Sep 30, 2008

A H Strong on Regeneration

"In ascribing to the Holy Spirit the authorship of regeneration, we do not affirm that the divine Spirit accomplishes his work without any accompanying instrumentality. We simply assert that the power which regenerates is the power of God, and that although conjoined with the use of means, there is a direct operation of this power upon the sinner's heart which changes it moral character."

"In the primary change of disposition, which is the most essential feature of regeneration, the Spirit of God acts directly upon the spirit of man. In the securing of the initial exercise of this new dispostion - which constitutes the secondary feature of God's work of regeneration - the truth is used as a means. Hence, perhaps, in James 1: 18, we read: "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth." Instead of "he begat us by the word of truth," - the reference being to the secondary, not to the primary, feature of regeneration. The advocates of the opposite view - the view that God works only through the truth as a means, and that his only influence upon the soul is a moral influence (Campbellite view - SG) - very naturally deny the mystical union of the soul with Christ. Squire, for example, in his Autobiog., 343-378, esp. 360, on the Spirit's influences, quotes John 16: 8 - "he will convict the world in respect of sin" - to show that God regenerates by applying truth to men's minds, so far as to convince them, by fair and sufficient arguments, that they are sinners."

"For a view that truth is "energized" or "intensified" by the Holy Spirit, see Phelps, New Birth, 61, 121; Walker, Philosophy of Plan of Salvation, chap. 18."

Scriptural regeneration is God's (1) changing man's dispositions, and (2) securing its first exercise."

The Scriptural view is that regeneration, so far as it secures an activity of man, is accomplished through the instrumentality of the the truth."

"Man is not wholly passive at the time of his regeneration. He is passive only with respect to the change of his ruling disposition. With respect to the exercise of this disposition, he is active. Although the efficient power which secures this exercise of the new disposition is the power of God, yet man is not therefore unconscious, nor is he a mere machine worked by God's fingers."

"When a convert came to Rowland Hill and claimed that she had been converted in a dream, he replied: "We will see how you walk, now that you are awake."

"If God did not renew men's hearts in connection with our preaching of the truth, we might well give up our ministry."

"E. G. Robinson: "The conversion of a soul is just as much according to law as the raising of a crop of turnips."

"Only as the sinner's mind is brought into contact with the truth, does God complete his regenerating work. And as the change of inward disposition and initial exercise of it are never, so far as we know, separated by any interval of time, we can say, in general, that Christian work is successful only as it commends the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2)."

"On truth as a means of regeneration, see Hovey, Outlines, 192, who quotes Cunningham, Historical Theology, 1:617-"Regeneration may be taken in a limited sense as including only the first impartation of spiritual life...or it may be taken in a wider sense as comprehending the whole of that process by which he is renewed or made over again in the whole man after the image of God, -i.e., as including the production of saving faith and union to Christ. Only in the first sense did the Reformers maintain that man in the process was wholly passive and not active; for they did not dispute that, before the process in the second and more enlarged sense was completed, man was spiritually alive and active, and continued so ever after during the whole process of his sanctification."

"Dr. Hovey suggests an apt illustration of these two parts of the Holy Spirit's work and their union in regeneration: At the same time that God makes the photographic plate sensitive, he pours in the light of truth whereby the image of Christ is formed in the soul. Without the "sensitizing" of the plate, it would never fix the rays of light so as to retain the image. In the process of "sensitizing," the plate is passive; under the influence of light, it is active. In both the "sensitizing" and the taking of the picture, the real agent is not the plate nor the light, but the photographer. The photographer cannot perform both operations at the same moment. God can. He gives the new affection, and at the same instant he secures its exercise in view of the truth."

"For a denial of the instrumentality of truth in regeneration, see Pierce, in Bap. Quar., Jan. 1872: 52. Per contra, see Anderson, Regeneration, 89-122. H. B. Smith holds middle ground. He says: "In adults it (regeneration) is wrought most frequently by the word of God as the instrument. Believing that infants may be regenerated, we cannot assert that it is tied to the word of God absolutely." We prefer to say that, if infants are regenerated, they also are regenerated in conjunction with some influences of truth upon the mind, dim as the recognition of it may be. Otherwise we break the Scriptural connection between regeneration and conversion, and open the way for faith in a physical, magical, sacramental salvation. Squier, Autobiog., 368, says well, of the theory of regeneration which makes man purely passive, that it has a benumbing effect upon preaching: "The lack of expectation unnerves the efforts of the preacher; an impression of the fortuitious presence neutralizes his engagedness. this antinomian dependence on the Spirit extracts all vitality from the pulpit and sense of responsibility from the hearer, and makes preaching an opus operatum, like the baptismal regeneration of the formalist." Only of the first element in regeneration are Shedd's words true: "A dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection." (Dogm. Theol., 2:503)."

"A. J. Gordon, Twofold Life, 22-"Regeneration is the communication of the divine nature by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word (2 Pet. 1:4..."

"Conviction of sin is an ordinary, if not an invariable, antecedent of regeneration. It results from the contemplation of truth. It is often accompanied by fear, remorse, and cries for mercy. But these desires and fears are not signs of regeneration. They are selfish. They are quite consistent with manifest and dreadful enmity to God. They have a hopeful aspect, simply because they are evidence that the Holy Spirit is striving with the soul. But this work of the Spirit is not yet regeneration; at most, it is preparation for regeneration. So far as the sinner is concerned, he is more of a sinner than ever before; because, under more light than has ever before been given him, he is still rejecting Christ and resisting the Spirit. The word of God and the Holy Spirit appeal to lower as well as the higher motives; most men's concerns about religion is determined, at the outset, by hope or fear. See Shedd, Dogm. Theol., 2:512."

"There is a prevenient grace as well as a regenerating grace. Wendelfus indeed distinguished five kinds of grace, namely, prevenient, preparatory, operant, cooperant, and perfecting."

"While in some cases God's preparatory work occupies a long time, there are many cases in which he cuts short in righteousness (Rom. 9:28). Some persons are regenerated in infancy or childhood, cannot remember a time when they did not love Christ, and yet take long to learn that they are regenerate. Others are convicted and converted suddenly in mature years."

"As there is danger of confounding regeneration with preparatory influences of God's Spirit, so there is danger of confounding regeneration with sanctification."

"Both Luther and Calvin used the word regeneration is a loose way, confounding it with sanctification."

"E. G. Robinson: "Regeneration is in one sense instantaneous, in another sense not. There is necessity of some sort of knowledge in regeneration."

