Friday, December 14, 2012

Total Depravity Requires Immediate Holy Spirit Regeneration

No desert road is too remote for the grace of God.  
It seems that most Christians believe in something other than immediate Holy Spirit regeneration. Many will suggest that the grace of eternal salvation is imparted to God's people through means - either by the gospel, or by repentance and faith, or by church membership, or by the so-called sacraments, or by water baptism, etc. Primitive Baptists have long held that the impartation of eternal life is not by any such means but rather by the direct or immediate operation of God upon a subject that is spiritually dead.  






This position could be summarized by the following syllogism:
  • Since unregenerate men are ever and only in the flesh, it follows that any act or understanding they have in this state is an act or understanding of the flesh. (Romans 8:7)
  • Gospel reception, gospel understanding, gospel obedience, submitting to water baptism, joining a church, and partaking of the so-called sacraments are all either acts or understandings.
  • Jesus said, "The flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63) so far as the work of eternal salvation is concerned.  
  • Because "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35) it follows that none of these acts is involved in the impartation of eternal life to an unregenerate man, else the flesh would be, in some sense, profitable unto man's salvation.
Consider the testimony of the following verses that speak to the deadness of man's natural condition and thus underscore the need for the immediacy of regeneration and the folly of all other methods which rely upon human means:

And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins. (Ephesians 2:1)
One who is dead in trespasses and in sins is no more able to participate in his spiritual quickening than was Adam able to participate in his physical quickening. The concept of spiritual death nullifies the possibility of spiritual participation. Any participation prior to spiritual life could be none other than the participation of the flesh - which Jesus explicitly forbids as unprofitable unto salvation. (John 6:63)
But we had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death. (II Corinthians 1:9-10)
Here God is identified as the one who raises from the dead. The nature of the transaction eliminates any other possibility.  
For the Love of God constraineth us: because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. (II Corinthians 5:14)
More affirmation of the deadness of man in his natural (unregenerate) state.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (Colossians 2:13)
This is the eternally saving grace of God - one that both quickens the dead and forgives them based on absolutely nothing except the sovereign mercy of God almighty.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)
If the unregenerate man can do nothing good, nothing at all, and one of the aforementioned works is required in order to obtain eternal life, then the unavoidable logical conclusion is that men are given eternal life as a result of committing sin. Stated more plainly, this manner of salvation would be the affirmation of the ludicrous notion that the wages of sin is eternal life! The bible says that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
If this statement is true, and the unregenerate are ever and only in the flesh, then any act they committed in order to obtain eternal life would be an act that was displeasing to God. While it is true that men are saved out of a nature of abject displeasure to God, it is certainly not true that man are saved by an act of abject displeasure to God. Yet this is precisely what is required of anyone who rejects immediate Holy Spirit regeneration.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14)
This verse absolutely slams the door shut on gospel regeneration. There is simply no way for Paul to make this statement and to simultaneously affirm that the gospel IS the very means whereby men are given eternal life. This verse has probably done more to convince God's people of the immediacy of the regenerating grace of God than any other. One would do well to prayerfully consider the ramifications of this incredible statement by the apostle Paul.  
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (II Corinthians 4:3)
How much of "gospel ministry" today is intended to reach "the lost" - which in this context means the non-elect and therefore unregenerate. Paul's statement affirms that "the lost" (those who are not of God's elect people) will never receive the gospel because such things are hidden to them as a result of their abject spiritual deadness. One would do well to rightly divide "the lost" in view in this passage from the "lost sheep" referred to elsewhere in the scriptures (Matthew 10:6, 15:24, Luke 15:4-6). The former refers to the non-elect, the latter to the elect regenerate who have the ears to hear gospel truth. This key distinction is lost in the crass reductionism found in most evangelical circles. What those who lack this doctrinal truth usually compensate for their omission with rock music, gospel offers, and other such carnival antics that glorify "man's role" in the eternal salvation of men.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)
Key phrase here - "but unto US WHICH ARE SAVED." Understand that and you have taken a significant step toward rightly dividing the truth of gospel reception.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:23-24) 
Same thing - "unto THEM WHICH ARE CALLED." This is the effectual call, clearly not all who hear the gospel call regard it as the wisdom and power of God. That effectual call is immediate Holy Spirit regeneration.
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word... He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:43,47)
The Lord's words overturn the false doctrine of modern Christendom today as surely as his actions did the tables of the money changers at the temple.  The vast majority of professing Christianity says, "If you will just hear, then you'll be born of God." Jesus's doctrine is the exact opposite, "You cannot hear because you're not born of God." Jesus taught the doctrine of sovereign election and salvation by grace, not of well-meant offers and salvation by man's ratification of potential grace. A key question here is - what does your church preach? Do you believe what Jesus taught or do you believe some tradition passed down by men and their vain conversation?  
Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep. (John 10:26)
Jesus taught that being a sheep enables belief. The world teaches belief makes one a sheep. Again, the majority of the professing Christian world is in direct contrast to the doctrines taught the Lord Jesus Christ they claim to worship.
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (I John 4:6)
Another affirmation that one must know God, must ALREADY be born again, in order to hear the truth of the word of God.  

FINALLY

The key question here is - what does your church preach? Do you believe what Jesus taught or do you believe some tradition passed down by the vain conversation of men? Do you accept that God chose a people before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and that Christ perfected them by his one offering (Heb 10:14) and that he obtained eternal redemption for them (Hebrews 9:12) and that he saved his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) and that his one obedience made them righteous before God's throne (Romans 5:19) and that because they are sons God regenerates them (Galatians 4:6) and that they shall never perish (John 10:28)?  

