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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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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Know your enemy | Main | A Few Thoughts on Federal Headship »

    Wesley and Regeneration

    Recently I saw someone post the following quote by Paul Washer on Facebook with my response following:

    "Calvinism is not the issue. I’ll tell you what the issue is. Regeneration. And that is why I can have fellowship with Wesley and Ravenhill and Tozer and all the rest because regardless of where they stood on the other issues they believed that salvation could not be manipulated by the preacher, that it was a magnificent work of the power of almighty God. And with them, therefore, I stand, that it was a work of God." -Paul Washer
    Regeneration is actually the crux of where we differ with Wesley. Wesley wholeheartedly believed regeneration was synergistic, not monergistic. I agree with Washer's statement, that Calvinism is not the issue, regeneration is. But regeneration is precisely where Wesley went wrong.

    You quote Washer saying "with them [Arminians], therefore, I stand, that it was a work of God."

    Yes Arminians believed regeneration was a work of God but they rejected the idea that regeneration was a work of God ALONE. That is the main difference.

    However, my willingness to have fellowship with Wesleyan Arminians is not based on this at all. It is based on the fact that perfect theology is not what saves, the Person, Work and applied grace of Jesus Christ is what saves. Any Wesleyan/Arminian would tell you that there is "no hope save in the Person and work of Jesus Christ" ... even though their theology makes them wildly inconsistent on this issue.

    Posted by John on July 14, 2010 01:32 PM

    Comments

    It sounds to me like you are describing pelagianism rather than arminianism.

    Scott

    Thanks for your post. Pelagianism rejects outright the need for the Holy Spirit prior to salvation. It is not synergism, it is human monergism. Arminians, on the other hand, believe in the necessity of the Spirit but not the sufficiency of the work of the Spirit. Arminains embrace something called Prevenient grace which is 100% synergistic. Not found in the Bible this teaching believes a person can believe the gospel while still unregenerate. In other words, to the Arminian, faith precedes and gives rise to regeneration - the very definition of synergism. They would affirm that God's saving grace is conditional and we need to meet that condition if we are to be saved.

    Monergism, on the other hand, affirms an unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying people for Christ's sake when they come to faith, but also raising them from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith. i.e. Christ meets all the conditions for us, including giving us a new heart to believe. "...who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)

    If you were to ask an Arminian if two persons heard the gospel, why does one ultimately believe it and not the other? What makes them to differ? If they say "grace", we answer, but they both had prevenient grace ... so what makes them to differ is something that still resides in their fallen human nature. That is called synergism.

    Thanks for your answer. So, a pelagian would say that no drawing or revelation from God is necessary for salvation? Also, the Holy Spirit can clearly be resisted in some instances (biblically speaking). So, would you say that grace in regards to salvation is always irresistible and grace at other times can be resisted? Lastly, would you say faith is unnecessary for regeneration? Thanks for your thoughts.
    Scott

    Hi Scott

    Good questions....

    Apart from the regenerating grace of God we always resist the work of the Holy Spirit. But when the Holy Spirit gives us new eyes and turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, we will believe.

    Ezekiel speaking of the New Covenant in 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    No one believes or obeys while their heart is still stone.


    In many places the Scripture teaches that Regeneration is the cause of faith. God circumcises our hearts that we might believe and live (Deut 30:6).

    One the the clearest passages on this is where Jesus says to the unbelieving Jews,

    "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life....And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

    And in John 6:37 he states, "All that the Father gives to me will come to me."

    So together these statements say that no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it and all to whom God grants it will believe, through the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. Showing the Persons of the Trinity working in harmony to bring about redemption. Jesus makes a syllogism here. A univeral positive "all" and a universal negative "no one"

    No one can come unless
    All that the Father give will come

    Leaves no room for synergism.

    You asked, "would you say faith is unnecessary for regeneration?"

    Faith is the immediate result of regeneration, like heat from fire. Faith does not come from our unregenerated human nature (See 1 Cor 2:14)

    I'm new to Calvinism (being a former Catholic) and have found this site extremely helpful.

    If we can't have faith unless we've been regenerated, does that mean that everyone who has faith is saved? I ask because I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea that we can know we are saved.

    Thanks.

    John,

    Thank you for your inquiry. It says in 1 John 5:1 "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God."

    "Has been" in the original Greek is past tense with continual action. The apostle John here is stating that the new birth precedes faith. And in the same chapter John further says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

    So our "knowing" has nothing to do with personal righteousness, but rather that we are trusting in Christ alone for it. He is our Savior, not someone who merely helps us save ourselves. There is nothing in our hand's we bring. In the new covenant in Christ's blood God "remembers" not to treat us as our sins justly deserve.

    So there is no presumption in "knowing" because it is based ENTIRELY on the sure promise of God's word fulfilled by the Person and work of Jesus Christ, who alone is sufficient to save us. Faith and obedience is completely beyond our natural capacities and are both the RESULT of a Spiritual renewal of heart. Presumption is actually to distrust that we can "know" since God's word is always a higher authority than unaided reason.

    Thank you for that explanation and the scriptural support. It's very reassuring.

    Dear friend read this link for a better understanding www.truthonfire.com/calvinism/does-regeneration-precede-faith.asp

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