Mar 31, 2009

Spurgeon & Ordo Salutis

An old book, "A handbook of revealed theology," published in 1861 by John Stock, had a chapter on the "new birth," and was a book recommended by Spurgeon. Before I cite from that chapter, let me first cite from the words of Spurgeon. He wrote:

"With these ideas in my mind I longed for the reproduction of the Puritan divines, and the extensive circulation of a cheap text-book of the old theology. My first desire I have at length seen fully realized by the wonderful enterprise of my excellent friend, Mr. Nichol. May his work of reprinting the old divines at the lowest price be carried on to a fair conclusion, and crowned with the divine blessing. The second I rejoice to see accomplished in the present Handbook by my respected brother, Mr. Stock. He undertook the labour at my earnest request; he has favoured me with a perusal of the sheets as they appeared, and I am only too happy to prefix my commendation. I have suggested no alteration, although my friend's kindness allowed me that liberty, because I had rather he should be the author and compiler of the entire work, bearing the sole responsibility of its statements. We might have differed about words and phrases, and have wasted time without effecting improvements; and even had I been right in any proposed emendations, my peculiar modes of speech would have betrayed the hand of Joab in the matter, and have led the reader to think of the author and corrector, rather than of the doctrine and the scriptural proof. I do not endorse every sentence in the book; nay, in the Part on "the Constitution and Discipline of Christian Churches " I might have desired several alterations; but as a whole the book has my cordial approval, which I have shown in the most practical manner by purchasing five hundred copies for the use of the young men in the Theological Institute at the Tabernacle.

Go forth, thou unpretending teacher of the gospel of the grace of God, and may the Spirit of the Lord go with thee!"

Chapter 8 - "The New Birth"

Stock writes:

"It is unprofitable to dispute as to which mental faculty is the first to feel the converting influence, whether the intellect or the affections. Into the metaphysics of regeneration we decline to enter. It is enough to know that the Divine Spirit operates upon the whole mental and moral man. Besides, though we speak of the faculties of the soul, we must not forget that the soul itself is one. It is a simple, indivisible spirit. It is not, like the body, compounded of various elements, and possessed of va1ious members. Hence the regeneration of the soul involves the regeneration of all its powers—of the whole soul."

"In these and in other parallel passages, regeneration is ascribed to the truth which the Holy Spirit leads us to receive. It is in connection with the hearing, reading, or remembering of the Word of God, or of the general truths which it makes known, that the Holy Ghost puts forth His power. It is to induce us to receive this truth that the Divine Spirit is imparted. Hence it is that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The word is the occasion of the new birth. The Holy Spirit works by the truth. The Word of God is His sword (Ephes. vi. 17). It is the fire with which He burns up our dross, and the hammer with which He breaks our rocky hearts in pieces (Jer. xxiii. 29)."

"The great difficulty in this doctrine, however, yet remains; we mean the question whether regeneration precedes faith in the Saviour, or faith in the Saviour precedes regeneration, or whether the two are simultaneous —Two things are clear.

First—That the reception of Christ by the sinner is ascribed to a divine influence. Hence faith is styled "the gift of God" (Ephes. ii. 8), and "a fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. v. 22); "the heart is opened" to receive Christ (Acts xvi. 14); "flesh and blood do not reveal Jesus to the soul, but our Father who is in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 17 ); "God reveals these things unto babes" (Matt. xi. 25); "They are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. ii. 14). But another truth is as clearly asserted in Holy Scripture, viz. :

Secondly—That until a man has received the Saviour he has no life in him. Thus our Lord testified, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you" (John vi. 53). Until a man by faith receives the sacrifice of Christ, he has no life, not even its first elements, in his soul. There are several other passages which are in the same strain. "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God" (John i. 12). "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. iii. 26). "If a man eat of this bread he shall live for ever" (John vi. 51). "He that eateth Me shall live by Me" (John vi. 57). Thus Christ is emphatically our life, while without faith in Him we have no life.

Here, then, is the difficulty; if men receive a divine influence in order to believe in Christ, are they not made alive to God by this influence, and are they not consequently regenerated before receiving Christ into the soul? But if they are regenerated before believing in the Saviour, and if they were to die in this state, they would assuredly go to heaven (tor no regenerate soul can be lost), and would thus obtain eternal life without having believed in Christ, which is contrary to one of the first principles of revelation. Our Lord emphatically says that, except we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have No life in us.

Besides, regeneration is the implantation of a holy life, and no man can become holy until he has believed in Jesus. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. xi.6). No action can be holy until it is performed under the influence of love to Jehovah; and no sinner can be brought to love the whole character of God, until he has learned to look upon that character as it is revealed in the death of Jesus. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. v. 19). Hence, as no man can love God without faith in Jesus, no man can be holy without faith in Jesus, for love to God is the essential principle of holiness. As, then, without faith in the Saviour, we cannot be holy and cannot please God, it is manifest that without faith we cannot be regenerated.

The explanation of this grave difficulty we apprehend to be simply this : The influence by which men are awakened and convinced, and made to see their need of Jesus, is only preliminary to regeneration.—We are not regenerated or made holy until we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Then we receive Christ, "who is our life." To those who receive Christ He gives the privilege of becoming instantly the sons of God (John i. 12). We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. iii. 26). Faith purifies the heart (Acts xv. 9), overcomes the world (1 John v. 4), and works by love (Gal. v. 6). "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John v. 1). The preparatory influence, though not regeneration, is absolutely necessary to its production.

Many are awakened by natural conscience who are never converted, and the only decisive evidence that our convictions are of God, is their leading us to a hearty reception of the gospel plan of redemption. Out of Christ there is no salvation (Acts iv. 12); but if men are regenerated who have never been to Christ, they are in a state of salvation without faith in that precious name. The influence by which we are regenerated is the sovereign grace of the Holy Ghost; but the influence by which we are regenerated is one thing, regeneration itself is another. It is confounding the efficacious cause with the blessed result that has created the difficulty now under consideration. All the elect shall infallibly receive this life, and the influences necessary to its production. None of them shall die in a state of nature, or even in one of mere conviction, but all shall be brought to Christ by faith, shall live in Him (Gal . ii. 20), die in Him (Rev. xiv. 13), sleep in Him (1 Thess. iv. 14), rise in Him (1 Cor. xv. 49), and be for ever with Him (1 Thess. iv. 17). The sovereign influence may extend over a long period of awakening and conviction before it ends in regeneration; while in other cases it may lead the vessel of mercy gently to Christ, almost at the outset. The influences of the Spirit are not regeneration, but are simply the mighty power by which that stupendous work is wrought. In short, we are not regenerated until we believe; and we never believe until led to do so by the gracious and almighty influences of the Eternal Comforter, the glorifier of Christ in the hearts and consciences of men. Thus regeneration is, from beginning to end, the effect of the Spirit's power; though the change is wrought in us at the instant of closing in with the Messiah as the hope of Israel.

There is no evidence of the new birth in the mere dread of hell. The fear of punishment is an instinct of human nature. Many ungodly men are at times most terribly alarmed on account of the prospects lying before them. But, obviously, there is no moral excellence, and, consequently, no evidence of a renewed state of mind, in a mere conviction that the effects of our sins will be ruinous.

