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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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  • « Warning for America | Main | The Cause(s) of Salvation »

    Rome v. The Gospel

    At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church placed its eternal and irrevocable curse on the Gospel, announcing it as actually heretical. I am certain that in the hearts and minds of the delegates at the Council, this was never intended - not even for a moment - but that is in fact what happened.

    The most relevant Canons are the following:

    Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone..., let him be anathema.

    Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins,... let him be anathema.

    Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy (supra, chapter 9), which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

    Canon 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.

    Canon 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.

    Canon 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ...does not truly merit an increase of grace and eternal life... let him be anathema.

    As Dr. Michael Horton rightly noted, "It was, therefore, not the evangelicals who were condemned in 1564, but the evangel itself. The 'good news,' which alone is 'the power of God unto salvation' was judged by Rome to be so erroneous that anyone who embraced it was to be regarded as condemned."

    But the Council of Trent met a long time ago. Hasn't Rome since modified its position? In another place Dr. Horton wrote, "Has Rome's position changed? In fact it has not. The Vatican II documents as well as the new Catechism of the Catholic Church reinvoke the theological position of the Council of Trent, condemning the gospel of justification by an imputed righteousness." But knowing full well that Rome's full curse is on me for believing the following, I quote the Scripture and embrace the only true Gospel of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    "To the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness" (Romans 4:5). God justifies the "ungodly." God does not wait until sinners are righteous in and of themselves before He declares them righteous. If He did, I for one would despair of ever getting there. The word "Gospel" means "good news" and the amazing "good news" of the Gospel is about how Jesus' life, death and resurrection breaks all the power of despair and saves sinners by supplying to them a perfect unassailable righteousness AS A GIFT.

    Question: Whose righteousness is supplied?

    Answer: Christ's own righteousness (1 Cor 1:30).

    The connection between the sinner and the Savior is trust, not improvement of behavior. THAT COMES LATER (Eph 2:8-10).

    This is our hope - while ungodly in and of ourselves, when we give up all hope of self attained salvation, trust in the Savior allows the Savior to save and He does so with resplendent and majestic power! Paul wrote, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (Romans 3:28). The basis of this despair shattering hope (the ungodly justified) is "Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4, literal translation). Through the mechanism of faith alone (which itself is God's gift) God counts sinners (the ungodly) as righteous because of Christ.

    "For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Justification by faith alone is really shorthand for justification by the Person and work of Christ alone. Jesus saves - not merely potentially or hypothetically - but He actually saves - all by Himself! All the sins of all the people who would ever believe in Him were transferred to Christ on the cross and He bore the penalty these sins deserved; and what is transferred to these sinners is a righteousness that has never known sin - the very righteousness of Christ. That is the kind of righteousness given to me - a righteousness that always obeyed every command of God fully and perfectly from the heart. The wonder of it all is that now, because of Christ, God not only merely tolerates me, but He has declared me as just, righteous, and fully pleasing to Him. "Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1). This peace is not a mere temporary ceasefire on God's part. I am forever justified before God through faith in the perfect Savior. To quote Martin Luther's Latin phrase, I am "simul iustus et peccator" - at the same time just and sinner. Christ's own perfect righteousness is mine. It is not merely that God because of Christ now sees me as "just as if I'd never sinned", but more than that.. much more than that... He now sees me as "just as if I'd always obeyed!" This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Posted by John Samson on August 7, 2010 06:49 AM

    Comments

    After reading this you will no doubt conclude that Roman Catholicism openly perpetrates a false gospel. So I would encourage you not to embrace their rhetoric of unity and ecumenicalism. It is a flat out lie. Those who subscribe to the above points of the Council of Trent (based on the sure authority of Scripture), will most certainly be damned. Is that clear enough? I cannot put this any more bluntly.

    * *I am certain that in the hearts and minds of the delegates at the Council, this was never intended - not even for a moment - **

    Oh yes it was! Rome hates the Gospel of Grace! Always has, always will!

    I quote the Scripture and embrace the only true Gospel of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...

    "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:24

    I'm pretty sure that's the only verse of Scripture that contains the words "faith alone."

    Dear "I-Don't-Know-What"

    Let me quote Dr. R. C. Sproul on this - in an article entitled Faith and Works writes the following:

    If justification is by faith alone, how can we apply James 2:24, which says a person is justified by what he does, not his faith alone?

    That question is not critical only today, but it was in the eye of the storm we call the Protestant Reformation that swept through and divided the Christian church in the sixteenth century. Martin Luther declared his position: Justification is by faith alone, our works add nothing to our justification whatsoever, and we have no merit to offer God that in any way enhances our justification. This created the worst schism in the history of Christendom.

