Regeneration Precedes Faith Temporally (In Time)?

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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
How would NT faith differ from OT faith?
No difference-one faith, one gospel

If a) faith is in God and b) Jesus is God, the only difference would be the quantity of knowledge to which we assent, not a different object of faith.
Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

The same faith that was proclaimed in Gen 3:15 is the same gospel we have. One cannot be saved if their belief is monotheistic, i.e., Judaism.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Tim,
As I said above, 'faith comes by hearing the word of God'. Yes, God can give faith to infants outside of the normal means of grace, i.e. He Himself going to the individual, but why would He when He has ordained and decreed that it happens under the preaching of the word by His ordained servants, especially in cases where the individual is decreed to live a fruitful, full life?
I'm talking about covenant children. They are under the preaching of the word. How God uses that hearing is His prerogative, but we know from examples like John the Baptist that he rejoiced in the presence of Jesus prior to being able to speak or verbally confess.

Does that clarify? :)
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
No difference-one faith, one gospel



Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

The same faith that was proclaimed in Gen 3:15 is the same gospel we have. One cannot be saved if their belief is monotheistic, i.e., Judaism.
We're agreeing, right?

The only thing I would clarify is that, as I understand it, we are monotheistic as are Muslims and Jews. The obvious difference is we are trinitarian and believe the God of the whole Bible. The Muslim god is a different god. Judaism separates the Godhead and denies Christ. This is ultimately not the God of any part of the Bible.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm talking about covenant children. They are under the preaching of the word. How God uses that hearing is His prerogative, but we know from examples like John the Baptist that he rejoiced in the presence of Jesus prior to being able to speak or verbally confess.

Does that clarify? :)
Well, I was responding to this statement:

Again, faith is not depended on a verbal confession. The confession is the fruit of faith for those able to speak. This is no proof that infants cannot or do not have faith.
Based on what you just wrote-I possibly misunderstood. I agree. Infants can have, as I said, seed faith, but that faith is dormant until the time when the word germinates it and conversion happens under the outward call (preaching).

Rom 10:17 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
We're agreeing, right?

The only thing I would clarify is that, as I understand it, we are monotheistic as are Muslims and Jews. The obvious difference is we are trinitarian and believe the God of the whole Bible. The Muslim god is a different god. Judaism separates the Godhead and denies Christ. This is ultimately not the God of any part of the Bible.
Agreed.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Rom 10:17 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Agreed.

"And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak..." (2 Cor. 4:13)

I'm only trying to say that the faith precedes speaking. In children, the time frame may be longer.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Agreed.

"And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak..." (2 Cor. 4:13)

I'm only trying to say that the faith precedes speaking. In children, the time frame may be longer.
I guess what you are saying and where I again misunderstood has to do with the faculty of verbalizing. I see now you are referring to the idea that one will not necessarily speak of the gospel and Christ as a true witness until that time when one actually has faith. Agreed.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Tim,
I just perused the thread again. This was the quote from you that I had issue with-this may help both of us:

Again, faith is not depended on a verbal confession. The confession is the fruit of faith for those able to speak. This is no proof that infants cannot or do not have faith.
As I said, in my opinion, one can be regenerate as an infant and even have seed faith-however, conversion requires the outward call to which the regenerated respond to by ascending to biblical facts. It is not that these biblical facts save, but it is part and parcel of the gospel call. Could a man be saved without knowledge of his sin and his eternal destiny from them? Or not knowing what Christ did and accomplished? Can an infant ascend to these facts or confess Christ? Can they do the math? I am not saying that information saves. It does not. But the components of the gospel warrant those items that are inherent with salvation.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Tim,
I just perused the thread again. This was the quote from you that I had issue with-this may help both of us:



As I said, in my opinion, one can be regenerate as an infant and even have seed faith-however, conversion requires the outward call to which the regenerated respond to by ascending to biblical facts. It is not that these biblical facts save, but it is part and parcel of the gospel call. Could a man be saved without knowledge of his sin and his eternal destiny from them? Or not knowing what Christ did and accomplished? Can an infant ascend to these facts or confess Christ? Can they do the math? I am not saying that information saves. It does not. But the components of the gospel warrant those items that are inherent with salvation.
Hmm...