There is a people who still believe the bible's testimony regarding the Lord. If you would like to join us, we're saving a seat for any who desire to worship the God of the bible in the simplicity of Christ. We invite you to attend the Primitive Baptist Church.





5 comments:

  1. I believe you confuse the preaching of the gospel as a synergistic offer of salvation and the efficacious proclamation of the gospel that carries the power to create faith.

    The first is willworship heresy.

    To believe that the gospel is to be preached as The instrument by which God brings faith does not necessitate believing in synergism. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, meaning the message carries with it the power to give life/faith to dead sinners. The hearer is either intended to believe or not. All according to election.

    To some we are life unto life and to others death unto death.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “I believe you confuse the preaching of the gospel as a synergistic offer of salvation and the efficacious proclamation of the gospel that carries the power to create faith.” (DH)

      In all candor, I don’t think we confuse these two issues. We just flatly deny that the preaching of the gospel carries “the power to create faith” as you put it. We believe that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith (Romans 1:17). In other words, one must already have the capacity of faith born of regeneration, the ears to hear if you will, before they can ever receive gospel truth. The Lord Jesus Christ taught this precept saying, “He who is of God heareth God’s words.” (John 8:47) We believe that in that statement, the Lord is reinforcing his teaching that “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) He is teaching that God’s immediate, sovereign, life-giving act of regeneration must precede the exercise of any spiritual capacity on the part of man, such as faith.

      “The first is willworship heresy.” (DH)

      We regard all forms of well-meant-offerism as perversions of the gospel – so I doubt there’s any significant dispute between us in that respect.

      “To believe that the gospel is to be preached as The instrument by which God brings faith does not necessitate believing in synergism.” (DH)

      Our objection is not based on synergism, but rather based on the natural (unregenerate) man’s inability to receive gospel truth. (I Corinthians 2:14) I submit that Paul's testimony is completely irrelevant if the gospel is, in fact, the very instrumentality whereby that inability is overcome. To assert that the gospel has this power would be to assert that “except a man see the kingdom of God via a gospel presentation, he cannot be born again”, and that “He who is NOT of God, heareth God’s words and this creates faith in him.”

      “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, meaning the message carries with it the power to give life/faith to dead sinners.” (DH)

      We do not believe that the bible’s testimony that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” means that the message of the gospel is instrumental in the regeneration of God’s people. We do not believe that the gospel is a life-giving force, but a revelation to God’s people who have the ears to hear gospel truth (i.e., the regenerate). It is “the power of God unto salvation” in that it testifies of God’s power in accomplishing the eternal salvation of His chosen people.

      “The hearer is either intended to believe or not. All according to election” (DH)

      We probably don’t disagree there, but we believe that apart from God’s preceding act of regeneration, belief of the gospel message is utterly impossible. At the end of the day, we stand firm on the notion that regeneration precedes faith in time, because man’s abject depravity makes it such that gospel reception via the capacity of faith is impossible until after regeneration has occurred and thus by the time anyone ever has the faith to receive the gospel, they have already passed from death unto life and thus, whatever might be said of their gospel reception, it was too late to the party to ever account for their vital salvation in time.

      “To some we are life unto life and to others death unto death.” (DH)

      Correct. Some hear it and believe it because they are already alive and have the ears to hear. Others lack this capacity.

      Delete
  2. TETH,

    Please correct my understanding of your position. I believe i hear you saying individuals are regenerated in a "vacuum" by the direct supernatural imparting of life apart from any ordained means. To which faith may or may not come?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “Please correct my understanding of your position. I believe i hear you saying individuals are regenerated in a "vacuum" by the direct supernatural imparting of life apart from any ordained means “ (DH)

      I don’t believe that anyone is regenerated in a spiritual vacuum. I believe that the domain of regeneration is defined in scripture by the Lord Jesus Christ as “the wind bloweth where it listeth.” (John 3:8) In this statement Jesus is making the case that God is utterly free to impart his Spirit to whomever he wills without regard to any limitations whatsoever. Indeed, would God be sovereign in salvation is such limitations existed? "Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save." (Isaiah 59:1) Given the omnipresence of God, I would assert that there is therefore no such thing in our world as a spiritual vacuum, and thus all regeneration occurs within the domain of God’s presence.

      It is true that we believe this regenerating act is “direct” or without mediation (via means such as gospel preaching, sacraments, baptism, etc.). In other words, no gospel preaching, no bible, no church, etc. is required for God to regenerate one of his chosen people. The testimony of scripture is absolutely filled with OT examples of such that are too numerous to recount (Seth, Enoch, Job, etc.).

      “To which faith may or may not come?” (DH)

      Faith is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and thus all of God’s regenerate people have the God given capacity of faith, just as the OT saints did. Indeed all such God-given faith is, in fact, faith in Christ. But we do not believe that all of God’s people in this world encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lifetimes such that they have the opportunity to exercise evangelical faith and experience the joy and comfort that attends a proper understanding of precisely how Jesus saved his people from their sins (Matt 1:21). Job said, “I know it is so of a truth but HOW should man be just with God?” (Job 9:2) Had he known the explicit NT gospel (I Corinthians 15:3-4) he would have known the answer to that question.

      Delete