God to trance out how helpless and sinful we are and how every inch of redemption in our lives is a clear display of God's hand print stepping in and saving us.  See, "The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined."(Is.9)  It was Jesus who has stepped out of Heaven's glory to shine His countenance upon sinners covered in darkness; it was Jesus who came not be break a bruised reed; it Jesus who found the lost sheep, who found the lost coin, who saved His enemies who asked Jesus not to save them, who paid His blood for sinners who hated Him, who purchased the Holy Spirit to be sent to all whom He died for too give them new-birth, who sits now at His Father's right hand interceding for them, and who hears their prayers before they ask; His mercy already finds them in the morning before they even ask for it, and His faithfulness wraps them in the evening even when they forget He is there; He ensures that they will all be taught by God and be holy and blameless forever.  Jesus Christ is a true and total Savior.  Let all who see this sight trance out His glory with public gratitude and joy with every passing day.

          Second. Also, consider 1 Peter 1:23 and why this verse's focus is on the "permanence" of being born-again; it is attributed to "word of God" here, which then Peter shows that the word of God is forever while man of himself is a passing summer grass.  Peter through chapter 1 is showing the permanence and security of being saved and so in 1:3 and 5 Peter attributes being born-again to God's mere "power" and then verse 1:19 to the "blood of Christ"; then also Paul in Ephesians 1:14 attributes this to the "Holy Spirit."  This glorious security and permanence of being born-again is ready for all to rest their faith and belief in though Jesus. 

          Also, notice how in Revelation 21:1 the woman represents the church clothed in the sun.  For indeed, we shine as stars in the Kingdom of God.  God's glory is not merely poured over us but in us: "out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  Our new nature is the nature of God for we are called, "children of God."  By this nature we have properly been remade to be the bride of Christ, to be united to Him!  All of these great effects are upon being born-again.  Yet, the foundation of our being born-again lays in the particular accomplishment of Christ's imputed righteousness.

          If one wishes to know how such a marvelous gift of regeneration may possibly be bestowed upon such sinful worms, as such that it would make us worthy to judge angels and be the bride of Christ they need look no further to the death of Jesus Christ and His victory of that cold grave that accomplished their sins being imputed to Him and His infinite righteousness being imputed to their account.

          Hosea 3:5, "They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days."  The glory and sheer greatness of grace that surrounds creatures that were made from the dirt, who then sinned against the Infinite Existence and thus become lower than the dirt from which they came, to then be re-born from God's Holy Spirit as a new-creature who are united to Christ as a His public and Spiritual bride demands the highest love and faith from those who have been touched by its endless power and grace.  The glory of such goodness should invoke a trembling; it's beauty so great and so close that it should be fearful to see, but endlessly peaceful and joy at the same time.  For those who have been born-again do indeed know this but the hypocrite has neither the fear or joy for Jesus Christ.

 

 (II) Rebuke,

       This gift of new-birth came only by the endless love of Jesus Christ.  He had to endure hour after hour of God's almighty sword and wrath; Christ had to be in the grave 3 days and endure the betrayal of a disciple; He had to, if you would, willingly place himself in the Devils mouth and turn is open back to lawless hands; Christ had to leave His Father and meticulously obey every command and law in order to make right what all mankind failed to do.  This was done from Christ's part as great, awesome love to us.  He died for sins, and purchased the gift of regeneration for all whom He was pleased to do so for.

     Therefore, in light of Christ's marvelous grace and love displayed in this suffering that purchased such glories as regeneration for such horrid sinful worms then: "If the love of Christ is such that there never was any that could be paralleled with it, then if we do not love Christ, our ingratitude and baseness will be as unparalleled as His love.  Such love as this, one would think, should be enough to overpower and dissolve the most ungrateful and hard heart.  Every particular concerning the unparalleled wonderfulness of the love of Christ to man lays an unspeakable obligation upon us to love Him."[10]

 



[1]  The Father saying to Jesus Christ: Psalm 110:4, "The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."    

     Jesus Christ saying to the Father: Psalm 40:6, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God." 

     The Father saying to Jesus Christ: Psalm 2:8, "Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession." 

     The Father saying to Jesus Christ: Isaiah 49:6, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth."

[2]  Hebrews 2:13,"I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."

[3] The past couple of paragraphs are from my book: The First Importance of the Gospel & Redefining Calvinism.

[4]  Jonathan Edwards speaks of regeneration in both senses; take for example. [Original Sin (WJE Online Vol. 3) Ed. Clyde A. Holbrook]

"...but the words understood in this sense, contain the proper and true reason, why a man must be born again, in order to enter into the kingdom of God; the reason that is given everywhere in other parts of the Scripture for the necessity of a renovation, a change of mind, a new heart, etc. in order to salvation."  (limited way) Pg. 280

Then he speaks of regeneration in the broad sense.

".It appears from this, together with what has been proved above, that it is most certain with respect to every one of the human race, that he can never have any interest in Christ, or see the kingdom of God, unless he be the subject of that change in the temper and disposition of his heart, which is made in repentance, and conversion, circumcision of his heart, spiritual baptism, dying to sin and rising to a new and holy life; and unless he has the old heart taken away, and a new heart and spirit given, and puts off the old man, and puts on the new man, and old things are passed away and all things made new." (full meaning) Pg.371

 

 

[5] Ephesians 1:5: We were "predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ (i.e. His death) to [the Father]."  We were not predestined by some invisible decree, merely, but BY Jesus' death.

[6] "And they that are represented by the thorny ground are, in Christ's explanation of the parable [Luke 8:4-15, Matt. 13:23], distinguished from those that have good and honest hearts.  The fault of the wayside, of the stony ground, and the thorny ground, was, in each, the nature of the ground; and the good fruit in the good ground is ascribed to the better nature of the ground.  And therefore they that are here represented as ground, which though often receiving refreshing benign showers, and yet always bringing forth briars and thorns, is ground that never has been purged, and changed, and made good, but is inveterately evil, and therefore fit for nothing but to be burnt. -[Heb. 6:7-8]  'Tis not impossible that thorny ground may be brought to bring forth good fruit, but then it must be changed.  The very roots of the thorns must be killed or rooted up.  If this has not been done, let good seed be sown in it, and good and kindly showers of rain descend upon it never so often, it will bring forth briars and thorns.  This killing or rooting up of the lusts of the heart, compared to thorns, is done by a work of regeneration, or circumcising the heart."  -Jonathan Edwards, Notes on Scripture (WJE Online Vol. 15) , Ed. Stephen J. Stein, page 599-600.  As Edwards has shown the making of the ground Good is not merely the Holy Spirit convicting people, but it is regeneration itself, because it received the seed, but only the spiritual are able to "understand" spiritual things.

 

[7] The Holy Spirit, published by the Banner of Truth, pp. 297-336.

[8] The "Blank Bible" (WJE Online Vol. 24) , Ed. Stephen J. Stein, page 928.

 

[9]  Abraham kuyper and Jonathan Edward's favorite theology Peter Van Mastricht shared similar ideas that God does move work outside of His ordinary way in giving new-birth, although such are mysteries and left to God not us.

[10] Jonathan Edwards, God's Unspeakable Gift, edited by Oshea Davis.  Jonathan Edwards Center @ Yale University (http://edwards.yale.edu/).

 

 
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