Dec 31, 2008

Gerstner on Edwards

John H. Gerstner, an authority on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards, wrote:

"Effectual calling, conversion, repentance, and regeneration were approximately synonymous terms for Edwards. An important statement in Original sin shows the identity of the last three terms."

Gerstner then cites Edwards (see my previous entry for a more lengthy citation) where Edwards made this clear, citing these words:

"I put repentance and conversion together, as the Scripture puts them together, Acts iii. 19, and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word metanoia (repentance) signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it), the following things do show...."

What does Gerstner say in response?

"This is a rather unfortunate and unscientific way of proceeding. While it is true that Scripture tends to use these different terms synonymously, there are significant differences."

See here

No, what is "unfortunate" is the fact that Gertsner would think that Edwards, though using these terms as did the NT writers, was in error and "unscientific"! I am sure that today's neo Hardshell hyperist Calvinists, of the "reformed" variety, would also say that the words and teachings of Edwards on regeneration and conversion, though scriptural, are not "refined" enough, for he did not disect the new birth up into stages and teach that men were born again before they were converted.

Today's "reformed" Calvinists who promote the "born again before faith" error, men like Gene Bridges, arrogantly think they are the "refiners" of the teachings of men like Calvin, Edwards, Alexander and other leading lights in Calvinism, not to mention the many of the Baptist and Puritan traditions.

Edwards on Regeneration

Jonathan Edwards wrote the following (excerpts) on regeneration and conversion. Notice how he represents the older Calvinistic view, the view of Calvin and the view of Alexander (see yesterday's entry), the view that makes repentance and conversion the same as being regenerated.

Edwards wrote:

"But in order to proceed in the most sure and safe manner, in understanding what is meant in Scripture by being born again, and so in the inferences we draw from what is said of the necessity of it, let us compare scripture with scripture, and consider what other terms or phrases are used, where respect is evidently had to the same change. And here I would observe the following things.

If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest, that by regeneration, or being begotten, or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the scripture speaks of as affected in true repentance and conversion. I put repentance and conversion together, because the scripture puts them together, Acts iii. 19. and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word repentance, signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion, means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it) the following things may show.

In the change which the mind undergoes in repentance and conversion, is attained that character of true Christians which is necessary to the eternal privileges of such. Acts iii. 19. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” And thus it is in regeneration; as is evident from what Christ says to Nicodemus, and as is allowed by Dr. T."

"The change of the mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained. Mark i. 15. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And so it is in being born again, or born of God; as appears by John i. 12, 13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, &c. but of God.“ Just as Christ says concerning conversion, Matt. xviii. 3. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven:” so does he say concerning being born again, in what he spake to Nicodemus."

"By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children; which appears in the place last cited: and so they do by regeneration. (1 Pet. i. 23. and ii. 2. ) “Being born again.—Wherefore as new-born babes, desire,” &c. It is no objection, that the disciples, to whom Christ spake in Matt. xviii. 3. were converted already: this makes it not less proper for Christ to declare the necessity of conversion to them, leaving it with them to try themselves, and to make sure their conversion: in like manner as he declared to them the necessity of repentance, in Luke xiii. 3, 5. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

"The change effected by repentance, is expressed and exhibited by baptism. Hence it is called the baptism of repentance. (Matt. iii. 11. Luke iii. 3. Acts xiii. 24. and xix. 4) And so is regeneration, or being born again, expressed by baptism; as is evident by such representations of regeneration as those: John iii. 5. “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit.”—Tit. iii. 5. “He saved us by the washing of regeneration.”—Many other things might be observed, to show that the change men pass under in their repentance and conversion, is the same with that of which they are the subjects in regeneration.—But these observations may be sufficient."

"The change which a man undergoes when born again, and in his repentance and conversion, is the same that the scripture calls the circumcision of the heart.—This may easily appear by considering, that as regeneration is that in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, as has been shown, and as is confessed; so is circumcision of heart. Deut. xxx. 6. “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”

Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart: for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and christian sense, (and that is the same as being true Christians,) as of old, proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh. Rom. ii. 28, 29. “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

That circumcision of the heart, is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. iv. 1-4. “If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto me. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and put away the foreskins of your heart." And Deut. x. 16. "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.” Circumcision of the heart is the same change of the heart that men experience in repentance; as is evident by Lev. xxvi. 41. “If their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity.”

"The change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by baptism, as has been shown; and so is circumcision of the heart signified by the same thing. None will deny, that it was this internal circumcision, which of old was signified by external circumcision; nor will any deny, now under the New Testament, that inward and spiritual baptism, or the cleansing of the heart, is signified by external washing or baptism. But spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are the same thing; both being putting off the body of the sins of the flesh; as is very plain by Colos. ii. 11-13. “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him,” &c."

"This inward change, called regeneration, and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and a living unto righteousness.—This appears with great plainness in that last cited place, Col. ii.) “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands,—buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, &c. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him; having forgiven you all trespasses.”

The same appears by Rom. vi. 3-5. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” &c. ver. 11. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In which place also it is evident, and by the whole context, that this spiritual resurrection is that change, in which persons are brought to habits of holiness and to the divine life, by which Dr. T. describes the thing obtained in being born again."

"That a spiritual resurrection to a new, divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture. So those words in the 2nd Psalm “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” are applied to Christ’s resurrection, Acts xiii. 33. So in Colos. i. 18. Christ is called the first born from the dead; and in Rev. i. 5. The first begotten of the dead. The saints, in their conversion or spiritual resurrection, are risen with Christ, and are begotten and born with him. 1 Pet. i. 3. “Who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible.” This inheritance is the same thing with that kingdom of heaven, which men obtain by being born again, according to Christ’s words to Nicodemus; and that same inheritance of them that are sanctified, spoken of as what is obtained in true conversion. Acts xxvi. 18. “To turn them (or convert them) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in me.”

"So that I think it is abundantly plain, that the spiritual resurrection spoken of in Scripture, by which the saints are brought to a new divine life, is the same with that being born again, which Christ says is necessary for every one, in order to his seeing the kingdom of God.

This change, of which men are the subjects, when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the heart and spirit new, or giving a new heart and spirit."

