Salvation and Regeneration (Titus 3:5)
Soteriology 14, Ephesians 1:3
April 20, 2016
Good evening everybody; if we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Titus, chapter 3, verse 5. And we are in a section of our class on the doctrine of salvation where we’re talking about Roman numeral VI, the results of salvation. So under Roman numeral V we spent a lot of time explaining how you acquire salvation which is by faith alone in Christ alone. And then once salvation is gained what exactly do you possess? And kind of the goal of this section is just to describe your wealth in Christ.
Dr. Chafer, whose picture I have up there, described 33 items that a person receives the moment they trust in Christ. And I went through that list very fast and we’re not going to drill down on all 33 items but we’re going to spend some time drilling down on some of them. Last time, remember, we talked about when you come to Christ you are God’s son or daughter, you are brought into adoption. And then we also talked about how you received, at that point, the gift of eternal life.
And let me move into a third blessing that we have and that’s something called regeneration. What is regeneration? Regeneration is the impartation of divine life. It’s the moment upon faith in Christ that spiritual life comes into a lost person. And that ministry of the Spirit of God is desperately needed because of our condition in the first Adam. Remember what God told Adam back in Genesis 2:16-17? “The day that you eat from the tree thereof is the day you shall surely” what? “die.” [Genesis 2:16-17, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”]
Now Adam lived about 930 years so he didn’t physically die that second, although the process started. But he did die spiritually that second because the human being is basically comprised of three parts: body, soul, spirit. And the spiritual quality in him which gives people the capacity to relate to God, that spark of life was extinguished. And as we are all born under the first Adam that is essentially our condition. We’re born into the world spiritually dead.
The book of Ephesians, chapter 2 and verse 1 all but says that, as do many other passages. But Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Now a lot of people overdo spiritual death and I’ll talk about that in just a moment. Spiritual death does not mean inability to respond to God; let me postpone that discussion for a few points down the road. But because we are spiritually dead, in fact, Ephesians 2:1 basically says walking dead people when you translate that in the Greek. Because we are spiritually dead the greatest thing that we need is spiritual life and that’s something called regeneration. Jesus called it the new birth, that’s the whole point of His conversation with Nicodemus over in John 3, remember the whole Nick at night conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus? Remember what He said there? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is” what? “born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
So Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, in fact he was the chief Pharisee, you have a lot of religiosity but you’re dead spiritually and what you need is the new birth, regeneration, the impartation of divine life. He tells Nicodemus that’s his greatest need. And that is the greatest need of all human beings today because in the first Adam we are spiritually dead, we do not have that life of God inside of us. So this is what’s called the new birth, and unless someone receives the new birth from God they’re not a Christian. It doesn’t matter how religious they are, it doesn’t matter where they go to church, it doesn’t matter what religious data is in their mind, it doesn’t matter what their parents did or didn’t do. All those things are irrelevant; if you’re not born of the Spirit you’re not a Christian, period.
So I wrote down this little saying here, you may have heard this: If you are born once you’ll die twice; if you’re born twice you’ll die once. So we all know what that means, right? If you’re born once, physically, but you’re never born spiritually then you’ll die twice; physically you’ll die, and then your soul goes into where? Something called the second death, Revelation 20:11-15 describes it as the second death, which is the lake of fire, eternal separation from God.
[Revelation 20:11-15, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]
So you die physically and then your soul goes into that terrible place. Conversely, if you are born twice you’ll only die once. What does it mean to be born twice? Well, you’re physically born and then there comes a point in your life where you trust Christ as your Savior, and the spark of life, or the impartation of divine life, regeneration, comes into you. And if that’s your condition, which I hope you’re in, then the worst thing that can happen to you is you’ll die one time. You’ll physically die, and you know what, you might not even have to do that if we’re the rapture generation. I can’t guarantee that we are but I hope we are, because there’s a generation that will not physically die, that will be caught up. But if we’re not the rapture generation then the very worst thing that can happen to you is you can physically die but your soul has no part in the second death.
So really the fundamental question in a person’s life is have they received this new birth, regeneration, the impartation of divine life. Now where do we find this word, I’ve just described a concept, but where do we find this word “regeneration”? It’s in Titus 3:5; the Greek word that’s translated regeneration is palingenesia.
