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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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RESISTIBLE GRACE?

Dr. James White:

Dr James WhiteObjections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace. Obviously, if God is sovereign and freely and unconditionally elects a people unto salvation, and if man is dead in sin and enslaved to its power, God must be able to free those elect people in time and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ, and that by a grace that does not falter or depend upon human cooperation. Those who disbelieve God’s right to kingship over His creation or the deadness of man in sin and put forward the tradition of man’s autonomous will can hardly confess that God’s grace actually saves without the freewill cooperation of man. From their perspective, the autonomous act of human faith must determine God’s actions. That act of faith becomes the “foreseen” act that controls God’s very decree of predestination, and, of course, that act of faith becomes the “trigger” that results in one being born again.

Neither side in the debate will deny that God is the one who raises men to spiritual life. The question is: Does He do so because men fulfill certain conditions, or does He do so freely, at His own time, and in the lives of those He chooses to bring into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ? This question is normally framed in the context of the relationship of faith and regeneration. Do we believe to become born again, or must we first be born again before we can exercise true, saving faith? Can the natural man do what is pleasing to God? Can the dead choose to allow themselves to be raised to life? This is the issue at hand.” (Debating Calvinism)

THE REGENERATED HEART

Archibald AlexanderArchibald Alexander:

Regeneration is the commencement of spiritual life in a soul before dead in sin, by the omnipotent agency of God; and the exercises of this life are specifically different from all the exercises of an unregenerate heart.

THE DISPOSITION OF THE HEART

John Hendryx:

John-HendryxJohn 3:19-20 states that natural men love darkness and will not come into the light. Left to themselves men will always choose to stay in darkness. Whether or not someone believes or rejects Christ, it depends completely on the disposition of the heart. Apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says our disposition is, by nature, hostile to God and we cannot understand spiritual truth (Romans 8:7 & 1 Corinthians 2:14). But thanks be to God, the new birth or regeneration, is where God, the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive blessings of Christ, which give us the spiritual life that empowers us to do what we must do (repent and believe the gospel), but cannot do (while in the flesh), because of our bondage to sin (John 6:63, 65).

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER ON REGENERATION

Archibald AlexanderArchibald Alexander:

Regeneration is the commencement of spiritual life in a soul before dead in sin, by the omnipotent agency of God; and the exercises of this life are specifically different from all the exercises of an unregenerate heart.

The strength of the principle of life in the new birth, as in the natural birth, is exceedingly various; for while some are brought into the world of grace in the clear light of day, and are from the first active and vigorous, and enjoy much comfort in their pious exercises; others give very obscure evidence of being in possession of life, and remain long in a state of feebleness. (Regeneration)

NOT OF THEIR OWN POWER

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon preaching on 1 John 5:1 makes the point that men believe, not of their own power, but as a result of the work of regeneration in the hearts of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon:

We must now pass on to show that wherever it exists it is the proof of regeneration. There never was a grain of such faith as this in the world, except in a regenerate soul, and there never will be while the world stands. It is so according to the text, and if we had no other testimony this one passage would be quite enough to prove it. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

“Ah!” I hear thee say, poor soul, “the new birth is a great mystery; I do not understand it; I am afraid I am not a partaker in it.”

You are born again if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, if you are relying upon a crucified Savior you are assuredly begotten again unto a lively hope. Mystery or no mystery, the new birth is yours if you are a believer. Have you never noticed that the greatest mysteries in the world reveal themselves by the simplest indications?

SALVATION IS OF THE LORD

Chosen by GodR. C. Sproul:

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it. (Chosen by God)

The Altar Call and Eleven Choruses of “Just as I Am”

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-JonesQuoting D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

1. It is wrong to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences.

2. In the end it may produce a condition in which what has determined the response of the man who ‘comes forward’ is not so much the Truth itself as, perhaps, the personality of the evangelist, or some vague general fear, or some other kind of influence.

3. The preaching of the Word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking.

4. This method surely carries in it the implication that sinners have an inherent power of decision and of self-conversion. Continue reading

The Duty of Self-Examination

The true Christian has a thorough work of grace and sanctification wrought in his heart. Regeneration is a whole change. The old things are done away, while all things become new. M. Meade writes:

Here are two questions of very great importance which we should every one of us put to ourselves: “What am I?” and “Where am I?” Am I a child of God or not? Am I sincere in religion, or am I only a hypocrite under a profession? Am I yet in a natural state, or in a state of grace? Am I yet in the old root, in old Adam, or am I in the Root, Christ Jesus? Am I in the covenant of works that ministers only wrath and death, or am I in the covenant of grace that ministers life and peace? I press this upon you that are professors, because many rest in a notion of godliness and an outward show of religion, and yet remain in their natural condition. Many are hearers of the Word and not doers of it, and so deceive their own souls (James 1:22). He that slights the ordinances cannot be a true Christian, but yet it is possible a man may own them and yet be no true Christian.

Errors in the first foundation are very dangerous. If we be not right in the main, the fundamental work, if the foundation be not laid in grace in the heart, all our following profession comes to nothing. The house built upon a sandy foundation, though it may stand for a while, yet when the floods come and the winds blow and beat upon it, great will be the fall of it. There are many things like grace that are not grace.

Now it is the likeness of things that deceives. Many take gifts for grace; common knowledge for saving knowledge; whereas a man may have great gifts and no grace, great knowledge and yet not know Jesus Christ. Some take common faith for saving; whereas a man may believe all the truths of the gospel, all the promises, all the threatenings, all the articles of the creed to be true, and yet perish for want of saving faith. Some take morality and restraining grace for renewing grace; whereas it is common to have sin much restrained where the heart is not at all renewed. Some are deceived with a half-work, making many mermaid Christians, or like Nebuchadnezzar’s image, head of gold and feet of clay. Endless are the delusions that Satan fastens upon souls for want of this self-search. Satan will try us at one time or other. He will winnow us and sift us to the bottom, and if we now rest in a groundless confidence, it will then end in a comfortless despair. Nay, God Himself will search and try us, at the Day of Judgment especially, and who can abide that trial, that never tries his own heart?

Whatsoever a man’s state be, whether he be altogether a Christian or not, yet it is good to examine his own heart. If he finds his heart good, his principles right and sound, this will be a matter of rejoicing. If he finds his heart rotten, his principles false and unsound, the discovery may be in order to a renewing. If a man have a disease upon him and know it, he may send to the physician in time, but what a sad vexation it will be not to see the disease till it is past cure! So for a man to be graceless and not see till it be too late, to think himself a Christian when he is not; that he is in the right way to heaven when he is in the ready way to hell, and yet not know it till a death bed or a judgment day confute his confidence, this is the most irrecoverable misery. These are the grounds upon which I press this duty of examining our state. Oh, that God would help us in doing this necessary duty! (“Almost a Christian”, 1661)

Regeneration And Sanctification

Loraine Boettner

Quoting Loraine Boettner:

[M]any people confuse regeneration and sanctification. Regeneration is exclusively God’s work, and it is an act of His free grace in which He implants a new principle of spiritual life in the soul. It is performed by supernatural power and is complete in an instant. On the other hand, sanctification is a process through which the remains of sin in the outward life are gradually removed . . . It is a joint work of God and man. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 172)

Loraine Boettner On Regeneration And Sanctification

From the pen of Loraine Boettner:

“[M]any people confuse regeneration and sanctification. Regeneration is exclusively God’s work, and it is an act of His free grace in which He implants a new principle of spiritual life in the soul. It is performed by supernatural power and is complete in an instant. On the other hand, sanctification is a process through which the remains of sin in the outward life are gradually removed . . . It is a joint work of God and man” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 172)

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