"...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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  • « There is No God Seeker (Romans 3:11) | Main | The Gospel According to Paul »

    No one Can Believe in Jesus Unless God Grants It

    Synergists teach that that we are born as God's children by the will of man but the Bible teaches that we "were born, not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)

    In context verse 13 says,

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (King James Version)

    The literary structure of these two verses points out that the antecedent efficient cause of "those who received Him" (in faith) is that they were born of God. So, in short, those who receive Christ must, necessarily, be born of God first. Regeneration "unto" faith. verse 13 modifies verse 12.. No one receives him unless God first opens his heart in regeneration. John continues this theme throughout his book in chapter 3 and again in chapter 6. No one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65) and ALL to whom God grants it will believe (John 6:37) The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63). A syllogism which leaves no room for synergism.

    Back to verse 12 & 13: To all who received him... God gave them the power to become sons of God, and they did so not by the will of the flesh or of the will of man but because they were born of God. If you don't read it that way, verse 13 has no meaning. You cannot receive Christ apart from the use of your will and unless the will is renewed, there is no hope of receiving Him.

    Posted by John on September 21, 2011 01:07 PM


    This is an erroneous interpretation. Every man is born a slave. A slave is neither a son, nor an heir of the promised Holy Spirit. A slave needs to be given the right to become a son. As a slave of sin a man needs to be set free; and bound to the Law the man needs to be redeemed from the Law so that he can receive the adoption as a son (Gal. 4:4). When a man places his trust into Jesus Christ, he is taken immediately to the cross to be crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). Here he dies to sin (Rom. 6:3-5) and is freed from sin (Rom. 6:17-18); and, as Paul says “you were also made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead…now we have been released from the Law having died to that which we were bound” (Rom. 7:4, 6). When the man is freed from sin he is enslaved to God (Rom. 6:21). But, he was redeemed from the Law that he might receive the adoption as a son (Gal. 4:5). That is how the man is first given the right to become a son: God qualifies him to become an heir (Col. 1:12)—he becomes a son by adoption, and as a son he is now qualified to receive the inheritance (“therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir” Gal.4:7). “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His own Son into our hearts!” (Gal. 4:6). When God sends the Spirit of His Son into our heart, that is the new birth. When Jesus Christ comes to dwell in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17), He gives us His life (Col. 3:4; Gal 2:20), which is our gift of eternal life (1John 5:11, 12). We were first crucified with Christ, and dead with Christ before we were made alive with Christ and raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly (Eph. 2:5, 6). We were born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Pet. 1:3). We were saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5). When we were made alive with Christ, by grace we were saved (Eph. 2:5). We are saved by His life (Rom. 5:10). Jesus dwells in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17), we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14), faith precedes receiving eternal life, and faith precedes salvation (Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – Acts 16:31—and, Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved (Rom. 10:13)). Faith precedes receiving the right to become a son by adoption, and being born again.

    John 1:12, 13 is teaching us that as many as received him, to those he gave the right to become a son, first— each individual is taken from slavery to the adoption as a son in his union with the crucifixion and death of Christ—and then to as many as believed in His name, these were born of God as they remain united with Him in His resurrection, thus receiving the gift of eternal life in the new birth through the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. “And because you are sons (by adoption), God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts! (Gal. 4:6)

    You can't randomly redefine Biblical terms. Regeneration is not a supernatural change in a man to enable him to believe. Regeneration occurs when Jesus Christ comes to live in a man's heart to give him the gift of eternal life. When Jesus was telling Nicodemas about the new birth, the discussion goes beyond verse 8. Jesus tells Nicodemas the coming of God's gift of eternal life parallels Moses lifting the serpent in the wilderness, when people were dying from the snake bite, they looked to live. And in the same way the Son of Man had to be lifted up, so that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.