So let’s read this verse here, Titus 3:5 which is where I had you turn. Titus says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration” that’s the word I’m trying to unpack here, “regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” So that word translated “regeneration” is the new birth; it’s the impartation of divine life and it’s palin genesia, which is a compound word; palin means again, and you recognize genesia? What book of the Bible do you think of there? Genesis, which is the book of beginnings. So palingenesia literally means to begin again. That’s the word translated regeneration.
That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new” what? “creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” And you literally are a new person because you are functioning now the way God intended human beings to function, which is to be alive, not just physically at the body level, the soma level, not just alive at the soul level, the psuchē level, but alive at the spiritual level. And that’s why Paul says the things of God to the natural man, now who’s the natural man? The natural man is the person that’s alive, soul and body but not spiritually. The natural man is the Ephesians 2:1 person who is a walking dead man. [Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,”] That person, the things of God are a mystery to him. In fact, they’re foolishness to him.
So you can go up to somebody who has never been born spiritually and you start talking about spiritual things and it’s like you’re talking a foreign language to them because they don’t have any capacity to understand it, because they don’t have the regeneration or the new birth or the life of God inside of them. Now palingenesia is used only two times in the New Testament. It’s used here and Titus 3:5. [Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”]
It’s used one other time and take a look at this, it’s interesting, over in Matthew 19:28, this the only other time that this word, palingenesia, begin again, regeneration, impartation of divine life, is used. And here it’s talking about the millennial kingdom. And notice what Jesus says there, Matthew 19:28, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration” now that’s palingenesia, “in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Now that’s talking about the millennial kingdom when Jesus is going to reign on David’s throne and the twelve disciples that followed Him will be on thrones reigning over the twelve tribes of Israel. And the millennial kingdom is called a regeneration. So there it’s not talking about spiritual regeneration, it is in a sense but it’s talking about the physical regeneration or restoration of the earth after the horrors of the seven year tribulation are over.
And this is very interesting because it’s being used in an eschatological end times context, our word palingenesia. So we have in our end times understanding an order, we call it premillennialism, which basically means Jesus comes back first, “pre” I’m not talking about the rapture at all, I’m talking about the return of Christ at the end of the seven year tribulation period, Jesus Christ comes back first and then what follows is what? The millennium, which is the regeneration of all things.
So if you can understand that example or concept then you just apply it to someone’s spiritual life; first Jesus comes into them, right? And then what results is a regeneration or an impartation of divine life. And the reason I make an issue out of that, and I’ll develop this more a little bit later, but there’s a lot of people today arguing that you have to be regenerated first, before you can believe.
Now you’ll notice that when Jesus uses the word “regeneration” in an eschatological sense there’s an order here. First He comes back, then the millennial kingdom, the regeneration of all things comes. So in the same way, first you trust in Jesus, your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and the result of trusting in Christ is regeneration or the impartation of divine life.
So we are not teaching here at all that regeneration is the cause of faith. Okay.
Regeneration is the result of faith and that is sort of a hard concept to get across unless you can understand the end times analogy that Jesus is using in Matthew 19:28, and I’ll talk more about how people get the order lopsided in just a moment. But the Bible is very clear that regeneration, the impartation of divine life, cannot and will not happen in a person without exposing the lost sinner to the Word of God.
You know Romans 10:17, right, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The Scripture is the instrument that the Holy Spirit uses to convict the lost sinner of their need to be regenerated, of their need to believe in Christ. And this is not just taught in Romans 10:17, remember the verses that we’re working through on Sunday morning, 2 Timothy 3, not last Sunday but the prior Sunday we talked about 2 Timothy 3:15, that the Scriptures are capable of making one wise unto what? Salvation. So Timothy, teach the Scriptures because God used the Scriptures in your life to make you “wise unto salvation.” So that’s another verse that shows that the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to convict people of their need to believe in Christ. [2 Timothy 3:15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”]
A couple of other verses on that, you might just jump over to the book of James for a minute, James 1:18, James, of course, being the first New Testament book written, the earliest one we have, written about A.D. 44-47, James, the half-brother of Christ wrote this book. And James says, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the” what? “word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” He’s talking about the new birth, regeneration. And notice that God brought this forth in us by exposing us first to the what? “Word of truth.”
One other verse, if you just go over one book to the right, 1 Peter 1:23, Peter makes a beautiful statement about God’s Word and in the process of verse 23 he says, “for you have been born again” that’s the new birth, regeneration, “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” And he goes on there and he quotes Isaiah 40:8 which talks about how “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.’”
