Posts Tagged ‘regeneration and faith

28
May
18

For We are His Handiwork–Ephesians 2:10

If there is any question in anyone’s mind about Paul’s meaning in verses eight and nine, what he has written in verse ten makes it abundantly clear. First, notice that the purpose clause “in order that no one should boast” and the words “we are his handiwork/created work” are connected by “for, or because [γὰρ].” Paul is citing the reason that no one should boast and he places “of Him [αὐτοῦ]” in the emphatic position—“of him, we are the created work” to underscore the fact that our union with Christ in the new creation is his doing and not ours. This clearly accords with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 where he wrote, “In order that no human being should boast in his presence, but it is of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus. . .in order that just as it is written, ‘he that boasts, let him boast in the Lord.’”

If the synergistic view were correct, none of what is written in these passages would be true. According to synergism, God’s choice of sinners has been determined, not by his sovereign good pleasure but by his foresight of their free will decision. The Son has not secured the eternal redemption of any sinner in particular but has merely given sinners the potential for salvation if they will let Jesus save them. Jesus “draws” every sinner and the Father enables them to believe by giving all of them prevenient grace. He does absolutely nothing to distinguish between one sinner and another. If any sinner is saved, it is solely because he [or she] has cooperated with God’s best efforts and has thus distinguished himself from other sinners who have had equal opportunities but did not improve on them.

It is inconceivable, on the supposition that this view of soteriology is correct, that Paul could have written, “But it is of him that you are in Christ Jesus” since it would be of the sinner’s doing that is in Christ and not of his doing. If in all his best efforts to bring sinners to himself, efforts exerted toward all sinners equally, many will perish for eternity, one cannot accurately state that his most noble exertions have been effective in uniting any sinner to Christ. If there is no distinction in God’s efforts to save sinners, the factor or factors that distinguish one sinner from another must be in the sinner.

If God has done all he has intended to do to effect the sinner’s salvation once he has granted universal but ineffectual “grace” and has left the outcome to the sinner’s free will decision, the best one could say is that God has responded to the sinner’s decision and has united him to Christ in response to his faith, but in that case the reason for our union with him would be of our doing and not of him.

Paul is clear. We should not boast since it is God who has made us what we are spiritually. In creating us spiritually, he has performed a supernatural work that we could never have performed. Again, we should notice that the focus is entirely on God’s activity and not on ours.

08
Oct
15

Questions about Regeneration and Faith

There are a few questions I would like to ask my Arminian [or if they prefer, synergist] friends. They grow out of my understanding of Romans 8:1 and following and rests on my understanding of Romans 8:8. My understanding of that passage (8:1-8) is that it is talking about the New Covenant experience of the true child of God. He is one who does not live his life habitually according to the flesh, i.e, the life that characterized the old creation in Adam, into which he was born and in which he lived, but one who lives his life habitually according to the Spirit. The passage is not talking about an option a believer has as to whether he/she will walk according to the flesh or the Spirit. Instead, it draws a distinction between those who are “in Christ” and those who are not. Those who are not in Christ mind the things of the flesh and those who are in Christ mind the things of the Spirit.

Even if a person should take the position that Paul is describing two “natures” in the believer, he will have the same problem. In chapter seven he had written “in me, that is in my flesh dwells no good thing.” That would assume that nothing pleasing to God could proceed from “the flesh.” It would appear that whatever view we would take of this verse, we would have to conclude that “flesh” is a negative quality and describes a state in which a person cannot please God. This is precisely what Paul unequivocally states in verse eight, “So then, those who are in the flesh, cannot please God.”

These are my questions for you:

1. Would you agree that a person prior to regeneration is “in the flesh?”
2. Would you agree that regeneration [new birth, creation, spiritual circumcision, spiritual resurrection etc.] is necessary for a person to no longer be “in the flesh?”
3. Would you agree that a person who is “in the Spirit” is a person in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells (v. 9).
4. Would you agree that no person is in-dwelt by the Spirit who is not born of God?
5. Would you agree that a person who is not in-dwelt by the Spirit is “in the flesh?’
6. Would you agree that to have faith in God’s promises is pleasing to God?

I would assume that you have answered all those questions affirmatively. Based on those answers, can you explain two things to me?

1. How can a person who is “in the flesh” i.e., unregenerate, please God by trusting him and his promises if those who are in the flesh cannot please God? Or do you believe that “hostility toward God” and faith in God are compatible?
2. If you believe those who are “in the flesh” are able to obey one commandment of God, why do you believe regeneration is necessary at all? If a person is able to obey one commandment, namely, God’s command to repent and believe the gospel, why can he not, in an unregenerate state, obey every command of God ?

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