"The doctrine of Alexander Campbell was a protest against laying an unscriptural emphasis on emotional states as evidences of regeneration-a protest which certain mystical and antinomian exaggerations of evangelical teaching very justly provoked. But Campbell went to the opposite extreme of practically excluding emotion from religion, and of confining the work of the Holy Spirit to the conscious influence of the truth."

"A candidate for ordination was once asked which came first: regeneration or conversion. He replied very correctly: "Regeneration and conversion are like the cannon-ball and the hole-they both go through together." This is true however only as to their chronological relation. Logically the ball is first and causes the hole, not the hole first and causes the ball."

Notice how Strong seems to divide up the new birth into two stages, at least for theological reasons. But, he also acknowledges that the Scriptures equate the two.

Notice how Strong refers to Pierce, whose article on the question of means in the new birth was cited from. Pierce divided up the birth into stages as the Old Hardshells and Regular Baptists. He even attempted to use James 1: 18 to prove it.

Strong does affirm that regeneration or the new birth is not completed till one is converted by faith.

Leland's Prophecy of the Civil War

It seems that Elder John Leland foresaw the coming of the civil war as the consequence of the people not repenting over the slavery issue.

Of Elder Leland it is said:

"Yet he had decided political convictions. In the first party crystallization under the federal constitution, he was a Jeffersonian republican; in the later division he was a Jacksonian democrat. This fact gives some interest to his opinions upon two great questions of our day, viz: slavery, and state secession or state coercion by the federal government. On the first of these topics his views are freely expressed, especially in his "Virginian Chronicle," and his "Letter of Valediction." Take these as specimens:

"The whole scene of slavery is pregnant with enormous evils. On the master's side, pride, haughtiness, domination, cruelty, deceity, and indolence; and on the side of the slave, ignorance, servility, fraud, perfidy, and despair. If these, and many other evils attend it, why not liberate them at once? Would to heaven this were done! Something must be done. May heaven point out that something, and may the people be obedient! If they are not brought out of bondage in mcercy, with the consent of their masters, I think they will be by judgment, against their consent.--(Chronicle) How would every benevolent heart rejoice to see the halcyon day appear,--the great jubilee usher in, when the poor slaves, with a Moses at their head, should hoist the standard, and march out of bondage!--(Letter)" (
Written by J. T. Smith in the Baptist Quarterly),M1


It seems that the idea that the birth and regeneration of a sinner comes in two or three distinct stages, that affirms that the "begetting" is different that the "conception" or "birth" or "deliverance" (from the womb), is also a view held by the Swedenborgians. Notice these words.

"Proposition 24. That Regeneration or the New Birth is effected of the Lord alone, by charity and faith, during man's c0-operation; and that it is gradual, not an instantaneous work, the several stages thereof answering to those of man's natural birth, in that he is conceived, carried in the womb, brought forth, and educated." (True Christ. Rel. n.576-578, 583-586),M1

A Brother's Good Question

"Bro. Garrett, thanks for stopping by again. I apologize for being so long in responding. I intended to but forgot about this post. I hope you might notice this.

Would you mind pointing out some Bible verses you feel equate regeneration and converion?


Here are verses that show that regeneration (quickening, new birth, etc.) was equated with the conversion experience.

"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)

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 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? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." (Ezekiel 18: 30-32 KJV)

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36: 25-27 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, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his prayers...that ye may know...And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places...And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air...But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus...Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ...Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 1: 13, 14, 16, 18-20, 2: 1, 2, 4-6, 11-13, 19-22 KJV)

"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us (when?) abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3: 3-7 KJV)

"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost...For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God..." (I Thessalonians 1: 4-6, 9 KJV)

"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and (may receive) inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18 KJV)

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

In John 6 we have this order - Drawing, Coming, Life.

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed (when?), but ye are sanctified (when?), but ye are justified (when?) in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6: 9-11 KJV)

It is crystal clear that these verses describe regeneration in the context of conversion. The various time indicators, either adverbs or other, show that the writers were describing the demarcation line between life and death as being the same line between faith and unbelief, between repentance and impenitence.

I might return the question. Where in any of these verses, or others not cited, do the scriptures make a clear distinction between regeneration and conversion?

Thanks for the question. If you think the above verses clearly distinguish the two, then let me have your reasoning for doing so.


Sep 29, 2008

Expository Preaching

Isn't it odd that many of those who are praising what they call "expository" preaching do not write this way? For instance, Dr. Mohler, one who has been a proponent of this style, has not, to my knowledge, written any expositions of any book of the bible, nor any extended portion of it, but he has written much in a topical and textual manner, just as did the apostles. If "expositional preaching" (as it is commonly defined today) is superior, then why is not expositional writing and talking not also superior?

19th Century Baptist Quarterly

In my regular daily research and historical studies, I ran across this article by a Baptist pastor from Springfield, Illinois and written in the mid 19th century in the American Baptist Publication Society's periodical - the "Baptist Quarterly."

I was surprised to see this writer defending, in this Missionary Baptist publication, the Hardshell or "anti-means" view of the new birth! I know that J. M. Peck would no doubt have been greatly displeased! This periodical was first edited by Prof. Lucius E. Smith and assisted by Drs. Alvah Hovey, E. G. Robinson, A. N. Arnold, and J. M. Gregory.

Wrote Armitage:

"In 1867 the Baptist Publication Society began the issue of the 'Baptist Quarterly,' with Dr. L. E. Smith as editor-in-chief, and Drs. Hovey, Robinson, Arnold and Gregory as associates. At the end of vol. ii, Dr. Weston took the editorial chair, and eight volumes were issued, when its publication was discontinued. Dr. Baumes, of Cincinnati, began the publication of the 'Baptist Review' - a quarterly, in 1878, but sold it in 1885, when its name was changed to the 'BAPTIST QUARTERLY,' and it is now under the editorial control of Dr. McArthur and Henry C. Vedder, Esq., New York. Many of the successive editors named performed their duties with remarkable ability, and won for the 'Review' a recognition in the religious literature of the land. The contributors, also were amongst the best scholars and thinkers of America, but our Churches had not reached an appreciation of its learned discussions and withheld their support. The present editors of the 'Quarterly' have somewhat popularized the character of the articles, and it bids fair to maintain its existence. The number of educated and scholarly persons in our Churches is constantly increasing, and the best thought of the finest minds in them is likely to receive generous encouragement in such a desirable enterprise." ("Early American Baptist Newspapers - A History of the Baptists," 1890, By Thomas Armitage)

The Baptist pastor who wrote the following piece in the original "Baptist Quarterly," was named Nehemiah Pierce. I have not been able to find much information about him. He wrote this article in the 1872 issue, which also had an article by Hovey. Did Hovey and the other editors agree with this view? Why did they allow it to be published? Did they also share the "three stage" view of the new birth as the Hardshells, many Regular Baptists, and many Presbyterians?