I'm not sure what "seed faith" is for lack of biblical example. The scripture also doesn't give us a minimum requirement of knowledge to which we must assent to be saved. I guess I'd rather stick to the requirements for salvation listed in scripture and leave the working of that out in the life of infants and young children to God.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Here are some excerpts from Turretin on the subject:

I. Concerning the subject of faith a question is moved as to infants. There are two extremes: (1) in defect, by the Anabaptists, who deny all faith to infants and under this pretext exclude them from baptism; (2) in excess, by the Lutherans, who, to oppose themselves to the Anabaptists, have fallen into the other extreme, maintaining that infants are regenerated in baptism and actually furnished with faith, as appears from the Mompeldardensi Colloquy (Acta Colloquy Mantis Belligartensis [1588], p. 459). “The round assertion of our divines is that actual faith is ascribed to infants with the most just right” (Brochmann, “De Fide Justificante,” 2, Q. 10 in Universae theologicae systema [1638], 2:429).

XIII. Second proposition: “Although infants do not have actual faith, the seed or root of faith cannot be denied to them, which is ingenerated in them from early age and in its own time goes forth in act (human instruction being applied from without and a greater efficacy of the Holy Spirit within).” This second proposition is opposed to the Anabaptists, who deny to infants all faith, not only as to act, but also as to habit and form. Although habitual faith (as the word “habit” is properly and strictly used to signify a more perfect and consummated state) is not well ascribed to them, still it is rightly predicated of them broadly as denoting potential or seminal faith. Now by “seed of faith,” we mean the Holy Spirit, the effecter of faith and regeneration (as he is called, 1 Jn. 3:9), as to the principles of regeneration and holy inclinations which he already works in infants according to their measure in a wonderful and to us unspeakable way. Afterwards in more mature age, these proceed into act (human instruction being employed and the grace of the same Spirit promoting his own work by which that seed is accustomed to be excited and drawn forth into act).

XVI. (3) There are examples of various infants who were sanctified from the womb (as was the case with Jeremiah and John the Baptist, Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:15, 80). For although here occur certain singular and extraordinary things (which pertained to them alone and not to others), still we may fairly conclude that infants can be made partakers of the Holy Spirit, who since he cannot be inactive, works in them motions and inclinations suited to their age (which are called “the seed of faith” or principles of sanctification).

XVIII. Although there seem to be in infants no marks from which we can gather that they are gifted with the Holy Spirit and the seed of faith (because their age prevents it), it does not follow that this must be denied to them since the reason of their salvation demands it and the contrary is evident from the examples adduced.

XIX. As before the use of reason, men are properly called rational because they have the principle of reason in the rational soul; thus nothing hinders them from being termed believers before actual faith because the seed which is given to them is the principle of faith (from which they are rightly denominated; even as they are properly called sinners, although not as yet able to put forth an act of sin).

