Regeneration and Salvation?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Herald, Mar 14, 2006.

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  1. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    A discussion has come up with another elder regarding regeneration and salvation. The questions raised were:

    1. Are they the same?
    2. Does regeneration preceed salvation?
    3. If faith is excercised after regeneration, is this when salvation is completed?
    4. Is the subject moot since the elect have been determined beforehand by God?

    Opinions?
     
  2. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    As far as Reformed Theology is concerned, Regeneration is the beginning of the Salvation "process". For Calvin, the whole process was called Regeneration (which many FV proponents love to mis-quote for reference in ignorance). By process, I mean the constant acts of repentance and faith that the elect exercise throughout their life until death and glory. Justification and Adoption occur, logically, immediately following regeneration/repentance/faith (as a starting point), and repentance and faith occur cyclically throughout the rest of a believer's life. Arminians make the mistake of seeing repentance and faith as a one-time deal, so if someone "falls away" or "backslides" and then repents and professes faith again, they are being "saved" again, not simply continuing their salvation "process."
     
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    1. Are they the same? No; they are seperate components of a process

    2. Does regeneration preceed salvation? Yes

    3. If faith is excercised after regeneration, is this when salvation is completed? Yes, Faith precedes justification and is after regeneration

    4. Is the subject moot since the elect have been determined beforehand by God? No. The elect still need to be processed in time.
     
  4. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Okay Scott, is it then possible for a person to be regenerated for years before they exercise faith, or does a spiritual "critical mass" take place in the sense that once regeneration has occurred faith is almost instantaneous?

    Bill
     
  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    It can be instantaneous or gradual. For instance, John the baptist was regenerated in the womb, later to be converted under the word.
     
  6. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    :ditto:
     
  7. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    That's interesting, Scott. I can only reflect on my own conversion. I believed in God long before I think I was regenerated.

    I was actively rebellious against God and His Word up until my early 40s. Even so, I knew that Jesus existed. Strangely, I held the greatest contempt for preachers who did not take Jesus seriously. In my late teens and early twenties I would go to various churches. Almost every time, it was all I could do to keep myself from rising up during a service and shouting because the preaching was so weak and timid. Only once did I hear a preacher gladly: an old Oxford Anglican who proclaimed Christ as the sole and sufficient savior.

    I revered the Bible and tried to make it fit my humanistic world-view. I didn't believe it, but I thought it was full of "great thoughts" and was culturally significant. I even read it, but I would just glide over the hard sayings, reckoning that they did not apply to someone as decent as I was.

    The Spirit finally chose to pin me down to repentance. I could not escape the Truth. I don't believe I was regenerate until that moment, but the Spirit of God had, for sovereign and unknown reasons, stirred my heart from childhood. I knew God existed. I thought we could be mutually respectful of each other. But I was not His until He demanded it of me.

    Vic
     
  8. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Vic,
    Yhanks for your thoughts. Is it possible that you were regenerated earlier in life and converted at that point God chose to 'pin you down'?
     
  9. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hello Vic,
    You wrote:-
    The huge majority of mankind believe in a god of some sort, but that doesn't make them regenerate. I think it takes more faith to be an atheist than a deist or theist.

    There is no suggestion whatsoevber in the Bible that John the Baptist's regeneration is in any way normative. It is far more sensible to suppose that his leap in the womb was a prophetic sign, not to be repeated.

    I see regeneration as a process, starting with thoughts about God and ending with repentance and faith in Christ. This was the view of several of the Puritans. Read William Perkins, The Golden Chaine, or Peter Masters' synopsis of Perkins' view in Physicians of souls (Wakeman Books: ISBN 1-870855-34-5 ).

    According to Masters, Elongated Regeneraton was the view of most of the Puritans, and the general understanding until John Murray's Redemption- Accomplished and Applied.

    For example, 1689 Confession X. ii (WCF is almost identical): '[God] takes away their heart of stone and gives to them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills, and by His almighty power, causes them to desire and pursue that which is good. He effectually draws them to Jesus Christ, yet in such a way that they come absolutely freely, being made willing by His grace.'

    Grace & Peace,

    Martin
     
  10. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Scott, I think it began early, but I fought it all the way. God worked on me and then let me wallow in sin for a long time. Sometimes I was quite happy with my condition, other times, I was disgusted. But I rebelled until defeated -- Praise God.

    Martin, I think your view applies to my experience.

    Vic
     
  11. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    How can we know if anything in Scripture is normative, Martin?
     
  12. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hello Gabriel,

    Well, if something is taught in a didactic passage or repeated several times in a narrative passage we may regard it as normative. The change from a 7th day Sabbath to a 1st day Lord's Day is not commanded anywhere but it seems to have been the practice of the early church (Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10 ).