In any case I am recording excerpts from his article and plan to respond to it in the very near future. But anyone want to comment on it? Does anyone know about the views of Hovey and others of the American Baptists on regeneration and means?

Please note that this writer upholds the Old Regular Baptist view that makes the initial "begetting" to be of the Father alone and without means, but the later conception, birth, or delivery (salvation), comes later through means.

In the article, titled - "Is Truth An Instrument In Regeneration?" - Pastor Pierce wrote:

"In speaking of the truth as an instrument of regeneration, obviously we refer to "religious truth," the "gospel." "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes." I certainly do not refer to Christ, who is the truth personified, as he said, "I am the truth." I wish to prove just this, that God in the person of the Holy Spirit does regenerate the souls of men without the employment of religious truth as an instrument. I use the term regenerate in its technical and restricted sense, as I understand Dr. Phelps to say in his New Birth: "Regeneration, the divine act, is evidenced to consciousness only by conversion, the human change."

Was this view held by Baptist groups outside of the Hardshells? It seems so. Also, who is the Dr. Phelps that Pierce cites? Also, does the view of Pierce reflect the view of the American or Northern Baptists? Or is the view of Pierce a minority opinion that was allowed freedom to express it itself in the Quarterly?

Pierce continues:

"Once more, Paul says the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Salvation is rather the process of saving men than the act of saving. Regeneration is an act, a "divine act." Salvation is a process divisible into many parts. It embraces conviction of sin, regeneration by the Spirit, and the subsequent development of the regenerate soul or sanctification, the perfecting of the saint, and the final reception of the Christian at the court of heaven.

That religious truth, the gospel, is an instrument of salvation I grant, of course. I would say more, "God never dispenses with truth" in the salvation of men so far as we know, it being understood that I affirm nothing here with respect to the salvation of infant children. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth."

With the question, therefore, of the instrumentality of truth in salvation, I have nothing whatever to do in this article. I will simply confine myself to the subject as stated. What regeneration is I have perhaps stated sufficiently clearly above. It is a simple act of God by which a human soul is changed from evil to good. It is not a complex act, divisible into parts and stages, to perform which an indefinite amount of time is employed. It is one creative act, by which a soul that was dead is made alive. As Christ stood over the grave of Lazarus, and "cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth, and he came," so now the Spirit speaks new life into the dead in trespasses and sins, and they live. The previous taking away of the stone had nothing to do with the simple act of reinvigorating the dead body of Lazarus, nor was the subsequent work of loosing him and letting him go a part of the act of imparting life. There are several steps in this process. Those standing by took away the stone from the sepulchre, Jesus cried "Lazarus come forth," and simultaneously, by the fiat of his own almighty power, he thrilled the putrefying body with vigor and life. Then the overjoyed sisters and friends removed his grave-clothes and let him go. The act of Christ is not complex. It is not mediate, no instrument whatever is employed.

We look from this at of (sic) Christ to the work of bringing to life those who are dead in sin, and very properly inquire, is there no analogy between the regeneration of a soul and the revivifying of a dead body. We do not forget that the operations in the two instances will have many points of dissimilarity. One is bringing to life a dead body, and the other is bringing to life a dead soul. Dr. Phelps says, "God performs an act of sovereign power in every change of character from sin to holiness;" and further, "we portray this unspeakable change as a resurrection. We cry out in despair, 'Who shall deliver us from the body of this death?' But our despair must be eternal, if we have no other hope than such an act of Deity as the raising of Lazarus." All of which I heartily endorse. Regeneration is an act of sovereign power, a creative act, but it differs from the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There is one particular, however, in which these two acts are similar, and similar to all other creative acts of God, so far as I can conceive of God's mode of working. He simply speaks and it is done. He did not apply restoratives to the body of Lazarus, nor use an electro-magnetic instrument. Neither does he, so far as I am able to understand the mode of working, in the simple primary act of "changing the heart," use truth as an electrifying instrument. That he uses truth for the previous conviction and the subsequent edifying, I do not for a moment doubt. But what service truth can render I do not clearly see, since to be effective it must be believed, and it cannot be believed because "the natural man receiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually judged." The gospel to him is utterly distasteful. He spurns it from him. "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God, neither indeed can it." Truth can have no effect upon him whatever. He is senseless to its appeals, for he is dead in tresspasses and sins. If this be an accurate photograph of man's natural heart, how, I ask, can he be regenerated by the instrumentality of truth?"

"It is further apparent that this is the only legitimate construction which can be put upon those passages which speak of regeneration as a new birth. "Ye must be born again. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Unless we rob these passages of every vestige of naturalness, they teach the doctrine we hold. From the necessities of nature that which is born of the Spirit cannot be developed by the action of truth. Truth is the food upon which the soul feeds after it is born, but the soul unborn has no use for food. Unregenerate mind, I repeat, repels gospel truth by virtue of its own nature, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye;" and no holding the two in contact will force the one to imbibe the other till the nature of one or the other is changed. The truth remains always the same, but old things in the heart pass away and all things become new by the effectual working of the grace of God. "By grace are ye saved;" and every good thought, every holy emotion, every righteous action, is the fruit of this grace; for "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

It is not to be denied that the gospel affects men who hear it before the change of heart has taken place. It often times affects them in a very marked and wonderful manner, stirring up the virus of their old nature to a terrible degree. The plainer the truth is revealed to them the more bitter and intense is their hatred of it. The whole history of Christ on earth is the history of the truth personified and thrown into a world of sin. The manner in which he was received and handled is precisely analogous to the manner in which the world receives and handles the truth of God. They despised, rejected, mocked, spit upon, and crucified the Son of God, numbering him with thieves and malefactors. Thus, and thus only, does the unregenerate mind use the truth of the gospel. But it is said that the word of God is the "sword of the spirit," and with it men are slain. Truth, therefore, is the instrument with which this is effected. True, but it is the province of the Spirit to convict men of sin as much as to regenerate the convicted sinner. Peter teaches that obedience to the truth by which our souls are purified is "through the Spirit."