XX. If any of our theologians deny that there is faith in infants or that it is necessary for their salvation (as is gathered from certain passages of Peter Martyr, Beza and Piscator), it is certain that this is meant of actual faith against the Lutherans, not of the seed of faith or the Spirit of regeneration (which they frequently assert is ascribed to infants). Peter Martyr, after saying that the Holy Scriptures do not say that infants believe, adds: “I judge that it is sufficient that they who are to be saved be determined by this—that by election they belong to the property of God, they are sprinkled by the Holy Spirit, who is the root of faith, hope and love, and of all the virtues, which afterwards it exerts and declares in the sons of God, when their age permits” (Loci Communes, Cl. 4, chap. 8.14 [1583], p. 826). Thus Calvin: “Yet how, say they, are infants regenerated, having a knowledge neither of good nor of evil? We answer, the work of God, even if we do not understand it, still is real. Further infants who are to be saved, as certainly some of that age are wholly saved, it is not in the least obscure were before regenerated by the Lord. For if they bring with them from their mother’s womb innate corruption, they must be purged from it before they can be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, into which nothing impure and polluted enters” (ICR, 4.16.17, p. 1340). This he fully discusses in the following sections.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I had dinner tonight with a 15-year-old girl who has never said more than maybe one word. Yet she has sat under sound preaching her whole life. What does she understand? What faith can she assent? Is she potentially more "saved" now than when she was an infant and had "seed faith" (a term that I don't recognise from either the Bible or the cobfessions). Yes, one would expect a believer to confess Jesus is Lord, and that is rightly a requirement for participation in the Lord's table. But to insist that the ability is a requirement for a full and living faith doesn't reflect the Bible's teaching.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Here are some excerpts from Turretin on the subject:
Yes, I've read some of the arguments and agree with Jean that they are speculative. The Bible describes measures of faith, weak faith, etc. It seems prudent to operate on the assumption that infants are saved by genuine faith, though in a lesser measure than adults. The argument for "seed faith" seems to add another faith to the equation that revolves around speculation, not scripture.

Be that as it may, I would like to not derail this thread, so I won't be speaking any more to infants unless it directly helps the concert of the OP.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
2Ths.1:3 speaks of faith "growing up" exceedingly. The idea of a "seed of faith" is simply that concept of the smallest faith (like as a mustard seed, Mk.4:31; Lk.17:6) with all the potential an actual seed has. Seeds are watered, they germinate, and they are nourished up into maturity. The metaphor is clearly biblical.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Simply put: regeneration precedes faith because spiritually dead people cannot exercise faith for salvation.

God supplies both the regenerated heart and the faith with which to believe.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I suggest Googling these terms in relation to what converted men have under their theological belts:

Assensus
Fiducia
Notia
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Scott and Bruce,

I agree with the idea of "seed faith" when it's understood to be a very small measure of faith. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding Turretin, but when he says "Although infants do not have actual faith, the seed or root of faith cannot be denied to them..." it seems that he's saying "seed faith" is not "actual faith." This is where I take issue.

Applying it to the OP, it seems that the writer would have a point that salvation can belong to someone without actual faith if we say infants can be saved without actual faith.

Do you understand my concern?
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott and Bruce,

I agree with the idea of "seed faith" when it's understood to be a very small measure of faith. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding Turretin, but when he says "Although infants do not have actual faith, the seed or root of faith cannot be denied to them..." it seems that he's saying "seed faith" is not "actual faith." This is where I take issue.

Applying it to the OP, it seems that the writer would have a point that salvation can belong to someone without actual faith if we say infants can be saved without actual faith.

Do you understand my concern?
The way I would explain this is that this child is regenerated w/ a capacity for faith-that is that the seed of faith is present and that seed of faith will germinate when the external call makes it effectual.

Seeds that farmers purchase resemble dead seeds until the time when they are watered...is a tobacco seed, tobacco?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Scott,
It's probably taking it a step further than you should, to say that such divine "implanting" of a seed of faith is just the same as "regeneration." Regeneration is that seed germinating. You could extend the metaphor a bit, to include the means of effectual calling: i.e. the "watering" of the seed so to stimulate it's growth.

But it seems patent to say that the life of regeneration is never the potential life in the seed, but the seed come alive. As you say yourself, the seed before its germination is indistinguishable from a lifeless seed, one that will never grow into anything, for whatever reason.
 

KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
The case of Lazarus raised is helpful for observing (by an outstanding and extraordinary physical miracle) the ordinary-miraculous event of a soul given life. The word of Christ is performative, it gives what it commands: faith in that word, which the now-living ears hear, and obey. How did the once-dead ears hear anything? The word forced a hearing upon them, and a wonderful gift it was.

