Feb 5, 2009

Chpt. 86 - Hardshell Proof Texts VIII

In this chapter I will look at what might be called the "logical arguments" that are used by the Hardshells, and other Hyperists, based upon the assumption of "total depravity."

Those who promote the idea, as do the Hardshells, that one must first be born again prior to, and apart from, his coming to faith and repentance, or to evangelical conversion, will argue that this new birth (or regeneration) must occur before conversion because it is a law that "life must precede action." Since "believe" and "repent" are verbs that denote "action," then clearly they cannot occur until after one is "made alive."

In earlier chapters I dealt with some of the other types of "logical" arguments that the Hardshells use to "prove" their aberrant views. I looked at such Hardshell "logic" as they use, apologetically, to uphold such unscriptural propositions as these:

1) Since infants are regenerated, born again, saved, and justified apart from the gospel, and apart from faith and repentance, then so is everyone.

2) No part of salvation depends upon any human means whatsoever, for this would rob God of his sovereignty and the elect of their security.

3) If the preaching of the gospel is a means in salvation, then it would depend upon people giving money, which would be a scriptural absurdity.

4) If believing the gospel is necessary for going to heaven, then no mentally incapacitated person can be saved.

5) If believing the gospel is necessary for going to heaven, then...ad infinitum.

Recall how I showed that human beings were involved in eternal redemption, such as Mary, who gave birth to Christ, and without whom, there would have been no Christ, and how human beings put Christ to death, and without this death there would be no redemption.

This demonstrates the error of their man-made and unscriptural proposition that says "no human means or agencies are involved in salvation" or "salvation does not in any way depend upon human means or agencies."

Is it true that "life precedes action"? And, is it true that there can be "life" where there is no "action"?

Look at the story of the "coming to life" of the "dry dead bones" in Ezekiel's vision. Was there any "action" prior to the "breath entering" the bodily forms? Yes. So, this theory is not scriptural.

Certainly there is a moment of "coming to life," a moment when one who was dead is now no longer dead. Formerly he could be called "dead," but now he can be called "living."

Also, just because one acts passively does not mean he does not act, for it is still "act" even though done passively, or spontaneously, or without forethought and deliberation.

Also, how do we define "death" if it does not mean "without activity"? If this is so, then conversely, to be alive, by definition, includes being active.

Having shown how these are all fallacious arguments, because they are based upon one or more false premises, I will now examine their "logical arguments" drawn from the Calvinistic doctrine of "total depravity."

Passages on Total Depravity

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8: 5-8 KJV)

These words say nothing about being born again prior to faith and repentance, or prior to conversion, or savingly coming to Christ. That is a erroneous idea that some Calvinist "exegetes," like the Hardshells, and like neo-Reformed Calvinists, as James White and R. C. Sproul, attempt to "deduce" from the passage (erroneously, I might add), or read into (eisogete) the passage, rather than showing that it is expressly stated in the passage.

These words on the depravity of man, and on the unregenerate state, do not overthrow the truth of scripture regarding the use of means, and of the medium of faith and repentance, in bringing about a change from an unregenerate state to a regenerate one.

These verses in Romans 8 also do not make the state of regeneration to be:

1) An experience on the sub-conscious level
2) An experience different from conversion
3) An experience separate from faith and repentance
4) An experience apart from the application of truth to the mind.
5) An experience defined by "cause" alone apart from "effect."
6) An experience that excludes the activity of the converted.

How Paul Describes the Regenerate State

"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (vs. 9-17, NIV)

Thus, the regenerated or renewed state, is described as being:

1. Spiritually minded (vs. carnally minded)
2. Spiritually alive (vs. spiritually dead)
3. Spiritually at peace with God and his rule (vs. at war with God)
4. Disciple of the Holy Spirit (vs. disciple of the carnal nature)
5. Positionally "in/dwelling in the Spirit" (vs. "in the flesh")
6. Psychologically and behaviorally "after the Spirit" (vs. "after the sinful flesh").
7. Are able to "please God" (vs. "not able to please God")
8. "Controlled by the Spirit" (vs. "controlled by the sinful nature")
9. "Spirit of God dwells in you" (vs. "sinful nature dwells in you")
10. "Belongs to Christ" (vs. does "not belong to Christ" or "belong to the sinful nature")
11. "Christ in you" (vs. "Christ not in you")
12. "Led by the Spirit" (vs. "led by the sinful nature")
13. "Sons of God" (vs. "sons of the devil," or "cursed children")
14. "Received the Spirit of God that enslaved you to Christ" (vs. "received a spirit of bondage to fear")
15. "Received the Spirit's inner witness" (vs. "not having the witness")
16. "Heirs of God" and of Christ (vs. "those who are not heirs")
17. "Sharers of the sufferings of Christ" (vs. "non-sharers")
18. Destined "sharers in the coming glory" (vs. "non-sharers")

