Calvin on John 1:13

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Puritan Board Senior
Calving had some interesting comments about John 1:13- I can't say I've read any other Reformed theologian put it this way. What do you think? If I read him correctly, he's saying there is a sense in which regeneration precedes faith and a sense in which faith precedes regeneration!

It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regeneration as from its source; but since it is by the same faith that we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption.

Another solution, still more plain and easy, may be offered; for when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us by some method that is hidden and unknown to us; but after we have received faith, we perceive, by a lively feeling of conscience, not only the grace of adoption, but also newness of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. For since faith, as we have said, receives Christ, it puts us in possession, so to speak, of all his blessings. Thus so far as respects our sense, it is only after having believed — that we begin to be the sons of God. But if the inheritance of eternal life is the fruit of adoption, we see how the Evangelist ascribes the whole of our salvation to the grace of Christ alone; and, indeed, how closely soever men examine themselves, they will find nothing that is worthy of the children of God, except what Christ has bestowed on them.


Puritan Board Doctor
I think he's merely saying that regeneration and faith are so closely related that, experientially, it's hard to tell them apart. Theologically, of course, it is possible to distinguish them. Regeneration precedes faith because spiritually dead people can't exercise faith. They need to get a new heart first. However, since God not only regenerates us but also gives us the faith with which to believe in His Son, we should say that the whole "package" comes from God.


Puritan Board Doctor
There are different kinds of faith which precede or are the concommitants of regeneration and saving faith. E.g. Someone may have a mere historical faith - especially if they have been nurtured within the administration of the CoG - for years before his regeneration and saving faith.

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moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
The word "regeneration" has two meanings used by Calvin and other old reformed writers: (1) the initial coming to life by the work of the Holy Spirit, and (2) the entire work of restoration from our corruption, including the initial coming to life as well as our entire sanctification.

Most of the time, it is the 2nd use of the word that is used by Calvin and other old writers, and their works need to be read with this in mind.

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