"But let us turn from this aspect of the subject and look at one or two instances of regeneration given in the word of God. We are told by Dr. Phelps that the Scriptures "inform us of many instances of regeneration by means of truth, and of not one without the truth." Those instances are not named or even hinted at, but it is said that the Scriptures "proclaim indubitably the law of divine working in this phenomenon of human experience; and they neither by assertion or hint point us to a solitary exception. They record none in the world's history; they predict none in its future.

It may be presumption to appeal from this decision and attempt to bring any witnesses to prove that this is not true. But I propose to attempt it, nevertheless.

It is expressly stated in so many words that God opened the heart of a certain woman named Lydia, that she should attend unto the things wheich were spoken by Paul. This is the order of things in this experience as is fully attested by "pure revelation," and it does not appear that there was anything in her case which was peculiar. The exercise of the divine power upon her heart in order that she might be prepared to receive the truth appears to be but the usual mode of working. It is not the effect of truth which opens the heart, but a previous opening of the heart by the Spirit, which is an act distinct from the natural effect of truth."

"What I contend for is this from the teachings of Scripture. The heart of man is naturally unfitted to be acted upon favorably by the truth. From the nature of the case, therefore, the soil of the heart must be fitted by the Holy Spirit before the seed of truth can be germinated there. Further, it is contrary to all laws of nature to emply the truth for that purpose. Again, Scripture history confirms me in the position taken. The instances cited point unmistakably to the fact that God works immediately upon the heart, and so prepares it to receive and be benefited by truth. Prof. Atwater, of Princeton, says:

"What we and the great body of Christians hold is that the work of the Spirit on the soul in regeneration is immediate, producing an immediate change in its moral state or dispositions, so that it freely and sweetly is persuaded and attracted by the objective evangelical truth and motives which it previously rejected. This is in opposition to the doctrine of regeneration by the mere suasory influence of such external truth and motives without an antecedent interior change in the soul itself.

This, in precise terms, is what I contend for, and what Andrew Fuller contends for when he says the truth cannot "operate effecually till it is believed," and it cannot be believed while the sinner is "utterly averse to the gospel."

But then it will be contended that we argue for a point in direct antagonism to the positive declaration of Scripture, which say, "Of his own will he begot us with the word of truth," and that we are "born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the word of God."

These and other passages, it is objected, teach positively that the word of God, the truth, is an instrument in the new birth. It is but the part of candor to confess that they appear to teach this doctrine, and that possibly, when I shall get more light on the subject, I may be able to see that in a manner which I now cannot see. God uses the truth itself in the primary act of changing a sinner's heart so that he will lovingly embrace truth. Till I have more light, however, I must be indulged in the belief that these passages are susceptible of an interpretation in harmony with the view expressed, that there is a primary change in the heart antecedent to the effectual operation of truth as a motive for good. With regard to the passage in James, I would simply say that the word rendered "begot" is the same word as that used in the fifteenth verse, speaking of lust, which when it hath conceived, "bringeth forth" sin, and sin when it is completed "brings forth" death. Now if it be allowed that the word shall be used in that sense, my point is carried in so far as this passage is concerned. What I assert is that the conception, the beginning of spiritual life in the soul, is effected by the Spirit of God, without instrumentality. Then it is "brought forth" by the word of truth.

With regard to the second passage, I Peter 1: 23, Andrew Fuller says, "that there is a divne influence in this change which is immediate, or without any instrument whatever, is supposed in a former communication;" but I do not consider this as expressive of the whole change denoted by the term regeneration. I admit regeneration to be by the word of God, and that this truth is taught by the passage in question and also in James 1:18; nor does this concession appear to clash with the above position. When God created man, he breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And in procreation, unless we maintain that souls are generated by human instrumentality, there is an immediate divine agency, very similar to that in creation, and which is expressed by "forming the spirit of man within him." Now as this is consistent with man's being brought into existence by the instrumentality of man, why should not an immediate influence from Him who "quickeneth all things," be consistent with the instrumentality of the word in regeneration? I ask again, why not? The only exception to this argument of the distinguished writer is in the use of the term regeneration. He makes it too broad a term. He makes it to include regeneration proper, and the subsequent "bringing forth" of which James speaks, which, as I look upon the subject, it cannot properly embrace. The "bathing of regeneration," of which Paul speaks is antecedent to the "bringing forth" to which James refers.

I have now completed what I proposed to say as respects the teachings of Scripture upon this subject. I shall close the article by stating a few arguments drawn from other sources.

1. From the definition of the term regeneration. Fuller, in the above extract, it appears to me, gives to the word an unwarrantable signification as stated. Andrews Latin English Lexicon gives as the first definition of genero,--to beget, procreate. I conceive, therefore, that generation, strictly speaking, is the simple primary act by which animal life is originated, and which is anterior to and distinct from the bringing forth, or outward birth, of which I have spoken. Coming now from the realm of the physical into the realm of the spiritual, we are prepared to state the re-generation is the simple act of begetting again. It is an act primary and unique in its character, by which spiritual life is originated in the soul of a man, and which is anterior to and distinct from all subsequent growth and development.

2. From the natural working of truth upon the mind...There must be a change wrought in the mind itself before this truth will be accepted. On the other hand if we proceed upon the hypothesis that regeneration is by the agency of the truth, and that there is no previous operation of the Spirit upon the mind by which it is prepared to receive the truth, then must we acknowledge that the natural mind can receive the things of God, and so reduce the regeneration of a soul to the level of a process of development according to the natural law of belief induced by evidence."

"Dr. Kendrick is regarded as good authority on questions of this character. He says:

"The sinner is saved through faith; the sinner is saved through regeneration, being born from above by the implanting of a germ of spiritual life in his soul. Faith and regeneration, both denoting one and the same essential process, are yet logically distinguishable. Regeneration is the divine, faith is the human side of the process. Regeneration is the act of God, faith is the act of man. Regeneration is faith in principle, faith is regeneration in development. Which then is anterior? Chronologically, we may say neither. For faith is regeneration acting itself out. But logically and efficiently one precedes and conditions the other. The act of God antedates and originates the act of man. God precedes, man follows. We are not born because we breathe, but we breathe because we are born. We are not born again because we exercise faith, but we exercise faith because we are born again. It is not "the will of the flesh, nor the will of man," but the will and act of God that initiates the spiritual life. We are, indeed, commanded to believe on Christ, but we never should believe upon him, and we never do believe upon him, except through the quickening work of the Spirit in the soul. The sinner, dead in tresspasses and sins, never really and spiritually hears the message of salvation so that it becomes vitally sufficient, andy more than the unconscious infant. Hence we suppose that a man may be, and that thousands of men are, regenerated in sleep; they may be regenerated and sanctified like John the Baptist, from the womb; nay, even before the light has ever dawned upon their earthly being. And at any period the regenerating act may first indicate itself in some other way than in direct perception and reception of Christ. Its one invincible characteristic in all cases is, that on account of the redemption wrought by Christ, the Spirit of God works in the soul a divine change, which will always infallibly draw it to Christ whenever he is revealed to it, and will lead it to rest joyfully in him as the author of its salvation.

