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Friday, June 06, 2014

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC INQUISITION (DOCUMENTARY)



The Roman Catholic Inquisition was one of the greatest disasters ever to befall mankind. In the name of Jesus Christ, Catholic priests mounted an enormous effort to kill all "heretics" in Europe and Britain. Heretics is defined whichever way Rome wanted it defined; it ranged from people who disagreed with official policy, to Hermetic Philosophers [Black Magick Practitioners], to Jews, to Witches, and to the Protestant reformers.

Slaughtering one's enemies is clearly rotten spiritual fruit. During the early part of His ministry, Jesus was approached by two of His disciples -- James and John -- who had just returned from preaching the Gospel message throughout parts of Israel. These two disciples were upset, for some entire towns had refused to even hear their message; they asked the Lord:

"Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" [Luke 9:54]

Jesus was horrified. He replied:

"You do not know of what sort of spirit you are, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them from the penalty of eternal death." [Luke 9:55-56; Parallel KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary]

Let us repeat that most pertinent phrase: "the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives".

Nowhere in Holy Scripture did Jesus ever slaughter anyone who disagreed with him, nor did He ever advocate any of his followers doing so. Neither does any Apostle give this command to the Church later in the New Testament.

In another passage, Jesus reveals the kind of sweet spirit He is introducing to the world. Listen:

"Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease, refreshment, recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good -- not harsh, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to be borne." [Matthew 11:29-30; Parallel KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary]

Our precious Savior never ordered anyone to be slaughtered for any reason, especially for hardness of heart against His message, nor for disagreeing with Him on spiritual matters. But -- and this is a very big 'but' -- pagans regularly move to slaughter their opponents, usually with great relish and hardness of heart. In such slaughters, murder is not enough; rather, before the victim dies, pagans absolutely relish inflicting maximum pain upon their victims. White and Black Magick practitioners believe that the pain inflicted before death transfers great occult power to them, so they try to draw out a person's death as long as possible, inflicting the greatest amount of pain possible before death comes. Skilled Inquisition executioners would bring a victim to the point of death many times, only to stop the torture so the victim could revive, so they could be tortured again.

Therefore, the monstrosity of the Inquisition stands before mankind as the ultimate evidence of the inherent Satanism of the Roman Catholic Church. For those who have the courage to examine this ultimate "rotten fruit", they will see the truth of the Catholic Church. And do not think Rome has changed, for the Bible tells us that a Leopard does not change its spots [Jeremiah 13:23], and Rome is always bragging that she never changes. A concrete proof of this fact is that Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) restored the Office of the Inquisition, renamed today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ["Lives of the Popes", by Richard P. McBrien, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, p. 282, 354]. Today, this nefarious Office of the Inquisition is headed by Cardinal Ratzinger.


Why would Pope Paul VI reinstate the Office of the Inquisition unless he knew it would soon be needed again? With all prophecies of the appearance of Antichrist coming true together, just as Jesus mandated [Matthew 24:32-34], the time must have appeared right for Paul VI to reinstate this bloody office, for even though the original Inquisition killed tens of millions in 1,200 years, prophecy tells us that the False Prophet will kill billions in 3 1/2 years! Since the Roman Catholic Pope was chosen as the future False Prophet, it makes sense that the Office of Inquisition be reinstated. CONTINUE READING- Pls Click HERE.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Reformed Answers on the Roman Corruption of Christianity (full film)

After a three year biblical and historical examination of Roman Catholicism, the documentary "Reformed Answers on the Roman Corruption of Christianity" is finally finished and available at our store. This film is not for those looking to be entertained, but those who want a serious in depth examination of the Catholic religion from a responsible Reformed perspective.
 
We utilize the best of exegetical and historical theological scholarship and answer the question: Is Rome's claim to be the scriptural and primitive 2000 year old faith true? We interviewed Robert Zins and Richard Bennett obtaining, without question, some of their most intense and intriguing remarks ever captured on video. It is my prayer many Catholics God is drawing will benefit from this film and that Christians will be strengthened by it. This is, by God's grace, the biggest and most in depth work I have ever produced. SDG (SOURCE)

Monday, June 02, 2014

The New Genesis - R.C. Sproul

Without the presence of the Spirit there is no conviction, no regeneration, no sanctification, no cleansing, no acceptable works . . . Life is in the quickening Spirit. — W A. CRISWELL



BIRTH and rebirth. Both are the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit. Just as nothing can live biologically apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, so no man can come alive to God apart from the Spirit’s work

In His discourse with Nicodemus, Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

To be “born again” is to experience a second genesis. It is a new beginning, a fresh start in life. When something is started, we say that it is generated. If it is started again, it is regenerated. The Greek verb geniauo that is translated as “generate” means “to be,” “to become,” or “to happen.” Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is a change. It is a radical change into a new kind of being.