I"t is almost needless to observe, how evidently this is spoken of as necessary to salvation, and as the change in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, and the character of a true saint; as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, &c. and how apparent it is, that the change is the same. Thus repentance, (NOT ENGLISH ) the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a new mind, or a new heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit. To be born again, is to be born anew; which implies a becoming new, and is represented as becoming new-born babes. But none supposes it is the body, that is immediately and properly new, but the mind, heart, or spirit. And so a spiritual resurrection is the resurrection of the spirit, or rising to begin a new existence and life, as to the mind, heart, or spirit. So that all these phrases imply, having a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit, according to their plain signification."

"When Nicodemus expressed his wonder at Christ declaring it necessary, that a man should be born again in order to see the kingdom of God, or enjoy the privileges of the kingdom of the Messiah, Christ says to him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? i. e...Add to this, that regeneration, or a being born again, and the renewing (or making new) by the Holy Ghost, are spoken of as the same thing, Tit. iii. 5. “By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

It is abundantly manifest, that being born again, spiritually rising from the dead to newness of life, receiving a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit of the mind, are the same thing with that which is called putting off the old man, and putting on the new man.

The expressions are equivalent; and the representations are plainly of the same thing. When Christ speaks of being born again, two births are supposed: a first and a second, an old birth and anew one: and the thing born is called man. So what is born in the first birth is the old man; and what is brought forth in the second birth, is the new man. That which is born in the first birth (says Christ) is flesh: it is the carnal man, wherein we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, whom the apostle calls the first man. That which is born in the new birth, is spirit, or the spiritual and heavenly man: wherein we proceed from Christ the second man, the new man, who is made a quickening Spirit, and is the Lord from heaven, and the Head of the new creation.—In the new birth, men are represented as becoming new-born babes, which is the same thing as becoming new men."

"And how apparently is what the Scripture says of the spiritual resurrection of the Christian convert, equivalent and of the very same import with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. So in Rom. vi. the convert is represented as dying, and being buried with Christ; which is explained in the 6th verse, by this, that the old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed, And in the 4th verse, converts in this change are spoken of as rising to newness of life. Are not these things plain enough? The apostle in effect tells us, that when he speaks of spiritual death and resurrection, he means the same thing as crucifying and burying the old man, and rising as a new man."

"And it is most apparent, that spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. This appears by Colos. ii. 11, 12. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism; wherein also ye are risen with him.” Here it is manifest, that the spiritual circumcision, baptism, and resurrection, all signify that change wherein men put off the body of the sins of the flesh: but that is the same thing, in this apostle’s language, as putting off the old man; as appears by Rom. vi. 6. “Our old man is crucified, that the body of sin may be destroyed.” And that putting off the old man is the same with putting off the body of sin, appears further by Ephes. iv. 22-24. and Colos. iii. 8-10.

And it is most plain, that this putting off the old man, &c. is the very same thing with making the heart and spirit new. It is apparent in itself; the spirit is called the man, in the language of the apostle; it is called the inward man, and the hidden man. (Rom. vii. 22. 2 Cor. iv. 16. 1 Pet. iii. 4.) And therefore, putting off the old man, is the same thing with the removal of the old heart; and the putting on of the new man, is the receiving of a new heart, and a new spirit. Yea, putting on the new man is expressly spoken of as the same thing with receiving a new spirit, or being renewed in spirit, Eph. iv. 22-24. “That ye put off the old man—and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man.”

I observe once more, it is very apparent, that being born again, and spiritually raised from death to a state of new existence and life, having a new heart created in us, being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and being the subjects of that change by which we put off the old man, and put on the new man, is the same thing with that which in Scripture is called being created anew, or made new creatures.

Here, to pass over many other evidences which might be mentioned, I would only observe, that the representations are exactly equivalent. These several phrases naturally and most plainly signify the same effect. In the first birth, or generation, we are created, or brought into existence; it is then the whole man first receives being; the soul is then formed, and then our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, being curiously wrought by our Creator. So that a new-born child is a new creature. So, when a man is born again, he is created again; in that new birth, there is a new creation; and therein he becomes as a new-born babe, or a new creature. So, in a resurrection, there is a new creation. When a man is dead, that which was made in the first creation is destroyed: when that which was dead is raised to life, the mighty power of the author of life is exerted the second time, and the subject restored to a new existence, and a new life, as by a new creation. So giving a new heart is called creating a clean heart, Psal. li. 10. where the word, translated create, is the same that is used in the first verse, in Genesis. And when we read in Scripture of the new creature, the creature that is called new is man; and therefore the phrase, new man, is evidently equipollent with new creature; and putting off the old man, and putting on the new man, is spoken of expressly as brought to pass by a work of creation. Col. iii. 9, 10. “Ye have put off the old man—and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” So Eph. iv. 22-24. “That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, &c. and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” These things absolutely fix the meaning of 2 Cor. v. 17. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

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 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.

So the washing of regeneration, or the NEW BIRTH, is a change from a state of wickedness. (Tit. iii. 3-5.) Men are spoken of as purified in their regeneration. (1 Pet. i. 22, 23. See also 1 John ii. 29. and iii. 1,3.) And it appears, that every man in his first or natural state is a sinner; for otherwise he would then need no repentance, no conversion, no turning from sin to God. And it appears, that every man in his original state has a heart of stone; for thus the Scripture calls that old heart, which is taken away, when a new heart and new spirit is given. (Ezek. xi.19. and xxxvi. 26.) And it appears, that man’s nature, as in his native state, is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and of its own motion exerts itself in nothing but wicked deeds. For thus the Scripture characterizes the old man, which is put off, when men are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and put on the new man. (Eph. iv. 22-24. Col. iii. 8-10.) In a word, it appears, that man’s nature, as in its native state, is a body of sin, which must be destroyed, must die, be buried, and never rise more. For thus the old man is represented, which is crucified, when men are the subjects of a spiritual resurrection. Rom. vi. 4-6. Such a nature, such a body of sin as this, is put off in the spiritual renovation, wherein we put on the NEW MAN, and are the subjects of the spiritual circumcision. Eph. iv. 21-23."

See here

Dec 30, 2008

Archibald Alexander on Regeneration

The following are excerpts from Dr. Alexander's writing on the subject of "regeneration." Though there are some things I cannot agree with, the remarks I have highlighted in red are enlightening as respects what constitutes the "new birth" or "regeneration." I particularly note how Alexander correctly states that regeneration and conversion are vitually the same experience in the scriptures. Also, how he states that a definition of "regeneration" must include the "effect" as well as the "cause." Today's advocates of the "born again before faith" error would do well to see the truth of what Alexander says about regeneration.