On the principle which Dr. Phelps advocates, that God never regenerates a soul without the use of truth as an instrument, all that class of person who die in infancy must be lost, and the awful saying of a former day will have at least a semblance of truth in it, which affirms that "hell is paved with skulls of infants whose bodies were hardly a span long." They cannot be effected by the word of truth. They cannot receive and accept the message of truth, which is able to make them wise unto salvation. This certanly cannot be previous to the soul's separation from the body. But the celebrated writer above affirms that "God regenerates the infant before it dies...But the fruit of regeneration is developed only in the separated soul." So far, therefore, as truth is concerned in regeneration, in these instances it is put beyond a peradventure. The child is as unconscious of the existence of a gospel as it is ignorant of the science of astronomy.

I have simply to say that the distinguished writer to whom I have referred, admits that the regeneration of the soul is an act of sovereign power. I understand this act to be simply the changing of the heart so that it will receive and be benefited by the truth. The heart is utterly averse to this truth previous to this change. I submit, therefore, that it is utterly repugnant to sound reason that this truth should be the instrument of the change. In the simple primary act of regeneration, changing a soul from hatred of God to the love of God, the Spiritr needs and employs no instrument whatever."

Nehemiah Pierce, Springfield, Illinois">,M1

Sep 28, 2008

Chpt. 82 - Hardshell Proof Texts IV

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." (John 5: 24, 25 KJV)

These verses are also used by the Hardshells in order to prove that a person is first saved, born again, or regenerated, before he comes to faith. They also affirm that faith in Christ is not essential for eternal salvation.

But, these words do not teach that one is first born again, and then later comes to faith. The Lord is simply defining and characterizing those who will be blessed to enter the kingdom of God.

His purpose, in these words, is not to establish an ordo salutis, as respects any imagined temporal or causal relationship existing between faith and life. His intention is to characterize those who receive him as the Messiah, who believe in him and his words; And, how does he do this? Is it not by equating believers with those who have been spiritually resurrected, or begotten from the grave of sin?

In earlier chapters (See # 14 & 48) in this book I looked at the whole 5th chapter of John's gospel in view of Hardshellism. I showed how there is so much in this chapter that destroys Hardshell "logic," and presuppositions, and outright falsehoods.

First, let us notice how these words actually teach against Hardshellism.

The Lord teaches that it is the "believer" who has been resurrected from inward spiritual death. He is the one who is alive to God and godly things. Will the Hardshells accept the reverse of this? That the unbeliever is dead, not alive, not born again, not resurrected?

Do they not teach that both believers and unbelievers are "born again" or "spiritually alive"? Clearly Jesus is affirming that all those who do not listen to his words, who do not believe, are they who remain dead in sins. Those who have listened to his words and believed on him are they who are spiritually alive.

The Hardshells divorce the spiritual "life" from "faith." One receives spiritual "life" first, apart from faith, in the Hardshell view. By this understanding of the matter, the "life" is without faith; But, what kind of "life" is it that does not have faith as part of it?

How does Jesus define the spiritually "dead"? They are the same as they who are unbelievers. Who are they who are spiritually alive? They are they who have believed. Who is a believer? He is one who is spiritually alive. Who is the unbeliever? He is the one who is spiritually dead.

Jesus clearly is equating, experientially, the two things. It is similar to how John equated (connected together) two things when he said - "whoever has the Son has life." Here Jesus is saying - "whoever has faith has life," or conversely, "whoever has life has faith."

The Hardshell puts the "hearing" and "believing" after the "coming to life." Thus it is the "living" who "hear" and "believe," and not the "dead." Yet, the latter part of the above citation puts the "coming to life" after the "hearing." Further, it is one who is "dead" who "hears" the "voice" of Christ, and this "hearing" precedes the "coming to life." They hear in order to live, rather than live in order to hear, fundamentally speaking.

Why would Jesus be instructing these unbelievers in an order salutis? Christ's intent is not to indoctrinate them in an order salutis. His intent is not to get them to accept the proposition that says that they must be made alive by him in order for them to believe his words. Is Jesus not saying to these dead unbelieving sinners - "you are dead if you do not believe"?

A "believer" is one who "has passed from" unbelief to belief, and who "has passed from" darkness and ignorance to light and knowledge, and who "has passed from" hardness and impenitence of heart to tenderness and penitence of heart, one who "has passed from death unto life."

To teach that it is not only possible, but actually the case, that most of the elect "pass from death unto life" but that only few "pass from unbelief and impenitence to faith and repentance," is giving a definition to "life" that is nonsensical, besides being unscriptural. The Hardshell description of this experience of "passing" eliminates vital elements of the "life."

Notice also how Christ speaks of justification as well as spiritual regeneration/resurrection when he says that the believer "shall not come into condemnation." I will not address the Hardshell view on "justification," and on "justification by faith," at this time. I will save that for a future separate posting. I have, however, already dealt with the Hardshell view on "faith" in earlier chapters.

But, again, we may ask the same rhetorical questions to every Hardshell, or every Hyperist who insists that Christ here intends, and actually does teach, that life comes before faith.

1. Who does Christ declare justified and safe from future condemnation? Is it not the believer?

2. Does Christ not affirm that every unbeliever is condemned and will come into judgment?

3. Is it not the view of the Hardshells that many unbelievers are spiritually "regenerated" and "alive"? And who is it that "shall not come into condemnation"? Is it not the Hardshell view that many unbelievers are justified?

4. Does Jesus connect together regeneration (spiritual resurrection), not only with coming to him in faith, but also with justification? Is there any clue in these words of Christ that necessitates that one believe, like many of the "Reformed" hyperists, that "regeneration comes before faith but that justification comes after it"?