Many men who know this well enough persist in hugging the sins which are sinking them to hell. There is no proof of regeneration until we have learned to abhor and forsake sin at the foot of the cross. We must not confound a mere dread of the punishment of sin with the turning of the heart from sin itself. Conviction of sin, even when wrought by the power of the Spirit, is not to be confounded with the new birth, though all the people of God have to pass, more or less deeply, through this preparatory discipline. Some are much more powerfully agitated with these terrors than others, but all alike pass from death unto life, when through grace they believe in Jesus, "to the saving of the soul" (Heb. x- 39).

"We close this chapter with the confession that the regenerating grace of the Spirit is undoubtedly a great mystery. The fact of its existence we believe, but the mode of its operation we cannot explain. We receive it as a fact, upon the testimony of revelation and our own consciousness; but we confess our inability to unravel many questions arising out of its existence. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth : so is everyone that is born of the Spirit" (John iii. 8). The influence is real, positive, and direct, notwithstanding its mysteriousness. The unlettered rustic, who is in perfect ignorance of all the physiological phenomena of inspiration and expiration, knows, nevertheless, that he breathes, and that by breathing life is sustained."

See here

Mar 30, 2009

Webster on Gill's Hyperism

The following are some citations from the book from C. Webster - The Nature and Instrument of Regeneration published in 1843. They concern Dr. Gill's supposed denial of means in regeneration. I think they are worth recording here in the Gadfly together with a link at the end with my own analysis of the Dr's. remarks.

See here

"The design and purpose of this change is to repair the loss which man sustained by the fall." The opinion of Dr. Gill, that the image of God, which is stamped upon the soul in regeneration, is not the image of the first Adam, is to be rejected. He seems to look upon regeneration as the creation of a new being, or at least as the creation of something in man essentially different from his nature in a state of innocence. He calls it the image of Christ, in opposition to the image which Adam possessed prior to the fall. Hence, he infers an impropriety, in the use of means by the Spirit, in its production. But the image of the first Adam was in all its moral lineaments the image of Christ. For "God made man in his own image;" and this is the same image which is restored." (pg. 70, 71)

"It is believed this peculiar view of the Dr. (Gill) lies at the bottom of his doubts respecting the instrumentality of the word in regeneration; and also his denial of that glorious doctrine of the scriptures, that the gospel is addressed indiscriminately to lost sinners of mankind; and is both the call and command of God to all who hear it, requiring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only means of their deliverance from sin and wrath. "This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ." 1 John iii. 23. (pg. 72)

"It is objected that Dr. Gill, the celebrated commentator, denied the doctrine of the instrumentality of the word in regeneration. To this it may be replied that Dr. Gill is to be regarded rather as speaking hesitatingly than as peremptorily denying the doctrine. His words are,—"The instrumental cause of regeneration, if it may be so called, are the word of God and the ministers of it. Yet this instrumentality of the word in regeneration seems not so agreeable to the principle of grace implanted in the soul in regeneration, and to be understood in respect to that; since that is done by immediate infusion, and is represented as a creation Wherefore, [the instrumentality of the word] is rather to be understood of the exertion of the principle of grace, and the drawing it forth into act and exercise...Though, after all, it seems plain that the ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys himself and his grace into the hearts of men, which is done when the word comes not in word only, but in power and in the Holy Ghost." On this passage of Dr. Gill, it may be remarked, —1. "The word is the vehicle," &c. How the word can be the vehicle and not be the instrument, or rather not be employed as the objector has asserted, may be safely left to the solution of those profound metaphysicians, who can so easily tell how the word operates in regeneration.—2. The Dr.'s peculiar and erroneous views respecting the gospel call, which he restricted to "sensible sinners," would naturally lead him to speak in the above hesitating manner. For if the gospel offer be not made to dead sinners, it cannot, of course, be the means of their regeneration. 3. The Dr. was evidently philosophising when he penned the above paragraph. For in his Commentary, we find the following language—"The word of truth is made use of as a means of begetting souls again." " The gospel is the word of truth, and by this souls are begotten and born again." The authority of Dr. Gill, then, is, indeed, a slender foundation on which to rest a denial of the instrumentality of the word in regeneration."

I have previously said similar things about John Gill's citations about his theorizing that regeneration were apart from means. Webster's remarks are similar to mine and I was surprised to find someone who had said the same things. See my writing

Owen - Regeneration is Salvation

The following citations from John Owen demonstrate that 1) He believed in regeneration by means of the gospel, and that 2) regeneration was not a separate experience from "salvation," and that 3) regeneration was not a separate experience from "conversion" and that 4) there was no "enabling" act or experience required prior to faith and that 5) to believe is the same as willing to believe, or choosing to believe.

Owens wrote:

"A deliverance, therefore, out of and from this condition is indispensably necessary to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

This deliverance must be and is by regeneration. The determination of our Saviour is positive, both in this and the necessity of it, before asserted: John iii.3, “Except a man be born again,” or from above, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Whatever sense the “kingdom of God” is taken in, either for that of grace here or of glory hereafter, it is all the same as unto our present purpose. There is no interest in it to be obtained, no participation of the benefits of it, unless a man be born again, unless he be regenerate. And this determination of our Saviour, as it is absolute and decretory, so it is applicable unto and equally compriseth every individual of mankind. And the work intended by their regeneration, or in being born again, which is the spiritual conversion and quickening of the souls of men, is everywhere ascribed unto them that shall be saved. And although men may have, through their ignorance and prejudices, false apprehensions about regeneration and the nature of it, or wherein it doth consist, yet, so far as I know, all Christians are agreed that it is the way and means of our deliverance from the state of sin or corrupted nature, or rather our deliverance itself; for this both express testimonies of Scripture and the nature of the thing itself put beyond contradiction, Tit. iii. 3-5."

"I shall, therefore, in general, refer the whole work of the Spirit of God with respect unto the regeneration of sinners unto two heads:— First, That which is preparatory for it; and, secondly, That which is effective of it. That which is preparatory for it is the conviction of sin; this is the work of the Holy Spirit, John xvi. 8. And this also may be distinctly referred unto three heads:— 1. A discovery of the true nature of sin by the ministry of the law, Rom. vii. 7. 2. An application of that discovery made in the mind or understanding unto the conscience of the sinner. 3. The excitation of affections suitable unto that discovery and application, Acts ii. 37. But these things, so far as they belong unto our present design, have been before insisted on. Our principal inquiry at present is after the work itself, or the nature and manner of the working of the Spirit of God in and on the souls of men in their regeneration; and this must be both negatively and positively declared:— FIRST, The work of the Spirit of God in the regeneration of sinners, or the quickening of them who are dead in trespasses and sins, or in their first saving conversion to God, doth not consist in a moral suasion only. By suasion we intend such a persuasion as may or may not be effectual; so absolutely we call that only persuasion whereby a man is actually persuaded.