The concepts of faith and repentance are not absent in all these stated descriptions of the regenerated condition. They are rather clearly implied and necessitated.

First, notice that Paul equates spiritual "life" with having a spiritual mind and understanding, or with enlightenment and with faith.

Spiritual mindedness (faith) = new regeneration life

Notice also how Paul conjoins two great blessings of the saved or regenerative state, namely, life and peace (or reconciliation or justification).

Cannot Please God

Compare these verses on the reason for possessing ability to please God.

1. "they who are in the flesh cannot please God" (or to rephrase - "without regeneration it is impossible to please God")

2. "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11: 6 KJV)

Phil Johnson wrote:

"In Romans 8:6 Paul, says, "To be carnally minded is death." He is talking about the carnal-mindedness of unbelief, describing what it means to be totally depraved." ("In What Sense Is Depravity Total?")

See here

This is correct. The essence of being "carnally minded," or "governed by the sinful nature," etc., is to be an infidel in things pertaining to God and his communications. As the essence of the degenerative state is generally characterized by the singular word "unbelief," so is the regenerative state characterized by the word "belief" (or "faith").

So, let us read Paul's words and place equivocable words in their place.

1. "To be unbelieving in mind ('carnally minded') is death and degeneration of state."

2. "The unbelieving mind (carnal mind) is not submissive to the law (rule) of God, neither indeed can be."

3. "The unbelieving mind ('in the flesh') cannot please God."

4. "You are not in the flesh (degeneration and unbelief) if the Spirit dwell in you (if you are in a state of regeneration and faith)."

Obviously, the regenerated life is the life of faith (reliance and trust). The apostle equates "spiritual mindedness" with regeneration life and it is obvious too that he equates spiritual mindedness with faith. Thus, we can say, "to be unbelieving and impenitent (carnally minded) is spiritual death, degeneration, and complete depravity," and "to be believing and penitent (spiritual minded) is spiritual life, regeneration, and complete renewal."

So, the passage does not teach regeneration before faith, or apart from it, and apart from the means of the gospel, as the Hardshells and other Hyper Calvinists aver. It rather teaches that the essence of the Christian "life" is "faith" in God, and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, or the divine "bestowal of faith," was for Luther the new birth.

Dr. Gill, in his commentary on Philippians 1: 6 said:

"The work of grace upon their hearts, sometimes called the work of faith, because that is a principal part of it..."

For John Calvin "regeneration life" was all but equated with repentance.

Calvin - Begotten By Faith

In his comment on 1 Corinthians 13:13, Calvin says, "In fine, it is by faith that we are born again, that we become the sons of God -- that we obtain eternal life, and that Christ dwells in us."

Presidents Edwards and A. Alexander equated regeneration with conversion and repentance. So too does the apostle Paul and the failure to see this in the passage in Romans 8: 6-8 is the great mistake of the Hardshells and Hyper Calvinists who place regeneration before and apart from faith and gospel means.

B. H. Carroll wrote:

"...regeneration cannot be complete without faith."

[An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 10, pages 293, 294].

See here

J. P. Boyce, in writing upon "Regeneration" and "Conversion," says:

"From the Scriptural teaching we see that the whole work of Regeneration and Conversion is included under the one term regeneration."

Now let us look at I Corinthians 2: 14.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (I Corinthians 2: 9-15 KJV)

There is an old scholastic axiom, Qui nimis probat, nihil probat - “He who proves too much, proves nothing."

The Hardshells, and others who cite this verse in an attempt to disconnect the experience of regeneration from the experience of faith, and apart from the means of the gospel and word of God, are guilty of violating this axiom. By their argumentation on this passage, as I will show, they "prove too much," and therefore "prove nothing at all." In other words, if their "logical reasonings" are correct, then it will prove not only that it is impossible with men for totally depraved sinners to be regenerated and come to faith, but it is even impossible with God.