He wrote:

"There is an urgent necessity that every sinner should repent, for true repentance is unto life. And what our Lord declared to the Jews is true of all, and was intended for all. "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," and Paul preached to the Athenians that "God now commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, of which he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead." Evangelical repentance, conversion and regeneration, are substantially the same. They all signify a thorough change of views, affections, purposes and conduct; and this change is every where declared to be essential to salvation. And this is not a merely arbitrary constitution. No one is capable of the enjoyment of heavenly felicity who has never been born again. Without spiritual life, what would the sinner do in heaven? If men have no love to God, nor relish for his service, heaven is no place for them. Heaven is a holy place, and all the exercises and employments are holy, therefore, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." And to be holy, ye must be born again.

As God the Holy Spirit is the Author of regeneration; so the instrument employed is the Word of God. This is as clearly taught in Scripture as that God is the author or efficient cause. God is able to work without means, but both in the worlds of nature and grace it has pleased him to employ appropriate means for the accomplishment of his own ends. But although we know the fact that there is an established connection between means and ends; yet we are not competent to explain, in any case, how the end is produced by the means employed. Our animal frame is formed, and organized, and nourished, and kept alive, and recovered from disease by means adapted to these ends, but no one can explain the secret process of nature in these operations. Curious inquiries respecting the way in which the word is instrumental in the production of this change are not for edification. Sometimes regeneration is considered distinctly from the acts and exercises of the mind which proceed from it, but in the Holy Scriptures the cause and effect are included; and we shall therefore treat the subject in this practical and popular form. The instrumentality of the word can never derogate from the efficient agency of the Spirit in this work. The Spirit operates by and through the word. The word derives all its power and penetrating energy from the Spirit. Without the omnipotence of God the word would be as inefficient as clay and spittle, to restore sight to the blind.

Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy over the dry bones in the valley of vision. Thus ministers are now sent to call upon those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to awake and arise from the dead, but none will obey their voice, unless a divine power accompanies their words. Men, it is true, are rational and accountable agents, and are therefore proper subjects of commands and exhortations; yet are they destitute of spiritual life, and no power but that of God as we have seen can communicate life. When the Spirit operates by the word, the soul before dead in sin is rendered susceptible of impressions from divine truth. The entrance of the truth under this divine influence gives light, and excites holy affections, which prompt to good purposes, and as a matter of course, the external actions are in obedience to the law of God. The man becomes a new creature. His wicked life is reformed. Actions before materially good are now performed from love to God and with a view to his glory. That the word of God is indeed the instrument or means of producing this change is evident from many plain testimonies of Scripture; such as the following, "The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." "The testimonies of the Lord are sure making wise the simple." "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." "Being born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever." Therefore the word of God is called "the sword of the Spirit," and is said to be "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner to the thoughts and intents of the heart." So in the exposition of the parable of the sower, our Lord says, "The seed is the word of God." And this seed, when sown on good ground bringeth forth fruit manifold. "For these are they which hear the word and receive it and bring forth fruit." The most precious seed never vegetates nor brings forth fruit, until it receives a vivifying influence from without; so the word of God, unaccompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit, remains unfruitful, however often it may be heard or read; or however it may be treasured in the memory or theoretically understood. To have fruit it is not only necessary to have good seed, but good ground. Make the tree good and the fruit shall be good; for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.

There is need of a quickening influence on the dead soul of the sinner to render it capable of apprehending and appreciating the truth. In the order of causation life must precede action, but in the order of time the communication of life and the acts of the new creature are simultaneous. Lazarus was called from the dead by the voice of Christ, but he must have been inspired with life before he could hear that voice. But still it is proper to say, that he was called into life by the omnipotent voice of our Savior. So when the gospel is preached, the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and live. Or we may illustrate the instrumentality of the word by the case of the blind man whose eyes our Lord opened. This man, when he first looked up, saw objects indistinctly, "men as trees walking;" but when he looked a second time, he saw things clearly. Christ caused this man to see by the light of heaven which shone around him; but the power causing him to see was exerted on the eye, removing the obstacles to vision, or supplying what was defective in the organ. As soon as this was done, the light was the medium of the perception of surrounding objects. Thus the soul of every man is by nature blind. The light may shine around him, but he comprehendeth it not. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." By the energy of the Holy Spirit this incapacity of spiritual vision is taken away; the eyes of the understanding are enlightened. The blindness is removed, and spiritual objects are perceived; but alas! with most, very indistinctly at first. "The light of the just increaseth more and more unto the perfect day." Truth is just as necessary to every spiritual act and exercise, as light is to vision. Where the truth is not apprehended there can be no faith, for faith is a belief of the truth; there can be no love, for it is by the truth that the excellencies of the character of God and Christ are made known. Without the knowledge of the truth, there can be no repentance, for this is the light which shows the holiness and extent of the law and the evil of sin. Thus it is evident that without the truth there can be no holy exercise and no true obedience. Therefore, we never find the Holy Spirit operating on adults but as accompanying the word of truth. We can conceive of a preparation of the heart to receive the truth before it is known, as in fact the knowledge of the truth is acquired very gradually. Thus we can conceive of a divine agency on the heart of a heathen, by which he would be disposed to receive the truth as soon as it should be made known. Such a divine influence does probably prepare the way for the success of the gospel; but where the word is never sent, there we have no evidence that the Spirit exerts his renovating influence on the minds of men. Thus also we can form some idea how infants are regenerated. As they are capable of no moral exercises at present, they do not need the truth; but the Spirit of God can so renovate their depraved souls as to render them capable of apprehending and feeling the truth, as soon as their faculties are sufficiently developed; whether in this world or in another. And as we are all by nature the children of wrath--conceived in sin--and dead, infants need regeneration as really as adults, and cannot enjoy the holy happiness of heaven without such a renovation of their fallen nature.

