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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Images of the Savior (5 -- Noah's Ark) | Main | Kingdom Expansion in SE Asia »

    Book Review: Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter

    Synopsis: Dealing with the two major aspects of man's sin problem before God – objective guilt and moral corruption – and the two major aspects of the redemptive work of Christ that overcome these problems, Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter, is a book that explains in clear, simple, and eminently biblical terms the very heart of the gospel. Its value can scarcely be overestimated, in a day when the true gospel has been all but forgotten in much of Evangelicalism, and many believers struggle to live a truly Christian life in spite of widespread confusion and ignorance as to what constitutes the foundation of Christianity. To anyone who may be discouraged by a seeming lack of progress and real substance in his walk as a believer, in spite of a ready familiarity with all the emphases and strategems of American Evangelicalism, I enthusiastically say, “Read this book!”. It may be the most important book you read this year or for many years.

    Our need as sinners before a just and holy God is twofold: first, we have violated his commands, and have a real, objective guilt which demands punishment; and second, we have become filthy in our hearts, and are corrupt and vile before the eyes of a God who is too pure to behold evil. If we would ever experience the joy for which we were made, of coming back into God's presence with confidence, then both of these problems must be solved. And they have indeed been solved, by the manifold redemptive work of Jesus Christ: in justification, he cancels our sin debt, having made a way for God to remain just, and yet declare sinners to be righteous; in regeneration, he changes our evil hearts, creating instead hearts that are pure and holy. And the way in which we progressively come to display in our walk what we have become in reality is to know and understand and delight in the certainty and sufficiency of these truths. These are not just abstract principles; they are the Christian's food and drink, providing the nourishment he needs to press on into the eternal Kingdom.

    It should come as no surprise then, that these two themes, justification and regeneration, comprise a very large portion of the biblical teaching. If a person has a good understanding of these two things, he is well on his way to becoming a solid theologian – or, for that matter, simply a well-grounded Christian. And I personally know of no better work for establishing someone in the full-orbed biblical teaching on these themes than Justification and Regeneration.

    Leiter's book is notable for its virtually exhaustive treatment of the many changes that the bible speaks of as aspects of regeneration. But it does not come across as an exhaustive, systematic treatise: it is instead a practical and passionate unpacking and exulting in the great riches that are ours by inheritance. Understanding what Christ has done for us, and who we are in him, is a truly lifechanging experience. How different we are now, in Christ, from what we were before, is a many-faceted marvel that cannot fail to thrill our souls and energize our walk.

    After fifteen brief chapters which lucidly illuminate the biblical teaching on justification and regeneration come several appendices which are just as meaty as anything in the book, and sure to be useful tools for many occasions. The first is basically an outline of the portion of the book which deals with regeneration, and gives a very helpful and well-structured overview of the manifold biblical testimony on the theme. Following are two expositions of key passages, Romans 7 and 1 John 3:4-9, somewhat too lengthy and involved for inclusion in the book itself, but very insightful and well worth the read. And finally, Leiter has compiled a categorized and annotated list of all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, which is as thrilling as it is useful. The many precious things that we can glean from that simple phrase “in Christ” (“in him,” etc.), are simply staggering, and underscore the vital truth that everything we have been given is contained in and made possible by one thing alone: union with Christ.

    Available at Monergism Bookstore

    Posted by Nathan on May 10, 2008 12:51 PM

    Comments

    This is a fantastic book. Please read it. You will be Blessed I have read it a couple of times and still founds gems in this book.

    This is one of, if not the, most helpful, essential, and plain to read Christian books I have ever read.

    One of the most influential books I have ever read in my growth as a Christian. The Charles Leiter shows from scripture amazing truths of how every man who is in Christ is a New Creation!

    I am amazed that so-called Reformed readers would positively review this book. Though it has much good in it there is glaring error being taught. He takes the Arminian position on Romans seven and the overall effect of the teaching/doctrine in the book is to turn men to themselves rather than to the Savior of sinners.