To be regenerated does not mean that we are changed from a human being into a divine being. It does mean that we are changed from spiritually dead human beings into spiritually alive human beings.

Spiritually dead persons are incapable of seeing the kingdom of God. It is invisible to them, not because the kingdom itself is invisible, but because the spiritually dead are also spiritually blind.

REGENERATION AS NECESSARY

When Jesus uses the word unless in speaking to Nicodemus, He is stating what we call a necessary condition. A necessary condition is an absolute prerequisite for a desired result to take place. We cannot have fire without the presence of oxygen because oxygen is a necessary condition for fire.

In the jargon of Christianity people speak of “born again” Christians. Technically speaking, this phrase is redundant. If a person is not born again, if he is not regenerate, then he is not a Christian. He may be a member of a Christian church. He may profess to be a Christian. But unless a person is regenerate, he is not in Christ, and Christ is not in him.

The word unless makes regeneration a sine qua non of salvation. No regeneration, no eternal life. Without regeneration a person can neither see the kingdom nor enter the kingdom.

When Nicodemus was puzzled by Jesus’ teaching he replied:

How can a man be born when be is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? (John 3:4)

Nicodemus’s response almost seems like an attempt to ridicule Jesus’ teaching. In crass terms he suggests that Jesus must mean that a fully grown person must attempt the impossible task of returning to his mother’s womb.

Nicodemus failed to distinguish biological birth from spiritual birth. He didn’t differentiate between flesh and spirit. Jesus answered his response by saying,

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

Again Jesus prefaces His words by saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you . . .” The “most assuredly”— the Hebrew amen, carried over into the New Testament — indicates strong emphasis. That is, when Jesus spoke of regeneration as a necessary condition for seeing and entering the kingdom of God, he stated this necessary condition emphatically. To argue against the need of rebirth to be a Christian, as many of our contemporaries frequently do, is to stand in clear opposition to the emphatic teaching of Christ.

The word cannot is also crucial to Jesus’ teaching. It is a negative word that deals with ability or possibility. Without regeneration no one (universal negative) is able to enter the kingdom of God. There are no exceptions. It is impossible to enter God’s kingdom without a rebirth.

No one is born a Christian. No one is born biologically into the kingdom of God. The first birth is one that is of the flesh. Flesh begets flesh. It cannot produce spirit.

Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus adds this comment:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. (John 6:2 3)

When Martin Luther was debating whether fallen man is utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit for regeneration, he cited this text and added: “The flesh profits nothing. And that ‘nothing’ is not a ‘little something.’”

The flesh is not merely weak with respect to the power of rebirth. It is utterly impotent. It has no power whatever to effect rebirth. It cannot aid or enhance the Spirit’s work. All that the flesh yields is more flesh. It cannot yield an ounce of Spirit. The nothing is not a little something.

Finally Jesus says, “You must be born again.” If there is the slightest ambiguity with the use of the conditional word unless, the ambiguity completely evaporates with the word must.

REGENERATION IN EPHESIANS

In his Letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul speaks of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Paul provides a graphic description of our spiritual impotence prior to regeneration. He is addressing the Ephesian believers and describing a prior condition in which they all once shared. He adds the phrase “just as the others” (2:3), presumably referring to the whole of mankind.

He declares that this prior condition was a state of death: “You were dead in trespasses and sins.” Again, this death is obviously not a biological death, as he enumerates activities that these dead, persons were involved in.

The characteristic behavioral mode of people dead in trespasses and sins is described in terms of walking a particular course. He calls it the “course of this world” (2:1-2). Here the course of this world obviously refers to a course or pattern that is opposed to the course of heaven. The words this world refer not so much to a location as to a style or a point of reference. It involves a this-worldly orientation.

Christians and non-Christians alike share the same sphere of operations. We all live out our lives in this world. The regenerate person’s course, however, is guided from above. He has his eye on heaven and his ear attuned to the King of heaven. The unregenerate person is earthbound. His ear is deaf to any word from heaven; his eye is blinded to the glory from on high. He lives as a walking cadaver in a spiritual graveyard.