But in the process of describing God’s Word Peter is very clear that you have been born again by the Word of God. The Word of God is living and active and so the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to awaken the sinner to their need to believe in Christ so that the Holy Spirit will come into them so that they can be regenerated, the impartation of divine life as a result of salvation.
So that’s why exposure to the Scripture in the life of a church, in our own individual lives, even when you’re evangelizing people I would encourage you to commit a few Scriptures to memory, like John 3:16 or others, because that’s really the tool that the Spirit of God is going to use to convict people of their need to believe in Christ. [John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”]
A lot of times we think it’s our artful persuasive verbal skills and those are nice, you know, if people have those, but that’s really not the definitive issue. The definitive issue is God’s Word; it’s the Word that He uses to make people aware of their need to be regenerated.
Now going to that last bullet point there, this is an important issue: does regeneration precede faith? One of the things that is in ascendency today, particularly in the United States of America amongst Bible teachers is something called Reformed Theology. I would give it another term, a Hyper-Calvinist sort of approach. And essentially what they do is they camp very heavily on the word “dead.” Ephesians 2:1 says we’re dead in our trespasses and sins. [Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”] And so basically what they teach from that, because of the emphasis they place on “dead” which they define as inability, you don’t even have the ability to believe in Christ is what they’ll say, because how can someone that’s dead believe. So what God has to do is He has to regenerate you first; see, they’ve got the order backwards.
We’re defining regeneration as a result of salvation, they’re making it the cause of salvation. So God must do this work in your heart, not of conviction but regeneration. And as you’re regenerated then you’ll have the capacity to believe. See? Now who gets regenerated then? It’s the elect get regenerated; if you’re fortunate enough to be one of the elect then God regenerates you so that you can believe. And this goes through the mnemonic device, TULIP, which is the device that’s used to sort of unpack Calvinism and Calvinism is basically a system of logic. John Calvin was an attorney who developed the early phases of this system and it’s beautifully logically structured IF you buy into step one. If you buy into step one then steps two, three, four, five come easy. The problem is, are they right with step one.
But basically what they teach is you’re dead, you don’t have any ability to believe in God so that’s the “T” in total depravity. So God must do a work of regeneration in you and once you come alive spiritually then you’ll have the ability to believe and that’s what they call irresistible faith, that’s the “I” in TULIP, you’re irresistibly drawn to Christ because you got regenerated before you even believed and the reason you got regenerated is because you’re one of the elect and the reason God only regenerates the elect is because the dead person can’t believe in Christ anyway. And since faith, or regeneration, is something God gave you, your faith can never fail. So if your faith ever starts to fail… you ever have any doubts in the Christian life? If your faith ever starts to fail then the question mark in the back of your mind is well, maybe I was never one of the what? One of the elect.
So you see how the whole thing follows logically? It makes perfect sense from a logical point of view. The issue though is not logic because logic is only as good as its starting point; if the starting point is fallacious then the rest of the steps really don’t matter. The issue isn’t is it logical, it’s very logical; the issue is, is it biblical? And I believe that that system is wrong because there is not a single verse in the Bible (and I’ll show you several that teach the exact opposite) that teach that regeneration precedes faith. What the Bible says over and over and over again, and that’s why I brought up the example of Matthew 19:28, and eschatology, the millennium, the regeneration of all things which follows the return of Christ. The Bible says over and over again is regeneration does not precede faith; but regeneration follows faith. That’s why we’re discussing regeneration under the heading “results of salvation.”
So a few verses that show you that regeneration is the result of salvation, not the cause of salvation. Now the very rigid Calvinist, they love John 1:13, which says, “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” And they say well there it is, you’re born again by the will of God. So what they think that means is you’re born again because God regenerated you so that you could believe. And they use a lot of this lingo, faith is a gift. The problem is, they leave out verse 12, “But as many as” what? “received Him,” isn’t that something we do? “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who” what? “believe,” isn’t that something we do, don’t we believe. And then once we believe then we’re born again, and we find ourselves in the will of God because God is willing that who should perish? That none should perish, 2 Peter 3:9 [2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”]
But if you cut off verse 12 and you just look at verse 13, which is what theologians do a lot because they write systematic theologies and they’ll use verses to support their points. And you have to watch them very carefully because a lot of time they’re using a verse out of context to support an inaccurate point. Just because someone quotes the Bible doesn’t mean they’re doing it accurately because the three rules of Bible study are what? Context, context, context! When you look at the whole context verse 13, when you connect it back to verse 12 it’s not saying you are regenerated so you can believe; it’s actually saying the exact opposite, we believe, we receive, and then regeneration, the impartation of divine life is the result of salvation.