From the connection which God has established in ordinary cases between the word and regeneration, we see the importance of sending the gospel to the heathen, and of having the good seed of the word sown as much as possible in every soul. The word should be preached in season and out of season, and the truth should be inculcated on the minds of children from their earliest years. Here is work in which all may engage and be useful. Hence also we learn how precious the book of God is which contains his holy word, and how desirable it is to have it faithfully translated into all languages, and circulated round the earth, until every family shall be in possession of the oracles of God. For not only in the preaching of the word of God, but also the reading of the Holy Scriptures, an effectual means of salvation. Agreeably to that in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation." Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, "for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

Some, however, are inclined to the opinion that conviction of sin, which is of any real value, is subsequent to regeneration, and forms a part of that evangelical repentance which all the chosen of God experience. They suppose, that mere legal terrors, which are often felt by the reprobate here, and by all the wicked in hell, can have no necessary connection with regeneration; and that that deep sense of the turpitude and demerit of sin, which commonly precedes a sense of reconciliation, and is by many thought to precede regeneration, is really a consequence of that spiritual change, and a sure evidence that it has taken place. As the question only relates to the order of the exercises of the true penitent, it seems unnecessary to occupy time in discussing it. On both sides it is agreed that mere legal convictions, however the conscious may be awakened, and the soul agitated with terror, are no evidences of a change of heart. And it is also agreed, that all regenerate persons are brought to a deep sense of the intrinsic evil of sin, and this leads them inevitably to the conclusion, that God would be just if he should inflict upon them the condign punishment which he has threatened in his word. Indeed, when the mind is spiritually enlightened to see something of the great evil of sin, the penitent soul cannot help taking the part of God against itself, and approving of its own condemnation.

While some may experience this change so remarkably that they never can doubt of its reality, and can refer to the very day when they emerged from darkness to life, others, who nevertheless are truly regenerated, remain long in doubt about their spiritual state; and even when the evidence of their conversion becomes satisfactory, they are utterly unable to fix the precise time when they began to live. And it is probable that many who speak with confidence of the time and place of their new birth, mistake entirely respecting this point: the time to which they refer the commencement of their spiritual life, is more probably the season of some clear manifestation of the divine favor, when darkness and sorrow were succeeded by joy and peace; and yet the principle of life may have existed long before. There is good reason to think that the exercises of a soul under conviction are often those of the sincere penitent.

Spiritual life is progressive in its nature. Habitual growth in grace is the best evidence of its reality. Those affections and joys which are temporary, however high they may arise, are not the exercises of a new creature. Under the influence of a strong love of happiness and dread of misery, and the convictions of an awakened conscience, many are greatly concerned about their salvation, and are induced to attend diligently and earnestly on the means of grace, and often are deeply impressed and shed many tears; and from some latent principle in the human constitution an oppressive burden of misery may suddenly be succeeded by a feeling of pleasure and lightness, accompanied by the persuasion that sin is pardoned and God appeased. This change of feeling may have its origin merely in the animal frame or nervous system, and may be illustrated by the effects produced by physical causes, such as opiates, carminatives, nitrous-oxide, etc. Or these sudden joys may originate in some suggestion to the mind, as that our sins are pardoned, or that God loves us, and the delusion is more complete if this sudden suggestion comes clothed in the language of Scripture, as son or daughter "thy sins are forgiven thee." These false conversions soon die away, and like the seed on stony ground, bring no fruit to maturity. But genuine piety is a growing principle, and proves that it has deep root by its regular advancement towards perfection. This gradual process in piety is beautifully represented by our Lord under the figure of seed vegetating and going on to maturity."

See here

Three Great Calvinists

Three of the greatest of Calvinist theologians, in my view, are John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Archibald Alexander.

These three men made some powerful statements on regeneration, conversion, and faith. I have posted excerpts from their writings in my blog that have given the gist of their understanding on these terms and have shown that they did not believe that regeneration was separate from conversion, and that men were born again before faith.

In the next couple days I will post some of their writings which demonstrate that they believed that men were only born again as they believed in Christ.

Dec 28, 2008

Questions on Regeneration

Dear Sir

"I just ran across your comments in your bio. Am attaching an illustration of salvation as I understand it. It is proper to say "believe ..and you will be saved". It seems to me to be un-Biblical to say believe and you will be regenerated. It is Biblical to say repent and you will be saved. Unbiblical to say repent and you will be regenerated."

Dear Cap:

The "hermeneutic" propositions you give are not to be found in the Bible. Where does the Bible give these premises? Did you look at all the places in the Bible where "saved" is used and come to this conclusion? Or, did you come to believe your propositions on the "ordo salutis" and then take them to the Bible? There is no scripture that commands men to believe for the new birth?

I am going to suppose that when you say "it is PROPER to say," or not to "say," that you include what we as evangelists are to "say" to the dead alien sinners? To the totally depraved and unregenerate sinners?

If what you say is true, then are you guilty of affirming that only the regenerated are commanded to believe and repent for "salvation"?

You are also guilty of affirming the non-Biblical premise that says "every aspect of salvation, except regeneration, is commanded of men to obtain by faith."

Thus, with these unbiblical man-made premises in your head, you go to the Bible, and "hook or crook," make them "square with" your premises.

Thus, if you read a passage where a person is said to be "saved" or receive a blessing for "believing" and for "repenting," you conclude that it cannot be connected with "regeneration" or the "new birth," and you therefore make it something, regardless of context, to do with a post regeneration experience, in sanctification, justification, or perseverence.

Your faulty premises also make you to affirm that no one is commanded to be regenerated and renewed, or to do anything to be regenerated, and yet the scriptures are replete with such commands.

I believe it is "biblical" to say "believe and live"! And, "repent and live," or words of similar import. Let me give you some examples.

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18: 31 KJV)

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deuteronomy 10: 16 KJV)

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah 4: 4 KJV)

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18: 32 NIV)

"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11: 18 KJV)

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1: 12 KJV)

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19 KJV)

"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 26 KJV)

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3: 2 KJV)

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,." (Ephesians 1: 13 KJV)

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5: 40 KJV)

You then asked me about some wording in some confessions.

You asked:

"As to the new birth not preceding repentance and faith, how do you understand the New Hampshire confession chapter "Of grace in regeneration, where the proper evidence of the new birth appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life?"

Are you saying that these brethren advocated the idea that men were "regenerated" who lacked faith and repentance?

Can a man be said to be regenereted who is dead? Well, the confession says that "life" itself is a "fruit" of regeneration, meaning what is a constituent part of it. As one cannot be said to be "regenerated" who lacks the fruit of a "new life," then also one cannot be said to be "regenerated" who lacks the fruit of "faith" and of "repentance."

Besides, "repentance" is all the same as "regeneration" or "conversion." These terms, as Jonathan Edwards taught, were all virtually words denoting the same experience of grace.

Regarding the London confession see my entry here

You then write:

"Or article 4a of the BFM as the "new which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?"

On this see my entry here

You then cite the "third article of the Arminian Remonstrance." I am not familar with this document but would assume it is not affirming that one can be born again who is in unbelief.

You then write:

"Not knowing you, I am not trying to argue, just to see how you would deal with these sources if you have the time.

