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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
William

If Regeneration Precedes Faith - Ephesians 1:13

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by John Hendryx

 

Visitor: If regeneration precedes faith, how can we explain Ephesians 1:13? This verse lists hearing, believing and sealing with the Holy Spirit in that order. If being sealed with the Holy Spirit is the same thing as being indwelled by the Holy Spirit, or if this happens when the heart is changed (ie., with regeneration, as per Ezekiel 36:26-27), doesn't that mean that regeneration follows belief rather than precedes it?

 

Response: Hi and thank you for your question. Are you suggesting that because the Spirit comes to indwell the believer AFTER he believes and is justified, that the Spirit does no work whatsoever in people prior to and during his conversion? That the Spirit is dormant and is waiting for a natural, graceless person to take the first step to believe, before He will do anything? Consider that If we as regenerate believers need the Spirit daily to believe, obey and persevere in the faith, how much more does the unbeliever need Him to understand and believe the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:12,14). The Biblical evidence is so overwhelming that the Spirit also works prior to belief (1 Thess 1:4,5) that this should not even be a debate in the church. The sinner hears and comes to Christ only because the Holy Spirit opens his ears, eyes and understanding to the gospel (Deut 29:4, 30:6; John 6:63-65). As in creation, the Spirit broods over us, so to speak, before He gives the birth to us. It is important that we do not limit the Spirit's work but understand that He has a full array of ministries:

 

In fact, there are seven major distinct ministries of the Holy Spirit:

 

Convicts unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment: John 16:8-11.

Calls and Regenerates (causing us to believe): 1 Cor 1:24; John 1:13, 3:1-8, 6:63-65; Titus 3:5, I Peter 1:23-25; James 1:18.

Indwells and baptizes the believer: I Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9; John 14:16; I Corinthians 12:13.

Seals us: Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30.

Imparts gifts: I Corinthians 12:7-11.

Fills the believer: Ephesians 5:15-21; Galatians 5:16.

Causes us to bear fruit: Galatians 5:22-23.— conforming us to the character of Jesus Christ.

 

I would encourage you to also consider that you thank God for your conversion because you know your repenting and believing cannot be ascribed to your own wisdom, sound judgment, or good sense (even partly). Jesus Christ gets ALL the glory (1 Cor 1:20-31). Even the very humility you have to believe is a gift of grace... "for what do you have that you did not receive."

 

Lastly, take the time to read Ephesians 1:13 in light of the first 12 verses in the chapter. Reading texts in isolation is a sure way to produce unsound theology. Read in context God predestined and adopted us as sons, according to the good pleasure of His will, not ours.

 

No one in his own accord could come to God and see Him unless God reveals Himself to that sinner. As it is written, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day... And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (Jn 6:44; Jn 6:65)

 

Ezk 36:26-27 "26 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. 27 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."

 

The whole process of salvation is instantaneous! However, if I may put things in "slow motion" and in a nutshell, the steps of salvation are the following:

 

Step 1: The effectual call:

-We were made alive first by the Spirit:

Eph 2:5 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved —

 

-The faith given to us (not inherent in us):

2Pe 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

 

-We become willing to listen (Salvation is not forced):

Psa 110:3a Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power.

 

-And we listened, confessed Jesus as Lord & Savior and followed Him:

Jn 10:27 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

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The Biblical evidence is so overwhelming that the Spirit also works prior to belief (1 Thess 1:4,5) that this should not even be a debate in the church. The sinner hears and comes to Christ only because the Holy Spirit opens his ears, eyes and understanding to the gospel (Deut 29:4, 30:6; John 6:63-65).

 

The Ordo Salutis according to Reformed vs Armininanism.

 

In the Reformed camp, the ordo salutis is 1) election/predestination (in Christ), 2) Atonement 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30)

 

In the Arminian camp, the ordo salutis is 1) outward call 2) faith/election, 3) repentance, 4) regeneration, 5) justification, 6) perseverance, 7) glorification.

 

God bless,

William

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The Biblical evidence is so overwhelming that the Spirit also works prior to belief (1 Thess 1:4,5) that this should not even be a debate in the church. The sinner hears and comes to Christ only because the Holy Spirit opens his ears, eyes and understanding to the gospel (Deut 29:4, 30:6; John 6:63-65). As in creation, the Spirit broods over us, so to speak, before He gives the birth to us.

There is no denying that the Holy Spirit works on unconverted sinners to convict them of their sins and to convince them of the Savior and His gift of eternal life. But that does not change the fact that the Holy Spirit produces the New Birth only in those who repent and believe, since that is when they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the gift of the Holy Ghost there can be no regeneration.

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT'S CONVICTION

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37)

 

THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ONLY AFTER REPENTANCE

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

 

So we see that the order of events as stated in Ephesians 1:13 is correct and regeneration cannot possibly precede repentance and faith.

 

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On 3/4/2015 at 3:03 PM, William said:

The Biblical evidence is so overwhelming that the Spirit also works prior to belief (1 Thess 1:4,5) that this should not even be a debate in the church. The sinner hears and comes to Christ only because the Holy Spirit opens his ears, eyes and understanding to the gospel (Deut 29:4, 30:6; John 6:63-65).

 I agree with this. 

Notice they the need to understand the gospel.

 

In order for the Spirit to be "received" (indwelling the Christian) understanding must first take place.

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Hi William,

To be honest, I never got really involved with the predestination issue.

I do believe that it is God alone that calls and saves us. We are totally helpless. He draws us to Him. When people receive the Spirit/become Christians today it is because God so decreed it. I don't know all the answers to this subject but that is what I believe right now.

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1 hour ago, Faber said:

Hi William,

To be honest, I never got really involved with the predestination issue.

I do believe that it is God alone that calls and saves us. We are totally helpless. He draws us to Him. When people receive the Spirit/become Christians today it is because God so decreed it. I don't know all the answers to this subject but that is what I believe right now.

Are we as helpless as infants? I agree! God used the faith of infants as an example, not the faith of infants after they grew up and could make a conscious decision.

 

God bless,

William

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2 minutes ago, William said:

 

As helpless as infants?

I agree!

Even more helpless.

I don't know if any of the elect die in infancy. But those who God elects will receive the Holy Spirit.

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2 minutes ago, Faber said:

Even more helpless.

I don't know if any of the elect die in infancy. But those who God elects will receive the Holy Spirit.

I agree!

 

God bless,

William

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