The course of this world is “out of the way” of God (Romans 3:12). Rather, it follows a path that is “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

The spiritually dead have a master. Their master sets a course for them that they willingly — even eagerly — follow. This master is called the “prince of the power of the air.” This sobriquet of royalty can only refer to Satan, the chief architect of all things diabolical. Paul calls him “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Satan is an evil spirit, a corrupt and fallen angel who exercises influence and authority over his captive hordes.

Paul sets forth a principle of life. We either walk according to the Holy Spirit or we walk according to the evil spirit. Augustine once compared man to a horse who is either ridden by Satan or by the Spirit of God.

Paul continues his vivid description of the regenerate person’s prior unregenerate lifestyle:

Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. (2:3)
The attention now shifts away from the external course and the external influence of Satan to the internal state of the unregenerate person. Again we see this as a universal condition: “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves . . .” The key descriptive word of this previous internal condition is the word flesh. Here Paul echoes the language Jesus used with Nicodemus.

The word flesh here must not be understood as a synonym for “physical body.” Our bodies per se are not evil, since God made us as physical beings and became a human being Himself. The flesh refers to the sin nature, the entire fallen character of man.

Prior to regeneration we live exclusively in the flesh and by the flesh. Our conduct follows after the lusts of the flesh. That refers not exclusively to physical or sexual appetites but to a pattern of all sinful desires.

Paul caps this universal indictment of our fallen style by adding: “And were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (2:3). When Paul speaks of “by nature,” he refers to our state in which we enter this world. Biological birth is natural birth. Regeneration is a supernatural birth. Men were not originally created as children of wrath. Original nature was not fallen. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, however, the word natural refers to our state of innate sinfulness.

Every child who enters this world enters it in a corrupt state. David declared, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We are all spiritually stillborn. We are born dead in trespasses and sin. In theology we call this inherent sinful condition original sin. Original sin does not refer to the first sin of Adam and Eve; it refers to the consequences of that first sin, with the transmission of a corrupt nature to the entire human race.

We are by nature “children of wrath.” How different this sounds from the socially acceptable notion that we are all naturally the children of God! This misguided idea is both longstanding and widespread. It is a falsehood that gains credibility by its frequent repetition. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it.

The lie of saying that we are by nature children of God was a lie that distressed Jesus. He was forced to combat it and refute it in His debates with the Pharisees. The Pharisees raged under Jesus’ criticism and said,

“We were not born of fornication; we have one Father — God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. . . . He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore, you do not hear, because you are not of God. (John 8:41-47)

Although the Bible acknowledges that God is the Father of all men in the sense of His being the Creator of all men, there is a special sense in which the Fatherhood of God is defined not in terms of biology but in terms of ethics. Obedience is the operative word. In the biblical view, our father is the one we obey. The relationship is established not by biological ties, but by willing obedience.

Since the Pharisees obeyed Satan rather than God, Jesus said of them, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).

In Ephesians 2 Paul speaks both of “children of wrath” (v. 3) and “sons of disobedience” (v. 2). These phrases describe all of us in our natural unregenerate state.

When Paul completes his description of our unregenerate state, he moves abruptly and gloriously into a doxology that praises God for His mercy. The transitional word is the single word upon which our eternal destinies depend. It is perhaps the most glorious word in Scripture, the single word that crystallizes the essence of the Gospel. It is the word but. This tiny conjunction shifts the mood of the entire passage. It is the link between the natural and the supernatural, between degeneration and regeneration:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

THE DIVINE INITIATIVE

Regeneration is the sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit. The initiative is with Him, not with ourselves. We notice that the accent with Paul falls on the work of God, not on the effort of man:

But God, who is rich in mercy . . .

We observe that the Apostle does not write:

But man, out of his goodness, inclines himself to God and raises himself to a new spiritual level.

One of the most dramatic moments in my life for the shaping of my theology took place in a seminary classroom.

One of my professors went to the blackboard and wrote these words in bold letters: REGENERATION PRECEDES FAITH

These words were a shock to my system. I had entered seminary believing that the key work of man to effect rebirth was faith. I thought that we first had to believe in Christ in order to be born again. I use the words in order here for a reason. I was thinking in terms of steps that must be taken in a certain sequence to arrive at a destination. I had put faith at the beginning of the sequence. The order looked something like this:

Faith—rebirth—justification

In this scheme of things the initiative falls with us. To be sure, God had sent Jesus to die on the cross before I ever heard the gospel. But once God had done these things external to me, I thought the initiative for appropriating salvation was my job.