Proving Too Much - Two Demonstrative Syllogisms

1. Unregenerate man is unable to please God
2. To become regenerate is pleasing to God
3. Unregenerate man is unable to become regenerate

1. The unregenerate man cannot receive the things of the Spirit
2. Regeneration is a thing of the Spirit
3. The unregenerate man cannot receive regeneration

Thus, it is obvious that the reasoning of the Hyperists that Paul is indirectly affirming that one must be regenerated before he can believe, is not true, for it would, if true, prove that not even God can regenerate a man!

Again, the error of the Hyperist is to divorce the state of faith, or spiritual understanding and mindedness, from the definition of being a "spiritual man."

If "natural (sensual or carnal, or one who does not have the Spirit indwelling) man" is equated with "unbelieving man," then their logical reasonings on "total depravity" are invalid. Certainly the natural, unbelieving man, does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. Certainly it is not unbelievers who receive the "life" of Christ, the life of the Spirit. The "deadness" and "naturalness" of the depraved state is equated with the "unbelieving" and "impenitent" state.

Who is a "spiritual man"? He is one who receives the things of the Spirit of God. A man cannot be called a "spiritual man" who has not received the things of the Spirit of God. This is where Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism go awry. In their Hyperism they have souls "regenerated" who have not received the things of the Spirit of God! They have heathen idol worshippers and pagans "regenerated"! They have infants in the womb "regenerated." Yet, this "hollow log" (empty and meaningless) description of biblical regeneration is against the very description which Paul gives us of the regeneration state and experience, the condition of having spiritual "life," which he equates with "understanding," and with "spiritual mindedness" and "submissiveness to" the "law (rule) of God," and with faith and conversion.

Clearly Paul, in this chapter, identifies and characterizes both the "carnal" or "natural man," the man without God and his word and Spirit, and the "spiritual man," and the distinguishing thing between them is precisely this, one has faith and life, one "receives (embraces) the gospel," and the other does not.

Paul is not saying that one must be regenerated before one can believe, for this would make faith a non-ingredient of the life of regeneration, rather than the chief essential ingredient of it.

Does, then, a belief in "total depravity" necessitate a belief in the "Reformed" 'ordo salutis,' in 'regeneration before faith'?

Were the great Calvinist leaders already cited in this chapter, together with the great Baptist theologians, like Abraham Booth and Charles Spurgeon, not believers in "total depravity" and yet were all men who rejected the "born again before faith" error?

A prominent Calvinist on the internet today, and an associate of leading Calvinst John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, also said:

"First Corinthians 2:14 says, "A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." Unbelievers are therefore incapable of faith." (Ibid)

"The key word in all of that is inability. Sinners are totally unable to respond to God, apart from His enabling grace." (Ibid)

Notice how Johnson, a promoter of the "born again before faith" error (yet not a Hardshell), and an often cited authority on the definition of "Hyper Calvinism," gives us the conclusion of his syllogism (or enthymene) when he concludes with these words - "Unbelievers are therefore incapable of faith." Now, that could be taken in one of two ways. It could represent that "proving too much" type of conclusion I addressed earlier. If one takes his statement literally and absolutely, as being true in every respect, then salvation is impossible! Not even God can make the unbeliever capable of faith! He as much said that "salvation is incapable or impossible"!

What Paul means is that it is impossible with men themselves. It is not something that they have any natural powers or inclinations to do. Paul is certainly not saying that a man must be made a "spiritual man" by an immediate direct operation of the Spirit upon a man's soul, apart from divine truth, and without faith and repentance, for this would make him to define "spiritual man" in a weak "hollow log" fashion, to use Hardshell jargon, and would make "spiritual" men out of idol worshipping, Jesus and Jehovah rejecting men! How unbiblical to think of an infant in the womb being "regenerated" on a subconscious level! Without "spiritual understanding" and without "spiritual mindedness" and without faith and repentance!

Regeneration is by faith

To affirm this does not take away one whit from the biblical and Calvinistic doctrine of man's complete and total depravity, or his absolute helplessness of native condition. To affirm that faith precipitates regeneration as a medium in regeneration, conversion, and salvation, does not deny that God must first act before the sinner can act in regeneration. What is denied, as the great head of Princeton seminary stated, is that the bible definition of the state of regeneration and spiritual life is given in terms of "cause" alone, without any view to the "effect," and that it is defined in terms of what God alone does, to the exclusion of any act of the sinner, resulting from God's act.