Look at that middle box there, John 3:16, look at this, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever” what? “believes in Him shall not perish but have” what? “eternal life.” Doesn’t that look like eternal life follows belief there?
Here’s another verse, John 5:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has” what? “eternal life, [and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”] So once again it doesn’t give you the foggiest hint that eternal life is something, regeneration, that comes before you believe; it’s the result of believing.
John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will” what? “have eternal life, [and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.]” See how eternal life, regeneration, impartation of divine life is something that follows beholding and believing. So it doesn’t give you the foggiest hint that somehow you receive eternal life first so that you can believe. I mean, you would never, if you were stranded on a desert island and you only had the Gospel of John to rely upon and you didn’t know anything about the theological debates or people pushing this doctrine, you would never reach the conclusion that regeneration is something that precedes faith. Regeneration is a result of faith and Christ coming inside of us.
John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has” what? “eternal life.” See how eternal life follows believe. It doesn’t say truly, truly, I say to you, whoever has eternal life believes, which is what they’re doing, is they are reverting the order because they’re taking the doctrine of deadness and they’re placing such a stress on it that it becomes disproportionate.
And when you talk to the five point Calvinist, hyper-Calvinist, there’s always two things they talk about over and over again: the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man. And I’ve already shared with you their emphasis on the depravity of man, how it’s disproportionately over emphasized. Believe me, I believe that human beings are depraved, no problem there; I don’t define it the way they define it. They define it as people don’t even have an ability to respond to the gospel. There’s no biblical support for that. But what they talk about is the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God, and in their system God is in control of everything. God is even in control of whether you’re going to believe or not because you can’t have faith unless God gives it to you as a gift. And so at the end of the day they actually believe that they are protecting the sovereignty of God by not allowing man to play any role whatsoever in salvation. To my mind that is a denial of how God made us. God created us in whose image? His own, and part of being an image-bearer means a free will, volition. And because we are created in His image and because we have free will, when salvation occurs He, God, is not overriding somebody’s free will. They are making a response of volition and the only one God will accept is faith.
But you see, in the hyper-Calvinist system faith is something that God does. And at the end of the day they talk about how it has to be that way because we need to (A) protect God’s sovereignty, and (B) we need to respect the depravity of man. And I think their understanding of the depravity of man is disproportionate to what the Scripture says. There’s no need to protect God’s sovereignty because if God is sovereign He can protect His own sovereignty, can’t He? And it’s failing to understand that man is an image-bearer of God. That is how God made us.
Think about this for a second. It would have been really easy for God to just not put the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden at all. Why put the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden at all, just take out the tree of knowledge and humanity wouldn’t have sinned. Well, the problem is there has to be a tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden because there has to be an avenue of rebellion if man and woman, through volition choose that avenue of rebellion. And if that avenue for rebellion is not there, God is not respecting how He designed us as image-bearers. So one of the most frightening things that we possess as human beings is a free will. And what is the smartest thing you can do with your free will? Imitate Christ who said, “Not My will be done, but” what? “Thy will be done.” The smartest thing you can do with your free will is give it right back to God, in every issue of life. But God is not going to snatch it from you or take it from you, or coerce Himself upon you because if He did that he wouldn’t be respecting how He has manufactured us in His image.
Here’s another verse, John 20:30-31, it says, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe” isn’t believing something that we do? “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have” what? “life in His name.” So do you once again see how life, regeneration, is the result of salvation and not the cause of salvation.
Now what does the Spirit of God do in the unsaved person? The Spirit of God is very active regarding the unsaved person. I don’t mean to give you the impression that the Spirit of God has no influence over us at all in terms of our decision to believe because I don’t think a person can actually believe until they come under the Spirit’s convicting ministry. And the Spirit of God will seek to persuade us to believe through conviction, but He won’t believe for you. And that’s the whole point that Jesus was making in the Upper Room, in John 16:7-11, when He was saying it’s to your advantage that I go, because when I go the Comforter will come, the helper, the paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the one that comes alongside and assists.