I attended NOBTS in the late 1980s and the Greek professor ,who appeared to be Pelagian, admitted that John 1:13 was ep exegetical to verse 12, i.e. explains that those who believe are those who have been born of God."

John 1:10-13 destroys the "born again before faith" view. I have written on this passage numerous times, but see here.

Am I blind or does the apostle not say that Christ is received and believed in prior to becoming the children of God? What is said in verse 13 only states that the believing and receiving were all the same as their being begotten. "They receive/believe to become the children of God" compared with "they were begotten to become the children of God."

Some of the "born again before faith" group will attempt to say that the "becoming sons (children) of God" by faith, in verse 12, is the already regenerated person becoming a child of God by adoption. But, this cannot be the case. For, had John "adoption" in mind, he would not have used the Greek word "teknon" "children," which he did, but would have used the word "huios" (adolescent "sons") instead. So, we become the children of God by receiving Christ, which receiving is equated with believing and with being begotten.

Yours in Christ,


Dec 20, 2008

Teknon, Huios & Huiothesia

A writer said:

"In the Western world we think of adoption in terms of taking a child from one family and making it a member of another. However, the Greek or Roman father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithful (sic) represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

R. B. Jones, Bible commentator states: “To be a son is infinitely more than to be a child, and the terms are never loosely used by the Holy Spirit. It is not a difference in relationship, but in position. Every “born again” child of God has in him the nature of His Father, and is a beloved member of His Father’s family. Adoption cannot make the child any nearer or dearer, yet it gives the child a status he did not enjoy before, a position he did not occupy. It is his recognition as an adult son, the attaining of his maturity, the seal upon his growth to maturity of mind and character. A child is one born of God; a son is one taught of God. A child has God’s nature; a son has God’s character.

Another aspect of this Greek word, huios, that cannot be overlooked involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

Sonship and Maturity

The Bible speaks of sonship both in terms of “positional” and “experiential” truth. For example, some passages relate to the “positional” aspect of sonship, where God declares us legally to be “adopted” as sons through His sovereign election (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 3:26; 4:5-7). The Scriptures do clearly indicate that there is a degree to which we are expected to enter into sonship “experientially,” in this present age ( Matt. 5:9, 45; Rom. 8:14). For instance, we are exhorted in Hebrews 6:1 to “press on to maturity” (i.e.; “sonship”), to think as mature men (I Cor. 14:20), and we are to grow up in all aspects into Him (Ephes. 4:15).

All of these passages, and numerous others, call us to maturity, which is synonymous with the concept of sonship.”
(Understanding “Sonship”
by Don Walker)

See here

Another writer says:

"The word translated poorly as “adoption” is huiothesia and it occurs only five times in the New Testament. It is not found in the gospels although the proper meaning or principle is there. Before we examine the five Scriptures, and the context in which they are used, it is better to first look at the word huiothesia itself. Lexicons do not agree precisely on the meaning of the word. Typically, they give meanings such as, adoption as a son, but this is a vague compromise."

"The word huiothesia is never used to mean make anyone a son. It is to place a son. Each son who is placed already exists as a son. The Greek does not suggest making anyone a son and some lexicons point this out. Strong G5206 also gives the placing of a son. Following this up in Thayer we find: “That relationship which God was pleased to establish between himself and the Israelites, in preference to all other nations … that blessed state looked for in the future life after the visible return of Christ from heaven …”

"The word appears in five verses where we should read placing of a son rather than “adoption.”

"Rom 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption (placing of a son), whereby we cry, Abba, father”.

It is this indwelling spirit which enables those who are begotten from above to cry [krazo] “Abba Father”. Dr. Bullinger’s comments: Abba that is, father. Is said that slaves were never allowed to use the word Abba. Strictly therefore, it can be employed only by those who have received the gift of the Divine nature.

Paul continues:

v16 The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

Rom 8:22,23 “For we know that the whole creation (ktisis) groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (placing as sons), to wit, the redemption of our body”.

In this verse we can see an explanation of what adoption is, namely the redemption of our body.

See here for citation.

"The AV does not discriminate between teknon and huios." (W.E. Vine in Vine's New Testament Words)

(All emphasis are mine - SG)

Dec 19, 2008

Adoption is Future

" the life of the average Israelite male, there were three major events which drew broad public attention to him. The first was his Circumcision, which occurred when he was an infant, at eight days old. This was the moment that he was marked as a "covenant man" in Israel, and was celebrated throughout the community. The second was his Bar-Mitzvah, which took place as he was about to enter into puberty. The word Bar-Mitzvah actually means a son accountable, and signified the time, not only when he was held accountable for keeping the Commandments, but also when he was to become an apprentice under his father in the family business. This, too, was celebrated as a very special event in the life of the child, just as it is today. The third was what was known as his Huiothesia, or adoption ceremony (not to be confused with our modern concepts of adoption. This had to do with a natural-born son, and not one that was taken from another family). The word itself means Son Placement, and indicates the time when a male child reached what was considered to be the age of maturity (thirty years of age). The ceremony went something like this. Once the son had finally come of age, his father would arrange a ceremony for him in a part of the city that would draw the largest possible number of observers (usually around the gates of the city, or in the marketplace). Amidst a great crowd of witnesses, he would then place his hands upon the head of his son, and would initiate the impartation of power. He would speak of his son's commitment throughout the course of his apprenticeship, and confirm that he was now ready to accept the responsibilities about to be conferred upon him. He would grant him the authority to speak in his (the father's) stead, and call upon all who were there as witnesses that day to bear record that from that time forward, the son would go forth in his name. No longer was his son to be looked upon as merely an heir, under tutors and governors, but was now to be recognized as the inheritor of all that his father had promised him, and an equal partner in the family business. He and his father were one. Finally, to seal the deal, so to speak, the father would utter these now-familiar words, "THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED." This pronouncement would let everyone know that the son had received his blessing and full endorsement."

"We would thrice underscore the fact that none of these events, Circumcision, Bar-Mitzvah, or Huiothesia, ever happened by accident, nor were they carried out in random fashion. Their timing was with purpose, and they were faithfully followed out according to their long-held traditions. No one was free to change them to suit their own personal whims or wishes, regardless of who they were. But why do we stress this? Because, as we said, these three experiences are amplified in the life of Christ, and are used for our understanding of God's enduring process. The first was when Jesus was eight days old, and was brought to the temple to be circumcised. The correlation here should be easy enough to recognize. The second was when He became separated from Mary and Joseph, and was found in the temple with the doctors of the Law. This was just prior to the time when He would have received His Bar-Mitzvah.