I hadn’t thought the matter through very carefully. Nor had I listened carefully to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. I assumed that even though I was a sinner, a person born of the flesh and living in the flesh, I still had a little island of righteousness, a tiny deposit of spiritual power left within my soul to enable me to respond to the gospel on my own.

Perhaps I had been confused by the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic church. Rome, and many other branches of Christendom, had taught that regeneration is gracious; it cannot happen apart from the help of God. No man has the power to raise himself from spiritual death. Divine assistance is needed and needed absolutely. This grace, according to Rome, comes in the form of what is called prevenient grace. “Prevenient” means that which comes before something else.

Rome adds to this prevenient grace the requirement that we must “cooperate with it and assent to it” before it can take hold in our hearts.

This concept of cooperation is at best a half-truth. It is true insofar that the faith that we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing in Christ for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised.

The issue, however, goes much deeper. The question still remains: Do I cooperate with God’s grace before I am born again, or does the cooperation occur after I am born again?

Another way of asking this question is to ask if regeneration is monergistic or synergistic. Is it operative or cooperative? Is it effectual or dependent? Some of these words are theological terms that require further explanation.

MONERGISM AND SYNERGISM

A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person. The prefix mono- means one. The word erg refers to a unit of work. Words like energy are built upon this root. A synergistic work is one that involves cooperation between two or more persons or things. The prefix syn- means “together with.”

I labor this distinction for a reason. It is fair to say that the whole debate between Rome and Martin Luther hung on this single point. At issue was this: Is regeneration a monergistic work of God, or is it a synergistic work that requires cooperation between man and God?

When my professor wrote, “Regeneration precedes faith” on the blackboard, he was clearly siding with the monergistic answer. To be sure, after a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step, the step of regeneration by which a person is quickened to spiritual life, is the work of God and of God alone. The initiative is with God, not with us.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we cannot. We cannot because we are spiritually, dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him from the dead.

It is probably true that the majority of professing Christians in the world today believe that the order of our salvation is this: Faith precedes regeneration. We are exhorted to choose to be born again. But telling a man to choose rebirth is like exhorting a corpse to choose resurrection. The exhortation falls upon deaf ears.

When I began to wrestle with the professor’s argument, I was surprised to learn that his strange-sounding teaching was not a novel innovation to theology. I found the same teaching in Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield. I was astonished to find it even in the teaching of the great medieval Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas.

That these giants of Christian history reached the same conclusion on this point made a tremendous impact on me. I was aware that they were neither individually nor collectively infallible. Each and all of them could be mistaken. But I was impressed. I was especially impressed by Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas is regarded as the Doctor Angelicus of the Roman Catholic church. For centuries his theological teaching was accepted as official dogma by most Catholics. So he was the last person I expected to hold such a view of regeneration. Yet Aquinas insisted that regenerating grace is operative grace, not cooperative grace. Aquinas spoke of prevenient grace, but he spoke of a grace that comes before faith, which is the grace of regeneration.

The key phrase in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians on this matter is this:

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Ephesians 2:5)

Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place when we were dead. With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man is smashed utterly and completely. Again, dead men. do not cooperate with grace. The spiritually dead take no initiative. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.

This says nothing different from what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Unless a man is born again first, he cannot possibly see or enter the kingdom of God. If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and others, but we stand opposed to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.

REGENERATION IS GRACIOUS

In Paul’s exposition of regeneration there is a strong accent on grace. It is necessary that Christians of all theological persuasions acknowledge willingly and joyfully that our salvation rests upon the foundation of grace.

During the Reformation the Protestants used two Latin phrases as battle cries: sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and so/a fide (faith alone). They insisted that the supreme authority in the church under Christ is the Bible alone. They insisted that justification was by faith alone. Now Rome did not deny that the Bible has authority; it was the sola they choked on. Rome did not deny that justification involves faith; it was the sola that provoked them to condemn Luther.

There was a third battle cry during the Reformation. It was originally penned by Augustine more than a thousand years before Luther. It was the phrase sola gratia. This phrase asserts that our salvation rests on the grace of God alone. There is no mixture of human merit with it. Salvation is not a human achievement; it is a gracious gift of God. This formula is compromised by a synergistic view of regeneration.