    However, if, as is the case in Luke 1:41, something is reported as happening only once, and if it is contradicted as a normative occurence by a didactic portion of Scripture (John 3:6 ), then we may not regard it as normative.

    Read Berkhof's Principles of Biblical Interpretation

    Grace & Peace,

    Martin
     
  13. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    then you as well have: Jeremiah, David and Samson...........
     
  14. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    I believe scripture teaches a distinct difference between regeneration, which is being born again, and conversion in the sense of believing the gospel in faith. One must definitely be regenerated before he or she can believe the gospel, but i believe there is sometimes a time difference between regeneration and conversion.

    Look at Cornelius in Acts 10. Long before he has even heard of the gospel from Peter he is already behaving like a saved man. There is no way cornelius pre-conversion can be the description of an unregenerate.

    Acts 10:2-4 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

    I think regeneration is God's monogistic work to make us new creations. Conversion involves both God, sinner and preacher in order to make the born again christian believe the gospel in faith.

    [Edited on 3-17-2006 by satz]
     
  15. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    The following is my abridgement of Dr Masters' synopsis of Perkins' 'elongated' view of regeneration.

    Perkins believed that there was an elongated process both before and after regeneration. He suggests ten stages:-

    1. The ministry of the word comes, together perhaps with some outward or inward 'cross' or crisis, which makes the sinner's stubborn nature pliable to the will of God.
    2. God brings the mind of the sinner to think about His holy laws.
    3. God makes the sinner see and feel his very own sins, and how he offends God.
    4. God smites the sinner's heart with fear of punishment and hell, and makes him despair of attaining salvation by his own efforts.
    5. The mind is stirred up to serious consideration of the promises of salvation set forth in the Gospel.
    6. God kindles a seed or spark of faith, or a will or desire to believe, and also gives grace to strive against doubt or despair.
    7. Now a conflict takes place, in which that measure of faith fights with doubting, despair and distrust. In this battle, the person fervently, continuously and earnestly calls upon God for pardon, and this desire prevails.
    8. God quietens and settles the conscience to feel more sure of salvation, and the soul rests on the promise of life.
    9. The person truly repents with sorrow at having offended such a merciful and loving God, and he yeilds his entire being: his life, love and his behaviour.
    10. The peson manifests a new obedience, in which he conscientiously obeys the commands of God, and walks in newness of life.

    Perkins held that the first 5 stages could occur in the lives of those who do not come to salvation (Felix, Agrippa, 'stony' aand 'thorny' ground hearers), but in the case of the elect, Perkins taught that the first 5 stages humbled them and prepared the way for regeneration.

    I'm sure this is all a bit over-elaborate. I can't trace all those stages in my own conversion. But those who have read Bunyan's account of his conversion ( Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners ) will know how he struggled for about 18 months before comng to a settled faith. 'Elongated Regeneration' also explains the case of Cornelius. He was clearly a religious man, under conviction and seeking God, but he is not fully regenerated and converted until Peter comes to speak to him.

    I think you'll find that Thos. Goodwin and John Flavel also subscribed to 'E.R.'

    Grace & Peace,

    Martin
     
  16. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Martin,
    Are you using the term regeneration (above) interchangebly w/ conversion (the process)?
     
  17. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    Perkins saw regeneration as a process leading to faith in Christ and justification. That would be my position also. In my post, I used 'conversion' to describe the complete process (as Perkins does also).

    I do not believe that someone can be regenerate and yet continue in his life for any length of time as if he were not so. A regenerate heart is a changed heart (Ezek 36:26 ) and it will, by its very nature, produce good fruit (Matt 7:17-18; 12:33 ).

    You wrote previously:-
    Jer 1:5 does not mean that Jeremiah was regenerate in the womb.
    David says, 'Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me' (Psalm 51:5 ).
    Judges 13:4-5, like Jer 1:5, does not mean that Samson was regenerate in the womb, only that God had destined him for a Nazirite from eternity and his mother was to treat him as one right from conception (v4 ).

    These verses cannot mean that one can be born again before one is born the first time :lol: To think so is to make a mockery of John 3:1-15.

    Grace & Peace,

    Martin
     
  18. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    :banghead:

    Thanks for the exchanges Martin............
     
  19. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    If regeneration does not always accompany faith immediately, then there are people who are united to Christ - hidden in Christ - yet not justified since justification is through faith. This problem disappears if we consider faith as the propensity to believe anything the Bible teaches, in particular the gospel. If we consider the seed of faith, faith, then elect infants dying in infancy who are united to Christ are justified by grace through faith. I'm happy with that forumulation. When one understands gospel propositions, then faith is exercised.

    Ron
     
  20. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The 'seeds' of justification are there..........see Owens and Calvin on 'seed faith'.
     
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