    There are not two additional kinds of life to receive after the life given in the flesh. (Men are not given one sort of 'spiritual life' to enable them to believe and then after they believe then they receive eternal life.) There are only two births. There is the life given in the flesh and the life given in the new birth, which is eternal life. That life is given to us when Jesus Christ comes to dwell in our hearts. Only the ones who have the Son have the life (1John 5:11, 12). Jesus tells Nicodemas He came to give men eternal life and salvation (John 3:15-16). Men were not indwelt by the Lord Jesus Christ before His resurrection. At just the right time Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem them from the Law so that they could receive the adoption as sons (Gal 4:4). Men needed to be set free from the Law before they could be joined to Christ (Rom. 7:4). Redemption is through His blood (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Only after men are redeemed and receive the adoption as sons does God send the Spirit of His Son into their heart (Gal. 4:4-6) to give them the gift of eternal life, and the gift of salvation in the new birth. Faith precedes Christ coming to dwell in our hearts, the gift of eternal life, and salvation-- all of which we are given in the new birth. Faith precedes the new birth.

    Reformed Theology is built upon an unbiblical definition of regeneration. Additionally, faulty presuppositions require an unbiblical 'new birth' to enable men to believe clear back in Genesis: at least the time of Abel, since Abel was commended for his faith (Heb. 11:4). Reformed Theology is also dependent upon many erroneous interpretations using the redefinition of "regeneration": interpreting many critical verses in the book of John as though men were already being born again. But nobody was "born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" before Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Nobody had been born again in the book of John (except Christ being the firstborn out of the dead). Therefore it can be objectively proven that these verses are erroneously interpreted. In addition, the verses used to establish "total depravity" have also been taken out of their context and given an erroneous interpretation. You can't build a true doctrine upon unbiblical definitions, erroneous interpretations, and faulty presuppositions (i.e. slavery to sin = bondage of the will.... and as we see, no man was set free from slavery to sin until they were united by baptism (given by Jesus Christ, not water) into Christ's crucifixion and death).

    How do you place regeneration before the resurrection when Peter tells us clearly that men are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?

    Why do you neglect the entire context of John 3 (vs. 9-18) when you teach about the new birth?


    Actually, John 3 demonstrates the necessity of regeneration to enter the kingdom. Read it again. No one can either see or enter the kingdom unless they are first born again. All men are required to believe the gospel. God commands everyone to repent and believe the gospel A command (imperative )does tells us what man can do but what he ought to do. John 3:19, 20 puts it all in perspective. Men are required to believe BUT men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out (wrought) in God."

    Are you going to honestly tell me that a person can obey the command to believe the gospel apart from any grace... apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? Because this is what you are, in fact, doing.

    Also as for the timing of regeneration, all people in both old and new testaments were saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To declare otherwise is to trust in human merit and achievement as if salvation occurred differently in old and new testaments. One by works and the other by grace. But the Bible declares that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand (Galatians 3:8). And God explicitly declares in the book of Deuteronomy the necessity of regeneration by the people of the Old Testament to obey him. "...And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6) Notice clearly the order. Circumcision comes prior to obedience and life.

    Lastly, I would challenge you to interact with the clear declarations of Jesus that regeneration precedes faith.

    "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44)

    It is the Spirit who gives life (quickens, regenerates); the flesh is no help at all. ..."This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:63, 65)

    Simply put, no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it and all to whom He grants it will believe. The Spirit quickens [regenerates], the flesh counts for nothing. See my essay on these verses in John 6 here which demonstrates that regeneration is intimately tied to faith and that salvation is by Christ alone, utterly abolishing any remote possibility of synergism. Christ not only commands us to believe but gives us what we require to do so. The reason why one person believes the gospel and not another is not because one person was more prudent or wise but because of the grace of God in Jesus Christ alone.