It is not by accident that Paul adds to his teaching on regeneration that it is a gracious work of God. Let us look at it again:

But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Have you ever second-guessed the Bible? I certainly have, to my great shame. I have often wondered, in the midst of theological disagreements, why the Bible does not speak more clearly on certain issues. Why, for example, doesn’t the New Testament come right out and say we should or we shouldn’t baptize infants?

On many such questions we are left to decide on the basis of inferences drawn from the Bible. When I am bewildered by such disagreements, I usually come back to this point: The trouble lies not with the Bible’s lack of clarity; it lies with my lack of clear thinking about what the Bible teaches.

When it comes to regeneration and faith I wonder how Paul could have made it any more clear. I suppose he could have added the words to Ephesians 2, “Regeneration precedes faith.” However, I honestly think that even that phrase wouldn’t end the debate. There’s nothing in that phrase that isn’t already clearly spelled out by Paul in this text or by Jesus in John 3.

Why then, all the fuss? My guess is that it is because if we conclude that regeneration is by divine initiative, that regeneration is monergistic, that salvation is by grace alone, we cannot escape the glaring implication that leads us quickly and irresistibly to sovereign election.

As soon as the doctrine of election comes to the fore, there is a mad scramble to find a way to get faith in there before regeneration. In spite of all these attending difficulties, we meet the Apostle’s teaching headon:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Here the Apostle teaches that the faith through which we are saved is a faith that comes to us by grace. Our faith is something we exercise by ourselves and in ourselves, but it is not of ourselves. It is a gift. It is not an achievement.

With the graciousness of the gift of faith as a fruit of regeneration, all boasting is excluded forever, save in the boasting of the exceeding riches of God’s mercy. All man-centered views of salvation are excluded if we retain the sola in so/a gratia. Therefore we ought never to grieve the Holy Spirit by taking credit to ourselves that belongs exclusively to Him.

REGENERATION IS EFFECTUAL

Within traditional forms of Arminian theology there are those who agree that regeneration precedes faith but insist that it doesn’t always or necessarily produce faith. This view agrees that the initiative is with God; it is by grace, and regeneration is monergistic. The view is usually tied to some type of view of universal regeneration.

This idea is linked to the cross. It is argued by some that one of the universal benefits of the atonement of Christ is that all people are regenerated to the point that faith is now possible. The cross rescues all men from spiritual death in that now we have the power to cooperate or not cooperate with the offer of saving grace. Those who cooperate by exercising faith are justified. Those who do not exercise faith are born again but not converted. They are spiritually quickened and spiritually alive but remain in unbelief. Now they are able to see the kingdom and have the moral power to enter the kingdom, but they choose not to.

I call this view one of ineffectual or dependent grace. It is close to what Thomas Aquinas rejected as cooperative grace.

When I maintain that regeneration is effectual, I mean that it accomplishes its desired goal. It is effective. It gets the job done. We are made alive into faith. The gift is of faith which is truly given and takes root in our hearts.

Sometimes the phrase effectual calling is used as a synonym for regeneration. The word calling refers to something that happens inside of us, as distinguished from something that occurs outside of us.

When the gospel is preached audibly, sounds are emitted from the preacher’s mouth. There is an outward call to faith and repentance. Anyone who is not deaf is capable of hearing the words with his ears. These words strike the auditory nerves of the regenerate and the unregenerate alike.

The unregenerate experience the outward call of the gospel. This outward call will not effect salvation unless the call is heard and embraced in faith. Effectual calling refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Here the call is within. The regenerate are called inwardly. Everyone who receives the inward call of regeneration responds in faith. Paul says this:

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

This passage in Romans is elliptical. That is, it requires that we supply a word to it that is assumed by the text but not explicitly stated. The big question is, Which word do we supply—some or all? Let us try some:

Moreover, some whom He predestined, these He also called; some whom He called, these He also justified; and some whom He justified, these He also glorified.

To add the word some here is to torture the text. It would mean that some of the predestined never hear the call of the gospel. Some who are called never come to faith and justification. Some of the justified fail to be glorified. In this schema not only would calling not be effectual, but neither would predestination nor justification be effectual.

The implication of this text is that all who are predestined are likewise called. All who are called are justified, and all who are justified are glorified.