    In refusing to accept Luther’s view, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated him, then responded to the outbreak of the Protestant movement with a major church council, the Council of Trent, which was part of the so-called Counter-Reformation and took place in the middle of the sixteenth century. The sixth session of Trent, at which the canons and decrees on justification and faith were spelled out, specifically appealed to James 2:24 to rebuke the Protestants who said that they were justified by faith alone: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” How could James say it any more clearly? It would seem that that text would blow Luther out of the water forever.

    Of course, Martin Luther was very much aware that this verse was in the book of James. Luther was reading Romans, where Paul makes it very clear that it’s not through the works of the law that any man is justified and that we are justified by faith and only through faith. What do we have here? Some scholars say we have an irreconcilable conflict between Paul and James, that James was written after Paul, and James tried to correct Paul. Others say that Paul wrote Romans after James and he was trying to correct James.

    I’m convinced that we don’t really have a conflict here. What James is saying is this: If a person says he has faith, but he gives no outward evidence of that faith through righteous works, his faith will not justify him. Martin Luther, John Calvin, or John Knox would absolutely agree with James. We are not saved by a profession of faith or by a claim to faith. That faith has to be genuine before the merit of Christ will be imputed to anybody. You can’t just say you have faith. True faith will absolutely and necessarily yield the fruits of obedience and the works of righteousness. Luther was saying that those works don’t add to that person’s justification at the judgment seat of God. But they do justify his claim to faith before the eyes of man. James is saying, not that a man is justified before God by his works, but that his claim to faith is shown to be genuine as he demonstrates the evidence of that claim of faith through his works.

    For "I-Don't-Know-What" continued... a second quote from Sproul may also bring clarity - from his book, Knowing Scripture; InterVasity Press, p. 83, 84

    "In Romans 3:28 Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." In James 2:24 we read, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." If the word justify means the same thing in both cases, we have an irreconcilable contradiction between two biblical writers on an issue that concerns our eternal destinies. Luther called "justification by faith" the article upon which the church stands or falls. The meaning of justification and the question of how it takes place is no mere trifle. Yet Paul says it is by faith apart from works, and James says it is by works and not by faith alone.

    To make matters more difficult, Paul insists in Romans 4 that Abraham is justified when he believes the promise of God before he is circumcised. He has Abraham justified in Genesis 15. James says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?" (James 2:21). James does not have Abraham justified until Genesis 22.

    This question of justification is easily resolved if we examine the possible meanings of the term justify and apply them within the context of the respective passages. The term justify may mean (1) to restore to a state of reconciliation with God those who stand under the judgment of his law or (2) to demonstrate or vindicate.

    Jesus says for example, "Wisdom is justified of all her children" (Lk 7:35 KJV). What does he mean? Does he mean that wisdom is restored to fellowship with God and saved from his wrath? Obviously not. The plain meaning of his words is that a wise act produces good fruit. The claim to wisdom is vindicated by the result. A wise decision is shown to be wise by its results. Jesus is speaking in practical terms, not theological terms, when he uses the word justified in this way.

    How does Paul use the word in Romans 3? Here, there is no dispute. Paul is clearly speaking about justification in the ultimate theological sense.

    What about James? If we examine the context of James, we will see that he is dealing with a different question from Paul. James says in 2:14, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" James is raising a question of what kind of faith is necessary for salvation. He is saying that true faith brings forth works. A faith without works he calls a dead faith, a faith that is not genuine. The point is that people can say they have faith when in fact they have no faith. The claim to faith is vindicated or justified when it is manifested by the fruit of faith, namely works. Abraham is justified or vindicated in our sight by his fruit. In a sense, Abraham's claim to justification is justified by his works. The Reformers understood that when they stated the formula, "Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.""

    "Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone..., let him be anathema."

    "Martin Luther declared his position: Justification is by faith alone, our works add nothing to our justification whatsoever, and we have no merit to offer God that in any way enhances our justification."

    "I’m convinced that we don’t really have a conflict here. What James is saying is this: If a person says he has faith, but he gives no outward evidence of that faith through righteous works, his faith will not justify him. Martin Luther, John Calvin, or John Knox would absolutely agree with James. We are not saved by a profession of faith or by a claim to faith."

    So we do need good works in order to know that our faith is real? It is faith and works together? Something dynamic there. It seems to me then that Dr. Sproul would agree with Canon 9 and Luther was wrong. How can Dr. Sproul then write that, Luther would "absolutely" agree with James? Didn't Luther refer to James as an "Epistle of straw?"

