Can a Person Refuse Christ After Regeneration? and Must We Believe or is it Automatic?
Question from a visitor:
First off, I thank you for your quick response the other week in regards to a question I had asked you (about 1 Tim. 2:1-4). I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions ... With that being said, I ask for your kindness again with regards to another question. Here it is. Is there not any point in time when man (any human being), after having his heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit, must himself renounce sin and believe in Jesus? Or does it automatically happen because of his regeneration? Is it possible for someone to be brought to the knowledge of the truth, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and still refuse to accept Jesus? I appreciate your help in understanding this. Thanks again and God bless.
Thanks for your great question. The Scriptures teach that faith is not merely a dry acknowledgement or ticking off of a list of facts. When we believe in Christ we do so because we see truth, beauty and excellency in Him. Our hearts, and not only our minds, are circumcized unto the Lord. Our heart of stone is made into a heart of flesh that we may believe and obey. God does not do the believing, repenting and obeying for us. We actively exercise faith and actively repent and obey the Lord willingly. But this is only because the Holy Spirit has given us a new disposition for spiritual things.
Example: If a man is blind from birth, no matter how much light you shine into his eyes, he will not see. But if you gave him a new set of eyes he would see. His using his visual ability is his own doing but it is because God gave him this gift that he even has the capacity to do so. It is his nature to want to see and it is he that wants to do the seeing, not God seeing for him. So you could say that faith and repentance is automatic but only because it springs from our new nature which we willingly exercise. Our nature is who we are.
In Deuteronomy 30:6 the Lord says,
"Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live."The circumcision of our heart comes before the desire to believe and love God. By nature fallen man is hostile to God, loves darkness and hates the light (John 3:19, 20). But when a work of grace wrought by God in the heart renews and quickens a man, he wants what God wants, for now he has the Spirit and the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:1-14).
You also asked,
"Is it possible for someone to be brought to the knowledge of the truth, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and still refuse to accept Jesus?"
No more possible than a blind man given a new set of eyes not exercising his newly found ability to see, or no more likely than a healthy newborn baby not to breathe (See John 1:13; 6:65, 37-39, 44). According to the Scripture, God infallibly saves those He intended to save. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate someone, people would always run the other way from God. A hostile nature does not change by mere persuasion, but needs a new birth (John 3:3-6). And those quickened to new life (which by nature knows, loves and understands God) neither desire nor have the capacity to violate their own essence. They are God's children, called and set apart for Himself. And God's word does not return unto Him void.
Hope this helps