    See essay here --

    When you quote this verse as a justification that a person is and I quote you "first born of God, etc." it is truely a farse! the verse reads: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the NOT what happens prior to salvation. God did NOT only choose certain individuals for salvation. You will be held responsible for this false teaching, sir. A Dozen Objections to Divine Election
    Perhaps you can relate to this Divine election does indeed seem to be clearly taught in the Bible. Passages such as Romans 8 and 9, Ephesians 1 and 2, John 3, John 6, John 10, John 17, and many others, make a convincing case. However, certain verses, at least at first glance, seem to present a different picture.
    Over time I have sought to deal with some of the most frequently cited verses that are raised as objections to God's Sovereignty in election (the “what about?” verses, as I call them) trusting that this can be a helpful resource.
    John 3:16
    2 Peter 3:9
    1 Tim 2:4
    Matt 23:37
    1 Tim 4:10
    1 John 2:2
    John 12:32
    2 Peter 2:1
    How can divine election be true if God is not a respecter of persons?
    Does God create people knowing they will end up in hell?
    If Divine election is true, why should we even bother to evangelize?
    The ten different uses of the word “world” in John’s Gospel
    Another question that often arises is “how can God be just in requiring man to do what he is unable to do?”

    I had a typo in the above comment. Sorry. What I meant to type was that the intent of John 1:13 is NOT that God did any fore-choosing, it simply states WHAT happens when one is born again. It compares the spiritual birth to the natural birth. Again, you are building something into the text that simply is not there when you say what you said in the commentary. God desires "none to perish"...and "He died for the sins of the whole world". Your eletist mentality might fool some but you will be held accountable for this false teaching. God loves everyone and gives us a choice to believe or refuse Him. This theme is throughout the whole of are judged and punished for this. God would not hold us responsible for something that we had no capacity to enact. Period. The whole idea of the "T" part of the acronymn "TULIP" (total inability) is based on the false conjecture that because of the initial fall of Adam in the garden, that man is forever flawed in terms of ability to know right from wrong. This is false. Too many scriptures to quote here and you have heard them all. Yes, we were separated from relationship with God. Sin entered the world thru man. And man can choose to make that relationship in right order due to the finished work of Christ on the Cross. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life".


    We all affirm with you that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ (without exception) will not perish but have eternal life. That is not where we disagree. Problem is, no one us naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel apart from grace. Are you saying that a person can believe in Jesus Christ apart from grace? (see Rom 8:7, 1 Cor 2:14; John 6:65)

    If we had answers to everyone one of your Bible verses, would you be interested in seeing the answer? I have a feeling you are not, but if you are then just about every one of your bible verses is talked about this the following eBook. Look at the table of contents to see what is discussed.

    Melani - I once believed as you did. I once thought salvation was, more or less, man choosing God first, then God choosing man, second or conditional upon what man did with God. However, my personal experience and reams of Scripture, testify to the opposite. I drifted away from God for 20 years as a Prodigal son, barely on the fringes of Christianity, if even that. In 2007, for no known reason, except God's election and pre-destination, God drew me back to Himself in no uncertain terms. I had little to do with it. He took the Initiative, I assure you, He reached out to me, when I was sitting happy and smug in my affluent world of money and material success. I had NO plans of giving my heart completely to Christ. But, God did!

    I promise you, I could sense God's hand in some other circumstantial "moves" that clearly kept pointing to "God's intervention" --- not bad luck. Jesus was "knocking on the door" of my heart to bring me back to God. How in the world could I ever stop and take any credit for God mercifully and lovingly reaching out to me? No way! All we can do in salvation is nothing! Except open our hearts, but even then, God must give us the desire and will to. You see, you don't seem to realize every mental, spiritual, intellectual, volitional and physical faculity of mankind has been seriously marred by sin, bad enough to require massive supernatural GRACE to save a soul. You seem to have an obvious optimistic viewpoint on the total depravity of man! I wish you could have known me before God brought me back to Himself. I bet you wouldn't be so optimistic about notions that man somehow plays a role in his salvation. Sorry, but that's absurb to assume.

    I will beg to differ with you on your theological perspectives regarding Calvinism. If you were in my shoes, I honestly believe with all my heart, you would see things differently.

    Through my life, God has showed me, He gets the glory for salvation, not us. Furthermore, we are SO lost and deeply affected by the poison of sin in our DNA and blood that, unless God supernaturally acts upon us, especially our hardened will that opposes God's will, NONE of us would ever know Christ in our heart unto salvation

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