    Thanks.

    Philip Schaff- "The Protestant Spirit of Luther's Version".

    "The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther's version is the famous interpolation (insertion) of the word "alone" in Rom. 3:28 (allein durch den Glauben), by which he intended to emphasize his solifidian doctrine of justification, on the plea that the German idiom required the insertion for the sake of clearness. But he thereby brought Paul into direct verbal conflict with James, who says (James 2:24), 'by works a man is justified, and not only by faith' ('nicht durch den Glauben allein'). It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an 'epistle of straw', because it had no evangelical character ('keine evangelische Art')."

    So if we ignore or delete Luther's insertion of the word "alone" in Roman's 3:28, the apparent conflict in Scripture between Paul and James goes away? Again, Luther is wrong and Rome is right?

    Sorry, I'm new here but some things just don't make sense. I just came across this new phrase on the website, "monergism."

    Wait! I have to be "regenerated" before I have "faith?" I thought I had to have faith (and perhaps works) in order to be justified or regenerated, or born again, or saved, or enter the Kingdom of Heaven, or whatever you want to call it.

    If "regeneration" is necessary before faith, what good is faith then? If, I have faith, then I am also in need of good works?....they don't count either? I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I am already regenerated, what good is this discussion about faith and works anyway? I don't need them. God has already made His decision.

    Or, is perhaps this regeneration already accomplished or given at Baptism? Is that what ya'll mean?

    Sorry if I am off topic.

    As to the "right strawy epistle," this quote only appears in Luther's original 1522 Preface to the New Testament. After 1522, all the editions of Luther's Bible dropped the "epistle of straw" comment. It was Luther himself who edited these comments out. For anyone to continue to cite Luther's "epistle of straw" comment against him is to do him an injustice. He saw fit to retract the comment. Subsequent citations of this quote should bear this in mind.

    If you say so.

    Let us pray.

    Let us thank God for inspiring both Paul and James to write to us. Let us also thank God that he raised up Luther to interpret for us what Paul and James meant in their writings. And thank Him too that he raised up you to interpret for us what Luther really meant in his writings when he interpreted the writings of Paul and James! Now, who will interpret for us what you mean?

    Amen!

    I agree with the thought that “justification” is used in two different senses in Paul and in James. There is no contradiction between them, for both are inspired Scripture. While Paul is speaking of the cause and the basis for our justification– faith in Christ--James speaks of justifying the claim of faith. One who says they have faith demonstrates that faith by bringing forth fruit in keeping with their profession. This fruit is not the thing that justifies the person before God-- if works could save, Christ wouldn't have needed to come. But the things we do show what we really believe, albeit imperfectly.

    If someone says they follow Christ, should they be believed if they are habitual sinners in lifestyle and show no desire for God? Of course not. We say nowadays that "Actions speak louder than words”. Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions”. James says, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” All of these statements illustrate the simple principle that a person’s actions demonstrate what they believe and that there must be congruity between what a person says they believe and what they do.

    But if people could be justified before God on the basis of their works, why did Jesus have to come? Even the believer who now has good works also has a far from perfect record, for they continue to sin. Does God judge each person’s record and determine whether they have enough good vs bad works to justify them and be allowed to enter heaven? No, God will indeed judge, but the basis upon which we enter heaven is not our abundance of good works. We are justified by believing in the One whom God sent to justify sinners– the Lord Jesus Christ, who justifies the ungodly, not the godly.

    OK, I think I got it now. I believe in Jesus. He is my personal Savior. I guess I am then already saved, justified etc.?

    Then, I don't really need faith, nor works, nor grace, nor any church, nor the Scriptures, nor any symbols, nor sacraments, nor theology, nor websites, nor anything else. All this is superfluous. All I need is "monergism." How do I get that? Can I get that even if God doesn't want to give it to me? What if I beg Him?

    Is "monergism" in the Bible? "Monergism Alone!" Or does it say that not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" will enter the Kingdom? Something just ain't right here? What am I missing?

    It appears that you are missing the ability or willingness to consider what has been presented to you.

    God creates faith in the believer through regeneration by His grace. Faith is a gift from God.

    I have often thought that Rome during the Council of Trent was so angry with the Reformers position, they anathematized ever single point without regard to what they were saying and how it was clearly not supported by the Scriptures. It was a prideful, arrogant and sinful thing to do. Unfortunately, they have never recanted or repented from their position. How can you when you proudly declare yourself inerrant and above the authority of God Word?