(In the event that we should miss this parallel, we are tipped off by Jesus' words, "Know ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" There should be no doubt what was in His mind, when He uttered these words.) The third, of course, is the Jordan experience, when Jesus turned thirty years of age. These three events hold within them a great deal of significance, not only in regard to the way in which we understand Jesus' spiritual progress from infancy to puberty to maturity (and the way in which He viewed it), but also regarding the way in which we understand our own."

"He was entirely preoccupied with growth and preparation for the day of His manifestation. Since being led of the Spirit is a leading indicator of one's maturity as a son (Rom. 8:14), it was undoubtedly an essential part of His personal training and development, and He gave Himself wholeheartedly to the cause."

"Because He was so thoroughly prepared for His calling, He carried out that calling with perfect ease, and provided an example for all who aspire to the high call of sonship."

See here

"Both Paul and John also spoke of sonship in the future tense (Rom. 8:19, 21; I Jn. 3:2)." (International Standard Encyclopedia)

See here

"Beloved, even a brief glimpse into this passage of scripture from Romans should reveal to us that the "adoption of sons" or the unveiling of the Son in fullness in a company of sons is something which yet lies ahead for the body of Christ. We, who have received a measure of the Spirit now wait...GROANINGLY WAIT! for our adoption as sons. We were foreordained unto adoption as sons, but the actual adoption is something for which we are now waiting. Thus, this "adoption" is not simply the matter of our coming into the family of God through regeneration of our spirit, but rather, it is something which is the end result of God's fiery dealings with us unto the full and complete surrender of our souls! There have been vast amounts of erroneous teaching about "adoption" in the body of Christ, and that mostly because men have looked at biblical adoption through the eyes of modern western culture. But beloved, the traditional Hebrew view of "the adoption of a son" has absolutely nothing to do with the placement of an orphan into a foster home, rather, it has to do with a young man coming into a place of maturity whereby the full authority and resources of his father are bestowed upon him."

"According to John’s Gospel, those who receive the Christ are given the power to become the children (teknon) of God, and that through the regeneration of their spirit. But what Paul then reveals in Romans is that from these children will come forth “mature sons;” the manifestation of which all of creation has been anxiously

See here

Dec 18, 2008

Soul Winning

Oh how I want to win souls for Christ!

I am often grieved over the lack of effort I spend in witnessing to lost and ruined sinners.

I am full of joy unspeakable when I can tell sinners, hardened sinners, about the love of Jesus and his power to save!

Has, or will, my time spent writing apologetically, and as a teacher and writer in Christian doctrine, help to win a soul to Christ?

I hope that a Hyper Calvinist, or Hardshell, or anyone who lacks "mission fever," will be delivered from their error in doctrine, purpose, mission, and state of mind. If I can do that, and inspire others to be more evangelistic, then I think I will have been useful in "winning souls to Christ" in an indirect, yet mighty way.

I am happy for the opportunities I get to speak of Christ daily with those I meet. Are you a Christian? I don't mind asking that at all!

When I was a Hardshell I would ask people something like this - "do you believe in God?" I did this inorder to see if they were of the elect, or regenerated. If they said "no," I might argue with them for the sake of argument, but with no thought that what I said could save them.

Today I preach to the lost, to the "dead," to those who are "unregenerate," to those who hate God, who reject him, and who are atheists and agnostics.

I love it when I can can lead a soul to Christ. I think these are the greatest times in my life! To be the Lord's "mid-wife"! What a blessing! What a responsibility!

God, my Father, give me greater opportunities to witness to "every creature," to show my love for my neighbor in this superlative way!

By Faith

"...purified their hearts by faith." (Acts 15: 9 NIV)

"...sanctified by faith..." (Acts 26: 18 NIV)

" by faith..." (Romans 1: 17; II Corinthians 5:7 NIV)

"...righteousness from God comes through faith..." (Romans 3: 22; 4: 13 NIV)

"...justified by faith..." (Romans 3: 28, 5: 1, etc.)

"...access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (Romans 5: 2 NIV)

"...stand by faith..." (Romans 11: 20 NIV)

" faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3: 14, 22 NIV)

"You are all sons (children) of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 26 NIV)

"...saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2: 8 NIV)

"...through faith in him we may approach God " (Ephesians 3: 12 NIV)

"...Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephesians 3: 17 NIV)

"...raised with him through your faith..." (Colossians 2: 12 NIV)

"...wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (II Timothy 3: 15 NIV)

"...through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6: 12 NIV)

"...through faith are shielded by God's power..." (I Peter 1: 5 NIV)

"...receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (I Peter 1: 9 NIV)

"...everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 15: 23 NIV)

"And without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11: 6 NIV)

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (children) of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1: 12 KJV)

"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (John 12: 36 KJV)

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31 KJV)

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43 KJV)

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1: 13 KJV)

"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (Hebrews 10: 39 KJV)

Dec 17, 2008

Justification unto Life

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5: 18 KJV)

Those who promote a false Calvinistic "ordo salutis" affirm dogmatically that regeneration precedes faith, but that adoption follows faith. So, when they read such passages as John 1: 12, which says "to as many as received him, to them gave he the right (privilege) to become the children of God," they affirm that this becoming "children" of God has no reference to becoming so by the new birth, or by the divine begetting, or by regeneration.

Thus, this paradigm avows that one is not begotten by faith, but will avow that the born again soul is one who can, after birth, become a child of God by faith in the sense of adoption. The advocates of this faulty paradigm have no reluctance to avow that one is "adopted by faith," or "justified by faith," or "sanctified (washed) by faith," but will not allow that one is "begotten by faith."

There are lots of systemic problems with this order of things.

I have noticed in previous writings how it is problematic to place justification after regeneration and sanctification.

Is sanctification a part of regeneration? Does not Paul speak of the "washing of regeneration"? (Titus 3: 5)

If one is sanctified in regeneration, and if faith and justification follow regeneration, then we have placed sanctification before justification. This however cannot be, for justification is the grounds upon which God is free to regenerate and cleanse the soul. Forgiveness must precede regeneration in the order of the divine mind and working.

In the passage cited above, does "life" come after, or go before, "justification"? Are we regenerated unto justification? No. Justification is "unto" life, or unto regeneration.