If that is the case, then we must distinguish between the outward call of the gospel, which may or may not be heeded, and the inward call of the Spirit, which is necessarily effectual. Why? If all the called are also justified, then all the called must exercise faith. Obviously not everyone who hears the external call of the gospel comes to faith and justification. But all who are effectually called do come to faith and justification. Here the call refers to the inward work of the Holy Spirit that is tied to regeneration.

Those whom the Holy Spirit makes alive most assuredly come to life. They see the kingdom; they embrace the kingdom; they enter the kingdom.

It is to the Holy Spirit of God that we are debtors for the grace of regeneration and faith. He is the Gift-giver, who while we were dead made us alive with Christ, to Christ, and in Christ. It is because of the Holy Spirit’s merciful act of quickening that we sing sola gratia and soli deo gloria — to the glory of God alone.

Author

Dr. R.C. Sproul, theologian, minister, teacher, is the chairman of the board of Ligonier Ministeries. A graduate of Westminster College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam. Dr. Sproul is currently professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and the director emeritus of Prison Fellowship, Inc. His many books include, Pleasing God, The Holiness of God, Chosen by God, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, The Soul’s Quest for God, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, The Glory of Christ, and If There’s a God, Why are there Atheists?

This article is taken from Dr. Sproul's book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit (Tyndale House: Wheaton, 1979).

Jesus Teaches that Regeneration Precedes Faith by John Hendryx

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe
...And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:63, 65)



According to Scripture, all people are born dead in sin (Eph 2:1). This simply means that, as a result of the Fall, people are born without the Holy Spirit and therefore, (left to themselves and being spiritually dead) are hostile to Christ (Rom. 8:7) and unable to understand to spiritual things (1 Cor 1:21). It does not mean they can do (or think) nothing in their fallen state, but it means they can do nothing spiritual or redemptive ... that they will always think God's word is foolish (1 Cor 2:14) until the Holy Spirit, who comes from the outside, works grace in their hearts (Ezek 11:19-20). The natural man may be alive to carnal things, but he is dead to spiritual things. So to the question: can any person come to faith in Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, both the Arminian and the Calvinist would definitively answer "no".

The Arminian asserts that this work of the Holy Spirit (this "prevenient grace" that temporarily gives the power of free choice) is ultimately resistible by the fallen sinner. Arminian's affirm that man, apart from grace, hates the light and will not come into the light. And because of this, the Spirit grants them a kind of post-regenerate - pre-conversion state where he is, for a time, lifted out of his moral depravity and given the opportunity to receive or reject the free offer of Christ in the gospel. To be a just God, most Arminians reason, God must give all people an equal opportunity to choose whether to believe or not. And this opportunity is granted, they claim, through prevenient grace. As most Arminians will admit, however, this "semi-regenerate" state is logically, rather than exegetically deduced. On the other hand, the Calvinist is convinced that the Bible teaches that regenerative grace itself opens our blind eyes, unplugs our deaf ears and gives us a new heart (Ezek 36:26, John 6:63) making God's call effectual, infallibly bringing the sinner to faith in Jesus Christ.

Arminian synergists assert that prevenient grace resolves the problem of human boasting since God initiates with grace. But in reality this sleight of hand does not resolve the problem at all and only begs the question. For if God gives this prevenient grace to everybody, we must ask: why do some respond positively to Christ and not others? What makes them to differ? Jesus Christ or something else? The problem of boasting is not removed, for if God gives grace to everybody and only some believe, then the heart that believes still thinks that it made the wiser decision by improving on grace while others did not. The person affirming prevenient grace still must ultimately attribute his repenting and believing to his own wisdom, prudence, sound judgment, or good sense. So in the Arminian belief system, they are not willing to confront the obvious question of why some believe and not others? The only answer I have ever heard to this question in all my years debating this was "because some believed". But, this avoids the question, because I did not ask them what they did, but why they did it? And the "why" seems to be a question that Jesus goes out of his way to answer. (John 8:46-47 & John 10:26)

There are many texts which affirm beyond doubt that regeneration is indeed monergistic ... that the implanting of the new heart is what gives rise to understanding, love of Christ and faith. One of the most important discussions in the Bible about this is where Jesus was speaking to some fellow Jews who did not believe in him (John 6:64) . He said to them:

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” ( 6:37) ”

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44)

"… no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." ( 6:65)