    Therefore, their position in the Council of Trent has become "the gospel" for thousands upon thousands of people who refuse to read the Scriptures (that are available to them) to find out for themselves. They are sheep being led to slaughter by wolves.

    But, I have faith. I believe in Jesus. That must mean I have already been regenerated by grace without my knowledge of it. When did this happen?

    So faith is a consequence of regeneration, rather than faith being a cause of regeneration? Should I pray to God to increase my faith or regenerate me? This is very confusing.

    What good is faith if I have already been regenerated? And what is the good of preaching? Why should someone preach to one who has already been regenerated? He has faith already. And, on the other hand, if one has not yet been regenerated, preaching the faith will do no good. So preaching then has no purpose whatsoever? Help!

    Dear I-Don't-Know-What,

    Those are all very interesting points but they are based on unaided human logic and not the word of God. We should rather base our logic on the word of God, the Scripture. That is our highest presupposition and since the Bible teaches monergistic regeneration, it trumps all everything else.

    You declared, "if one has not yet been regenerated, preaching the faith will do no good."

    The Bible actually explains the reason why. Just because there is a command in the Bible to do something it does not mean that you are morally able to do it, apart from grace. You are to obey the 10 commandments perfectly. Do you? No, then God has commanded you to do something that you are unable to do. WHY? In Rom 3:19, 20 Paul explains why >> "Through the law we become conscious of sin." In other words the imperatives in the Bible (like "believe the gospel") are written, not to show our ability but our inability so that we would completely despair of ourselves. The commands or imperatives prepare us for the grace of God. Do you really think you can believe in Jesus apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? When we are finally brought to nothing to realize our spiritual bankruptcy, then God opens our eyes to our only hope, Jesus Christ.

    John 6:63-54 & 37 Jesus unambiguously teaches this. To believe you must first have faith to be regenerated is like saying you can have sight without eyes, or heat without a source. Not only is it unbiblical but it makes no sense at all. The Bible teaches that faith is not produced by our unregenerated human natures (1 Cor 2:14) or are you asserting that a person can come to faith in Jesus Christ apart form the help of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who quickens, the flesh counts for nothing. (John 6:63) We are born, not of the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God John 1:13. God grants us new eyes, THEN we see. He grants us a new heart, then we understand and believe. No one believes the gospel otherwise. No one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65).


    John

    "...or are you asserting that a person can come to faith in Jesus Christ apart form the help of the Holy Spirit."

    I-Don't-Know-What

    Jesus praised the Centurion's faith and the Holy Spirit had not yet come because Jesus had not yet been glorified. I think the centurion said something like, "I don't need to see, I know."

    Paul talks about faith, hope, and love. A person must already have these as something given because he writes that people hope in what they do not yet see. Faith must be in something that has not yet occurred or perhaps not yet seen.

    Hell, even those possessed by evil spirits in the Bible confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. I don't believe they had been regenerated. The centurion also at the crucifixion also confessed Jesus to be the Son of God and the Spirit had not yet come.

    Yep, I think we must be already born with some amount of faith, hope, and love before we are regenerated because we have been made in the image and likeness of God.

    "Do you believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." John 20:29

    "But I told you that although you have seen (me), you do not believe." John 6:36

    Sorry Gentlemen, I think you've got some problems now.

    IDKW

    After "regeneration"....Ez:36,25-30, why should one then remember his evil conduct, that his deeds were not good, and then loath himself for his sins and abominations?- Ez:36:31 All is already forgiven...oder?

    What should one do then? Why then be ashamed if God has already forgiven?... If God has already paid the price...What is the purpose?

    IDKW

    Yep. You guys definitely got some Scriptural problems. I'm sorry, this "monergism-thing" isn't Scriptural at all!

    wow. that's all i can think to say. wow.

    Well, it follows then, if "monergism" isn't Biblical, then it is a false Gospel, and woe to those who preach it. So then, Calvin is wrong, Luther is wrong, the Canons and the RCC are then right.

    Time to go Church shopping.

    "I am forever justified before God through faith in the perfect Savior. To quote Martin Luther's Latin phrase, I am "simul iustus et peccator" - at the same time just and sinner. Christ's own perfect righteousness is mine. It is not merely that God because of Christ now sees me as "just as if I'd never sinned", but more than that.. much more than that... He now sees me as "just as if I'd always obeyed!" This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

    No. It is not.

    As I have proved to you above, dear Pastor John S, faith (which comes through hearing) must be there prior to the coming of the Spirit. How do you answer to John 7:39? - "There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not been glorified." (referring to Pentecost). Did Our Lord say, "Oh ye of little faith" or Oh ye of NO faith" before Pentecost?