And in the process Jesus starts talking about what the Spirit of God does in the world. This is not a ministry here that we’re reading that He performs in the life of the believer, obviously the Holy Spirit does many things in the life of the believer. That’s not what Jesus is talking about here. He’s
talking about the ministry that the Spirit of God does in the world. And notice what it says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Now that was Christ’s first order of business when He ascended to the right hand of the Father, Acts 1, and began His present session at the Father’s right hand as a priest after the order of who? Melchizedek. And the first thing Jesus did when He entered that position is He sent the Holy Spirit and that’s what’s going on in Acts chapter 2.
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go I will send Him to you.  And He, when He comes,” now he starts talking about what the Spirit does for the unsaved person, “He will convict” who? The elect? No, it doesn’t say that. “He will convict the world” that would be everybody in the world as far as I can tell, the cosmos, “He will convict the world” of three things, and He describes them, “concerning sin” now is sin there singular or plural? It’s singular, He’s not convicting the world of sins, He’s convicting the world of a sin. “…He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment;” that’s verse 8. Verse 9 He starts to explain what each of those things mean, “concerning sin,” the Greek there is hamartia, it’s a singular noun, “concerning sin because they do not believe in Me;  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”
So as you’re in your office or work place or school or even in your family and you’re around unbelievers, you have to understand something, that the Spirit of God is convicting them over and over of three things: he’s convicting them of sin “because they do not believe. He’s convicting them of righteousness because they do not have it. Jesus is leaving, they need the transferred righteousness of God which they think, we all think, we can get by good works. The Spirit of God is persuading them, us before we got saved, otherwise; “and concerning judgment because the ruler of this world,” who is the ruler of this world? The devil, is being cast out. And He is convicting them that if they don’t enter the belief in Christ and receive the transferred righteousness of God, then they will go down in smoke (no pun intended) just like Lucifer.
And you have to understand that when you’re talking to an unbeliever you have to cooperate with what the Spirit of God is already telling them, or convicting them of, in order for your evangelism to be fruitful. So the more you can introduce the subjects, sin, righteousness and judgment as Jesus defines them, judgment because they’re going down with Satan, righteous because they don’t have the transferred righteousness of God, and sin, singular, because they do not believe. The more you can work those concepts into your evangelism the more fruitful your evangelism will be because you’ll be communicating things that the Spirit of God is already convicting the world of. See?
And this is what Lewis Sperry Chafer called True Evangelism. It’s learning to use vocabulary that the Spirit of God is already trying to convict the unsaved world of. See, a lot of times when we evangelize we’re talking about all these other different things and we need to start cooperating with the Holy Spirit, understanding what He is already doing in the world and start using words that He Himself is trying to convince the world of, and then you’ll see a new fruitfulness in your evangelism.
But I really want to focus here on verse 9, “concerning sin because they do not believe.” The Holy Spirit is not out there convicting the world of sins; He is not convicting the world of spousal abuse, pornography, drug abuse, profanity, going 85 in a 55 mile an hour speed zone. See, those are things we like to focus on but that’s not what the Spirit of God is doing. The Spirit of God is not out there trying to morally reform the lost world. You have to understand that. What he is doing, He’s not convicting them of sins, He’s convicting them of sin, singular, the sin of unbelief which is the only sin that’s unpardonable. If you die in unbelief there’s not hope for a person. So He is trying to convince them, that’s what convict means, it means to persuade, He’s trying to convince them that they are committing, right now, as we speak, a singular sin against God. They are not believing in Christ, because they are not believing in Christ they have never received the transferred righteousness of God and they’re on their way to judgment just as Lucifer is on his way to judgment.
So there is no moral reformation that the Spirit of God is working in the unsaved. Now after you get saved and the Spirit of God is inside of you through regeneration, guess what He’ll start convicting you of? Sins. Oh, you’re gossiping, you shouldn’t be doing that. You know, you lose your temper pretty quick, you shouldn’t do that. Why don’t you get a little nicer to your wife or your husband? Why are you always, you know, negative in your speech. These kind of sins that we commit, He’ll start working on those in a process not called justification but what? Sanctification. But until a person is regenerated the Holy Spirit is not doing that at all in people. The Holy Spirit is convicting them of sin, singular.
So you look at this very carefully and it’s very clear that the Spirit of God is not going to believe for somebody. The Spirit of God is not going to come into someone’s life and override their volition so they have to believe in God, and coerce their will. That’s where the hyper-Calvinist concept really falls apart. It doesn’t grapple well with these texts that we’re looking at.
Now a person cannot believe in Christ, it is true, until they come under conviction. So in a sense depravity is there where we can’t believe until we’re convicted, but once under conviction, and this clearly says He convicts the world, once we’re under conviction we have an ability, through human volition, to respond to the gospel.
