Nov 8, 2008

London Confession & Hyperism

Here is part of my rebuttal to "Chad" who is commenting on a writing by Phil Johnson and how it relates to James White and the charge that he is a Hyper Calvinist (Johnson defends White) for his believing that men can be said to be "regenerated" who have not come to faith and repentance.

Two issues came up. One, does the London Confession of Faith teach the "born again before faith" error? And, did Spurgeon also believe it?

Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace."

Notice the constituent elements of this "life" and of this "grace and salvation."

1. Enlightening their minds
2. Giving saving understanding
3. Coming to Christ
4. Answering the call
5. Giving a new heart (of faith and repentance)
6. Renewing the will or made willing

By your interpretation of the above words, these things do not constitute the new birth itself but are rather after effects, things that are not integral to the birth itself.

It is BY natural birth a person is enabled to sin and BY spiritual birth enabled to do righteousness. That is all that the confession is avowing.

To read these words of the confession as if they implied temporal "stages," as does Hendryx at, is reading into the confession a notion that is not there. All one has to do is read the writings of the signers of this confession, men like Benjamin Keach, to ascertain what they meant by this statement. Did Keach believe men could be said to be "born again" who had not believed?

"2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby (or therein) enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead."

I could say - "by the effectual call the sinner is thereby enabled to come to life." Does this mean the person has been "called" BEFORE he is alive? Your interpretation would say yes!

When is this "grace" of regeneration received? When does it become complete and effectual? When the grace offered is conveyed and received! Your interpretation has a man regenerated and effectually called who has not yet received the grace of salvation!

When does a person "embrace" this regenerating "grace"? Is it not AFTER he has "answered the call"?

Your interpretation of the passage has a man "effectually called" BEFORE he "answers" the call! That is like saying that Lazarus was resurrected before he answered the call to come forth from the grave!

Your definition of "regeneration" is the mere act of God in calling the elect, and excludes the effect of "answering" the call.

When is a man "effectually called"? Before he answers it? Then, your definition has a man "called" and "regenerated" who has not answered the call! And, if he has not "answered" the call, then he is dead, uncalled, and without grace and salvation!

Archibald Alexander said:

"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."

But your definition limits the definition of "regeneration" and "effectual calling" to the cause without any consideration of the effect! You omit the effect as part of the definition of being "born again" and "called"!

By your reading of this section you have a man who is "quickened" and "renewed" who has not yet "embraced" Christ or the gospel! That is rank Hardshellism.

Passages used by the writers of the confession include these verses:

Ephesians 1: 17-20; II Thess. 2: 13. 14; Acts 26: 18

Here regeneration is viewed as a means or constituent part of being saved, born again, or regenerated. The latter verse has the apostle, by his preaching, as a means in this work. That is why I alluded to I Cor. 4: 15 where Paul said "in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

You tried to dodge my question by saying the Holy Spirit does the begetting. Yes, yes, who denies this? But, the Spirit does it through Paul and so Paul could say "I have begotten you."

You missed the whole point. If men are begotten by the gospel, how can you not see that this can only mean begotten by believing it?

If one must be regenerated BEFORE the gospel can be of any use to him, then how is it a means in regeneration itself? At least Hendryx is honest and avows that the "first stage" of "regeneration" is without means, but the "second stage" is by means! How does the Holy Spirit beget men "through" the gospel? Is it not through bringing them to believe and "embrace" it?

"15. Repentance and Salvation

Those of the elect who are converted in riper years, having lived some time in the state of nature, and in this state served various lusts and pleasures, God gives repentance which leads to life, through an effectual call."

"20. The Gospel and Its Influence

The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable for life, God was pleased to promise Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect and bringing to life within them faith and repentance. In this promise the substance of the Gospel was revealed and shown to be the effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners."

How can the gospel be "effectual" if it is not believed? Also, notice how "regeneration" is defined by its constituent elements, faith and repentance! To make faith and repentance after effects, ad hoc, excludes faith and repentance from the thing itself.

"This promise of Christ and the salvation which comes by Him, is revealed only by the Word of God. The works of creation and providence with the light of nature do not reveal Christ or His grace even in a general or obscure way. How much less, therefore, can those who are devoid of the revelation of Christ by the promise (or the Gospel) be enabled by the light of nature to arrive at saving faith or repentance."

Notice how the confession does not separate the terms "salvation" and "calling," or "salvation" and "regeneration," as you and the Hypers are anxious to do! What is this "arriving at saving faith and repentance" if it is not arriving at regeneration?

Also, you did not address the citation I gave from chapter 14 of the confession, which speaks of "believe to the saving of their souls."

In Chapter 13, the "order" is put like this - "united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated." Here "regeneration" is placed after "effectual calling."

Faith union with Christ and effectual calling by the word are what simultaneously constitute regeneration.

Now on Spurgeon. Here are some things for you to note.

"When we believe in Christ we not only receive pardon, but we also receive renewal. I am told that the teaching of certain people, nowadays, is that the believer only gets pardon to begin with and a long time afterwards he gets the clean heart. But I say, on the authority of God’s Word, that no man is pardoned unless he has a clean heart! God gives the clean heart at the time He gives the pardon! You must never divide the renewing of the Holy Spirit from the pardon of sin. They go together and he that receives the pardon of sin receives a new birth — and is made a new creature in Christ Jesus then and there. The work of regeneration and the act of faith which brings justification to the penitent sinner are SIMULTANEOUS and must, in the nature of the case, always be so."

Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 37, Year 1891, pages 560, 561, The Law's Failure and Fulfillment

"The act of TRUSTING Jesus Christ is the act which brings a soul into a state of Grace and is the mark and evidence of our being bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus. . . . See, then, the FOLLY of persons talking about being regenerated who have no faith! It cannot be! It is IMPOSSIBLE! . . . WITHOUT FAITH THERE CAN BE NO REGENERATION."

(Open Heart for A Great Saviour, C. H. SPURGEON, Sermon #669, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 12, 1866)

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