Aug 4, 2009

Keach on Faith & Regeneration

Benjamin Keach was one of the signers of the second London Baptist Confession of Faith and a pastor of the church later pastored by John Gill and Charles Spurgeon. He was one of the greatest Particular Baptist apologists. He believed that men were begotten by faith in the gospel.

This is important to realize because some "Reformed" or "Hyperist" Calvinists claim that the London Confession upholds the notion that men are born again or regenerated before they can and do believe the gospel. Clearly, Keach did not hold this view. We can expect that the Confession reflects the views of Keach. Keach did not hold to the "born again before faith" error.

Keach wrote (emphasis mine - SG):

"The work of conversion itself, and in particular the act of believing, or faith itself, is expressly said to be of God, to be wrought in us by him, to be freely given unto us from him; the Scripture saith 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 and conversion themselves are said to be the work and effect of God.

Object. But it may be objected that every thing which is actually accomplished is in potentia before. There must therefore be in us a power to believe before we do so actually.

Ausw. 1. The act of God working faith in us, is a creating work, "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus," Eph. ii. 10, and "he that is in Christ is a new creature." Now the effects of creating acts are not in potentia any where but in the active power of God, so was the world itself before its actual existence...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 further actual grace working faith itself. Wherefore with respect to believing, the first act of God is to work in us to will; so Phil. i. 13, "He worketh in us to will."

And again:

"It might be further demonstrated by considering how conversion, with the manner how it is effected, is set forth in the Holy Scripture; "The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart," etc. Deut. xxx. 6. What is this but the putting off the body of sin? Col. ii. 11. This is the immediate work of the Spirit of God, no man ever circumcised his own heart. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, aud will take away the stony heart," Ezek. xxxvi. 26, that is, impotency and enmity which is in our hearts unto conversion."

And again:

"1. Gospel grace is glorious, because, when received in truth, it delivers the soul from bondage, it breaks the bonds. For the soul is not set at liberty by the here shedding of Christ's blood, without the application of it by the Spirit or infusion of grace into the heart.

2. The Gospel through the grace of it when received in truth, opens blind eyes, it makes them see, that never saw, in a spiritual sense, before; it opens their eyes that were bom blind; how blind was Saul till the Gospel grace shone upon him, or rather in him?

3. The Gospel through the grace of it, when received in truth, raises the dead soul to life. It is hereby we come to be quickened, the flesh profiteth nothing, it is the Spirit that quickeueth; that is, the human nature without the divine cannot accomplish salvation for us; nor shall any soul receive any saving benefit by the flesh, or death of Christ, unless he be quickened by the Spirit.

4. The Gospel in the grace of it, when received in truth, casts out that cursed enmity that is in the heart against God, and thereby reconciles the sinner to the blessed Majesty of heaven.

5. The grace of the Gospel works regeneration, makes the sinner another man, a new man. It forms the new creature in the soul.

The Gospel is glorious in respect of the tenders and offers made therein to the sons of men."

Question - What is tendered?

Answ. Repentance is tendered, pardon is tendered, peace is tendered, bread and water of life is tendered, perfect righteousness is tendered, adoption is tendered, glorious liberty is tendered; in short, God is offered, he makes a tender of himself. Christ is tendered with all his benefits, who is the Pearl of great price, worth millions; yea, more than ten thousand worlds; a marriage with Christ is tendered, the Spirit is tendered with all the blessings of it, a kingdom is offered in the Gospel, a crown is offered, a crown of endless glory, a crown that fadeth not away, eternal life is tendered."
("Tropologia: a key to open Scripture metaphors")

See here

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