    And how do you explain John 8:14 in light of monergism? How do Samaritans accept the word of God, believe, but yet the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen upon them? Even after Pentecost! Pastor John H, how do you respond in light of your comment, "He grants us a new heart, then we understand and believe. No one believes the gospel otherwise." Certain your position is not based on Scripture!

    I could go on and on. No. The Scriptures do not teach monergism. Monergism is not there. It is a lie. Why do you not show forth the sign of regeneration in Ez 36:31?

    I cannot put this forth any more bluntly, John H, to use your words. So you can retract your statement now about Roman Catholics all being damned.

    Dear I-Don't-Know-What,

    John 7:39 is easily understood when we understand that there are different dimensions and operations of the Spirit - just a note in my Bible says, "As yet the Spirit had not been given does not mean that there was no work of the Holy Spirit in the world prior to Jesus' resurrection, for already in Gen. 1:2 the Holy Spirit was present in the world, “hovering over the face of the waters” (see also Gen. 6:3; 41:38; Ex. 31:3; Num. 11:25). Some OT verses even speak of the Spirit of God at work within believers prior to the coming of Christ (see Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; Dan. 4:8–9, 18; 5:11; Mic. 3:8; cf. Luke 1:15, 41, 67). This verse must therefore mean that “the Spirit had not been given” in the full and powerful sense that was promised for the new covenant age (see Ezek. 36:26, 27; 37:14; Joel 2:28–29; cf. John 20:22; Acts 2:1–13)."

    The above scriptures are clear. So too is the experience of David in the Old Testament when he was able to pray "take not Your Holy Spirit from me." which would necessitate him having the Spirit in the first place.

    Not sure how John 8:14 is relevant to the discussion.

    I would urge you to study these things more. The greats in church history had reason to believe this, just as we do - because of their study of the Scriptures - and you would do well to show at least SOME respect before making the wild accusations you do about monergism. It is easy to be bold when hiding behind a fictitious name on the internet as you do but I would strongly advise a little more caution in your rhetoric.

    Thank you for your response. I was beginning to think this was turning into a monologue.

    There is nothing you write in paragraph 1 that I, as a Roman Catholic, would disagree with. The same goes for paragraph 2.

    John 8:14 is certainly relevant to the discussion because I believe you are asserting with "monergism" that "regeneration" occurs when the Spirit is given in full and before this, faith (believing) is not possible. At least that is what John H wrote. That is what it says in Wikipedia. John 8 refutes that idea completely. And from visiting your links, it appears that after the Spirit is given, one cannot sin anymore? Certainly not what Rome teaches and, in fact condemns, and is proven in reality.

    I should show some respect? I am not the one here condemning all Roman Catholics.

    Wild accusations about monergism? Name one. It's not in the Bible, as I have quoted Scripture to prove the point. Which point of mine did you Scripturally disagree with again?

    I am being bold? You guys should be the ones working out your salvation with more fear and trembling. Not going around hammering even more nails into Jesus' Cross and acting like God is now blind and not keeping score. Wasn't it Luther who said, "Sin, and sin boldly!"? If so, he never understood Romans and is hardly an example.

    When was he regenerated? Was it before or after he broke his vow of obedience, or his vow of chastity, or his vow of poverty?

    Caution in my rhetoric? Ok, maybe I'm just being a little bit zealous for the Lord. I'll try.

    Look, I'm not here to cause trouble. You guys, as Pastors invite your Congregations to bring their Bibles and check your sermons. I'm checking your posts with my Bible. Sorry, monergism isn't there.

    Jesus is the Sacrificial Lamb, not the Scapegoat.

    Ooops...I meant Acts 8:14 refutes monergism not John 8:14. Sorry.

    Dear I-Don't-Know-What,

    First of all, of course the word "monergism" is not in the Bible, just like the words "Trinity" or "Providence" - but these concepts are certainly there in Scripture.

    In John 3, Jesus taught clearly that regeneration had to happen first before someone can enter the kingdom, which was equivalent to being born again, born from above or born of the Spirit, which is sheer monergism. As verses 7 and 8 also show, the work of regeneration is the working of the Holy Spirit completely, mysterious though it is. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

    1 John 5:1 rightly understood also shows that regeneration precedes faith. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” - Not will be born of God, but has been born of God. Faith is the sign that the new birth has happened. Concerning this verse, John Stott writes, "The combination of present tense (believes) and perfect tense [has been born] is important. It shows clearly that believing is the consequence, not the cause, of the new birth. Our present, continuing activity of believing is the result, and therefore, the evidence, of our past experience of new birth by which we became and remain God’s children." Having been born of God results in our believing. Our believing is the immediate evidence of God’s begetting.