So, if we affirm that we are "justified by faith," then we must say that we are "justified by faith unto life." Or, as the NIV renders it - "justification that brings life for all men."

To affirm that one becomes alive (by birth or regeneration) and then become justified, is to reverse what Paul stated. The passage would have to be rewritten to say - "life unto justification."

Dec 16, 2008

Wuest on Adoption

"This word (adoption) is the translation of huiothesia, a word of huiso "a son," and thesia, a form of the verb tithemi meaning "to place," the compound word meaning "to place as a son." The Greek word teknon which means "a child," comes from the verb tikto "to give birth to." It therefore has in it the idea of birth relationship. The word means "a born-one." The word huios does not have this implication. Huios is used in Gal. 3: 26 of the believer under law. The latter was under the schoolmaster (the paidagogoso, a slave charged with the moral supervision of a child in its minority. The word teknon is used in Galatians (4:25, 27, 28, 31) of the believer under law. Thus a teknon is a believer in his minority, a huios, an adult son. Believers under the covenant of law were teknon, that is born children of God in their minority. Believers under grace, are both teknon, born children of God and huios, adult sons of God. This meaning of an adult son is to be used only where the word refers to a believer in this age of grace. The word is used also in the N.T., as a Hebrew idiom, where a person having a peculiar evil, is called the son, (huios) of that quality (Lk. 10: 6, Eph. 2: 2, 5: 6, 8). The word huios is also used to refer to the male issue of child.

The A.V., uniformly translates teknon by the word "child" except in the following places where it is rendered by the word "son," which is the proper translation of huios. Mt. 9:2, 21:28; Mk. 2:5, 13:12; Luk. 2:48, 15:31, 16:25; John 1:12; I Cor. 4:14, 17; Phil. 2:15, 22; I Tim. 1:2, 18; II Tim. 1:2, 2:1; Tit. 1:4; Phm. 10; I John 3: 1, 2. Study these passages, using the word "child" in the translation, keeping in mind the idea of the birth-relationship existing, and see what clearer light is thrown upon them. For instance, Mary calls Jesus "child." He was only twelve years old at the time. Yet this child was confuting the learned Doctors (Lk. 2:48). Timothy was Paul's child and the latter was his spiritual father, for Paul had won Timothy to the Lord. In John 1:12, regeneration is in view. In I John 3: 1,2, the
fact that we are born-children of God, is in view, having the nature of God. In Phil. 2:15, believers, being children of God, and possessing therefore the nature of God, are expected to reflect in their lives the holiness, love, and other qualities of God.

The word huios is uniformly translated "son" except in certain places, some of which rightfully use the word "children" where the plural refers to children of both sexes. But the following places should be translated by the word "son": Mt. 23:15; Lk. 6: 35, 16:8, 20-34, 36; John 12:36; Acts 3: 25, 13:10; Rom. 9:26; Gal. 3: 26; Eph. 2:2, 5:6; Co. 3:6; I Thes. 5:5. It will be observed that in many of the above places the Hebrew idiom is used where a person having a peculiar quality or is subject to a peculiar evil, is called the son (huios) of that quality or evil. He partakes of the nature of that quality.

Coming now to the word "adoption" (huiothesia), we find that it was a term used in Roman legal practice. It referred to a legal action by which a person takes into his family a child not his own, with the purpose of treating him as and giving him all the privileges of an own son. The custom was not common among the Jews, but was so among the Romans, with whom an adopted child is legally entitled to all rights and privileges of a natural-born child. This custom, well-known in the Roman empire, is used in the N.T., as an illustation of the act of God giving a believing sinner, who is not His natural child, a position as His adult son in His family. This is a legal act and position, and not the same as regeneration and a place in the family as a born-child of God.

The word is found in Rom. 8:15, 23, 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5. In Rom. 8:15 it is the Holy Spirit who places believing sinners in the family of God as adult sons. In Rom. 8:23,
believers have already been placed in the family of God, and are led by the Spirit as the adult sons of God. But only when their mortal bodies have been glorified at the Rapture, will they possess all that sonship involves. In Rom. 9:4, the nation Israel is said to have been placed in the special relationship as the peculiar people of God, thus God's own by adoption. Gal. 4:5 and Eph. 1:5 refer to the same thing that Rom. 8:15 refers to."

See here

I will be having more to say about this in upcoming postings.

Dec 13, 2008

Tripartite Torah?

I have previously posted some writings of Alexander Campbell, with comments of my own, on the subject of "the law" and on the question as to whether the law has been abolished, in whole or in part.

See here

And here

And here

I have previously expressed my agreement with Campbell on his opposition to an invention of the school men, to their creation of a tripartite division of the law or Torah.

This tripartite division of "the law" is generally associated with what is called "Reformed theology," but was ironically first formally introduced by the Catholic medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas.

I have had some interaction with blogger, Turretinfan, see here, on this and have promised to address this question/topic, with its ramifications, in upcoming posts.

But, for an excellent series of articles on this topic, one with which I can endorse almost 100%, as an excellent primer and introduction to a deeper study of the topic, visit this page here.

Biblical Adoption

For a good article on the Bible doctrine of "adoption," see here.

How can we speak of adoption as a present experience, for the soul in regeneration and conversion, when the apostle says that we are "waiting for the adoption"? (Romans 8: 22, 23)

How can we apply it to the present experience of the converted soul when it is connected, time wise, with the "redemption of our bodies"?

More to come.

Hyperism & Adoption

Some Hyper Calvinists have invented an "ordo salutis" that has these distinct stages to the regeneration-conversion experience.

1. Regeneration or Begetting
2. Faith
3. Adoption and Justification

What is wrong with this order?

If I am a child of God by regeneration and divine begetting, how can I then be later made a child by being "adopted"?

I can understand how I can be a child of God in spirit by regeneration and then later, when my body is resurrected, it is adopted. However, I cannot fathom how my soul, becoming a child of God by birth, yet needs to be adopted to make me his child.

How did "adoption" make me, in soul or spirit, his child in a way that regeneration did not? Some will say that the birthing makes one a child of God in nature, though not legally, and hence the additional need for the soul to be "adopted." But, again, the question is, did not my being actually made a child of God by birth not legally constitute me a child?

Dec 11, 2008

Wesley - Justification's Priority

Said John Wesley:

"If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these two; the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: the former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also 'born of the Spirit;' but in order of thinking as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive his wrath to be turned away, and then his Spirit to work in our hearts." Sermons on Several Occasions, sermon 46, "The New Birth."