So, the word acts as a means--what we call the ordinary means of grace. Not because the words are ordinary, but because God attaches his promise to them, and asks ordinary people to employ them; and he will then use them for his ends. Also,"ordinary" because the divinely chosen means are not "flashy" or aimed at the "gifted."

We need to have care that extraordinary miracles of given-faith are not leveraged against the ordinary means of grace. It is not to be expected by any of us that regenerated people are just living among us, but not exercising faith. What are they "seeing" with the eyes of the soul, then? They aren't living with their spiritual eyes closed. That is no different from blindness. A newborn baby is struggling to see, he's not got his eyes glued shut; and if he did, it would be the same as being blind, for all it mattered.

If I, as a Presbyterian, appeal to John the Baptist for proof that infants can believe; it is not for establishing or proving that what might happen is standard-operating-procedure. It is for establishing God's freedom, and offering a rational justification (if one were needed) for baptizing an infant. We actually do that by commandment, and not on a presumed rationalist basis.

But, if God begins a work of spiritual life in an infant on the day he's baptized--a work that takes in realtime maybe 10yrs, for example--we still identify the time of his exercised-faith as his "new birth." It's the difference between conception and parturition. The mysteries of life and spiritual-life are beyond us. What about still-birth? We use these sorts of analogies to help us draw distinctions between those who seem to start a life with Christ, but fall away.

We don't know the moment God begins his regenerating work in his elect. But we don't make it our business to judge of a man's regenerated state. We are justified by grace through faith. Effectual calling produces repentance and faith which unites us to Christ. Justification and sanctification (also called vivification, showing that it is whole-cloth with regeneration, hence those terms being applied in bygone days to the whole life of faith) these two are the two-fold benefit of union with Christ. It is all BY FAITH.

Faith may be great or small, but its saving nature is by virtue of its Object. All that is necessary is a child-like, even infant-like faith; but it has to be in Christ. Or there is no salvation. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is really useless to talk about allegedly regenerated people who have been given no sight of Christ.
Honest truth, I read this thread from the start, and on the post before this i began to think about Lazarus and how regeneration is in essence a resurrection in a persons life commanded by God through his Word, and how that relates to the discussion up to that point. I formulated my thought just in time to start reading this post of yours; it was like having my mind read to me almost.

You said it better than I would have of course, which was an additional bonus. Good response.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott,
It's probably taking it a step further than you should, to say that such divine "implanting" of a seed of faith is just the same as "regeneration."
Sorry if I sent that message-I don't believe that regeneration and the S of F are one and the same-they are entirely different.

Regeneration is that seed germinating.
I see the S of F 'germinating' upon the watering from the word, i.e. the external call of God. Regeneration happens and then those that are not able to rationalize that which regeneration brings are left with S of F that will germinate soon after upon the preaching of the word.

You could extend the metaphor a bit, to include the means of effectual calling: i.e. the "watering" of the seed so to stimulate it's growth.
I believe I had in previous posts. :)