As to the nature of this moral suasion, two things may be considered:— (1.) The means, instrument, and matter of it, and this is the word of God; the word of God, or the Scripture, in the doctrinal instructions, precepts, promises, and threatenings of it. This is that, and this is that alone, whereby we are commanded, pressed, persuaded, to turn ourselves and live to God. And herein we comprise the whole, both the law and the gospel, with all the divine truths contained in them, as severally respecting the especial ends where-unto they are designed; for although they are distinctly and peculiarly suited to produce distinct effects on the minds of men, yet they all jointly tend unto the general end of guiding men how to live unto God, and to obtain the enjoyment of him.

The principal way of the application of this means to produce its effect on the souls of men is the ministry of the church. God hath appointed the ministry for the application of the word unto the minds and consciences of men for their instruction and conversion. And concerning this we may observe two things:— [1.] That the word of God, thus dispensed by the ministry of the church, is the only ordinary outward means which the Holy Ghost maketh use of in the regeneration of the adult unto whom it is preached. [2.] That it is every way sufficient in its own kind,—that is, as an outward means; for the revelation which is made of God and his mind thereby is sufficient to teach men all that is needful for them to believe and do that they may be converted unto God, and yield him the obedience that he requires. Hence two things do ensue:— 1st. That the use of those means unto men in the state of sin, if they are not complied withal, is sufficient, on the grounds before laid down, to leave them by whom they are rejected inexcusable: so Isa. v. 3-5; Prov. xxix. 1; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14-16.

2d. That the effect of regeneration or conversion unto God is assigned unto the preaching of the word, because of its efficacy there-unto in its own kind and way, as the outward means thereof, 1 Cor. iv. 15; James i. 18; 1 Pet. i. 23."

"We may consider what is the nature and wherein the efficacy of this moral work doth consist. To which purpose we may observe,— (1.) That in the use of this means for the conversion of men, there is, preparatory unto that wherein this moral persuasion doth consist, an instruction of the mind in the knowledge of the will of God and its duty towards him. The first regard unto men in the dispensation of the word unto them is their darkness and ignorance, whereby they are alienated from the life of God. This, therefore, is the first end of divine revelation,—namely, to make known the counsel and will of God unto us: see Matt. iv. 15, 16; Luke iv. 18, 19; Acts xxvi. 16-18, xx. 20, 21, 26, 27. By the preaching of the law and the gospel, men are instructed in the whole counsel of God and what he requires of them; and in their apprehension hereof doth the illumination of their minds consist, whereof we must treat distinctly afterward. Without a supposition of this illumination there is no use of the persuasive power of the word; for it consists in affecting the mind with its concernment in the things that it knows, or wherein it is instructed. Wherefore we suppose in this case that a man is taught by the word both the necessity of regeneration, and what is required of himself thereunto."

"But in these motives, reasons, and arguments, whereby men are, in and from the word and the ministry of it, urged and pressed unto conversion to God, doth this moral persuasion whereof we speak consist. And the efficacy of it unto the end proposed ariseth from the things ensuing, which are all resolved into God himself:— [1.] From an evidence of the truth of the things from whence these motives and arguments were taken. The foundation of all the efficacy of the dispensation of the gospel lies in an evidence that the things proposed in it are not “ cunningly-devised fables,” 2 Pet. i. 16. Where this is not admitted, where it is not firmly assented unto, there can be no persuasive efficacy in it; but where there is, namely, a prevalent persuasion of the truth of the things proposed, there the mind is under a disposition unto the things whereunto it is persuaded.

The institution of God. He hath appointed the preaching of the word to be the means, the only outward ordinary means, for the conversion of the souls of men, I Cor. i. 17-20; Mark xvi. 15, 16; Rom. i. 16. And the power or efficacy of any thing that is used unto an end in spiritual matters depends solely on its divine appointment unto that end.

That the Holy Spirit doth make use of it in the regeneration or conversion of all that are adult, and that either immediately in and by the preaching of it, or by some other application of light and truth unto the mind derived from the word; for by the reasons, motives, and persuasive arguments which the word affords are our minds affected, and our souls wrought upon in our conversion unto God, whence it becomes our reasonable obedience. And there are none ordinarily converted, but they are able to give some account by what considerations they were prevailed on thereunto."

"First, The work of conversion itself, and in especial the act of believing, or faith itself, is expressly said to be of God, to be wrought in us by him, to be given unto us from him. The Scripture says not that God gives us ability or power to believe only,—namely, such a power as we may make use of if we will, or do otherwise; but faith, repentance, and conversion themselves are said to be the work and effect of God. Indeed, there is nothing mentioned in the Scriptures concerning the communicating of power, remote or next unto the mind of man, to enable him to believe antecedently unto actual believing. A “remote power,” if it may be so called, in the capacities of the faculties of the soul, the reason of the mind, and liberty of the will, we have given an account concerning; but for that which some call a “next power,” or an ability to believe in order of nature antecedent unto believing itself, wrought in us by the grace of God, the Scripture is silent. The apostle Paul saith of himself, panta iscuw en tw endunamounti me christw Phil. iv. 13,—“I can do all things,” or prevail in all things, “through Christ who enableth me;” where a power or ability seems to be spoken of antecedent unto acting: but this is not a power for the, first act of faith, but a power in them that believe. Such a power I acknowledge, which is acted in the co-operation of the Spirit and grace of Christ with the grace which believers have received, unto the performance of all acts of holy obedience; whereof I must treat elsewhere. Believers have a stock of habitual grace; which may be called indwelling grace in the same sense wherein original corruption is called indwelling sin. And this grace, as it is necessary unto every act of spiritual obedience, so of itself, without the renewed co-working of the Spirit of Christ, it is not able or sufficient to produce any spiritual act. This working of Christ upon and with the grace we have received is called enabling of us; but with persons unregenerate, and as to the first act of faith, it is not so."

"But it will be objected, “That every thing which is actually accomplished was in potentia before; there must, therefore, be in us a power to believe before we do so actually.” Ans. The act of God working faith in us is a creating act: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,” Eph. ii. 10; and he that is in Christ Jesus “is a new creature,” 2 Cor. v. 17. Now, the effects of creating acts are not in potentia anywhere but in the active power of God; so was the world itself before its actual existence. This is termed potentia logica, which is no more but a negation of any contradiction to existence; not potentia physica, which includes a disposition unto actual existence. Notwithstanding, therefore, all these preparatory works of the Spirit of God which we allow in this matter, there is not by them wrought in the minds and wills of men such a next power, as they call it, as should enable them to believe without farther actual grace working faith itself. Wherefore, with respect to believing, the first act of God is to work in us “to will:” Phil. ii. 13, “He worketh in us to will.” Now, to will to believe is to believe. This God works in us by that grace which Austin and the schoolmen call gratia operans, because it worketh in us without us, the will being merely moved and passive therein. That there is a power or faculty of believing given unto all men unto whom the gospel is preached, or who are called by the outward dispensation of it, some do pretend; and that “because those unto whom the word is so preached, if they do not actually believe, shall perish eternally, as is positively declared in the gospel, Mark xvi. 16; but this they could not justly do if they had not received a power or faculty of believing.”