The Hardshells also argue on this passage in a similar manner as to how they argue on John 1: 12,13 and I John 5:1. They say here, as there, that "hearing" and "believing" are in the present tense, and so means one "who is (continually) hearing and is (continually) believing," but "is passed" is past tense, indicating again (supposedly) that the life preceded and caused the faith.

But again, Jesus, like John, is not denying that it is equally true to say - "he who has believed has passed from death unto life." But, to express it this way would imply that faith, like the birth and the resurrection, is also a one time event. If Jesus wanted to be precise, as the hair-splitting theologians are anxious to be, he perhaps would have said - "He who has believed (and who continues to believe), has passed from death unto life."

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (vs. 40)

As I said in previous chapters, these words overthrow the Hardshell and neo "Reformed" view or "ordo salutis." If their view were correct, Jesus would have expressed it this way - "and ye will not have life that ye might come unto me." Rather, it has the "coming" before the "life," just as the "hearing" was before the "coming to life." Actually, it is very simple. When one comes to Christ, he comes to life, comes to truth, and comes to the way. To say that one comes to life but does not come to faith is a twist of scripture, nothing but eisogeses.

Notice also how Christ equated his "word" with his "voice." This is important in view of the novel view of the Hardshells on what is meant by hearing the "voice" of Christ as opposed to hearing the word of Christ. That was dealt with in earlier chapters. To hear the gospel, by whomever it is preached, is hearing the voice of Christ, is hearing his word. It is not something "heard" on the subconscious level.

In the next chapter we will look at some verses in John 6 that Hardshells use to defend their hybrid and aberrant soteriological views.

Sep 27, 2008

J. M. Peck on Hyperism

John Mason Peck was one of the great first "Hardshell Slayers." He was the first to debate Daniel Parker, the great father of the anti-mission movement. Here is what he had to say about Hyper Calvinism and the "born again before faith" (and without the word) error.

"But there are some things which Regular Baptists have been accused of propagating, and some speculations preached by good men, which cannot be found, or legitimately inferred, by implication from this Confession of Faith (Philadelphia). These things are not there, and can not be implied from the doctrines taught..."

"Some may yet imagine and teach that the Spirit regenerates the elect without means, or the subordinate agency of his gospel. But in this they teach directly contrary to the unequivocal declarations of the Confession of Faith, no less than against the scriptures. The doctrine of means, or the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration, as well as in all its adjuncts, is taught very plainly and directly in chapters 1st, 7th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, and 20th; and is taught by implication in several other chapters. The only exception made is in chapter X, under "Effectual Calling," sec. 3: --

"Elect Infants, dying in Infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh, when and where, and how he pleaseth. So also all other persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word."

The construction put on the first clause of this section by brethren in the Philadelphia Association was this: That the phrase "Elect Infants" includes all who died in a state of unconscious infancy -- that the second clause referred to adult idiots, and others, who were rendered incapable of being "outwardly called by the ministry of the word," by some providential acts.

The authors and revisors [sic] of this "Confession" would have repudiated with the expressions of horror, the mischievous speculation that God has an elect people, scattered among the nations of the earth -- that he knows his own -- and that he quickens or regenerates these without the gospel or any of the instrumentalities he has provided. REGULAR BAPTISTS were missionary Baptists, and knew the meaning of the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature, specially in view of their conversion and salvation.

The Confession of Faith teaches the doctrine of "particular election," without regard to human merit; but it also teaches the necessity of preaching the gospel to all men, without which sinners capable of hearing the gospel cannot be saved. The anti-christian dogma that the gospel need not be preached to sinners of every class and grade, for the specific purpose of being the instrument of their conversion and salvation through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, has no place in the Confession of Faith of Regular Baptists." (THE BAPTISTS - Regular, Separate and United" By John M. Peck, 1855)

Boice on the Nephilim

From "Genesis," by James Montgomery Boice

Sons of God/Daughters of Men

"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:1-4)

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days-and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The first verses of Genesis 6 are transition verses. On the one hand, they wrap up the pre-Flood history of the earlier chapters, showing the state of degeneracy to which the race had fallen. On the other hand, they prepare for the story of Noah and the Flood that follows; it was because of this degeneracy that the Flood came. Unfortunately, the meaning of these verses is not self-evident. They have raised questions that have been discussed for years.

The passage tells us that "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" (vv. 1, 2). This apparently straightforward statement is actually confusing because the subject of the sentence might refer to either of two things. "The sons of God" might mean descendants of the godly line of Seth, who according to this interpretation would be said to have married unbelieving women. Or it might refer to angels, as do the only other exact uses of the phrase in the Old Testament (Job. 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).

The thing that makes these verses so interesting is that three New Testament passages seem to refer to them: 1 Peter 3:18-22; 2 Peter 2:4, 5; and Jude 6, 7. These passages say in part: "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:18-20); "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others" (2 Peter 2:4, 5); and "the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude 6).

If these passages are related, as they seem to be, the incident of Genesis 6 has bearing on the doctrines of judgment, the afterlife, and even the work of Christ following His crucifixion but before His resurrection or ascension. The New Testament verses explain what Christ was doing when, as we say in the Apostles' Creed, "he descended into hell."


The interpretation of Genesis 6 which takes "the sons of God" as referring to the godly line of Seth is most natural since it avoids the obvious problem of how spirit beings could copulate with humans. Moreover, it has weighty support in that it is the view of many theological giants of church history. It is not an early view-we will come back to that later-but it appears in such thinkers as Chrysostom and Augustine in the early church, and is adopted by reformers such as Luther, Calvin, and their followers.

Of the early views Augustine's is most important because he had a great influence on later interpreters. Moreover, he placed his interpretation within a broad theological context. Augustine's treatment occurs in The City of God, in which he is trying to trace the origin, nature and development of the two cities (the society of those who love God and the society of those who love self). This is significant, because it fits his objective to view Genesis 6 as continuing the story of the two cities which, according to Augustine, emerges in Genesis 4 and 5. He writes of the passage, "By these two names [sons of God and daughters of men] the two cities are sufficiently distinguished. For although the former were by nature children of men, they had come into possession of another name by grace.... When they [the godly race] were captivated by the daughters of men, they adopted the manners of the earthly to win them as their brides, and forsook the godly ways they had followed in their own holy society."

This view fits into the pattern of Genesis 4 and 5. Moreover, it fits into the whole of Scripture in which, as Francis Schaeffer notes, "there is a constant prohibition against the people of God marrying those who are not people of God." If this is the proper interpretation of Genesis 6, the point is well taken.