    As for Acts 8, the phrase "receive the Holy Spirit" is being used in the sense of an empowering of the Spirit, elsewhere referred to as being filled with the Spirit. Each believer has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 1 Cor 12:13) and yet we are all to constantly be filled with the Spirit as Ephesians makes clear. Once again the notes in my Bible are a helpful guide in this, "Acts 8:17 they received the Holy Spirit. Apparently in this unique case, where the gospel was first moving beyond the bounds of Judaism, the Lord sovereignly waited to give any manifestation of the full power of the Holy Spirit (cf. vv. 15–16) until some of the apostles themselves could be present (Philip was not an apostle), and therefore there would be no question at all that the Samaritans had received the new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Jewish Christians had. This would show that the Samaritans should be counted full members of the one true church, the new covenant community of God's people, founded and based at that time in Jerusalem. It would also guarantee that the Samaritans, who for many generations had been hostile toward the Jews, would not establish a separate Christian church or be excluded from the church by Jewish believers. The Spirit was given only at the hands of the apostles, to show convincingly to Samaritan and other later, non-Jewish leaders of the church that both Jews and non-Jews who believed in Jesus now had full membership status among God's people (see Rom. 11:13–24; Eph. 2:11–22).

    Acts 8:18 Simon SAW that the Spirit was given. Since this was outwardly evident to Simon and no doubt to others as well, there must have been some OUTWARD manifestation of the Spirit. This may have been speaking in tongues, prophesying, or both (see 10:46; 19:6), and it was an evident sign to the apostles that the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Samaritans in a similar way to what had happened to the apostles and those with them at Pentecost."

    I don't know that the situation in Acts 8:14 was so "unique." I mean, look at Hebrews 11. "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen."

    -By faith, we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God.
    -By faith Abel offered a greater sacrifice than Cain.
    -By faith Enoch was taken up so he should not see death.

    "Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those that seek him." Faith before being taken up...hmmmm.

    -By faith, Noah warned about what was not yet seen.
    -By faith, Abraham obeyed.
    -By faith, he sojourned.
    -By faith, he received power to generate.

    "All these died in faith. THEY DID NOT RECEIVE WHAT WAS PROMISED but saw it from afar...11:13

    -By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac.
    -By faith, regarding things still to come, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.
    -By faith, Jacob blessed each of the sons of Joseph.
    -By faith, Moses was hidden by his parents.
    -By faith, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
    -By faith, he left Egypt.
    -By faith, he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood.
    -By faith crossed the Red Sea.
    -By faith, the walls of Jericho fell.
    -By faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient.

    What more shall I say?

    "YET ALL THESE, THOUGH APPROVED BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH, DID NOT RECEIVE WHAT WAS PROMISED." Heb 11:39

    Nope, sorry no monergism there. If they all had one thing, besides already being declared justified and righteous by their acts (WORKS), taken up by God without seeing death, whatever, it was FAITH. Yet all of them died before Pentecost. Before being "regenerated."

    Why does Paul, who even after receiving the outpouring of the Spirit, fear being disqualified in the end, but you Reformed Theologians do not have this fear? Is your faith greater than Paul's? You write like you're living in 3rd heaven already.

    But why all this?

    "God had foreseen something better for us, so that WITHOUT US THEY SHOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT!" Heb 11:40

    WHAT?!

    They died without being perfect. Yep. They died without the full outpouring of the Spirit. Yep. They died without being "regenerated." Yep. They were made perfect ("regenerated") after they died. Yep.

    So now, let me make sure I, (condemned Catholic guy), got this straight. They had faith. Yep. No doubt about that. There were justified and declared righteous by their works based on faith. Yep. They then died "unregenerated", which obviously means they were not perfect at death. Yep. And FAITH DOES COME BEFORE "REGENERATION." Yep. No monergism there. Definitely N-O-T-!

    "Hmmmmm".....theologically speaking.....this is a theological website...

    ...So people can die, without being fully "regenerated" (not perfect), yet be made perfect after death by receiving perhaps even a greater portion of God's Spirit (reward), because they have been freed from the flesh. Yeah. The flesh does put a little load on the Spirit, kinds of reins it in as we say. That's in the Bible. I didn't write it ya know.

    Do they then have faith after they already received the Spirit? Nope. They already possess it. Don't need faith in Heaven. Definitely before the Spirit though. It's in the Bible. No monergism there.