The act of making a man "spiritual," or "regenerate" is not different from the act that acquits him, or enlightens, or converts him into a Christian. God does not "beget" a sinner to "life" and then later "beget" him to "faith" and to the other Christian graces, for they are all "spiritual things" both "begotten" and "received" by the alien sinner when he is initiated "into Christ."

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

"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (II Corinthians 4: 4 KJV)

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

If men are "begotten by the gospel," as Paul affirmed in I Corinthians 4: 15, then it can only mean "begotten by believing" it. If not, the statement is meaningless and nonsensical. To say that one must be "begotten" before he can believe is to take the means out of the begetting. The statement "begotten by the gospel" is the same as "begotten by faith in the gospel" and is really what the latter verse expressly says - "we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (or in the gospel)," thus begotten by the gospel. This is what Abraham Booth observed when he wrote these words:

"It is objected, 'Though it be not necessary for a sinner to know that he is born again, before he believe in Jesus Christ, yet regeneration must precede faith. For the heart of a sinner being naturally in a state of enmity to the Divine Character, he will never turn to God, while in that situation, for pardon and acceptance.' In answer to which, the following particulars are proposed for consideration.

Before this objection can be justly considered as valid, it must be evinced, not only, that regeneration precedes faith; but also, that it is necessary to authorise a sinner's reliance on Jesus Christ: than which, few sentiments are more foreign from the genuine gospel.

[Theory:] Regeneration must precede faith. This, though assumed as a certain fact, may be justly doubted: for the page of inspiration does not warrant our supposing, that any one is born of God, before he believe in Jesus Christ..."

This is clear in scripture and Booth recognized it just like other leading spokesmen for Calvinistic Baptists.

Booth continues on page 122:

"But it is impossible for us to conceive of the mind being enlightened, of the conscience being relieved, of the will being regulated, and of the affections being purified by the word of truth, ANY FURTHER THAN IT IS BELIEVED. It may therefore be concluded, that regeneration is not, in order of time, prior to faith in Christ, and justification by him...there is no such thing as priority, or posteriority, respecting them, either as to the order of time, or the order of nature. They are inseparable, nor can one exist without the other."

"Spurgeon said of Abraham Booth and of the book from which these citations are taken:

"I have read with some degree of attention a book to which I owe much for this present discourse—a book, by Abraham Booth, called "Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners." I have never heard any one cast a suspicion upon Abraham Booth's soundness; on the contrary, he has been generally considered as one of the most orthodox of the divines of the last generation. If you want my views in full, read his book." ("The Warrant of Faith")

See here




Regeneration = Coming to Christ
Coming to Christ = Believing on or Receiving Christ

Regeneration = Believing on or Receiving Christ

Pertinent Questions

1. Can a man be spiritually minded without faith and knowledge of the gospel?

2. Can a man have life without being spiritually minded?

Spurgeon said:

"Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit, for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life."

(Faith Essential to Pleasing God, MTP, Sermon #2100, Vol. 35, 446).

When And How Freed?

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6: 16-18 KJV)

Where is regeneration before faith in these words? Where is faith after regeneration? Is it not put before it here? Were they first freed from sin and then yielded themselves to a new master? Were they freed from sin BEFORE they "obeyed" the gospel? Or were they freed from sin after faith? Were they "righteous" or "justified" before or after this "yielding"?

What does it mean to "yield" and to "obey" if it does not mean to believe and turn (repent)?

What kind of "regeneration" is it that does not "free" a man from sin?

Sinful Regeneration?

"Everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14: 24b NIV)

If "regeneration" and "salvation" and "new birth" all come before faith, then is it not a sinful "regeneration," "salvation," or "new birth"? Based upon this verse? This false view of regeneration before faith, certainly does not have a "salvation" that comes "from" faith, correct? Yet, Paul makes a universal statement, does he not?

Does he not say that "everything" ('whatsoever') that is not "from faith" is sinful? Would this not make the "regeneration" that supposedly comes before faith, to be a sinful "regeneration"?