However, there are reasons for rejecting this interpretation in favor of the angelic or supernatural view, and it these we now come. The first reason is linguistic. That is, so far as the biblical use of the phrase "the sons of God" is concerned, there is every reason to it as referring to angels.

This has been denied by the side, of course. Keil and Delitzsch maintain that the angel view is "not warranted by the usages of the language" and is "altogether unscriptural." But what is the evidence? The phrase "sons of God" (bene elohim) is used only three other times in the Testament, as indicated earlier-in Job 1:6; 2:1; and 38:7. In each case it clearly means spirit beings, twice those fallen spirits who accompanied Satan in his periodic appearances before the Lord in heaven. This is so clear that the translators of the New International Version drop the longer phrase entirely and simply substitute the word angels: "One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came with them." (Job 1:6; cf. also 2:1). A similar form of this phrase (bar elohim used in Daniel 3:25 of the fourth figure Nebuchadnezzar saw when he looked into the burning furnace into which Daniel's three friends had been thrown. In this case it probably refers to a fallen angel or even a theophany, but the actual identity of the being involved is not given. Nebuchadnezzar merely says, "The fourth looks like a son of the gods."

An objection to this view says that the phrase "sons of God" is used in the New Testament of all believers, hence men and women, as opposed to angels or demons, and that it appears in Luke 3:38 specifically of Adam. But this actually proves the point. For what is it that distinguishes Adam (but not Eve), believers in the New Testament period (but not necessarily believers in the Old Testament period) and angels from all other beings in the universe? The answer is that each is directly created by God. Adam clearly was. So were the angels. Believers are termed "sons of God" because they are born of God directly by His Spirit (cf. John 3:3-8).

The second reason why the angel view of Genesis 6 should be preferred is that this was the view of the translators of the Septuagint, who rendered "sons of God" as "angels," and of other Jewish writers prior to the time of Christ. The key book is 1 Enoch. It is available to us through an Ethiopic text of which only three manuscripts survive. Yet in spite of this paucity of manuscripts it was probably "the most important pseudepigraph [a work written in the name of someone other than the actual author] of the first two centuries B.C.--the judgment of R. H. Charles.

Enoch writes, "And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.'They were in all two hundred[They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments.... And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells.... And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways" (chs. 6-8). The book continues by showing the judgment of God against the fallen angels, in which they are bound up in prison in "the uttermost depths" of the earth.

First Enoch is not a biblical book, of course. Its interpretation of Genesis 6 is not inspired. It could be wrong in many places and undoubtedly is. Nevertheless, it is significant for our interpretation of the text because it was apparently known by Peter and Jude who, in their oblique references to the same subject, seem to put their stamp of approval on it, at least in this matter.

Several studies ago, when we looked at Enoch and his preaching to the ungodly of his age, we quoted Jude 14, 15: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."' We did not mention it at the time because it was not pertinent then, but these words are actually from 1 Enoch. The phrase "seventh from Adam" is found in 1 Enoch 60:8. The prophecy itself, containing the fourfold repetition of the word "ungodly," is found in 1:9. Since Jude clearly has Enoch in view in verses 14 and 15, how can he not also have Enoch in view in verse 6, just eight and nine verses earlier, when he says that "the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home" have been judged and "kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day"?

When we carry our inquiry to 2 Peter we find the same situation. To begin with, 2 Peter and Jude are closely related in that most of 2 Peter 2 is paralleled in Jude, and there are parallels in the other two chapters. This causes us to think that Peter, like Jude, was probably also aware of the angel interpretation. Again, Peter uses language similar to Jude's in referring to the angels who sinned. He speaks of God's judging the angels by "putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for [final] judgment" and of God's judging the people by flood.

We are moving in the same realm in 1 Peter, where Peter writes, "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:18-20). This text adds the idea of a special ministry of Christ to these fallen angels during His descent to hell between the times of His death and resurrection. It does not mean that He offered the gospel to them; that would suggest that after death there is a "second chance" for salvation-a doctrine repudiated elsewhere (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 6:2). It is rather that Christ proclaimed His victory over sin and the devil to the demons. Peter refers to this event to encourage believers in their witness before this world's magistrates.


The third reason for preferring supernatural interpretation of Genesis is the way in which both 2 Peter Jude connect the judgment of God on the angels with the judgment of God on Sodom and Gomorrah, particularly the way in which Jude refers to the second incident. Apart from the language of Jude the connection could simply be that of two obvious examples of great judgment. But Jude seems to say more, after having spoken of the judgment the angels for their sin, he goes on to say, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and version" (v. 7). In this verse the comparison is not in the matter of judgment itself. Jude does not say, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah were judged." The comparison is rather in the area of the sin that occasioned the judgment, and this, as Jude shows, was sexual sin of a particular kind. In modern versions this is hidden by translations as "sexual immorality perversion" (NIV, PHILLIPS) or "unnatural lust/s" (RSV, NEB). But the Authorized Version is closer to the Greek text when it speaks of the Sodomites as "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh" [sarkos heteras]. The men of Sodom did this in desiring sexual relations with the angels who come to visit Abram and Lot (Gen. 19). The implication would be that in doing so they recapitulated the sin angels of Genesis 6, who "in a similar way" had desired relationships with women.

The objection to this supposed union of angel flesh and human flesh is that the angels are supposed to be sexless, since Jesus said, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (Matt. 22:30). But this is not the equivalent of saying that the angels are sexless or that they could not have had sexual relations with women if they had chosen to do so. In heaven human beings will not marry but will nevertheless retain their identity, which includes their being either male or female. In the same way, the angels could also have sexual identities. It is significant perhaps that when the angels are referred to in Scripture it is always with the masculine pronoun "he," and they are always described as men. So, as Henry M. Morris says, "When Jesus said that the angels in heaven do not marry, this does not necessarily mean that those who have been cast out of heaven were incapable of doing so."

The final point of evidence for the angel view of Genesis 6 is the reference to the giants or Nephilim in verse 4: "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown."

Since we have no information about the results of an angel/human union, except what is found here, it is impossible to argue how such a union might produce giants. It is enough to say that it is conceivable that this could happen and that this is the probable meaning of verse 4. The New International Version has hedged its translation by refusing to translate, simply transliterating the Hebrew word Nephilim. But in Numbers 13:33 the word clearly means giants (though not necessarily those produced by an intermarriage of angels and human beings). What would be more natural than that this union would produce the "mighty men" of antiquity? Since this verse specifically refers to the "heroes of old," what would be more probable than that this is the origin of those stories of half- human-half- divine figures present in virtually all ancient mythologies? The stories of Homer and other writers would be embellished, of course, but they probably reflect memories of these ancient outstanding figures of the pre-Flood period.


