Saturday, June 17, 2017

ASK TETH Episode 02 - Regeneration and Salvation

Lately, I've heard a Calvinist argue that “regeneration is not salvation” and that Primitive Baptists are wrong in how they refer to regeneration as salvation. What say you, TETH?  

I've heard this line of reasoning as well. First off, we should recognize that the term "salvation" is used in both very narrow and very broad ways in scripture and the validity of their line of reasoning is entirely based on whether one has a broad or narrow view of “salvation” in mind.  Let me spell that out more explicitly. If by "regeneration is not salvation" one intends that "regeneration is not ALL that is involved in the broad body of works that make up one's eternal salvation" then this is certainly true. (Romans 8:29-30). It is important to note that Primitive Baptists totally agree with that statement. If, on the other hand "regeneration is not salvation" is intended to assert that, “regeneration is not the moment wherein eternal life is vitally imparted to a chosen child of God,” or that “the bible never equates regeneration with salvation,” then this statement is categorically false.
I’ve heard some people say that, “the bible NEVER refers to regeneration as salvation” and in so doing imply that Primitive Baptists are creating a novel and unscriptural definition of the term when they use it in that way. Is that right?
Over the years, I have had many professing Christians tell me that, “the bible NEVER refers to regeneration as salvation.” I’m always taken aback by that statement because it is so completely and demonstrably false. Paul said that God “saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5) That verse plainly states that we are saved by regeneration, proves that the bible does refer to regeneration as salvation, and sustains the Primitive Baptist practice of referring to regeneration as salvation by which we intend that it is the moment wherein eternal life is imparted to one of God’s children and from which they have eternal life and shall never perish.

The questions I would ask of those who object to referring to regeneration as salvation are…

1. Does regeneration impart eternal life to God's people? Yes. Regeneration imparts eternal life to God’s people. (Ephesians 2:1)

2. Does it precede the exercise of faith in time? Yes. The verb tenses employed in scripture to describe the relationship in time between two events which occur in time indisputably place regeneration before the exercise of faith, even as is logically required since faith is a fruit of regeneration which preceded it. (I John 5:1, John 5:24)

3. Can the regenerate ever have their eternal life revoked? No. A regenerate man has been given eternal life and as such he shall NEVER perish. (John 10:28)

Once these points are established, one has a much more profitable understanding of why the bible refers to regeneration as “salvation” because it is the moment wherein eternal life is imparted to one of God’s chosen people. Those who understand this point clearly are also well equipped to begin exploring the ramifications of this truth as it relates to the broader topic of “salvation” in the bible.

Or so it seems to me,


  1. Dear theearstohear,

    I am trying to understand the 'Ordo Salutis' of your PB salvation by sovereign grace doctrine. I have read just about everything on your blog yet am still not understanding. It would be very helpful if you could arrange the following words in the order in which they take place in time. And if you could let me know which of these words you considered to be synonyms that would also be very enlightening.

    born again



    1. Brother Jeff,

      This is a really great question and I think to do it justice will require some effort because the answer is more difficult than just putting those 11 items in the appropriate order. That is because the bible speaks of some of those topics in different ways such that different dimensions of them occur at different points in time. To draw that out briefly, consider JUSTIFICATION. I believe the bible speaks of justification in a number of different ways:

      JUSTIFICATION BY COVENANT - this is justification in the mind and purpose of God and it finds its origin before the foundation of the world wherein God purposed to make a chosen people holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4-6). One cannot be holy and without blame before God in love without being justified and if God purposed this from BTFOTW the it is certain that we were justified in the mind and purpose of God prior to creation.

      JUSTIFICATION BY THE BLOOD - this the actual justifying obedience of Christ that transpired at Calvary. It is the point in time where his one obedience actually made his people righteous before the throne of divine justice (Romans 5:19)

      JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH - faith is the experimental dimension of our justification and justification by faith speaks of our acceptance of the gospel truth that if we're ever going to stand righteous before God it will be as a result of something God does, not something WE do. It speaks of the fact that faith is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit which gives evidence that one is a beneficiary of the covenant. All God's people are given faith as a provision of the covenant and they are "justified as evidenced by their faith" in that sense. But the bible most frequently speaks of JbF in a cognizant sense as it applies to those who have reasonable mental capacity to trust God for their salvation. The possession of or exercise of faith in God are things that transpire in the life of a child of God between conception and death.

      JUSTIFICATION BY WORKS - which is also an evidentiary fruit of one's justified state in Christ which is in keeping with "he that doeth righteousness is righteous" (I John 3:7). One's works do not MAKE them righteous, only the work of Christ can accomlish that task (Romans 5:19), but they do show that a work of grace has been wrought in their hearts such that Peter could say that "in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:35) This also occurs during the natural life of a regenerate child of God some time between their regeneration and death and may go completely undetected by human observers (as in the case of an elect infant who died in infancy).

      Hopefully this draws out the complexity involved in the exercise and demonstrates why the exercise is not as simple as lining up the 11 dominoes in the right order.

      I'll finish by making a few clarifying statements that further point to where the development of this ordo salutis would end up...

      This base order is certain: Election / regeneration / the exercise of faith.
      These terms are multi-dimensional: adoption, justification, salvation.
      These terms are essentially synonymous: regeneration, quickening, born again
      Faith has several facets: academic, vital, and active.

      Perhaps I'll draw this out more explicitly in a diagram on the blog in the coming weeks.

      Thanks again for stirring up the spiritual mind and for your intriguing question. There is a lot going on in the ordo salutis and a lot of terms that require very precise handling and clear scriptural support for the definitions. Providing an infographic of this might be very useful to God's people everywhere.

      God bless,

    2. Very informative. Thank you.

    3. You're welcome. Thanks for taking time to interact with my blog by leaving some thoughtful commentary.

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,