    Rudy Ray

    Thanks for your comment but I believe it may misapprehend and somewhat distort the message of Leiter's book to understand it in the way you have. To answer your first objection, Leiter does not have Arminian theology with regard to whether man continues to sin after conversion. He simply, like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, does not think that particular passage in Rom 7 is speaking of the Christian. He may very well be wrong about his exegesis of that passage, but like all other good reformed people, he to believes that Christians will continue to occassionally fall into sin until the Lord returns.

    Secondly, if you think that he turns men into their own saviors then may I suggest that it is possible you may not fully understand the doctrine of monergistic regeneration, which Leiter believes. Anyone who believes this affirms that all the benefits of our union with Christ INCLUDING faith & obedience are a work of his grace. They spring from a renewed heart - i.e. ALL OF GRACE. WE do not obey in order to be saved, we obey, rather, because we are saved and the Holy Spirit indwells us and has given us a new heart. Nothing good that we have or do can be attributed to our own natural will, but indeed the true Christian will persevere to the end. It is not once saved always saved (like antinomians believe) but perseverance of the saints. The saints persevere because God preserves them. Again you may nt agree with his Rom 7 but his theology is anything but synergistic.

    I am sorry but that (another view of Ro 7) is not ALL that Mr. Leiter does in this book. He attacks the orhtodox Reformed view of sanctification replacing it with a Calvinized version of Deeper life teaching.

    Rudy

    Since Leiter does believe Christians can and do sin after being saved, could you give some examples of what you call the "deeper life teaching".

    Rudy,

    From your comments I can only presume you haven’t properly read it, but rather flicked through it.

    But just to correct you. Firstly Charles Leiter does not take the Arminian position on Romans 7. In fact on Sermon Audio you can find 5 sermons by Leiter on Romans 7, and one is on the wrong Wesleyan view and another is on the wrong deeper life view.

    Aside from that Romans 7, is only a few pages as an appendix in the back of the book. Incidentally Leiter takes the same view on Romans 7 as Paul Washer, Martyn Lloyd Jones the first 300 years of the church. (It was Augustine who came up with the view the Romans 7 man was the Christian, in the 4th or 5th century).

    As said above Charles doesn’t take the deeper life view. And he also spends a large part of the book about the believer looking to Christ and not himself, which is why I don’t get the impression you have properly read it.

    But if you can spare the time, then in this sermon The Early Church View of the Romans 7 Man in the Often Ignored Context I show:
    -The early church view that the Romans 7 man is a lost man (a view also held by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Paul Washer, Charles Leiter, Tim Conway and the Apostle Paul) is correct.
    -That the usage of present tense in Rom 7 is “historical present tense”, and how many claim it isn’t by the usage of circular reasoning, ignoring the context, and making Rom 7:14 into a separate, new section, despite v14 starting with the word “for” which is a conjunction, directly joining it to verse 13.
    -How there is a consistent and repeated pattern from Rom 6:1 which goes all the way to Rom 7:25 of: Question, Strong Denial, Short Answer, and fuller explanation of the short answer.
    -How many common interpretations of Romans 7 completely ignore the question being asked by Paul in v13, and give an interpretation that has absolutely nothing to do with the question being asked.
    -That the Romans 7 man is clearly not a parallel to Galatians 5.
    -That the Christian is a life of victory and not of defeat.
    -The dangers of the “wretched Christian” view.

    Greetings;

    Mr Leiter's view of Romans 7 is Correct. See my site above; read the papers in the "sanctification" section and then go to my Poor Man's site and read comments on Romans 7 and Galatians 5:21 here;

    http://jamesjay.110mb.com/index.html

    There is no way the Rom 7 man can be regenerate without ending up in contradiction because Paul says that that man ~Practiced~ sin in vss 15 and 19 and the same Paul says in Gal 5:21 that anyone who ~Practices~ sin is not saved. If Rom 7 is a regenerate man then Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned contradiction.

    Regards;
    Jim Kirby

    I highly recommend this book. Especially to new believers because of the simplicity and ease of reading about these great truths. I have been blessed to go over this book twice with Paul Washer while I was a pastoral intern and now again with another man who helped edit the book. It is a blessing to read.

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