The reason I bring these three verses to your attention is because, they are spoken in the same context (John 6) and in this long discussion with Jesus and the Jews about faith these three verses are essentially speaking of the same issue. In fact they share more than one thing in common. They all use the phrase "come to me" and they each make a universal declaration ("no one" or "all"). When read in context the phrase "come to me" is spoken in the same breath as the word "faith". It is a synonym. Likewise the phrase "draws him" is used in parallel with the phrase "gives me" or "granted him". Our Lord declares that "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44) and "All that the Father gives me [draws to Me] will come to me." (John 6:37). In other words, the passage simply states that no one will trust in or have faith in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65), and ALL to whom God grants (or gives/draws to Jesus) will believe. Not some of them, but all of them. This universal positive and universal negative means that we are forced to conclude that all that God draws to Jesus infallibly come to faith in him.

Just to demonstrate that "come to me" is identical to "faith" see that just prior to verse 37 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Here we observe that Jesus uses the phrase “believe in me” and “come to me” interchangeably. Even more clear is that the context of John 6:63-65 forces us to understand "come to me" to mean "believe in me" or "have faith in me". In verse 64 Jesus says, "But there are some of you who do not believe " For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.  65And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

If we place these statements all together, (understanding that "come to me" and "believe in me" are synonymous), then the magnitude of the Jesus' words become evident, for it allows for no synergistic interpretation. And what does this have to do with regeneration? Well in verse 6:63 Jesus directly alludes to it: "It is the Spirit that quickens [gives life, regenerates]... No one will believe in Me unless God grants it... and ALL to whom God grants it will believe”. Jesus is making sure that no one thinks that anything apart from Jesus is what saves them. That even the very new heart we need to understand spiritual truth, love Jesus and believe is itself a gift of God. This text leaves no room for any other interpretation. This is profoundly important because it creates the inescapable conclusion that the quickening grace of God is invincible. This is why just prior to saying “no one can come to me UNLESS God grants it”, Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.” This means that it is the Spirit who raises our dead spirits to life, makes us born from above John 3:3, 6. The flesh, that is, our sinful nature, cannot regenerate itself and can do no redemptive good of itself, including believe the gospel until quickened by the Holy Spirit.

Faith, Jesus is saying, is not a product of our unregenerate human natures; It is, rather, the product of new life that only He can give us through the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit alone who, uniting us to Christ, gives life to our dead souls that we may believe. Jesus is affirming the same truth to Nicodemus in John 3, using the same type of language. In verse 6 Jesus tells him, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” And unless one is born of the Spirit he can neither see nor enter the kingdom of God. Jesus never gives Nicodemus an imperative (command) to be born again, but instead, tells him what must happen to him for eternal life to be a reality. Belief springs from a change of nature, for the old man considers the gospel foolish and thus cannot comprehend it (1 Cor 2:14).

This does away completely also with the Arminian argument where they point to John 10, where Jesus says "when I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself". While we already demonstrated that "draw him" (v. 44) is parallel with "gives me" (v. 37) because it is spoken in the same context with multiple parallelisms so we concluded that ALL the Father gives (draws to) Christ come to him. But the Arminain must reach outside of this passage (out of context) to a completely different situation where Greeks approach Jesus. There is no indication that Jesus is referring to the same issue. In fact, when read in context, Jesus is telling them that he is fulfilling the promise to Abraham that he would become a father of many nations. Not only Jews but gentiles will be included, so Jesus is establishing that He will draw (not all men without exception) but all men without distinction (Jews and Gentiles). He is announcing that his coming coincides with the expansion of God's kingdom to include Gentiles, in large measure.

On a side note, it is interesting to note that the passage on regeneration in John 6:63-65 is one of the most explicitly Trinitarian passages in all of Scripture. It speaks of this work as the powerful, supernatural work of the Triune God. The Father grants faith in Christ the redeemer (John 6:65), through the quickening of the Holy Spirit by means of the spoken word (John 6:63). So the Spirit is the Agent and the word is the instrument used to germinate spiritual life in us, apart from which, no one would believe (V.65).