"Thou ungodly one, who hearest or readest these words, thou vile, helpless, miserable sinner, I charge thee before God, the Judge of all, go straight unto him, with all thy ungodliness. Take heed thou destroy not thy own soul by pleading thy righteousness more or less. Go as altogether ungodly, guilty, lost, destroyed, deserving and dropping into hell; and thou shalt then find favour in his sight, and know that he justifieth the ungodly. As such thou shalt be brought unto the blood of sprinkling, as an undone, helpless, damned sinner. Thus look unto Jesus! There is the Lamb of God, who taketh away thy sins! Plead thou no works, no righteousness of thine own! No humility, contrition, sincerity! In no wise. That were, in very deed, to deny the Lord that bought thee. No; plead thou, singly, the blood of the covenant, the ransom paid for thy proud, stubborn, sinful soul. Who art thou, that now seest and feelest both thine inward and outward ungodliness? Thou art the man! I want thee for my Lord! I challenge thee for a child of God by faith! The Lord hath need of thee. Thou who feelest thou art just fit for hell, art just fit to advance his glory; the glory of his free grace, justifying the ungodly and him that worketh not. Oh come quickly! Believe in the Lord Jesus; and thou, even thou, art reconciled to God." (sermon 5, "Justification by Faith")

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Bunyan on Col. 2:13

If I underdstand Bunyan correctly, he taught that faith was the means of becoming united to Christ. Then, being united to Christ, one is then justified and forgiven. Then, based upon this union and justification, the grace of regeneration and salvation are conferred.

Bunyan wrote:

"We received, by our thus being counted in him, that benefit which did precede his rising from the dead; and what was that but the forgiveness of sins? For this stands clear to reason, that if Christ had our sins charged upon him at his death, he then must be discharged of them in order to his resurrection. Now, though it is not proper to say they were forgiven to him, because they were purged from him by merit, yet they may be said to be forgiven us, because we receive this benefit by grace."

"And this, I say, was done precedent to his resurrection from the dead: "He hath quickened us together with him, having forgiven us all trespasses." He could not be "quickened" till we were "discharged"; because it was not for himself, but for us, that he died. Hence we are said to be at that time, as to our own personal estate, dead in our sins, even when we are "quickened together with him," Col. 2:13.

Therefore both the "quickening" and "forgiveness" too, so far as we are in this text concerned, is to him, as we are considered in him or to him, with respect to us.

Having forgiven you all trespasses. For necessity so required; because else how was it possible that the pains of death should be loosed in order to his rising, so long as one sin stood still charged to him, as that for the commission of which God had not received a plenary satisfaction? As therefore we suffered, died, and rose again by him; so, in order to his so rising, he, as presenting of us in his person and suffering, received for us remission of all our trespasses. A full discharge therefore was, in and by Christ, received of God of all our sins before he arose from the dead; as his resurrection truly declared; for "he was delivered for our offences,and was raised again for our justification," Rom. 4:25."

"Wherefore, hence it is that in time they partake of quickening grace from this their head, to the making of them also live by faith, in order to their living hereafter with him in glory; for if Christ lives, they cannot die that were sharers with him in his resurrection."

"This general offer of righteousness, of the righteousness of God, declares that it is in vain for men to think to be set just and righteous before God by any other means."

"There is here also insinuated, that for him that thinks himself the worst, God has prepared a righteousness, and therefore would not have him despair of life that sees himself far from righteousness. From all these scriptures, therefore, it is manifestthat "men must be justified from the curse of the law in the sight of God while sinners in themselves."

"Sixthly , "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Matt. 11:28.

Here we have a labouring people, a people labouring for life; but by all their labour, you see, they cannot ease themselves; their burden still remains upon them; they yet are heavy laden. The load here is, doubtless guilt of sin, such as David had when he said by reason thereof "he was not able to look up"; Psal. 38:3...wherefore "men must be justified from the curse in the sight of God while sinners in themselves."

"Sanctification (including regeneration - SG), then, is consequential, justification goes before the Holy Ghost by this scripture setteth forth to the life, free grace to the sons of men while they themselves are sinners. I say, while they are unwashed, unswaddled, unsalted, but bloody sinners; for by these words, "not washed, not salted, not swaddled," he setteth forth their unsanctified state; yea, they were not only unsanctified, but also cast out, without pity, to the loathing of their persons; yea, "no eye pitied them,to do any of these things for them"; no eye but his whose glorious grace isunsearchable; no eye but his who could look and love; all others looked and loathed; but blessed be God that hath passed by us in that day that we wallowed in our own blood; and blessed be God for the skirt of his glorious righteousness wherewith hecovered us when we lay before him naked in blood. It was when we were in our blood that he loved us; when we were in our blood he said, Live. Therefore, "men are justified from the curse in the sight of God while sinners in themselves."

"Thus Christ saveth from present condemnation those that be still in their sin and blood."

"But is he now quit? No; he standeth yet in filthy garments; neither can he, by aught that is in him, or done by him, clear himself from him. How then? Why, the Lord clothes him with change of raiment: the iniquities were his own, the raiment was the Lord's."

"When he saw Jesus, the devil in him, as being lord and governor there, cried out against the Lord Jesus. In all this what qualification shews itself as precedent to justification? None but such as devils work, or as rank Bedlams have." (he clearly could not put regeneration before justification - SG)

"I come now to the second use, Have faith in Christ. But what are we to understand by faith?

Answer: Faith importeth as much as to say, receive, embrace, accept of, or trust in, the benefit offered. All which are, by holy men of God, words used on purpose to shew that the mercy of God, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, are not to be had by doing or by the law; but by receiving, embracing, accepting, or trusting to the mercy of God through Christ "We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they," John 1:12; 2 Cor. 4:1; 11:4;Col. 2:6; Heb. 11:13; 1 Tim. 1:15; Ephes. 1:12, 13; Acts 15:11. Thus you see what the gospel is, and what faith doth do in the salvation of the soul."

It seems clear to me, from the above citations, that Bunyan put faith before justification (union with Christ) and regeneration after justification.

Bunyan said:

"Now faith is the eye of the godly man..."

If Bunyan were a Hyper Calvinist, and believed that regeneration preceded faith, then he would not speak of faith being the eye. The Hyperist says that God must give one a spiritual "eye" before he can have faith. But, such an idea makes the eye something other than faith itself.

(Justification By An Imputed RIGHTEOUSNESS OR No Way to Heaven but by JESUS CHRIST)

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