A lot of people, you know, they have an unsaved coworker, unsaved friend, and they always say what should I do, how can I reach them? I would start praying overtime that this ministry goes into effect in that person’s life. The Spirit of God is already doing that according to this verse. And then become informed enough in the Bible where you start using vocabulary that’s consistent in your evangelism to that person with what the Spirit of God is already trying to convict them of.
So in hyper-Calvinism the whole name of the game is faith is a gift. Why is faith a gift? Because you are depraved where you don’t even have an ability to respond to God. So God has to regenerate you as the cause of faith, regeneration is not the result of faith in their system, it’s a result of faith in the way we teach it based on the Bible, but in their logical system faith is a result of regeneration. So faith itself becomes a gift, and you hear this a lot in their circles; they’ll say faith is a gift and they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9 which at first glance looks like it’s teaching faith is a gift, you all know these verses, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” And they’ll say there it is, right there in the Bible, faith is a gift.
The problem is in Greek, the New Testament was not written in English, it was written in Greek, genders, nouns have genders, masculine, feminine, neuter. Genders are very important. The genders must agree with each other. If the gift that he talks about here is faith then there must be a gender agreement in “gift” and “faith” for that mindset to work. And the problem is, when you study this in Greek those are two different genders. Faith is a feminine noun, gift is a neuter noun; gift is neuter, faith is feminine so therefore the nearest antecedent of gift cannot be faith.
Well then, what’s the gift? When you study it out in the Bible what you’ll see over and over again is the gift is salvation, the gift is the, not the cause of faith but the what? The result of faith. So the gift is all the benefits that come to us through this marvelous package of salvation. Faith is not the gift, salvation is the gift. And I just share that with you because when you’re in a very strong Calvinistic environment they’ll quote this verse constantly and if you’re not familiar with the nuances in the Greek language it will seem as if faith is a gift.
So again, it’s this system, we’re depraved, logically, we don’t have an ability to respond so God regenerates us so we can believe; so faith itself is a gift. Coming to Christ is virtually irresistible and I would say the starting point of the whole thing is wrong. Yes, we’re depraved but we have an ability to respond to the gospel by way of faith when we come under conviction. And therefore the regeneration that we receive did not come before we believed; it came after, as a result.
And when you get into these circles of very Hyper-Calvinism what they’ll tell you is church history is on our side and I’ve been in countless arguments with people on this and they’ll go into the stages of the faith, from Luther and Calvin and they’ll say who are you to disagree with these giants. But the problem is, when you really start analyzing the history what you’ll discover is history is not on their side as frequently as they make it sound.
For example, notice what one of the greatest preachers the Christian world ever had, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in a sermon, he says: “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 an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. 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? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.” [Spurgeon – Sermon entitled The Warrant of Faith].
So here you find Spurgeon who just cart blanche rejected this idea that regeneration precedes faith. And you say well, you know Andy, why make an issue out of this? Because it affects how you present the gospel. If you believe that a person must be regenerated so that they can believe you will not preach the gospel to them, what you’ll tell them to do is pray for the gift of faith.
Now here is a quote from John MacArthur, it’s in one of his sermons. And when you get into the John MacArthur, and I agree with a lot of the things John MacArthur has said and teaches, I don’t carte blanch reject everything the man has done. I have a very strong disagreement with him though, on these soteriological salvation issues. And when you get into their circles and you start to rub shoulders with these types of people, you have to toe the line on all these points. And if you will not toe the line you are almost persona non grata. And what I’m trying to say is this is significant because it affects how you present the gospel. So here’s a few words; it says, and the MacArthur quote starts about halfway through.
It says: “If faith is a gift of God, THEN HOW DO I GET IT? Do I do nothing and hope that God will sovereignly bestow it upon me? Or, do I cry out to God and pray that He will give me the gift of saving faith? Dr. MacArthur apparently holds to this second option. At the end of one of his messages he gave a salvation appeal and said the following:” Now here’s the quote from the sermon, at the end of his message there was a gospel presentation, kind of like how we give our gospel presentations at the end, they do the same thing at his church, and he says: “Faith is a gift from God…it is permanent…the faith that God gives begets obedience…” you see, and this is where the whole doctrine of Lordship salvation comes from.