See here

Spurgeon on Faith III

"This is faith, receiving of the truth of Christ: first knowing it to be true, and then acting upon that belief. Such a faith as this — such real faith as this makes the man henceforth hate sin. How can he love the thing which made the Saviour bleed? It makes him live in holiness. How can he but seek to honour that God who has loved him so much as to give his Son to die for him. This faith is spiritual in its nature and effects; it operates upon the entire man; it changes his heart, enlightens his judgment, and subdues his will; it subjects him to God’s supremacy, and makes him receive God’s Word as a little child, willing to receive the truth upon the ipse dixit of the divine One; it sanctifies his intellect, and makes him willing to be taught God’s Word; it cleanses within; it makes clean the inside of the cup and platter, and it beautifies without; it makes clean the exterior conduct and the inner motive, so that the man, if his faith be true and real, becomes henceforth another man to what he ever was before."

"There is life in a look at the crucified; there is life at this moment for you. Whoever among you can believe in the great love of God towards man in Christ Jesus, you shall be saved. If you can believe that our great Father desireth us to come to him — that he panteth for us — that he calleth us every day with the loud voice of his Son’s wounds; if you can believe now that in Christ there is pardon for transgressions past, and cleansing for years to come; if you can trust him to save you, you have already the marks of regeneration. The work of salvation is commenced in you, so far as the Spirit’s work is concerned: it is finished in you so far as Christ’s work is concerned. O, I would plead with you, lay hold on Jesus Christ. This is the foundation: build on it. This is the rock of refuge: fly to it. I pray you fly to it now. Life is short: time speeds with eagle’s-wing. Swift as the dove pursued by the hawk, fly, fly poor sinner, to God’s dear Son; now touch the hem of his garment; now look into that dear face, once marred with sorrows for you; look into those eyes, once shedding tears for you. Trust him, and if you find him false, then you must perish; but false you never will find him while this word standeth true, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” God give us this vital, essential faith, without which there is no salvation."

See here

This again is very clear from Spurgeon. He says that one of the "effects" of faith is a changed heart. Is not this regeneration? Also, does he not say that "life" is the result of "looking" with faith at the crucified one?

The Faith Experience

"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..." (Ephesians 1: 19, 20 KJV)

Is this work of making a believer out of an unbeliever, the same work that we call "regeneration" or the "new birth"? Or, is it something different? Something that occurs as a "second work of grace" following regeneration? Is the creation of faith a distinct and separate act from the creation of life and a new heart and spirit? Is the faith experience subsequent to the life experience?

These verses answer these questions. They show how the apostle did not make the experience of coming to faith different from the experience of coming to life, of being resurrected and born of the Spirit.

It is clear that the apostle equates the experience of coming to faith, or coming to Christ, as the same as being "quickened" or "raised to life." This is seen in that the apostle says it is the same power that both raises the dead sinner to life and faith.

The apostle mentions the "quickening from the dead" of the body of Christ and then says - "and you (also) has he quickened who were dead..." (2: 1)

Now, why do the Hyper Calvinists want to make this quickening a different experience from that of being made a believer? Why is the experience of 2:1 different from that of 1: 19, 20?

Further, if it is admitted, by the Hyperist, that verses 19 & 20 are speaking of conversion, a post regeneration experience, and of regeneration itself in 2: 1, then what is there, in the passage, that leads us to think of these two experiences as separate and distinct?

The truth is, Paul does not distinguish between regeneration and conversion in these verses. Rather, he equates them. The coming to faith is the coming to life. He could just as well have said - "and you has he quickened and made believers who were dead in sins and unbelief."

Good Book on Regeneration

The Nature and Instrument of Regeneration
By C Webster
Published by J. Whetham & son, 1843
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Jun 12, 2007
252 pages

See here

Facts About KJV

Facts About King James Of The King James Version
By Rick Norris

The following facts about King James of the King James Version are taken from chapte 3 of Rick Norris's book, THE UNBOUND SCRIPTURES (A review of KJV-only claims and publications).

For those of you who don't already have this valuable book, it can be ordered from the author. His EMA is:

Rick Norris wrote:

"In his history of English Baptists published in 1871, J. J. Goadby described King James as 'the meanest and most despicable sovereign that ever held an English sceptre' (Bye-Paths in Baptist History, p. 80). He described how James I dealt roughly with Baptists. Another history of English Baptists by Thomas Crosby also told how King James and his state church persecuted Baptists with fines, imprisonments, dispossessions of property, beatings, expulsions, and even burning at the stake. S. H. Ford wrote that 'almost canonized head of the Episcopal Church (King James) thus, in the name of Christ, authorized poor Wightman's death' (Origin Of The Baptists, p. 21). Phil Stringer observed that Wightman was burned at the stake 'for declaring that baptism of infants was an abominable custom' or 'for being a Baptist' (Faithful Baptist Witness, p. 7). Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia noted that King James treated Baptists with 'royal barbarity' (p. 75). J. W. Griffith observed that King James and his government 'vigorously tried to prevent the preaching of Baptists, driving them into hiding, imprisoning their ministers and deacons and sometimes entire congregations, imposing enormous and ruinous fines on those arrested for unlawful assembly and preaching' (Manual Of Church History, III, p. 84). J. M. Cramp contended that Baptists suffered severely during the reign of James I ( Baptist History, p. 260). Timothy Fellows noted that the Puritans rejected the KJV 'because it was dedicated to a wicked king' ( God Hath Spoken, p. 130)."

Feel free to forward this to some friends.

Pastor Bruce Oyen

Mar 28, 2009

Fuller vs. Booth

I found the following review, by Nathan Finn, of a recently published book by Peter Morden, "Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist Life, Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol. 8." Carlisle, Cumbria, UK and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2003. Pp. xix, 196.

Finn wrote:

"Chapter four examines Fuller’s controversy with Abraham Booth over the atonement and the ordo salutis, particularly the order of faith and regeneration. Fuller believed that regeneration preceded faith and rejected a commercial understanding of the atonement. Booth argued faith preceded regeneration, but he argued for the more traditional understanding of particular redemption. Morden argues Fuller did not actually reject substitutionary atonement, but rather incorporated governmental tendencies into his view. It was in his view of the atonement that Fuller was most influenced by the New England theologians, though he never totally embraced the theology of the New Divinity Edwardsians." (Nathan A. Finn - Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)

See here

I am interested in reading what Morden wrote in the chapter dealing with Fuller vs. Booth on the "ordo salutis."

I have been collecting notes for quite some time on these two great Baptist forefathers, and their views on the atonement and the ordo salutis.

More to come, the Lord willing.

Spurgeon on Faith II

"Now, avoid that, and buy the truth, which lies here, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." We hear too much nowadays of regeneration without faith--the supposed regeneration of unconscious babes, the new birth of people through drops of water, when they are not able to understand what is performed upon them. I beseech you believe that there is no new birth where there is not a confidence in Christ, and that the regeneration which does not lead to repentance and faith, which is not, indeed, immediately attended therewith, is no regeneration whatever. Buy the truth in this matter. Stand to it that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in rational and intelligent beings, leading them to hate sin, and to lay hold of eternal life."

"There is only one true new birth, but there are fifty counterfeits of it. In this respect, then, buy the truth. Let me have you beware of an experience which has a faith in it that was never attended with repentance. I am afraid of a dry-eyed faith. That faith seems to me to be the faith of God's elect, whose eyes are full of tears. If thou hast never felt thyself a sinner, never trembled under the law of God, never felt that thou hast deserved to be cast into hell, I am afraid thy faith is a mere presumption, and not the faith that looks to Christ."