    On the other hand, what a perfectly Catholic idea. I mean, people dying without being perfect and receiving this full outpouring later! After death! Hell, I know a lot of people who didn't die perfect who are in Heaven. I guess it just takes longer with some people.

    Of course, the word "Purgatory" is not in the Bible, just like the words "Trinity" or "Providence." - but the concept is certainly there in Scripture. All will be tested by fire.

    You gotta love the Lord. If Catholicism is good enough for Him, it is good enough for me.

    I-DON'T-KNOW-WHAT...-ELSE-TO-TELL-YOU-GUYS.

    I-Don't-Know-What,

    The concept of no regeneration before Pentecost is ridiculous. You obviously believe that no one in the Old Testament was regenerated or possessed the Spirit and it is clearly an untenable position scripturally.

    Pergatory is also not a scriptural concept at all and an appeal to 1 Cor 3 for this where our works will be tested by the fire, is again so far from the concept of the people being put in the fire for eons and eons while becoming inwardly righteous before God will declare them righteous.. is eisegesis personified. It is simply not in the text. See this article here: http://vintage.aomin.org/1Cor3.html

    Dear Pastor,

    "The concept of no regeneration before Pentecost is ridiculous?" I just quoted you the entire Chapter of Hebrews 11. How is that "scripturally untenable?" I didn't write it, St. Paul did. His grave is in Rome, in case you didn't know. So, is Peter's. Under the Vatican's Altar!

    Were was Lazarus? He wasn't in the bosom of God, he was in Abraham's bosom, WAITING. Is that his final destiny?

    If "regeneration" was not the purpose of Pentecost, as prophesied, what is the purpose then? Huh? According to you guys....it is "regeneration." You contradict yourself!

    I did not say that no one in the OT was not regenerated or possessed by the Spirit. I said they were "regenerated" FULLY AFTER they were dead, as is proven by Hebrews 11, and then received the promise. What part of Hebrews 11 do you disagree with? Which part do you not understand?

    The full-full regeneration occurs in the afterlife when we see God, after we have been freed from the body. The Beatific Vision. That is more than the Body-Soul composite can withstand. To see God in this life is impossible. Or, are you now going to assert that YOU are fully regenerated? You see God?

    The thing that you don't understand about the Catholic concept of grace, is that we distinguish between things like "actual grace", "prevenient grace", "sanctifying grace." etc. Which are different levels of help of the Holy Spirit.

    You, yourself, wish to assert at the same time, the the Spirit was active in the OT, but differently in the NT. How do you make this distinction. Hey, you wrote it. Just look up a few posts.

    Better yet, I'll quote you for your own benefit....

    John 7:39 is easily understood when we understand that there are different dimensions and operations of the Spirit - just a note in my Bible says, "As yet the Spirit had not been given does not mean that there was no work of the Holy Spirit in the world prior to Jesus' resurrection, for already in Gen. 1:2 the Holy Spirit was present in the world, “hovering over the face of the waters” (see also Gen. 6:3; 41:38; Ex. 31:3; Num. 11:25). Some OT verses even speak of the Spirit of God at work within believers prior to the coming of Christ (see Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; Dan. 4:8–9, 18; 5:11; Mic. 3:8; cf. Luke 1:15, 41, 67). This verse must therefore mean that “the Spirit had not been given” in the full and powerful sense that was promised for the new covenant age (see Ezek. 36:26, 27; 37:14; Joel 2:28–29; cf. John 20:22; Acts 2:1–13)."

    Now what did I say that is different than you yourself declared? Nothing.

    "Mongerism" is not a scriptural concept at all as I have PROVEN so time times with so many examples. Yet, you wish to persist obstinately with your refusal to believe the Scriptures.

    I-Don't-Know-What,

    Your quotes and comments on Hebrews 11 simply reveal that you have confused "regeneration" with glorification. They are not the same thing. Regeneration (or being born again) is the first act in the salvation of God's people and is God’s work completely (monergism – one power working) as He raises us from spiritual death. It is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to His people.

    Glorification is the final state of the Christian where he is made to be conformed to the image of Christ.

    Here is an article that would help you should you be interested: http://www.the-highway.com/genesis_Sproul.html

    For further study beyond that, the book "Finally Alive" by John Piper is especially recommended, and is available free online here: http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bfa/books_bfa.pdf

    No, I have no confused "regeneration" with "glorification." I know that they are not the same thing.