A study like this involves so many technical details that it is easy to find oneself wondering about the point of it all and asking whether the outcome really matters. In one sense, the natural interpretation is quite valid and its point well taken. But I am convinced that to view Genesis 6 in this way is actually to lose something important.

Earlier we pointed out that one thing in favor of the natural interpretation is that it seems to fit in well with the general theme of chapters 4 and 5, namely, the contrast between the godly and the ungodly lines. But this is not the only contrast we have seen in the opening section of Genesis. What of the serpent? What of Satan? What of his desire to subvert the race and draw men and women after himself against God? If Genesis 6 does not refer to demonic activity, Satan apparently fades out of the picture entirely after chapter 3. But if Genesis 6 refers to a further attempt by Satan to pervert the race, then we have a reminder of his continuing hostility not only to God but to ourselves as well.

Satan was in the garden when the promise of a deliverer was given. He heard God say, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Gen. 3:15). Like Eve, he too must have thought that Cain, the woman's offspring, was the deliverer and must therefore have plotted to turn him into a murderer. He succeeded! He corrupted Cain by getting him to murder Abel, thereby eliminating one of Eve's children and rendering the other unfit to be the Savior. Yet Satan failed! For, as he was soon to learn, God simply continued on His unruffled way to develop the godly line through which the deliverer would eventually be born. What was Satan to do now? At this point he conceived the plan of corrupting the entire race by the intermarriage of demons and human beings. The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come. In narrating this incident, Genesis 6 is saying, in effect, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch the villain is still hatching his plots."

Satan is still doing it today. Because he is a being who learns by experience, he is a much wiser and more dangerous devil today than he was in the time before the Flood. A person who knows this and who knows that we struggle "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world a against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12), will fear Satan and draw near to Jesus, who has defeated him.

Again, there is this practical application. Without detracting in the slightest from the fact that the Flood was a real judgment of God on the ungodliness men and women and consequently warning of an even greater judgment come, we can also see that it was at the same time an act of the marvelous grace of God. For in preserving the race intact uncontaminated by Satan's attempts demonic perversion, God actually provided for our salvation through keeping open the way for the Redeemer to come. If Satan had succeeded, Jesus could n have been born and the race as whole--including Adam and Seth a Enoch and all the rest--would have been lost. But by destroying the contaminated race and saving uncontaminated Noah and his immediate uncontaminated family and by binding the demons who participated in this great sin in Hades until the final judgment God made the salvation to be achieved by Christ both sure and possible."

Sep 26, 2008

A Syllogism

Regeneration/New Birth = Coming to Christ

Coming to Christ = Believing on or Receiving Christ

Regeneration/New Birth = Believing on or Receiving Christ.

SBTS on Regeneration

When the original charter of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which continues as a part of the "fundamental laws."

VIII. Regeneration

"Regeneration IS a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone."

Notice how regeneration, by definition, as much includes "enlightenment of the mind" or "saving understanding," or faith, as it includes "quickening" and "renewing." The "change of heart" is a change from unbelief to faith.

Conviction before Regeneration

"The conviction of the Spirit mediately prepares sinners for faith.

The critically important role of the convicting work of the Spirit was announced by Christ in John 16:8-11. We should view this as preparing the heart for faith and regeneration by breaking through the spiritual death and blindness which obstruct faith. This helps to explain how any spiritually dead sinner can come to saving repentant faith in Christ. We can best understand the ministry of the “other paraclete (from the Greek paraklçtos; one who entreats, encourages, exhorts)” by noting the parallel with the first paraclete, Christ Himself. He most effectively used the Mosaic Law to bring about conviction of sin.

Since Christ predicted the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the events in Acts 2 are the first example of the conviction of the Spirit as promised by Christ. The Holy Spirit, the divine Advocate, used Peter to charge the nation with the sin of crucifying Christ, and as a result, they were “pierced to the heart” and cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” They were under conviction but had not yet repented as seen in Peter’s response to, “Repent!” As the word of God is preached the Holy Spirit uses the word and brings some people under conviction. But not all who are brought under conviction ultimately repent and turn toward Christ." ("
Mediate Theology - 12 Supporting Propositions" by Dr. C. Gordon Olson)

1925 Baptist Faith and Message Statement

Do these words, from the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message, teach regeneration before faith?


"The blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel. It is the duty of all to accept them by penitent and obedient faith. Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Jesus Christ as teacher, Saviour and Lord."


"Regeneration or the new birth is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit, whereby we become partakers of the divine nature and a holy disposition is given, leading to the love and practice of righteousness. It is a work of God's free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ and made manifest by the fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God."


"We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; Whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, anger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour."

Some who believe in the "born again before faith" error often cite from the Baptist Faith & Message, either this one or another, either earlier or later, and try to make it to affirm their error. But, obviously it does not.

One of the things that might lead some, I think, to this interpretation is the use of the word "wherby." Had the word "wherein" been used, the statement would be much clearer. However, clearly, the writers were using the term "whereby" in the sense of "wherein," for they were not describing what follows the new birth but what constitutes the new birth, and not describing a strict "ordo salutis," but the character of those who are born again, or the constituent elements of the new birth, or that which "accompanies" it.

Besides, what is "conditioned upon faith"? Is it not the "work of grace" or "regeneration"?

Spilsbury on Effectual Calling

Spilsbury submitted a personal confession of ten articles for the "Godly reader to judge, what difference there is between him and me, in the main, that men should be so incensed against me, as to seek my life, as some have done."

"I believe that God of his grace, in his own time, effectually calls such as shall be saved to the knowledge of the truth, who is said, of his own will to beget us by the word of truth: in which work of grace, nature is as passive, as a child in the parents begetting of it; and so God by His Spirit works faith in the hearts of all such to believe in Christ, and his righteousness, only for justification. And thus they are made righteous before God in Christ, and so conformable to the will of God the Father through the Son; and also made holy through the work of regeneration, and the holy Spirit of grace dwelling in them; yet all such have still, as long as they live here in the flesh, remaining in them, an old man, that original corruption, the flesh that wars against the spirit, which hinders them in their obedience both to God and to man, and many times draws them to that which is evil, and contrary to their intentions; yet all of them shall through Christ overcome, and safely be brought to glory at last."