Listen to God\’s Voice

Words of wisdom for today

Calvinist?

There is a whole line of thought going around now that rejects Calvinism. The reasoning goes something like this, set up a straw man that says since Calvinism rejects faith before regeneration and since the bible seems to say to me that faith in the gospel comes first, then and only then must faith preceed regeneration. The problem with this is that this is just the approach that James Arminius used that prompted the remonstrant controversy in the first place.

“These points were the culmination of a theological debate that developed in Holland during the first quarter of the seventeenth century.” This historical motivation was a response to the five points of James Arminius who was a Dutch seminary professor. They were presented to the state of Holland as a protest, insisting that the Belgic Confession and the Hiedelberg Catechism be amended. They wanted the official statements of the state Church of Holland changed (Steele, 13)”

This whole question should not be difficult, but in these days of man centered life, it has become a difficult question for a lot of people. Just to set the record straight I am a 5 point Calvinist.

Does a baby in the womb live in the womb? Or does life start at birth? The point I am trying to make is that it matters little what you might think as to what comes first, faith or regeneration, it is what happens in practice that matters.

Perhaps one of the most well known passages of God’s Word will establish better what I am trying to say.

(Joh 3:1)  There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

(Joh 3:2)  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

(Joh 3:3)  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

(Joh 3:4)  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

(Joh 3:5)  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Joh 3:6)  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

This whole chapter deals with the subject of the object of our faith. Jesus used the illustration of what we have come to refer to as the new birth. I believe that Jesus is teaching here that the new birth preceeds belief. Some authorities have said that the new birth is not the same as regeneration, but I beg to differ I believe it is exactly the same. How do I know that a person has been born again? I know it by the presence of faith. What I am saying is that the evidence that regeneration has occurred is the presence of faith. Just as the evidence of life is that a human life is developing inside a mother. Not that the baby human becomes a living being at birth, but that the baby human was a living human being at conception. Mankind is dead in trespasses and sins, even alienated from the life of God, only a new birth will bring forth faith. I stand with Spurgeon when he is reported to have said:

If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnec­essary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.

Spurgeon has also said although “I believe like a Calvinist, I preach like an Arminian”. Does that make Spurgeon an Arminian? Or is it that he preached as though he was preaching to lost human beings, dead in sin human beings, then relying on the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to accomplish regeneration and hence life where there was death. Spurgeon preached faith and then relied on God to produce the life. I do not get out of this quote that Spurgeon believed that faith proceeds regeneration, but that as applied to a congregation of believers, we already know they have faith, because they have been regenerated. Then what happens to the greater percentage of the human race, that have not heard the Word of God, until they hear the word, there can not be regeneration and hence faith.

Personally I believe all five points of what is affectionately called Calvin’s Tulip, although Calvin had nothing to actually do with it. This was developed out of a controversy in the Church of Holland during the17th century. To see more on these points visit my site on Calvinism. It is not my intention of angering any body, but getting at the truth of what God has to say.

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Written by tfheringer

May 5, 2008 at 4:03 pm

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