If faith is really a gift of God, then there has to be a lot of fruit in a person’s life if it’s from God, right? Or else maybe they never had saving faith and they never had saving faith maybe they were never regenerated so they could believe and if they were never regenerated so they could believe maybe they were never one of the elect. And it leads to, and I’ve been in enough of environments where they teach this, it leads to a very hyper-critical spirit towards your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If someone doesn’t show up for Wednesday night Bible study, oh-oh, maybe they’ve never received the gift of faith. If they’ve never received the gift of faith… because they’re faltering, if God’s faith was really in them and He gave it to them there shouldn’t be any faltering, there shouldn’t be any sin, there shouldn’t be any ups and downs. If there’s any laxation or movement back into sin in any sense there are very severe statements that people make about other people about whether they’re saved or not. And that’s one of the downsides of being in these circles.
I can’t remember where I was in this quote, but “Faith is a gift from God…it is permanent…the faith that God gives begets obedience…” so if you start to have any doubts maybe you don’t have the faith from God. What does the book of James tell us? The book of James tells us that when we pray we should believe and not have what? Doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave tossed and blown by the wind. [James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”] Doesn’t that text indicate that a believer can have doubts? Have you ever had doubts as a Christian? I’ve had doubts as a Christian many times. The problem is when you go through these valleys and you have doubts, if you believe faith is a gift you’re going to start thinking well maybe I don’t have the right faith, that God gives, because if I had the faith that God gives and God can’t fail then I shouldn’t be having doubts.
And a lot of emotional, psychological type problems that people have in Christianity is related to these kinds of doctrines that I’m trying to expose. I’m not trying to give you a lecture on theology; I’m trying to show you these things because ideas have consequences. The way you believe about a lot of these things will impact your emotional makeup as you go through the Christian life. Back to the quote: “Faith is a gift from God…it is permanent…the faith that God gives begets obedience. God gave it to you and He sustains it…May God grant you a true saving faith, a permanent gift that begins in humility and brokenness over sin and ends up in obedience unto righteousness. That’s true faith and it’s a gift that only God can give,” and now here’s the presentation of the gospel: you ready? I have it underlined, “and if you desire it pray and ask that He would grant it to you.”
[Tape GC 90-21 on Lordship salvation, last part of tape, comments made during the closing invitation.]
So what is the gospel that he just preached? The gospel he just preached is not here’s Jesus, here’s His death, here’s His resurrection, here’s what He did for you, now you respond to that by faith. That’s not what he’s preaching here; he’s telling people to pray for the gift of faith. You go through the book of Acts where they evangelized all over the place and you show me a single time where Paul or anybody else told the lost sinner they need to pray for the gift of faith. What they did over and over again is they presented Christianity, they presented the cross, the resurrection and the good news, and they told people to receive it as a free gift by faith, trusting that the Spirit of God was convicting those people of their need to respond to the message. That’s the gospel he uses.
Paul, all these guys never went around and told people, you know, you’re so dead in your own will that you need to be regenerated so you can believe, so pray for the gift of faith. And what I’m trying to say here is this is not just a pie in the sky debate, it shapes or influences how you actually present the gospel.
So all things considered, I’m back here to my prior slides and I really planned on being a lot further along, but that’s okay because this class is going to go on into the summer Sunday mornings, so I need to stall anyway because I’m running out of material, but regeneration is the impartation of divine life. Okay. You need it because you are spiritually dead; death doesn’t mean inability, what it means is you can’t respond to the gospel until the Spirit convicts you and your need for it and Jesus told us the Spirit is doing that in the world. When you receive the gospel it is the result of faith. God is not believing for you but He is imparting to you new life, the Holy Spirit enters you as you respond to the gospel and it’s the greatest need a human being has. If they’ve never received this then they go into the second death.
Regeneration literally means beginning again, whether you study it soteriologically or eschatologically it’s always first comes Christ, then regeneration follows and it’s the result. It is accomplished through an exposure to God’s Word, that’s what the Holy Spirit uses in His conviction to awaken people to their need to trust in Christ and regeneration does not precede faith, conviction precedes faith but regeneration does not precede faith, regeneration is a result of faith.
And I tried to share with you that there’s actually some… it’s not just a theological discussion, this shapes your philosophy of ministry and how you share the gospel and that kind of thing.
Anyway, that’s a lot to chew on, isn’t it, for a Wednesday evening. We will go ahead and dismiss our folks that need to pick up their kids, 8:00 o’clock sharp, and I’m sure there’s probably some questions on this.