"Alas! we see nowadays in many professors a great deal of life without struggle, and I think I have learned that all spiritual life that is not attended with struggles in a mistake, for Isaac, the child of the promise, is sure to be mocked by Ishmael. No sooner does the seed of the woman come into the world than the seed of the serpent tries to destroy it. You must, and will, find a battle going on within you if you are a believer. Sin will contest it with grace, and grace will seek to reign over sinful corruptions. Be afraid of too easy an experience. "Moab is at ease from his youth; he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel; for the time cometh when the Lord will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled upon their lees." There must be strivings within, or we may well beware of such an experience. And I think I have noticed a growing feeling abroad of confidence without self-examination. I would have you hold to believe God's Word, but do not take your own state at haphazard. Do not conclude that you are a Christian because you thought you were ten years ago. Day by day bring yourself to the touchstone. He that cannot bear examination will have to bear condemnation. He that dare not search himself will find that God will search him. He that is afraid to look himself in the face has need to be afraid to look the Judge in the face when the great white throne shall be placed, and all the world summoned to judgment. Confidence is quite consistent with self-examination, and I pray you in this thing buy the truth, and seek to have a religion that will bear the test--a true faith, a living faith, a faith that moves your soul, a deep-rooted faith, a faith which is the supernatural work of the Holy Ghost, for the time cometh when, as the Lord liveth, nothing short of this will stand you in good stead."

"Oh! yield you to my Master. The Light of the World is with his hand at your door knocking tonight softly. Do you not hear the knock of the hand that was pierced? Admit him! He comes not in wrath; he comes in mercy. Admit him! He has tarried long, even these many years, but no frown is yet upon his brow. Rise now and let him in. Be not ashamed. Though ashamed, be not afraid, but let him in, and blushing, with tears in your face, say to him, "My Lord, I will trust thee; worthless worm as I am, I will depend upon thee." Oh! that you would do it now, this moment! The Lord give you grace to do it! Do not hear about it only, but buy the truth."

"I pray you, intend to buy it. Oh! intentions, intentions, intentions! The road to hell--not hell--that is a mistake of the proverb--the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Oh! ye laggards, pull up the paving-stones and hurl them at the devil's head. He is ruining you; he is decoying you to your destruction. Turn your intentions into actions, and no longer intend to buy, but buy the truth."

BUYING THE TRUTH - A Sermon Published on Thursday, March 11, 1915.
Delivered by C.H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. On Lords' day Evening, June 26, 1870

See here

In Spurgeon's "sermon notes" for this message, he had these two items:
Life without the new birth.
Regeneration without faith.

See here

Clearly Spurgeon believed that faith was essential to the new birth. Clearly he was not opposed to giving simple gospel invitations, such as asking Christ to come into one's heart.

Spurgeon on Faith

"If you turn to the third chapter of his gospel it is very significant that while he records at length our Saviour’s exposition of the new birth to Nicodemus, yet in that very same chapter he gives us what is perhaps the plainest piece of gospel in all the Scriptures: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, too, in the chapter before us he insists upon a man’s being born of God; he brings that up again and again, but evermore does he ascribe wondrous efficacy to faith; he mentions faith as the index of our being born again, faith as overcoming the world, faith as possessing the inward witness, faith as having eternal life—indeed, he seems as if he could not heap honour enough upon believing, while at the same time he insists upon the grave importance of the inward experience connected with the new birth."

"Furthermore, the faith here intended is the duty of all men. Read the text again: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” It can never be less than man’s duty to believe the truth; that Jesus is the Christ is the truth, and it is the duty of every man to believe it. I understand here by “believing,” confidence in Christ, and it is surely the duty of men to confide in that which is worthy of confidence, and that Jesus Christ is worthy of the confidence of all men is certain, it is therefore the duty of men to confide in him."

"Inasmuch as the gospel command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” is addressed by divine authority to every creature, it is the duty of every man so to do. What saith John: “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,” and our Lord himself assures us, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.” I know there are some who will deny this, and deny it upon the ground that man has not the spiritual ability to believe in Jesus, to which I reply that it is altogether an error to imagine that the measure of the sinners moral ability is the measure of his duty. There are many things which men ought to do which they have now lost the moral and spiritual, though not the physical, power to do. A man ought to be chaste, but if he has been so long immoral that he cannot restrain his passions, he is not thereby free from the obligation. It is the duty of a debtor to pay his debts, but if he has been such a spendthrift that he has brought himself into hopeless poverty, he is not exonerated from his debts thereby. Every man ought to believe that which is true, but if his mind has become so depraved that he loves a lie and will not receive the truth, is he thereby excused? If the law of God is to be lowered according to the moral condition of sinners, you would have a law graduated upon a sliding- scale to suit the degrees of human sinfulness; in fact, the worst man would be under the least law, and become consequently the least guilty. God’s requirements would be a variable quantity, and, in truth, we should be under no rule at all. The command of Christ stands good however bad men may be, and when he commands all men everywhere to repent, they are bound to repent, whether their sinfulness renders it impossible for them to be willing to so or not. In every case it is man’s duty to do what God bids him."

"At the same time, this faith, wherever it exists, is in every case, without exception, the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Never yet did a man believe in Jesus with the faith here intended, except the Holy Spirit led him to do so. He has wrought all our works in us, and our faith too. Faith is too celestial a grace to spring up in human nature till it is renewed: faith is in every believer “the gift of God.”

"A still more remarkable representation of faith was that of the healing look of the serpent-bitten Israelites. On the great standard in the midst of the camp Moses lifted up a serpent of brass; high overhead above all the tents this serpent gleamed in the sun, and whoever of all the dying host would but look to it was made to live. Looking was a very simple act, but it indicated that the person was obedient to God’s command. He looked as he was bidden, and the virtue of healing came from the brazen serpent through a look. Such is faith. It is the simplest thing in the world, but it indicates a great deal more than is seen upon its surface:

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

O soul, if thou canst get into contact with Christ by simply trusting him, though that trust be ever so feeble, thou hast the faith of God’s elect; thou hast the faith which is in every case the token of the new birth.

No, the moment that the sinner’s trust in placed on the finished work of Jesus he is saved."

"As if this chapter were written on purpose to meet the gross error that faith does not bring immediate salvation, it extols faith again and again, yea, and I may add, our Lord himself crowns faith, because faith never wears the crown, but brings all the glory to the dear Redeemer.

We believe, and therefore we have been begotten of God."

Sermon 979. Faith and Regeneration

See here

Again, I ask - is it not clear that Spurgeon did not oppose saying men are "begotten by faith"? That he believed that "looking" preceded the "living"?

Norris - Unbound Scriptures

Here is a needed nugget from Rick Norris's book, The Unbound Scriptures: A Review Of KJV-only Claims And publications.

