Can anyone explain regeneration and Cornelius?

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rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
I was discussing with my pastor-friend regeneration. He's Arminian through and through...and at some point he denied that "unregenerate man cannot please God"

I thought that Romans 8:8 was clear as a bell, until he brought up Cornelius who's described as being a God-fearer, devout, bringing alms, and righteous.

I've spent the morning scouring the net and my bible software trying to find some information on this but i really got nothing.

clearly they cannot both be right; either the natural man can please God in some way OR the description of Cornelius is not being read accurately.

Can someone help?
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
I think that Cornelius was, in the vernacular, "saved." Much of the Gospels and Acts is actually recording the conversion of Old Testament saints into New Testament saints. Of course, there are people coming in from the first time as well. For example, we meet Apollos as a believer in the Messiah, but he didn't know that Christ had died and risen again. When Aquila and Priscilla instruct him, did he "get saved"? I don't think so. If Cornelius was a God-fearer, then I think we could put him in the same category as Apollos.
 

rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
Charlie,
I had thought about that but didn't he get the gospel preached and then receive the Holy Spirit?

Wouldn't that mean that you can be saved without receiving the Holy Spirit?
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Charlie,
I had thought about that but didn't he get the gospel preached and then receive the Holy Spirit?

Wouldn't that mean that you can be saved without receiving the Holy Spirit?

Yes, I think so. It's clear that the NT ushered in a new age of the prominence of the Holy Spirit; exactly how and to what degree is a difficult question. Compare with this passage:

Acts 19:1-6 Acts 19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

They were apparently believers, but because of their lack of knowledge about New Covenant truth, had not entered into all the benefits of the New Covenant. Remember, even the apostles did not receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost (Jesus promises Him to them in John 20:22), but no one would seriously suggest that the apostles were unjustified until Pentecost.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
Calvin says of Cornelius that he possessed a true faith, and was regenerated by the Holy Spirit (see below his Institutes 3.17.4) Indeed his thinking is in line with Scripture that says without faith it is impossible to please God. There is no reason in the text to believe that Cornelius didn't have a tue faith. No one can not have a true faith and fear God and have one's prayers and alms accepted by God. Only by faith can these things be accepted by God. They are not meritorious in any way, but they are accepted because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone.

I should add that though Cornelius had faith, it was needful that he receive the fuller revelation of Christ. This is not something that is peculiar to him at this time, for all the devout Jews who feared God and had faith needed to receive the fuller revelation of Christ.


Calvin Institutes 3.17.4

4. They quote the saying of Peter as given by Luke in the Acts, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34, 35). And hence they infer, as a thing which seems to them beyond a doubt, that if man by right conduct procures the favor of God, his obtaining salvation is not entirely the gift of God. Nay, that when God in his mercy assists the sinner, he is inclined to mercy by works. There is no way of reconciling the passages of Scripture, unless you observe that man's acceptance with God is twofold. As man is by nature, God finds nothing in him which can incline him to mercy, except merely big wretchedness. If it is clear then that man, when God first interposes for him, is naked and destitute of all good, and, on the other hand, loaded and filled with all kinds of evil,--for what quality, pray, shall we say that he is worthy of the heavenly kingdom? Where God thus clearly displays free mercy, have done with that empty imagination of merit. Another passage in the same book--viz. where Cornelius hears from the lips of an angel, "Thy prayer and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God," (Acts 10:4), is miserably wrested to prove that man is prepared by the study of good works to receive the favor of God. Cornelius being endued with true wisdom, in other words, with the fear of God, must have been enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom, and being an observer of righteousness, must have been sanctified by the same Spirit; righteousness being, as the Apostle testifies, one of the most certain fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:5). Therefore, all those qualities by which he is said to have pleased God he owed to divine grace: so far was he from preparing himself by his own strength to receive it. Indeed, not a syllable of Scripture can be produced which does not accord with the doctrine, that the only reason why God receives man into his favor is, because he sees that he is in every respect lost when left to himself; lost, if he does not display his mercy in delivering him. We now see that in thus accepting, God looks not to the righteousness of the individual, but merely manifests the divine goodness towards miserable sinners, who are altogether undeserving of this great mercy.
 

rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
Sven,
thank you for that info.

I have the Institutes electronically but nothing came up in a search....how frustrating...

I'll look into this further..thanks...
 
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