I have often heard preachers say to people, “all you need to do is believe,” as if this were the easiest thing in the world, but the natural man is unwilling to submit to the gospels' humbling terms. It is a massive affront to our pride to believe that we have no hope save in Jesus alone. J.I. Packer once wisely said, "Sinners cannot obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart." We see this at work in this passage when, at the end of John chapter six many of those who previously were with Jesus left because his teaching was too hard, and only the twelve were left. Peter confesses belief however, and Jesus says to him, “…have I not chosen you?” But what is so hard about this passage that everyone else leaves Jesus? It is hard because the gospel of grace alone strips man of all hope that he could have to contribute something, be it ever so small, to his own salvation. Never underestimate the reality of our sinful nature deceiving us this way. The gospel forces us to see our own spiritual impotence and bankruptcy in contributing anything, or even lifting a finger toward our own salvation. But of those who do believe the gospel, we can know with certainty that the Holy Spirit has quickened them and is doing a work of grace in them. Trusting Christ is the immediate result of the new birth, not the cause of it, as John notes in his first epistle:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1)

It is also important to further understand that Jesus “will never cast out [those the Father has given Him].” (John 6:37). According to Jesus, those whom He draws are the same as those he will raise up at the last day (John 6:44). This is important because those who reject the perseverance of the saints, believing that Christ does not preserve us to the end, are in effect saying that we must somehow maintain our own justification before God. This is to believe that Jesus’ atonement for us is not sufficient for salvation.

This passage (John 6) is one of the most forceful passages in all of Scripture relating to the invincibility of saving grace. The grace of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is not only sufficient but efficient, unfailingly bringing about God’s desired result. We may resist the gospel when hearing the outward call and even resist stirrings of the Holy Spirit, but no one resists the inward quickening and call of God (Rom 8:30; 1 Cor 1:22-24). In the Old Testament sometimes God would discipline Israel by telling them their crops would fail even though they labored to sow seed. This is proof that all that we do in this world, such as planting crops, requires the prior blessing of God if it is to be fruitful.

Similarly Paul uses an agricultural metaphor when speaking of casting the seed of the gospel. He says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” This means that people need to hear the gospel in order to be saved, but we can preach till we are blue in the face and nothing will take root unless the Holy Spirit sovereignly applies that word to the heart that one might hear.

To use some biblical imagery, we cast the seed of the gospel indiscriminately because the Holy Spirit alone can “germinate” the word unto life in Christ. The fallow ground of our hearts must first be plowed up by God, for the soil of our heart is not good by nature, but only by grace. The seed will not find good soil until God makes it so. For Ezekiel the prophet says:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Notice that this passage demonstrates that in order for obedience to take place the Lord must first cleanse our hearts, put a new spirit in us and remove our hardened uncircumcised heart. No one believes and obeys while their heart is still stone. Our blind eyes must be opened, our deaf ears unstopped, and our corrupt nature supernaturally changed by the Holy Spirit, before we can begin to have any good thoughts about Christ. The Bible likens the new birth, or regeneration, to the first creation (2 Cor. 5:17). God let light shine into what was darkness. And God breathed life into lifeless man and then man, because of the new principle of life now within him, breathed and walked. Likewise regeneration can be likened to God's first breath in man, and faith, to Adam's first breath. The former is monergistic and the later, while it springs from the principle of grace that now exists within, is participatory. Both the creation and the maintaining are all of grace, but only God's breathing life into us (ex nihilo) is monergistic (that is, it is the work of God alone). When God brings forth something out of nothing, it is monergistic, but when we breathe (or have faith) as a result of God's act, we are now participating, so by definition this is not monergistic, but all springs forth from God's initial monergistic act of giving life from nothing.

"Regeneration is the fountain; sanctification is the river." - J. Sidlow Baxter

"...since you have been born again [by the agency of the Spirit], not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God [instrument]" 1 Peter 1:23

 Important note: Some who oppose the biblical teaching on monergistic regeneration will argue that this cannot be true because no one can be regenerate and not saved. If regeneration precedes faith, they reason, then there is a time, be it ever so short, where one is regenerate but does not yet believe. But this is to misunderstand what regeneration precedes faith actually means. It does not temporally precede faith but rather causally. What do I mean? An example would be one pool ball striking another. Does one ball temporally strike the other first. No they both hit one another simultaneously ... YET the one which rolls has causal priority. The same could be said of heat and fire. Likewise when God, the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the word, opens our heart to the gospel and gives us new eyes to see the beauty, truth and excellency of Christ, our response is immediate.

"No sooner is the soul quickened, than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him." - C.H. Spurgeon

"Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man." - C.H. Spurgeon
 
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