"Where does God's Word teach that any committee of a state church is superior to other believers in translating God's Word regardless of their scholarship? Where does the Bible teach that the KJV translators should be exalted to a role of being mediators between the believer and the Word of God? Were the KJV translators superior to the manuscripts and copies of God's Word in the original languages which they used? Did the KJV translators have the miraculous credentials of the prophets and apostles? KJV-only advocate Jack Moorman stated: 'Within the New Testament Church there has never been any body of men to whom God has given any special authority to make decisions concerning the New Testament canon or the New Testament text' (ForeverSettled, p. 46). Timothy Morton wrote: 'God never intended for a "priest class" of elite scholars to have a lock on the words of life.' (Which Translation should You Trust, p. 68). Wayne Williams claimed: 'God placed no scholastic lords over His heritage.' (Does God Have A Controversy, p. 68). Moorman, Morton, and Williams fail to apply their statements to the KJV translators. However, it is obvious that God's Word does not teach that God gave the KJV translators special, superior, or ultimate authority to make decisions concerning the text or translation of His Word. No one man or group of men can have an exclusive and sole access to the truth or reach sinless perfection which makes them the ultimate translators, beyond which there can be no other." (From chapter 3, titled, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," of Norris's book.)

If you don't have this book, get it, read it, tell others about it! And please forward this e-mail to several friends.

Pastor Bruce Oyen

Mar 25, 2009

Duncan's Silence

I surely would have thought the Ligon Duncan would have responded to my rebuttal to his comments left to me. But, he has done what other Hyperists do when confronted with a creedal Calvinist. They run! They hide! Why did Dr. Duncan not answer my questions? Why did he ask questions of me if he did not want to dialogue on the matter?

Now, I know that one cannot read too much into silence, but this silence from Duncan, White, and the other Hyperists, is avoidance. And why? Of what are they afraid?

Reborn Without Receiving Christ?

Those who insist that regeneration or the new birth precedes faith, repentance, and gospel conversion, men like James White, R. C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan III, Wayne Grudem, Tom Ascol, those who generally call themselves "Reformed," whether Baptist or Presbyterian, will nevertheless confess that the regenerated or newly born soul must, post hoc, exercise faith in order to "receive Christ," and in order to be justified, converted, sanctified, pardoned, and adopted. Thus, by their watered-down definition of "regeneration," a man is "born again" who has not "received Christ"! Can you imagine a greater inconsistency or absurdity?

Spurgeon - Born Again by Faith

"This change is often described as a birth. See the third chapter of the Gospel of John, which is wonderfully clear and to the point: “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This birth is not a birth by baptism, for it is spoken of as accompanied by an intelligent faith which receives the Lord Jesus. Turn to John 1:12, 13: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” So that believers are “born again” and receive Christ through faith: a regeneration imparted in infancy and lying dormant in unbelievers is a fiction unknown to Holy Scripture."

This is very clear. Those who say that Spurgeon never affirmed that faith preceded regeneration, or opposed the idea, should recant after reading these words. He plainly says that believers are "born again through faith" and "receive Christ by faith."

He says:

"In the third of John our Lord associates faith and regeneration in the closest manner, declaring not only that we must be born again, but also that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. We must undergo a change quite as great as if we could return to our native nothingness and could then come forth fresh from the hand of the Great Creator. John tells us, in his first epistle, 5:4, that “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world,” and he adds, to show that the new birth and faith go together, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” To the same effect is 1 John 5:1, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Where there is true faith, there is the new birth; and that term implies a change beyond measure, complete and radical."

"Paul, in Colossians 1:13, further speaks of God the Father and says, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” John calls it a “passing from death unto life” (1Jo 3:14), no doubt having in his mind that glorious declaration of his Lord and Master: “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” (Joh 5:24)."

"Once more, as if to go to the extremity of forcible expression, Peter speaks of our conversion and regeneration as our being “begotten again.”

Again, this is clear and plain! Notice that Spurgeon did not believe that men were "begotten" by "regeneration" (technical non-scriptural definition) alone, but by conversion also!

"Regeneration and conversion, the one the secret cause and the other the first overt effect,[2] produce a great change in the character."

Did Spurgeon contradict what he said earlier? No, again, I believe that Spurgeon is using the word "regeneration," in these remarks, not by its scriptural use and definition, but by its technical or theological definition, and yet he makes it clear that he does not believe that, using that technical definition, a man is born again who is not converted, and that he did not believe that the words begotten, regenerated, or converted were distinct and separate experiences. Thus, he denies the leading principles of those who teach that men are regenerated, born again, begotten, or converted before faith.

He said:

"O brethren, conversion makes a difference in us most mighty indeed, or else what did Christ mean when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28)?"

"Why, beloved, instead of supposing that we can do without conversion, the Scriptures represent this as being the grand blessing of the covenant of grace. What said the Lord by His servant Jeremiah? “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33). This passage Paul quotes in Hebrews 10:16, not as obsolete, but as fulfilled in believers. And what has the Lord said by Ezekiel? Listen to the gracious passage, and see what a grand blessing conversion is: “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” (Eze 36:26, 27). Is not this the blessing of the Gospel by which we realize all the rest? Is not this the great work of the Holy Ghost by which we know the Father and the Son?

Spurgeon ascribes the prophecy of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, not to a regeneration that precedes conversion, but to conversion itself. Spurgeon clearly equated, as do the scriptures, regeneration and conversion.

He wrote:

"Do you know anything about this? I trust that a great number of you have experienced it and are showing it in your lives, but I fear some are ignorant of it. Let those who are unconverted never rest till they have believed in Christ and have a new heart created and a right spirit bestowed. Lay it well to heart, that a change must come over you which you cannot work in yourselves, but which must be wrought by divine power. There is this for your comfort: Jesus Christ has promised this blessing to all who receive Him, for He gives them power to become the sons of God."

What "blessing" is promised to the unregenerate dead sinner? Is it not regeneration and new life? How does Spurgeon tell sinners to obtain "this blessing"? By faith! By "receiving him"! Begotten by faith!

He said:

"It is also always attended with simple, true, and real faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that is the King’s own mark: without it, nothing is of any worth. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Joh 3:14, 15); and that passage is put side by side with “ye must be born again,” in the same address, by the same Savior, to the same inquirer. Therefore, we gather that faith is the mark of the new birth; and where it is, there the Spirit has changed the heart of man; but where it is not, men are still “dead in trespasses and sin.”

From a sermon delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, July 19th, 1874,
by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

See here

Or here

Mar 23, 2009

Edwards - Universal Provision

"UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION. In some sense, redemption is universal of all mankind: all mankind now have an opportunity to be saved otherwise than they would have had if Christ had not died. A door of mercy is in some sort opened for them. This is one benefit actually consequent on Christ's death; but the benefits that are actually consequent on Christ's death and are obtained by Christ's death, doubtless Christ intended to obtain by his death. It was one thing he aimed at by his death; or which is the same thing, he died to obtain it, as it was one end of his death."

Jonathan Edwards [1743], Documents on the Trinity, Grace and Faith (WJE Online Vol. 37), Ed. Jonathan Edwards Center.

"Christ's incarnation, his labors and sufferings, his resurrection, etc., were for the salvation of such as are not elected, in Scripture language, in the same sense as the means of grace are for their salvation; in the same sense as the instruction, counsels, warnings and invitations that are given them, are for their salvation."

Jonathan Edwards [1743], "Controversies" Notebook (WJE Online Vol. 27) , Ed. Jonathan Edwards Center.