According to the "reformed" and "Hardshell" view of "regeneration," the purpose of "regeneration" is to give the sinner an "ability" to do good, repent, believe, etc. But, yet, in this "regeneration," there is no faith a part of it, for this comes later as fruit or an after-effect. This is inconsistent and unbiblical. Here is why.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11: 6). But, the "reformed" and "Hardshell" view is that men get this "ability," not from faith, but from "regeneration," a "regeneration" that does not include faith.

If "ability" is given in "regeneration," then so is faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God.

Reformed or Hardshell apologists correctly affirm - "without regeneration it is impossible to please God."

But, the Bible also says - "without faith it is impossible to please God."

Conclusion? Faith is a part of regeneration, being the very "ability" that the Hardshells and Hypers talk about. By their view, a man in "regeneration" has "ability" to please God but he has of yet no faith!

Those who teach that "regeneration" is nothing more than the giving of spiritual "ability" say that God MUST first give this "ability," must first "regenerate," BEFORE one can have faith or repent, have a serious "paradigm problem."

By this definition of things a person is "enabled" to do spiritual things before he has faith. Thus, faith is no part of this "enabling" or this "ability." Thus, a "regenerated" man has only the potential for faith, or what some call "the faculty of faith," though not faith itself. By this definition of things a man CAN "please God" by "regeneration" alone and need not have faith. Yet, the scriptures are clear that "whatever is not of faith is sin."

Is regeneneration that which is "of faith"?

When men talk of God "giving the ability to believe," be they Wesleyans who promote their version of what is called "prevenient grace," or "Hyper Reformed Calvinists" who promote a hybrid view on "regeneration," they are failing to see faith as that very ability. To say "God gives ability in order to have faith" is like saying "God gives ability in order to have ability" or "God gives faith in order to have faith."

The bible teaches that God gives power and ability WHEN he gives faith. That Faith = spiritual ability.

Regeneration Without Faith?

"Faith without works is dead, being alone."

"Life without faith is dead."

"Regeneration without faith is dead."

If biblical regeneration is defined by the cause only, and not with the effect included in the definition, then we must say:

1) A man is "regenerated" (drawn) before he "comes."

2) A man is "regenerated" (given ears or ability to hear) before he "hears."

3) A man is "regenerated" (given eyes or ability to see) before he "sees."

4) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he "comes" to God.

5) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he is "born."

6) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he is "saved."

7) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he is "justified."

8) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he is "alive."

9) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he is "converted."

10) A man is "regenerated"(moved upon by God) before he is "called."

11) A man is "regenerated" (moved upon by God) before he has made a single spiritual movement.

I could not doubt add to this list, but this is sufficient enough to show how ridiculous is this "watered down" view of "regeneration."

Another argument made by the Hardshells and Hyper Calvinists under the umbrella of "total depravity," is the argument from the words of Christ about a tree bearing fruit after its kind, a corrupt tree yielding only corrupt fruit and a good tree yielding only good.

These argue that "making the tree good" refers to the experience and work of "regeneration," and the "making the fruit good" is a post regeneration experience of coming to faith and repentance. This reasoning is fallacious because it divorces being made spiritually "good" from being made a believing penitent. Rather than making "faith," like "life," part of what it means to be made "good," the Hyperist insists that "faith" and "repentance," and "love" for Christ, are "fruits," and "products" and "after-effects" of being "regenerated." We could just as well say, by Hardshell definitions, that "life" is an "effect," or "product," or "fruit" of "regeneration," but we would be using "fruit" in the sense of "essential element of."

The Hardshells will also reason that since believing on Christ and repenting of sin and turning to God are "righteous acts," then one must be first made inwardly righteous by regeneration before he can do righteous acts. But, again, their logic will "prove too much" and therefore "prove nothing at all."

Is coming to life, or being spiritually resurrected and regenerated, not a "righteous act"? Who comes to life and is regenerated, God or the sinner? Regeneration is a process of coming to life and it involves, both passively and actively, the act of God to initiate and the actual act of the sinner in coming to life, faith, repentance, and to a union with Christ.

The Hardshells will argue that the heart must be made righteous before it can believe, for believing is a righteous act. But, such a view of what it means to make the heart righteous is evident. A heart cannot be considered as having been made "righteous" till it has been made believing and penitent. Besides, in Romans 10, Paul says that sinners "believe UNTO righteousness."

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