    How can "regeneration" be a secret when it is the intent of the entire Gospel. Why is it written in the Gospel that "tongues of flame" descended on the Apostles? Why the outward sign? So that we may know. Hardly a secret once it has been revealed.God reveals...then we believe (faith)...then the promise is fulfilled (regeneration). No monergism there!

    If, as you assert, Glorification is the final state of the Christian, and I agree, then obviously, the total transformation is not yet complete in this life, despite the outpouring of the Spirit in "full." There must be then something else, after death, that we receive, that Glorifies us. Right? Right.

    Then perhaps it will appear logical then that, upon death, something is still lacking to the human spirit. Right? Despite the full outpouring of the Spirit. Right? That means, contra Protestant claims, that upon death, no one sees God and is beatified immediately upon death. Is that clear? Please state your disagreements.

    I-Don't-Know-What,

    Regeneration is a secret operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man - why? Because that is what Jesus clearly taught.. John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    Once again I would kindly ask you to fully read this article before commenting further: http://www.the-highway.com/genesis_Sproul.html

    Ok, I'm clicking right now.

    Holy Crap!

    Dr. Sproul quoting St. Thomas Aquinas! And misinterpreting him at that!

    Dr. Sproul, believe me, I'm from Pittsburgh and also a Steeler Fan, you got it wrong. Your view is very truncated.

    Of course, Catholics would agree that God takes the initiative. He loved us first. We respond, hopefully. Then, what God says happens. And then is our faith in God, for us, confirmed.

    I guess where we disagree with you guys is that, the theological virtues of faith, hope and love were not 100% obliterated by Adam's sin. God always leaves a remnant. If we were 100% cut off from God, we could not exist.

    You are asserting that man, somehow, without ANY faith, hope, or love could somehow still exist. Then he is just an animal. Irrational and impulsive.

    Sorry, God is Love, and just as nothing can exist without God, nothing can exist without Love. Just as in the Hebrew, to hate, HATE, means to love less...not to be without love at all. Nothing can exist without love. Little as it be, lacking as it be, love has to be there. So does faith and hope.

    Faith resides in the intellect. Hope in the imagination. And Love in the will. It is there. Buried perhaps, but there. Which one of you will deny that faith exceeds the intellect? Or that Hope transcends the imagination? Or that love overcomes and conquers the human will? When these 3 faculties overcome our human intellect, imagination, and will, then they are oriented to God, their proper object. This is the teaching of Aquinas.

    Don't believe me? Why would a soldier dive on a live grenade to save his buddies? This contradicts the humanistic instinct to survive at all costs. That is why to give up you life for another is the greatest act of love, as it says int he Bible. Because Love exceeds the human will and unites us to GOD. Just as Faith unites the Intellect and Hope unites the Imagination by EXCEEDING them! Transcending them.

    This is transformation! Faith, hope, and love are POWERS, Faculties already in the human soul, of transformation, not the result of it. No....no monergism!

    So in fallen man, God has left a remnant of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. It is on these faculties of the soul, according to Aquinas, that the Holy Spirit does his work. On what else does he work that God has given us? Or does God just "zap" us? They simply have to still be there.

    If not, what then? God infuses these virtues upon a pile of dung? Transformation is something extrinsic according to Luther. To Catholics, it is something intrinsic. Faith, hope, and love are virtues, theological virtues, which orient the soul, and have as their proper object, GOD. But...

    If you have faith, what are you? A clashing symbol? That's somewhere in the Bible. Not transformed at all. Hell, even Satan believes Jesus is the Messiah. If you have faith to move mountains, so what? If you have hope, big deal. Without Love, you are nothing. That is the Gospel that Paul preached.

    That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the Gospel of the Lord.

    I-Don't-Know-What,

    You believe there are a remnant unaffected by the Fall, which is clearly heretical - even by your own church's standards. I believe I have been more than kind to let your anonymous and misguided rantings to remain in this comment section but I feel your disrespectful and coarse tone now leaves me no choice but to end the discussion with you. You have written much and readers can decide for themselves what the biblical position is.

    How in the world can anyone give credence to the theology of the RCC when they bow down to a MAN (the pope who usurps the authority and glory that is of Christ Jesus!)

    John H wrote, "God grants us new eyes, THEN we see."

    But doesn't Scripture say, "Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains." John 9:41.

    Unregenerated man is blind; he sins. He can do nothing else. But, is that still a sin because he is still blind?

    We are saved by faith alone, apart from works. When we are saved the holy spirit works through us. It is a given. ( he who abides in me will bear fruit) James did not write to the Gentiles, and His letter was written before the council of Jerusalem. And it does not contain the gospel. (good news)

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