See here

Arminius on Grace & FW

Pastor Bruce Oyen sends me the following.

"What follows is a good statement about grace and free will. It might surprize you who wrote it.

IV. GRACE AND FREE WILL Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace. That I may not be said, like Pelagius, to practice delusion with regard to the word "grace," I mean by it that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration. I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good. It is this grace which operates on the mind, the affections, and the will; which infuses good thoughts into the mind, inspires good desires into the actions, and bends the will to carry into execution good thoughts and good desires. This grace goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co-operates lest we will in vain. It averts temptations, assists and grants succour in the midst of temptations, sustains man against the flesh, the world and Satan, and in this great contest grants to man the enjoyment of the victory. It raises up again those who are conquered and have fallen, establishes and supplies them with new strength, and renders them more cautious. This grace commences salvation, promotes it, and perfects and consummates it.

I confess that the mind of a natural and carnal man is obscure and dark, that his affections are corrupt and inordinate, that his will is stubborn and disobedient, and that the man himself is dead in sins. And I add to this -- that teacher obtains my highest approbation who ascribes as much as possible to divine grace, provided he so pleads the cause of grace, as not to inflict an injury on the justice of God, and not to take away the free will to that which is evil.

I do not perceive what can be further required from me. Let it only be pointed out, and I will consent to give it, or I will shew that I ought not to give such an assent. Therefore, neither do I perceive with what justice I can be calumniated on this point, since I have explained these my sentiments, with sufficient plainness, in the theses on free will which were publicly disputed in the university.

The author of this quote is James Arminius. The quote is taken from Volume 2 of his WORKS, and is called "A Letter Addressed To Hippolytus A Collibus." The complete works of Arminius are on the internet, and the website used for this quote is GodRules.Net. The website might be responsible for some words being in blue."

Mar 21, 2009

Pastor Oyen on The Shack

A good reason to object to the book, "THE SHACK" is its very questionable theology. While the book is interesting, and even moving in some parts, its theology is way off.

For example, God the Father is represented as a large black woman, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. I have nothing against women, but the Bible, God's Holy Word, prohibits misrepresenting God. In the book, God the Father also dances to rock music.

So, though the author says he wrote the book for his children, it certainly gives false ideas to them about God.

Also, the book's point of departure from what historic evangelicals and fundamentalists consider orthodox theology is found in the chapter called, "The Great Sadness," on page 65 in my copy. Here we are told, "In seminary he (Mack, a key person of the book) had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God's voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners' access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?"

My point from this quote is, once one departs from the orthodox view of Scripture one becomes like a leaf blowing in the wind, and where one ends up is anybody's guess. The Bible itself, in Ephesians 4:14, warns Christians against being carried about by every wind of doctrine. I think the author of the book is blowing in the wind of false doctrine.

Pastor Bruce Oyen

Mar 18, 2009

Baptism For Remission

The debate over Acts 2: 38, and the relation of water baptism to the "remission of sins," is a long standing one within the Christian community. Many honest souls believe that the Apostle Peter made water baptism as much a condition for pardon as he did for repentance and faith. They believe that the prepositional phrase "for the remission of your sins" connects with both two previous clauses, the first that says "repent ye," and the second that says "each one of you be baptized," so that both repentance and baptism are made equal requirements. But, however honest, they are nevertheless mistaken in this interpretation.

Much of the historic debate on Acts 2: 38 has centered on the precise meaning of the Greek preposition that begins the phrase, the word "eis" ('for' in KJV). But, it should not have been, nor need be.

The greater debate should center on the relationship of this important prepositional phrase to the two previous clauses. Is the phrase "for (eis) the remission of your sins" the object of both clauses? Or, only one of them? If only one of the clauses, which? Is he saying "repent ye for the remission of your sins" or "each of you be baptized for the remission of your sins"?

In order to prove that water baptism is required for remission of sins, one must 1) show how the phrase "for the remission of your sins" is the object of "each of you be baptized" and 2) that the word "for" ('eis') means "in order to obtain."

Greek scholars have demonstrated that the preposition does not universally denote purpose, and that it does not always look forward. But, as I have shown in previous writings, "eis" may look backwards, and sideways, and forward, depending on context. To say it always looks forward, and never backwards or sideways, is an error. Thus, two burdens are on the shoulders of those who seek to prove that Acts 2: 38 teaches that water baptism is a requirement for remission of sins.

First, they must show that the phrase "for the remission of your sins" is the object of the clause "each of you be baptized" as well as with "repent ye," and then, secondly, they must show that "eis" means "in order to obtain."

Both of the leading clauses are not identical, for the first clause, "repent ye," is second person plural, while the second clause, "each one of you be baptized," is third person singular. There is a change of both person and number between the verbs and pronouns in these two clauses.

Now, when we look at the prepositional phrase, "for the remission or YOUR sins," the pronoun “your” is second person plural. An important distinction is thus made and one that helps us understand this passage.

The effect of this change from second person plural to third person singular, and then back again, shows that the phrase connects directly with the command to “repent.” Essentially what you have is - “You (plural) repent for the forgiveness of your (plural) sins, and let each one (singular) of you be baptized (singular).” Or, “You all repent for the forgiveness of all of your sins, and let each one of you be baptized.”

Penitent faith, not water baptism, is essential for pardon. This is clearly seen in Peter’s very next sermon, where he exhorts —“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3: 19)

Notice how Peter says nothing about water baptism in his extending to the people the terms of pardon. If water baptism is necessary for pardon, then why did Peter not include it in Acts 3:19? If water baptism is essential for pardon, then why did Peter say nothing about this also in Acts 10:43?

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

A simple parenthesis helps us to understand what Acts 2:38 is really saying, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent (and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ) for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

This is exactly what Acts 3:19 teaches except that Peter omits the parenthesis. In Acts 3:19 Peter could have said, "Repent (and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ) so that your sins may be blotted out."

Calvin - Faith & John's Gospel

The following are some more citations from John Calvin on pertinent verses in the Gospel of John dealing with the controversy over the relation of faith to regeneration that show he believed it was scriptural to affirm that sinners are born again or begotten of God by faith in the gospel. There are some important remarks made by Calvin on the "ordo salutis," in his commentary on the Gospel of John, particularly on his comments on John 1: 12, 13.

It is from his comments on these verses that the Hyper Calvinists attempt to identify Calvin with those, like themselves, who believe that regeneration occurs, and is completed, prior to one believing in or receiving Christ, or being joined to him by faith. Thus, I will make most of my comments of Calvin's comments concerning those particular words.

On John 1: 12. 13 Calvin wrote this in his Commentary:

"But to as many as received him. That none may be retarded by this stumbling-block, that the Jews despised and rejected Christ, the Evangelist exalts above heaven the godly who believe in him; for he says that by faith they obtain this glory of being reckoned the sons of God."

This is clear and without ambiguity. Here he affirms that it is "by faith" that sinners "obtain this glory" of becoming or "being reckoned" as the "sons of God." He did not teach that one obtained the status of children of God before faith, but after it. How do we become the children or sons of God? Is it not by birth or regeneration? And, is this not, according to Calvin and scripture, "by faith"?