But it seems patent to say that the life of regeneration is never the potential life in the seed, but the seed come alive. As you say yourself, the seed before its germination is indistinguishable from a lifeless seed, one that will never grow into anything, for whatever reason.
Regeneration guarantees that the seed will germinate, eventually. I agree that it is not 'the potential life in the seed', but is surely is the guarantee of it. One cannot have faith without regeneration and one cannot be regenerated without the capacity for faith in seed form or one that has germinated under the preached word.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I agree with the Spurgeon quote. I have always had a hard time accepting the notion that someone people were regenerated years before they exercised saving faith.
Would not the regeneration that comes from God by necessity then cause the person to exercise saving faith into Jesus at same time then? Like 2 sides of the same coin? As regeneration proceeds saving faith, but to us would appear to have been done at the same time?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I wouldn't equate the two if regeneration precedes faith chronologically. Nevertheless, the Scripture says we are saved by the washing of regeneration and I would say that is only reconcilable with justification by faith if they are simultaneous.
I have seen these two as being flip side of the same coin, as God grants to His chosen ones in Christ to have a new heart towards Jesus, and right then saving faith is exercised towards Jesus to complete salvation process.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
Would not the regeneration that comes from God by necessity then cause the person to exercise saving faith into Jesus at same time then? Like 2 sides of the same coin? As regeneration proceeds saving faith, but to us would appear to have been done at the same time?
Essentially, yes. To follow the Lazarus theme, imagine God granting new life to him while he was dead (regeneration) and then calling to him, "Come forth!" Is there any conceivable scenario where Lazarus would choose to stay bound in burial clothes in a dank, dark tomb for a while, rather than urgently and determinedly hopping out (that's always how I envision the bound Lazarus emerging from the tomb!) in response (faith) to the call of his Lord?
Yes, regeneration precedes faith - but faith will always follow instantaneously (if we can even, in fact, assign even a momentary temporal sequence).
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Would not the regeneration that comes from God by necessity then cause the person to exercise saving faith into Jesus at same time then? Like 2 sides of the same coin? As regeneration proceeds saving faith, but to us would appear to have been done at the same time?
Yes and no. It depends. it could be a seed of faith; as mentioned, when one has faith, they have to have faith in something-which depends on the light coming on as information is revealed (john 3).

Google these terms:
Assensus
Fiducia
Notia
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Essentially, yes. To follow the Lazarus theme, imagine God granting new life to him while he was dead (regeneration) and then calling to him, "Come forth!" Is there any conceivable scenario where Lazarus would choose to stay bound in burial clothes in a dank, dark tomb for a while, rather than urgently and determinedly hopping out (that's always how I envision the bound Lazarus emerging from the tomb!) in response (faith) to the call of his Lord?
Yes, regeneration precedes faith - but faith will always follow instantaneously (if we can even, in fact, assign even a momentary temporal sequence).
Consider an infant in the womb-how do u apply this rationale practically to an infant in the womb or in it's infancy?
It has to be as i have shown.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I have seen these two as being flip side of the same coin, as God grants to His chosen ones in Christ to have a new heart towards Jesus, and right then saving faith is exercised towards Jesus to complete salvation process.
This would fall under John 3 (as I have mentioned). Not everyone who is regenerated is converted as conversion is dependent upon a man knowing the gospel, i.e. sin and it's affect, repentance, belief in Christ, acceptance, to receive, etc.

Surely a man can be regenerated under a condition of having no absolute knowledge-thats what regeneration is for-to open the mind and heart to truth. But conversion takes the external call from the preacher and the person ascending to the truths of scripture in regard to the good news-he needs to rationalize what is 'good' about the good news and ascend to these facts.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
*knowledge does not save. But the person who is saved, will have the minimum onboard of these truths.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
Consider an infant in the womb-how do u apply this rationale practically to an infant in the womb or in it's infancy?
It has to be as i have shown.
I believe that the elect infant, regenerated, has saving faith. Why would we say that he/she cannot have faith? Without faith, it is impossible (not merely more difficult) to please God. If the infant is saved, God is pleased. If God is pleased, there must be faith. We must take care not to superimpose material "rules" for faith/trust/belief onto supernatural categories. No one - no one is saved without faith in Christ (though how that is accomplished in elect infants and those incapable of hearing the Word preached is a mystery).
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Not everyone who is regenerated is converted as conversion is dependent upon a man knowing the gospel, i.e. sin and it's affect, repentance, belief in Christ, acceptance, to receive, etc.
Scott,

I am not sure what you are trying to say here, given Eze. 36:26. Are you saying that all elect are regenerated but not all regenerated are converted? What then is the eternal destiny of the latter? Are they among the elect? Or are you referring to the progress of the elect's walk of faith?
 
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