"The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, "If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again." But Scripture itself never says anything like that. The new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe...if we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word "regeneration" to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us."
"But Scripture itself never says anything like that"? Is that so? Are we reading the same Bible? Maybe Dr. Grudem needs to recall these verses?
"...purified their hearts by faith." (Acts 15: 9 NIV)
"...sanctified by faith..." (Acts 26: 18 NIV
Why is this "sanctification" and "purifying of the heart" not regeneration or the new birth? Why teach a system that says sinners are purified and sanctified after faith (or 'by faith') but are regenerated before faith? How is that scriptural, or how does that simplify things?
"...live by faith..." (Romans 1: 17; II Corinthians 5:7 NIV)
Why is this not true of receiving "life" initially? Why say that we live by faith but then say that we don't initially receive life by faith? Again, how is it scriptural to make such distinctions? How is this "rightly dividing the word of truth"? Are we "alive by faith"?
"...righteousness from God comes through faith..." (Romans 3: 22; 4: 13 NIV)
Why teach an order that insists that righteousness and justification, with pardon and cleansing, come after faith, but also insists that regeneration comes before faith? Does "righteousness" not come with "regeneration" and new birth? What "accompanies" it?
"...justified by faith..." (Romans 3: 28, 5: 1, etc.)
Dr. Grudem and his "Reformed" Hyperist brethren say they believe such verses and that they do put "justification" after faith, but they say, "regeneration" must precede faith, and so regeneration must precede justification. It would help Dr. Grudem and his fellow Hyper Calvinists to simply come up with some plain passages of scripture that say such things. Where does Paul insist that regeneration must precede faith, but adoption, purification of heart, and sanctification of spirit, and justification, all must come after faith? Paul not only taught justification, salvation, sanctification, cleansing, sealing, adoption (son placing), and becoming the children of God, as all being by faith, but he also taught that being regenerated, born or begotten, or coming to life spiritually, was also "by faith."
"...access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (Romans 5: 2 NIV)
"...stand by faith..." (Romans 11: 20 NIV)
Why can't "this grace" include regeneration? Why must Dr. Grudem and the Hyperist insist that "this grace" must exclude regeneration? These words tell us that faith is the vehicle, instrument, means, key or door, into the state of salvation. But, if faith comes after regeneration, or after entrance into the grace of regeneration, then Paul's statement is false.
"...by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3: 14, 22 NIV)
What is this "promise of the Spirit" if it is not regeneration? Does a man not "receive the Spirit" when he is born again and regenerated? Are these things not equated in scripture? If so, then the statement that we "receive the Spirit by faith" is eqaul to the statement that we are "regenerated by faith." Does a man not receive the Spirit when he is regenerated? If so, then he receives it by faith, and thus it is proper and scriptural to say that sinners are regenerated by faith. Will Dr. Grudem tell us that a sinner receives the Spirit in regeneration but not by faith?
"You are all sons (children) of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 26 NIV)
How does one "become" a "child"? Is it not by a birth or an adoption? So, we are both born and adopted "by faith." This verse is plain on the "order" of things while all the proof that Dr. Grudem and the Hyperist can bring forth are their "logical deductions" from their misunderstanding of passages on "total depravity," but no plain statements affirming their "regeneration before faith" order.
"...saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2: 8 NIV)
Why does Grudem and the Hardshells say that this "salvation" is not regeneration? That it excludes being saved by new birth?
Why impose upon scripture a rule that says "salvation" comes after faith but regeneration comes before it? Why separate regeneration from salvation? Besides, in the passage above, is the main aspect of "salvation," being discussed, not the "quickening"?
"...Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephesians 3: 17 NIV)
Why is regeneration not all the same as Christ "dwelling in" the "heart"? Does not union with Christ occur by faith? Does not union with Christ precede regeneration?
"...raised with him through your faith..." (Colossians 2: 12 NIV)
Why is "raised with him" not a reference to regeneration? And, if it is a description of regeneration, they it is declared to be "through faith."
"...through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6: 12 NIV)
Is the new birth not "what has been promised"? Surely it is! If so, then regeneration is "through faith." Dr. Grudem and the Hyperists must exclude the new birth from the words "what has been promised.""But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (children) of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1: 12 KJV)
Why is this "becoming the children of God" not a reference to regeneration? Surely it is! But, if cannot be regeneration if Grudem is right, for he says regeneration occurs and is complete before Christ is received and trusted in.
"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (John 12: 36 KJV)
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31 KJV)
These words are not any less plain than the others. Receiving spiritual life, or regeneration and new birth, or becoming "children" of God and light, is the result of faith.
"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43 KJV)
Why is regeneration disconnected from pardon of sin by those who insist that regeneration comes before faith but that pardon comes after faith?Grudem and the Hyper Calvinists must read the text thusly - "Whosoever is regenerated by him shall believe on him, and whosever believes on him shall receive the remission of sins."
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1: 13 KJV)
Why is this "sealing" not regeneration? Why make it something different? If it is regeneration, or a component of it, then is it not put after faith?
"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)
Why is being "converted" not signify "regeneration"? Why read the text as teaching this order - regeneration, repentance, conversion, pardon?
To do so would restrict the command to only those who are regenerated, which is exactly what the Hardshells, acknowledged Hyper Calvinists, do! They do not believe in commanding any known unregenerate person to repent and be converted in order to pardon!
"God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11: 18 NIV )
This passage puts "life" and regeneration after repentance. This passage is in agreement with the preceding verse, for it puts conversion after repentance. If "life" and "conversion" and "pardon" all follow repentance, then how can we consistently put "regeneration" before repentance?
"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isaiah 55: 3 KJV)
Again, is not the receiving of spiritual life, or regeneration, not put after hearing and coming, or after receiving Christ and believing on his name? Is he saying this to only the regenerated?
"The new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe."
No, the scriptures say no such thing. Yes, they do teach that God works in us to believe to regeneration. Why do the Hyperists insist that God can only operate in their "order"? Why do they say that God cannot first give faith? A faith that instantly saves, regenerates, justifies, cleanses, sanctifies, and pardons?
"If we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word "regeneration" to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us."
That is simply not true! He ought to know better! In fact, many Hyper Calvinists who put regeneration before faith even acknowledge this fact! They admit that 1) The scriptures do not distinguish between regeneration and conversion, and 2) The first "Reformers" and the "Puritans" did not make any "technical" distinction.
Wrote by Dr. J. I. Packer in "Puritan Evangelism":
"The Puritans did not use “conversion” and “regeneration” as technical terms, and so there are slight variations in usage. Perhaps the majority treated the words as synonyms, each denoting the whole process whereby God brings the sinner to his first act of faith."
In conclusion, it is obvious that the "born again before faith" error that is promoted by men like Wayne Grudem and James White, and those of the Founders Association, is not scriptural and creates all kinds of confusion for Bible students, and is detrimental to fervent evangelism of the lost.