Calvin says:

"But if faith regenerates us, so that we are the sons of God, and if God breathes faith into us from heaven, it plainly appears that not by possibility only, but actually — as we say — is the grace of adoption offered to us by Christ."

Here Calvin clearly is not denying that it is scriptural and appropriate to affirm that sinners are regenerated by faith, become his children by faith. Of course, this is in keeping with the words of Paul to the Galatians - "for you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (3: 27)

Calvin wrote:

"Who believe in his name. He expresses briefly the manner of receiving Christ, that is, believing in him. Having been engrafted into Christ by faith, we obtain the right of adoption, so as to be the sons of God. And, indeed, as he is the only-begotten Son of God, it is only so far as we are members of him that this honor at all belongs to us."

This is Calvin's consistent position on the "ordo salutis." He puts union with Christ by faith ahead of all the blessings of salvation, be it the divine begetting or regeneration, or pardon and justification, or sanctification or perseverence to final salvation.

Calvin writes:

"Christ, therefore, offers himself to us by the Gospel, and we receive him by faith."

That is very clear. What results from this union with Christ "by faith," according to Calvin?

Calvin says:

"Hence it follows, first, that faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, unless he be begotten of God; and therefore faith is a heavenly gift. It follows, secondly, that faith is not bare or cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God."

Here is a part of Calvin's comments, on John 1: 10-13, wherein some attempt to affirm that Calvin believed that regeneration preceded faith. Is Calvin affirming this? Is he taking the Hyperist view? I must confess that if I only had this citation, and no others, from the great spokesman for Calvinism, then I would agree that he believed that men were born again prior to faith and repentance.

The most we can say about Calvin is that he could endorse either way of stating the matter. He could as easily affirm that men were born again by faith as to say they were born to faith. Notice these further remarks.

"It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life."

First, let us ask these questions - "what does Calvin think is the 'natural order' in regard to the 'ordo salutis'?" By "natural order," does he mean the ordinary, common, scriptural order? What does he think is the "natural" or usual "order"? Is it not that faith is most often said to precede regeneration in scripture and that the reverse is the exception? A thing, I might add, is what I have affirmed here in the Gadfly.

Calvin argues in this statement the same way I have reasoned with Ligon Duncan and others who insist the regeneration precedes faith and who say that to deny it contradicts basic Calvinism and is "dangerous" to the life of the Christian. He argued that regeneration is by faith BECAUSE by faith we receive the word that begets! This is Calvin's view as being the ordinary way it is presented in holy scripture.

Calvin realized that if one believed that gospel truth was a means in regeneration, or in the inception of spiritual life, then one must agree that it is proper to say that one is born again by faith. For to say that one is born again by the gospel is the same as saying that one is born again by believing it. This Calvin understood. Today's "Reformed" crowd, represented by Tom Ascol, James White, Ligon Duncan, R. C. Sproul, etc., however, do not understand this. Some of these men I have asked directly to tell me how the gospel is a means in regeneration unless it is believed. They are silent as the grave. They run from this question, except for the few who, like John Hendryx of, "shell down the corn" and affirm that regeneration, at least in its initial stage, the one wherein the sinner becomes spiritually "alive," is WITHOUT THE MEANS OF GOSPEL TRUTH! They are like, as I have said, the Old Hardshells and Regular Baptists who, like some among the Presbyterians, taught that the divine "begetting" was different from the "birth" or "deliverance," allowing that the first is "without means," but the second is with means. In this they follow in the tradition of men like Abraham Kuyper and William Perkins.

John Calvin did not believe in such nonsense. He did not believe that the begetting was separate and distinct from the birthing. He did not allow anyone to be regenerated or born again apart from the gospel and faith in it.

Calvin says both statements or propositions may be shown to be in agreement. I also agree with this statement. But, the question is, how do we make them to agree? How did Calvin make them to agree?

Calvin then says, as a caveat, as it were, this:

"And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regeneration as from its source; but since it is by the same faith that we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption."

"Faith is a part of our regeneration"! This is in keeping with what Luther also taught, as I have shown in this blog. It is what I also have affirmed constantly. It is what Abraham Booth and Charles Spurgeon taught. Thus, if faith is a part of our regeneration, then it is not proper to say that men are regenerated BEFORE faith, for as I have said, this would be like a tautology, like saying "regenerated before regeneration."

But, notice that after having affirmed regeneration by faith, he then reverses the order, showing he could accept it being stated either way, although he preferred the ordinary way. He says that "faith flows from regeneration as from its source." Again, I have allowed, in my own writings here, that this is sometimes the way it is stated in scripture, such as when Peter says we are "begotten unto a living hope" (or "begotten unto faith and repentance"). I have said that we should equate "begotten to faith" with "begotten to life."

Calvin apparently would disagree with Duncan and others who say that putting regeneration prior to faith is the heart of the gospel and that a denial of it is dangerous to Christians! Calvin would be totally opposed to him in this thinking.

Calvin writes:

"Another solution, still more plain and easy, may be offered; for when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us by some method that is hidden and unknown to us; but after we have received faith, we perceive, by a lively feeling of conscience, not only the grace of adoption, but also newness of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. For since faith, as we have said, receives Christ, it puts us in possession, so to speak, of all his blessings. Thus so far as respects our sense, it is only after having believed — that we begin to be the sons of God."

Again, when does the Lord regenerate the sinner, according to Calvin? Is it not "WHEN the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us"? Why did he not put it in the Hyperist manner and say -"when the Lord regenerates us, we are able to believe"? Further, he ends this section with the words that affirm that it is faith that puts us into every spiritual blessing, including regeneration, because it is what unites us first to Christ.

On John 5:24 Calvin wrote:

"So great is our depravity that we choose rather to perish of our own accord than to surrender ourselves to obey the Son of God, that we may be saved by his grace. Both, therefore, are here included by Christ — the robe of devout and sincere worship which he requires from us, and the method by which he restores us to life. For it would not be sufficient to understand what he formerly taught, that he came to raise the dead, unless we also knew the manner in which he restores us to life. Now he affirms that life is obtained by hearing his word, and by the word hearing he means faith, as he immediately afterwards declares. But faith has its seat not in the ears, but in the heart. Whence faith derives so great power, we have formerly explained. We ought always to consider what it is that the Gospel offers to us; for we need not wonder that he who receives Christ with all his merits is reconciled to God, and acquitted of the condemnation of death; and that he who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit is clothed with a heavenly righteousness, that he may walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:6.)"

John 20: 31

"That believing, you may have life. This effect of faith was also added, to restrain the foolish longings of men, that they may not desire to know more than what is sufficient for obtaining life. For what obstinacy was it, not to be satisfied with eternal salvation, and to wish to go beyond the limits of the heavenly kingdom? Here John repeats the most important point of his doctrine, that we obtain eternal life by faith, because, while we are out of Christ, we are dead, and we are restored to life by his grace alone. On this subject we have spoken largely enough in our exposition of the Third and Fifth Chapters of this Gospel."

These words do not need much comment. They show that Calvin did not object to saying that it is ordinarily the best way to state the matter to say that men are begotten or regenerated by faith. I am in line with Calvin and his modern day "refiners" should not seek to improve upon what needed no refinement.